About Rik Cools
- Watching Pigeons at the Neighbours
- A Break during my Studies
- The Start of My Pigeon Loft
- Further Expansion of my Basic Pigeons
- Gaby Vandenabeele
- Specialized in Racing Hens
- Many Other Lofts were also Successful with My Pigeons
- Cooperation with Chris Debacker
- Our Distances
Watching Pigeons at the Neighbours
Born in a farmer’s family, I was already close to nature as a child. Next to a lot of other animals, there were pigeons in the attic of the barn. These weren’t racing pigeons, but I was attracted to them and was feeding them. I was also living in the middle of numerous pigeon fanciers where he liked joining them to watch the racing competition.
A Break during my Studies
But live went on. I studied in Antwerp and became a teacher. In 1988, one year after I got married to Mieke, I moved to a house in Ruiselede with plenty of space to host animals. At first I had no intention to host pigeons but after watching the birds at my neighbour Paul Ally, my old interest for pigeons came back. In 1992 we joined forces to race pigeons.
The Start of My Pigeon Loft
During a local champion festivity I bought my first pigeon from Frans Vandesteene for 500 Belgian Franks (12.5 euro). I played the pigeon successfully and won the 1st price on La Souterraine, I won per ten on Barcelona and was top on Narbonne. The successful pigeon was baptised “Francine”.
In 1993 I formed a team with Piet Blancke that lasted till 2004. Piet’s grandfather donated all his pigeons to his grandson, some of them coming directly from Gaby Vandenabeele. This explains the name “Gaby” for the best one.
Further Expansion of My Basic Pigeons
In the meantime I bought a top pigeon from Astère Vergotte – a colleague at school – which I called “Stier”. The combination of Stier and Francine resulted in “Francoise” which became one of the stock pigeons at my loft. “Francoise” coupled with “Gaby” resulted in “Bieke”, “Den 100” and “Kaatje. All of them, top flyers and/or breeders.
A second superior breeding couple was formed more by luck than wisdom. “De Frans”, coming from Frans Vanwildemeersch and “Alfoncine” coming from Alfons Braet turned out to be a superior combination resulting in “Aagje”, “Frieda” and “Aske”. All three being the start of a nice, successful colony.
A real breakthrough came after I started introducing even more Vandenabeele blood. At first I got eggs of Gaby’s best couples which showed that the combination with “Bliksem” was really successful at both lofts. Bliksem x Kaatje resulted in the famous “Rudy” 003/06 at Gaby’s loft. Bliksem x Frieda also gave him “Mona”. This last combination gave me the very successful “De Schone Bliksem”. But I also had “Witneusbliksem“ from the combination of Bliksem x Bieke and “Zoon Bliksem” from Bliksem x Aagje. This successful exchange also resulted in a lifetime friendship.
Specialised in Racing Hens
My specialty is racing hens. I learned the tips and tricks from Astere Vergotte. I started this because he had insufficient time to play both hens and cocks in combination with my job as a teacher. And because hens could be played twice as much compared to widowers. Now I am a fulltime pigeon fancier but in the meantime I became a real expert and prefer to continue. My strategy is based on 3 pillars: origin, feeding program and flight program. The origin is crucial since you don’t want the hens to start pairing. A constant selection over the years towards hens that don’t pair easily was needed. If I still have problems now from time to time it is because of new hens I introduced from other fanciers.
Light food in combination with the correct food supplements are key as well as a very strict flight program where the hens are played every week.
Many Other Lofts were also Successful with My Pigeons
Based on the very strong basis of stock pigeons in combination with my unique game, I was able to develop a very strong strain of racing pigeons. Pigeons that have been successful at my loft but also at many other lofts; in Belgium and abroad. This makes us one of the leading fanciers world-wide.
“At the end of 2001, I went to my friend Rik Cools, and bought 3 hens; one of them was the daughter of Bieke. Bieke was one of the best middle distance hens at that moment. In the first year, my hen became the mother of my first provincial winner and second provincial ace pigeon. That was the start of my successful middle distance races.”
Cooperation with Chris Debacker
After the successful start, Chris and I continued to exchange pigeons on a yearly basis. This close cooperation also resulted in very good bloodlines and results. Cilleke and Guiseppe are examples of pigeons that were born in my loft and successfully raced by Chris. Christa and Elodie Ace are the other way around.