1st in the Vierzon Interprovincial against 6638 yearlings
If you go cycling through the Flemish Ardennes in the Oudenaarde region and try to conquer the well-known slopes of the Tour of Flanders, you may just end up in the small village of Russeignies. Russeignies is situated on the south side of the Knokteberg in northern Hainaut. Russeignies isn’t just a challenge for cycling fans, but also for pigeon fanciers. That’s thanks to Sebastién Casaert and his many impressive performances under the name of Casaert-Senechal. He’s among the best in the country, which he proved once more last Saturday during the first Vierzon interprovincial against 6638 yrl., as the fastest of the total quota of 17,711 pigeons.
According to reports, the Casaert-Senechal colony didn’t just claim victory for themselves against the 6638 yrl., but also saw six pigeons being placed in the top fifty with scores of 1-6-29-30-31 and 50. With this result, Sebastién has continued the trend he set in the pre-season, during which he achieved excellent results over a period of several weeks. He was in great form during the last two weeks with both old pigeons and yearlings, as can be seen from the following results:
07/05 Angerville 673 yrl. 2-3-7-15-16-17-23-28-30-33-35-37-39-43-49, etc. (34/43)
14/05 Toury 738 o.b. 2-12-14-17-20-28-29-30-46-48-83-85-88-113, etc. (25/43)
14/05 Toury 639 yrl. 1-6-8-9-11-19-20-21-30-32-53-54-55-64-69-77, etc. (29/38)
And before Vierzon, there was more of the same last Saturday at Orleans:
§ 21/05 Orleans 258 o.b. 2-3-11-14-16-17-19-21-22-24-28-30-31-35-37-42-54 (17/20)
§ 21/05 Orleans 335 yrl. 1-3-4-5-6-11-12-18-20-21-22-26-28-31-32-33-34, etc. (22/25)
Vierzon was won by a blue pied hen, known as ‘Palme d'Or’. She was bred from 'Geert' who came from Erik Limbourg in Brussegem x 'Kwimby’, a hen from Gaston van de Wouwer in Berlaar. Sebastién bought his winner’s father during Erik Limbourg’s sale—he had come 86th at the international Narbonne against 14,505 pigeons during his time with Erik. Top pigeons like 'Den Dubbele’, the ‘Swing' and the 'Nieuwe As’ (‘New Ace’) can be found in his pedigree. The winner’s mother is descended from some absolute top pigeons. On the father's side, we see the line of the '500 from Johan de Belser from Berlaar, while 'Kwimby' is a granddaughter of ‘Kaasboer’—the absolute top breeder from Gaston van de Wouwer—on the maternal side.
Before her performance at Vierzon, ‘Palme d'Or’ had achieved other great results. As a young pigeon, she won several races including coming 1st at Bourges against 188 pigeons (6th in the Derby Hainaut against 490 p.), 6th at Toury against 230 p. and 45that Toury against 450 p. Two weeks before Vierzon, she again showed how strong she is coming 27th at Dourdan against 977 p.
Like father, like son
Born the son of top pigeon fancier, Maurice Casaert, it was soon clear that Sebastién would follow in his father’s footsteps. He was just 14 years old when he started taking care of his friend François Sénéchal’s colony. That’s where he learned the tricks of the trade up to the age of 22, followed by a brief but successful period as loft keeper for Hetru in Kain.
From 1996 to 1999, as loft keeper for Silver Toye, he was partly responsible for the top results achieved in Otegem. And in addition, it was there that the young fancier was able to further refine his talent and convert it into a solid value.
In 2000, Sebastién decided to return to his birthplace, Saint-Leger and continue practising the sport independently with his friend François Sénéchal under the name Casaert-Senechal. Due to time constraints, they only focused on young pigeons during the first five seasons. After all, Sebastién (now 39 years old) also has a regular job. In 2004, they decided to start competing with yearlings (both cocks and hens) with a focus on middle and long middle distance racing. The results in this period were excellent, with the cherry on the cake being the national title in the middle distance with young pigeons.
