Geert Maroy (Heestert) 1st National ace Marathon yearlings
17 Mar 2023
You feel as proud when you win a national ace pigeon! Especially when you do everything you can, day after day, year after year, out of pure love for your hobby, to achieve good results, but especially because you love to race with your pigeons.
That is the feeling I have when I talk to Geert Maroy (63 years old) from Heestert. Geert radiates pigeons in a friendly, simple manner. Like so many more from this generation, he was almost literally born in a pigeon dish and drank pigeon milk from birth. At home in Moen they were pigeons and from as soon as on their own they were also pigeons.
In 1989 (after the death of his father) Geert started pigeons on his own two feet at his current home in Heestert. He is now a warrior of many wars and has experienced just about everything in pigeon racing...but what was put down in 2022 is the crowning glory of many years of effort, namely a national ace pigeon and another strong team of top pigeons in its wake.
A strong duo at the helm
Geert likes having lots of pigeons, likes seeing lots of pigeons, likes racing with lots of pigeons Looking after and racing a lot of pigeons requires a lot of commitment and energy. A few years ago, Geert was secretly looking out for some help...and sometimes "the wind must be with him" and he came into closer contact with Sebastien Courtens from Kortrijk. Sebastien still has the blessing of youth (31 years old) and in the meantime also a lot of experience in taking care of pigeons and achieving very strong results (Sebastien was a.o. for 10 years the permanent caretaker of the late Roger Mylle from Bellegem). Some good agreements were made and the tasks were divided by mutual agreement.
The aim of this duo are the long-distance and heavy-distance flights. Other top results are gladly included but not the objective. Broadly speaking, Sebastien is responsible for the racers (widowers) and Geert for the breeders and youngsters. Of course, always in good consultation.
The choice has been made to only play with cocks on traditional widowhood and to focus on that. Racing with the youngsters is included, but it is not a priority and serves to guarantee the basis for the future with the widowers.
And it may be said and written, one plus one has become more than two here. Since the tandem was formed, they have been able to play with more accuracy and know-how and the results are also on the rise, culminating in a brilliant 2022 season and a national ace pigeon.
When we ask which pigeons make up their breeding loft, we hear a few names such as De Smeyter-Restiaen, Brantegem-Denooze, Roger Mylle, Ameel-Van Laecke, Eric Debaere (and this includes quite a few pigeons from Norbert and Stefan Ally). In addition, some individual pigeons at risk of forgetting names
A large army requires strong and organised leadership
It is not the intention of this reportage to make it a war report, but when you have to manage and keep a large colony in line, you have to be well organised and make clear arrangements.
In terms of housing the pigeons, everything is spic and span. The previously existing and already spacious lofts at Geert's home were all fitted with aviaries at the front. This has greatly improved the living conditions in the lofts and also allows us to be very practical. The pigeons can permanently enjoy a spacious oxygen pool and the amount of oxygen in the lofts has been increased. All lofts are equipped with automatic manure trays and grids on the floor.
This fine installation is also necessary because the number of soldiers is large. It houses 100 pairs of breeders, 100 cocks on widowhood (60 yearlings and 40 old birds) and 300 youngsters are housed annually. All racers have an at-home hen which, in the full season, brings the total number of pigeons close to 600 to 700. Taking care of such a team requires commitment and organisation.
Everything is coupled at the beginning of December, each pair raises two youngsters as much as possible and youngsters of the best breeders are put under the racers. Normally, only one breeding is done and in this way about 300 youngsters are weaned in almost one shift. This is a conscious choice to minimise the work to be spent on the breeders once the racing season starts.
Before the racing season, the racers are no longer paired, neither are the first training flights. As soon as the middle-distance race (Clermont) starts, the pigeons come together for the first time after the race. Until the middle distance, the pigeons train once a day and must stay in the air for an hour. As soon as the distance starts, they train twice a day for an hour.
As soon as it's all about the marbles (read the one-day long distance), the cocks get to see their hens before basketing (the hens are half-baked, briefly frolicking next to the hens and then very close to them). Knowing this system, they are relatively calm in the basket and perform more than satisfactorily.
On returning home, the partners come together, the duration of which depends on the severity of the race.
Each racing pigeon is fed individually in its nest box. A number of mixtures of various brands are put together (standard mixtures). From Monday (for one-day long distance races) they are systematically increased until basketing.
Every day the pigeons get some fine seeds in the morning before training, afterwards they train and after training they get their classic feed. This way they train dixit Geert and Sebastien better and harder....what the results show.
Medically, a check-up is carried out fortnightly by vet Pascal Lanneau. Because of this frequency, preventive vaccination is never carried out but only if really necessary. Besides the compulsory vaccinations, the breeders are vaccinated with the paratyphoid vaccine before the breeding season and the racers before the racing season.
What the pigeons regularly receive as a supplement during the season is Hepateveto, a natural remedy that ensures stable and strong health. Upon returning home from the races, a quick recovery is pursued with electrolytes and proteins.
The approach to the youngsters is in function of gaining maximum experience. The youngsters are darkened in order to be able to participate in the national races for young pigeons. Flying early is included but above all the experience of the big flock is the objective. A few weeks before these flights arrive, the sexes are separated and the season is finished on widowhood ("the sliding door"). The youngsters train once a day.
And the national ace heavy long-distance yearling is Fritts !
It's a very nice...yes, both the title and the pigeon. Fritts. It is a beautiful cock, very strongly made, a beauty in the hand and also talented with the power of youth. This cock proved that at both Agen and Narbonne.
A loft of 18 yearlings (only with heavy long-distance origins) were reserved for the Agen and Narbonne races (at least that was the objective). It was very soon clear that "the swagger" was good in this team and in the preparatory flights they showed very well and arrived smoothly.
In preparation for Agen, they flew two races from Argenton where they were already thoroughly (and successfully) tested.
On Agen it was bingo with 14 prizes out of the 18 pigeons basketed.
Both at Agen and Narbonne this crack pigeon managed to fly a very early prize which resulted in the title of 1st ace pigeon national long distance yearlings !
Fritts and his companions Blue Jackson, Luc etc....
Fritts was a one-dayer with Geert and Seba. Also a lot of other pigeons performed at national top level.
As a yearling, Blue Jackson was not much inferior to his teammate Fritts and won the title of 8th national ace long-distance pigeon and 4th provincial ace yearling pigeon.
"Luc" was the leader in the old birds.
With the titles of
6th national ace long-distance pigeon KBDB
4th provincial ace long-distance pigeon KBDB
1st pigeon of Belgium on 4 long-distance flights
..this pigeon can rightly be called the team captain of the Heestert lofts
They are no boasters in Heestert, they prefer to keep it simple and to stick to the popular aspects of pigeon racing, but a humble pride may certainly prevail after such a season. It will stir up some emotions when the top step of the national podium is crowned with the title of ace pigeon of Belgium, but also with 3 pigeons within the top 10 of ace pigeons in long-distance and very long-distance.
I strongly suspect that we have not yet seen the last sample of the ability of their pigeons ! On to a wonderful season 2023 !
Congratulations from the Herbots team !