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Van den Berghe Arno – Ophasselt 1st Prov. Vierzon East-Flanders 4,543 yearlings – fastest against 11,858b

26 May 2021

Ophasselt. “Young, talent full and fanatic”…no, we’re not talking about the cycling phenomenon Remco Evenepoel but about the provincial Vierzon winner Arno Van den Berghe from Ophasselt. Arno is only 19 Springs young, student ‘real estate’ in Aalst, raised between pigeons and a guy with a drawer full of fanatic ‘pigeon plans’. This provincial victory is for Arno more than a motivation to continue at the same pace and who knows which kind of beautiful future is coming.
Father Rik has been racing since 1986. Noyon was his favourite race but when he took over the butchery from his grandfather he didn’t have too much time for pigeons anymore. Son Arno helped where ever he could and this how the known ‘pigeon virus’ did its work. In 2015 Arno took over the loft. First with the necessary support from his father but in the meantime father Rik noticed that Arno has the pigeon game in his fingers and since a few years Arno is doing it all by himself. 

After a few strong seasons on the short distance race his goal changed and is focussing more on the middle distance and greater middle distance races. For that reason he looked out for the necessary reinforcement and these were found in first instance at Gert Huysmans (Balen). In 2015 youngsters out of the racers were born (born in August) but the mistake was made by trying to race them. The unexperienced youngsters were thrown in front of the lions too quickly with as a result that many of them got lost. Nevertheless the faith in the strength of the Huysmans pigeons was big and that’s why he bought youngsters out of the racers again in 2017 but now they got a ticket directly towards the breeding loft. A good move as the provincial Vierzon winner is a 100% Huysmans product.
As young fancier Arno gets a lot of support and advice from other known champions but as he’s afraid in forgetting someone he doesn’t risk in naming anybody. 


A team of 35 widow cocks, 23 racing hens, 180 youngsters and 35 breeding couples are to be found on the new lofts of the Van den Berghe family which can be seen at the top of the ‘Gapenberg’. 

The provincial Vierzon victory was won by a hen and that’s why we’ll have a look at Arno’s ‘hens method’. 
Arno: “The hens are being raced on the widowhood system and for every two hens I’ve got 1 cock, the jealousy cart is being drawn. When the breeders start their 2nd round, half the hens are being coupled as well and can raise youngsters. The other hens stay on the ‘Winter regime’ and are only being coupled at the start of the season to breed for a few days. Just mentioning, ‘Lady Vierzon’ raised a couple of youngsters.
The hens reside during the week day and night in an aviary (see photo). The open side is South-East directed. They were also being darkened over here from half of February until the end of April. 

On the day of basketing the hens can go on the loft with the boxes where their cock is waiting for them. The hens who failed the week before can sit with their partner for 30 minutes. The hens who won a prize only for 15 minutes. At arrival the first arriving hen can see the cock, the other one doesn’t. ‘Lady Vierzon’ won on her first middle distance race the 8th but then she failed twice and I saw that she was jealous that her ‘enemy’ could stay with her partner and she didn’t. Maybe this was her stimulation to hit hard on Vierzon. The hens are being fed twice a day. At the beginning of the week it is “Lady Mix” (Van Robaeys) where 10% linseed and rapeseed is being added to. Feeding up is being done with “Clicque-Mix” (Van Robaeys). In a matter of supplements we use the products out of the Winners program. 

Medically seen they cured before the start of the season against trichomoniases and ornithes (suanovil). Since then they didn’t get anything anymore, aside the weekly yellow drop in the beak. We go each month for a check-up to vet Van der Cruyssen (Oosterzele). When all’s fine, we don’t give anything. 
The cocks train daily at 17h but the hens don’t have a fixed training time. One time it is in the morning, the other time in the evening. “they have to adjust to my schedule” is what Arno says “fact is that when I come from school I first take care of my pigeons and start to study afterwards. I can study until late in the evening and when I know that my pigeons have been taken care of I study much better!”.

“Lady Vierzon”
With a speed of 1679,89 m/m was “Lady Vierzon” (B20-4008636) not only the fastest against the 4,543 yearlings but from all the 11,858 Vierzon racers. The watchers saw 3 pigeons coming and all of a sudden she went down. But a gust of wind kept her in the air. Everyone felt this was an early one and luckily her small set back didn’t cost her the victory. 

Whether she will be raced again is something Arno couldn’t tell yet. The chance exists that she will go direction Bourges but at the same time she could be on the breeding loft the coming weekend. We’ll know for sur on Thursday. 

Arno and Rik…a big congratulation from the entire Herbots team and we are convinced that this won’t be your last big victory. We like to wish you a lot of success. 


Stefan Mertens