In 2007, however, Sebastién and his wife Anne decided to move from Saint-Léger to Russeignies. In 2008, the young pigeons were raised in an old loft, which even today serves as a loft for the young pigeons. New lofts have also been built out of stone and designed very effectively; features include belts for transporting droppings and, above all, a lot of ventilation. Incidentally, the lofts were completed earlier than the house. The young pigeons of 2008 showed that Russeignies too was a great place to be and had evolved into outstanding yearlings by 2009. Raced on total widowhood, they have achieved some excellent results. This performance curve was continued last year. And, besides long middle and middle distance racing, they also performed well in long distance races, thanks to the impetus provided by son Hugo—history repeats itself—and friend, Joost Smeyter.
It is of course unsurprising that the base of the Casaert-Senechal loft was laid by pigeons from Sebastién's father and brother, Maurice and Gregory Casaert, from Néchin. This base was supplemented with pigeons from Georges Bolle from Kortemark, Gaby Vandenabeele from Dentergem and Erik Limbourg from Brussegem.
When looking at the pedigree of the current top pigeons in the Casaert-Senechal colony, we see these baselines again and again. For example, Sebastién's absolute top pigeon ‘Stecy’ is a cross between Casaert (grandson of Casper) x Limbourg x Vandenabeele (‘Wittenbuik’ (‘White feathered belly’s’ line) and ‘Vince’ who excelled by coming 1st in the semi-national La Souterraine against 5621 p. and 4th in national Limoges against 15,507 p. is a cross between Bolle x Casaert. ‘Stecy' was bred from ‘Staaf', a great grandson of ‘Spencer‘ who was the first pigeon which Sebastién got from Erik Limbourg and went on to become his basic cock.
Since 2007, Sebastién has regularly gotten pigeons or eggs from Erik Limbourg in Brussegem and successfully introduced these into his colony. In recent years, he has also introduced pigeons from others, including Joost de Smeyter, Gaston van de Wouwer and Geert and Clara Philips.
Sebastién has formed 13 breeding pairs using these pairs and each pair is housed in spacious boxes above his house. Besides this, his friend Henry Bernard has 15 more so-called ‘trial pairs’ that have yet to prove their breeding worth.
Since 2009, friend of the family, Henry Bernard, has contributed greatly to the success of the Casaert-Senechal colony. He helps out with many things including administration, basketing the pigeons, bringing in the clocks and taking care of the colony whenever Sebastién and his family are away for a few days. Because of all this, he is a great help to Sebastién.
Below are a few of the results for 2009 and 2010, just to give you an idea of the great achievements Sebastién has made over the past two years. The results are impressive across the board, both as regards the number of prizes won and the price percentages. In 2010, Sebastién basketed a total of 201 pigeons in the four national races for young pigeons, winning 157 prizes at the provincial level, of which 80 per ten. This means a price percentage of 78% per quarter and 40% per ten. And Sebastién also regularly pulls results like this out of the bag with old pigeons and yearlings.
