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Combination Bonmariage-Masson 1st National champion KBDB Marathon old.

23 Mar 2024

At the start of the new season, we were delighted to be able to visit the national champions great fond old at one of the first two races. 
It is in the beautiful Liège Condroz village of Ouffet that this passionate tandem made things difficult for the rest of the Belgian marathon fanciers. After many successful seasons, they were able to put the icing on the proverbial cake in 2023, reaping the rewards of all their hard work and dedication!
The national championship title was won with the first two pigeons drawn and with following results they won the national title:

30/06 Agen : 
SPW3 1e nominated (BE19-1028357) 11e  and 2e nominated 32e (BE20-1020415). 

21/07 Marseille : 
National 1e nominated (BE20-1020410) 124 and 2e nominated (BE21-1024684) 3e 

30/07 Narbonne :  
National 1e nominated (BE19-1028357) 3e  and 2e nominated (BE20-1020415) 336e 

History and composition.

From an early age, Eric was fascinated by pigeons. First, he kept a few ornamental pigeons at his parents' home, before accidentally taking in a (first) stray homing pigeon. This was the beginning of the pigeon fancier virus! After playing with Éric's grandparents (who lived opposite him) from 1989 to 2001, he and his wife Laurence moved to their current home and started again in 2002. The breeding loft consists of 14 breeding pairs that raise 3 rounds from December to February. They enjoy a spacious loft with a large aviary where they can go to catch their breath whenever they want. You can immediately see the quality and character that form the basis of this breeding compartment. Pigeons with wonderful flying and breeding credentials! The future is assured! The racing team can be found in the compartments next door. There are 48 widowers, old pigeons and yearlings. The widowers are also allowed to breed one or two youngsters. This is to see if their offspring can compete at the highest level. So the colony is complete with a hundred or so youngsters and a few hens played with between them.

Origins and racing system.
The Masson-Bonmariage tandem was able to form, develop and strengthen thanks to the purchase of pigeons mainly from Herbots-Heller, Jean-Louis Fauche and Hunerbein. Not forgetting the Marcus line from the tandem Grégoire Julement, which made a huge contribution to the colony and was a true reinforcement! To avoid too much inbreeding, but also to bring a bit of speed into the colony, new blood is brought in from time to time and these may include half-distance pigeons. Éric uses the 'classical' system with partners staying at home. Only cocks are used and yearlings and old birds are mixed in the lofts. Once a widower has made a certain box his own, he will stay in this box for the rest of his racing career. It is important for every widower to keep his "territory" and thus his box from year to year, this certainly plays a role in motivation. The year after, the yearling pigeons come back to "fill up" those vacant residential boxes. This system may seem more difficult to manage because all the widowers are together and not, as in other places, housed per compartment or per programme. The pigeons adapt easily and the organisation of the tandem with their ingenious clothes peg system, which I will talk about later, is more than efficient! Depending on the programme and competition, the cocks are cared for differently. Each pigeon is prepared almost individually for the programme that awaits it. When the widowers have raised their young, Eric puts everyone on a diet and they are given about half the usual ration. This has an impact on the shape and health of the pigeons, which throw away a lot of down. Then it is time to start home training. Depending on the weather, the widowers are released around mid-March and train twice a day. As in many places, birds of prey lurk and the danger is ever present, with unfortunate losses every year. A real plague in this region!


To start the season, the widowers are taken to Marche twice, which is a distance of about 20 km. These two training sessions are enough to get them ready for their first flights . On their first return, the hens are shown for a short time. After that, only the nest dish is turned over. With this, the widowers know enough and get the " game " quickly. On their return from important races, the hens are shown and stay with their partner for a long time (the duration depends on the race). In difficult races the widowers are left with their partner for a short time so they can recover, hydrate and eat first. Recovering well first is very important. With the youngsters, the sexes are separated and they must have finished at least a 400 km during their birth year. The majority do at least 1 national race or an AWC (inter-provincial) race if possible. The aim is to gain experience for future years. The basket makes the selection! Before the season, they are trained as much as possible. As soon as they pull away from home for about an hour, they leave for their first training 20 km away. As long as the youngsters are not back before Eric is back home, they go to the same place again. It has to become automatic. During the season, they also work through many short training flights. Andrea likes to lend a hand here and goes out as much as possible. As for the organisation of care, everything runs smoothly and everyone is up to the task. Widowers are cared for individually twice a day. Everyone does their best to leave nothing to chance! To facilitate this, the "clothes peg system" has been introduced. Since all widowers are mixed (old, yearlings, sometimes different programmes), Éric places a clothes peg of a very specific colour every morning according to the menu to be given to each pot. This way, his daughter Andrea and his wife Laurence know exactly who needs what. Besides the daily care and part of the training, Andrea is responsible for all administrative and IT matters! Which is a lot of work, as we all know, to keep track of all the results, pedigrees and price lists. The good organisation of all tasks in the family is also their strength, that's for sure!

For feeding, the Tandem chooses 3 types of sport mixtures (Hoebreghts, Beyers and Mariman) during the season. Because all mixtures have their strengths and sometimes their specific points, Eric likes to mix different types so that the pigeons get everything they need. The pigeons are spoon-fed and receive a lighter mixture on their return. Few extra supplements are given, but grit and minerals remain very important. The most used products are mainly Herbots products such as the 4 Oils, brewer's yeast and recovery products. Recovery remains an important issue for marathon pigeons. Being able to recover better and faster to attack as quickly as possible and in the best possible conditions to be ready for the next stage, the next goal! For the weekly bath, the pigeons can have or small aviaries.


 An annual visit to Raf Herbots is scheduled at the beginning of the season to check the pigeons' health. But they can also count on their vet at any time during the season, with a quick phone call or whatever to solve a problem or get advice in certain situations. The widowers are vaccinated twice. The first time against Paramyxo, followed by a second time against smallpox . During the season, two respiratory treatments are carried out at specific times. Nothing should be left to chance! A first treatment will be carried out on 1 June, followed by the second on 1 July. They will also receive a preventive trichobe treatment every three weeks for three days through the feed and not in the water. The young pigeons will receive the compulsory vaccination and a rotavirus and smallpox vaccination.

Résultats 2023

 Local (Hastière )
Gagnant du championnat «lien» Hastière (enlogements Fond et Grand-Fond).

AWC 2023

1er Champion 1er et 2ème marqués Grand Fond Vieux.
3ème Champion 1er et 2ème marqués Fond Vieux.
5ème Champion 1er et 2ème marqués Grand Demi Fond Pigeonneaux.

1er Champion National Grand Fond aux 2 premiers marqués Vieux.
4ème Vallée du Rhône aux 2ème marqués.
9ème As pigeons National Vallée du Rhône.
3ème National Marseille.
3ème National Narbonne Vieux.
4ème National St Vincent


1er Provincial Agen Yearlings.
1er Provincial Marseille Vieux.
1er Provincial Tulle Yearlings.
2ème Provincial Tulle Vieux.

 Championnat Herbots
1er Champion Fond Vieux et Yearlings Wallonie.

The Herbots team would like to thank the Bonmariage-Masson family for their warm welcome and we wish them a wonderful 2024 season.


For the Herbots team,

Lelièvre-Damit Julien