15/05/10 Bourges 183 o.b. 1-2-3-5-15-18-20 (7/10)
22/05/10 Bourges Nat. Zone A 6.154 o.b. 46-130-156-194-196-276-281-296-386, etc. (17/22)
21/06/10 Montauban Nat. 6654 o.b. 193 (1/2)
26/06/10 Argenton CFW 2762 o.b. 10-24-39-44-48-61-87-110-133, etc. (10/10)
04/07/10 Limoges Nat. 2-year. 5607 o.b. 51-205-302 (3/5)
09/05/09 Etampes 688 yrl 1-1-3-4-5-6-7-9-10-11-12-13-14, etc. (37/43)
23/05/09 Bourges CFW 6561 yrl. 2-3-4-6-9-13-16-21-31-54-76-81-95-96, etc. (40/48)
23/05/09 Bourges Nat. 22,499 yrl. 7-8-16-37-75, etc. (37/48)
13/06/09 Chateauroux I.Prov. 7871 yrl. 3-6-7-20-23-34-35-55-58-71-75-94-113, etc. (40/64)
22/05/10 Bourges Nat. Zone A 4806 yrl. 3-13-35-37-85-163-205-317-370-422, etc. (14/14)
05/06/10 Chateauroux C-E 9026 yrl. 31-56-151-292-336-337-356-455-499, etc. (14/18)
31/07/10 Toury 501 y.b. 1-2-3-4-6-7-8-9-10-11, etc. (23/40)
07/08/10 Argenton Prov. 1379 y.b. 8-9-14-16-20-26-31-34-38-39-46-47-49, etc. (48/61)
21/08/10 La Souterraine Prov. 1035 y.b. 5-7-12-13-20-21-23-35-36-39-43-46-52, etc. (39/56)
04/09/10 Gueret Prov. 738 y.b. 1-2-3-6-7-9-12-13-15-17-21-22-23-27-29, etc. (44/52)
In 2009 and 2010, all old and year birds were raced on total widowhood. However, since Sebastién—thanks to the intercession of Hugo and Joost Smeyter—had expanded his scope and was involved on several fronts (middle distance, long middle distance and long distance racing), he realised that this system was not ideal, especially since he wants to race his pigeons on flights of 400km or more, every week. In total widowhood, and with those distances, it often happens that pigeons coming home have to wait a little longer for their partner, which is not ideal for motivation.
That is why Sebastién decided in 2011 to spread the risk in this area. He now races a team of 28 cocks on widowhood, 24 hens on widowhood and 15 pairs in total widowhood. All pigeons have done winter breeding, but only the cocks on classic widowhood have brooded for a few days before the start of the season. The hens on widowhood and pigeons on total widowhood are not paired up again.
The young pigeons are raced using the sliding door method. Before basketing, they are allowed to spend about one hour together and when they return, the pigeons are allowed to remain together until that evening or even the next afternoon. This depends on the difficulty of the flight and the time of the season. The ideal position in Sebastién’s eyes, is a hen who has found a cock just before basketing. Better still is the system of pairing old cocks with young hens, as he did in 2007 during the bird flu epidemic, which delivered results such as the National Middle Distance Championship for Young Pigeons and 4th place in the La Souterraine National. Because Sébastien has his hands full in Russeignies with his old birds and yearlings, he only uses the door system.
The young pigeons from the first round are trained in late April and early May, depending on weather conditions. They are then taken away approximately five times to a distance of about 20 km. Then they are basketed into society: 2 x 100 km, 2 x 200 km and then a few times at middle distance before National Bourges. Due to the warm weather in 2010, the young pigeons were only able to fly one middle distance race in the lead-up to Bourges; this proved to be insufficient. Following National Bourges, the young pigeons fly a national every two weeks and, in the intervening weeks, a flight of about 300 km.
Since Sebastién had to leave for work as early as 4.30am in 2009 and 2010, the care of his pigeons in the morning was left in the hands of his 13-year-old son, Hugo, who fed and watered the pigeons before going to school. As of early 2011, Sebastién doesn’t need to leave for work until 6.45am, so he can feed the pigeons and provide them with clean water himself.
Because Sebastién has to leave for work so early, the pigeons are not released in the mornings. When Sebastién comes home from work in the afternoon, the training begins and so the pigeons only train once a day. That is enough given the heavy programme which he has devised for his pigeons with weekly flights of 400 km or more—except in the case of very heavy flights, after which they get one week of rest. So the hens in particular, who often have to do one two-night flight a week, only stay in their own loft five days a week. The first two to three days are necessary for the pigeons to recover and to be treated if necessary, and the last two days are used to get the pigeons ready for the next flight with food and supplements.
It is this very taxing training schedule which, in 2004, made him decide to look for a suitable feeding system that suited his racing system and met the needs of pigeons undergoing heavy training. Through Patrick Muylder, he joined Beyers’ Elite Enzymix Modern System which—according to Sebastién—perfectly meets the requirements of modern pigeon racing. This is because the mixtures have been treated with enzymes, which not only accelerates the digestion process, but also means that the pigeons can get more energy from their food.
The system consists of three blends:
1. Recup - a low protein and high fibre mixture for the recovery of the pigeons at the beginning of the week; -
2. Build-up - with a higher content of fats and proteins for the middle of the week and possibly upon returning home in the case of heavy flights – and;
3. Energy - a fatty mixture for the final days before basketing to provide the pigeons with the necessary fats to enable them to perform.
The first meal after returning home is always 100% Recup. Depending on the severity of the flight and the next race, Sebastién decides whether the second meal after returning home—which is provided a few hours later—should consist of Recup or Build-up. During the days following the flight, they are fed either Recup or Build-up, depending on the severity of the flight. Build-up is always on the menu in the middle of the week and the pigeons are fed Energy during the final one and a half to two days before basketing. As a bonus, the pigeons approaching basketing are given a little Super Energy and some nibbling seeds. And as well as this, this year Sebastién is experimenting with the new Koopman Goldcorn.
The supplements on the menu are almost all produced by the firm Beyers. When returning home, Electrolyt Plus is added to the water to aid a speedy recovery. At the beginning of the week, Sebastién acidifies the water with Herba Zyma and also uses products like Mineral Plus, Vitamin Plus or Chromix at his discretion, to support his pigeons when needed. Once a week, both old and young pigeons have probiotics with dextrose (Bioflorum) added to their food which is good for intestinal health. And the pigeons are given Sedochol once a week to relieve the liver.
Every year—approximately one month before the start of the season—all racing pigeons in Russeignies are vaccinated against paramyxo, variola and paratyphoid. The paratyphoid vaccination is done with Zoosal T and is preceded by an eight-day course of antibiotics. This year, however, Sébastien wants to put this to the test by not treating or vaccinating his old pigeons and yearlings against paratyphoid. Since his old pigeons and yearlings have now all been vaccinated against paratyphoid between 1 and 3 times, he wants to find out whether the pigeons might get in shape more easily if they are not treated and vaccinated against paratyphoid.
Old pigeons, yearlings and young pigeons are treated before the flights begin against trichomoniasis and respiratory tract infections. After that, treatment is given on the advice of the vet, or preventively (every 3 to 4 weeks). When treating, Sebastién alternates different products which are administrated in tablet form, mixed into the feed or added to the water.
Finally, this report summarises the most notable titles that the Casaert-Senechal colony managed to achieve in 2010. At the provincial level, they were almost untouchable as regards titles in both middle distance, long middle distance and long distance racing. In addition, Sebastién was not far behind when he landed fifth place in the General National KBDB/RCFB Championship. And as well as this, he received many honours in various pigeon newspapers, such as the ‘Best Loft’ of Belgium in La Colombophile Belgeand ‘National Middle Distance Champion' in the Duivenkrant.
1st National Champion ‘Best Loft’ La Colombophile Belge-Herbots
1st National Champion in Middle Distance Vanrobaeys-Pitts-Duivenkrant
1st Champion of Yearlings and Old Birds of Wallonia La Colombophile Belge-Herbots
1st Provincial KBDB/RCFB Champion in Hainault Middle Distance
1st Provincial KBDB/RCFB Champion in Hainault Long Middle Distance
1st Provincial KBDB/RCFB Champion in Hainault Long Distance
1st General Champion at Derby Hainaut (Hainault, Walloon Brabant)
1st Champion in Long Middle Distance, Old Birds, Derby Hainaut (Hainault, Walloon Brabant)
1st Champion in Long Middle Distance, Yearlings, Derby Hainaut (Hainault, Walloon Brabant)
4th National Champion in Middle Distance, Duivenblad
4th Champion in Long Middle Distance, Old Birds, Derby Hainaut (Hainault, Walloon Brabant)
4th Champion in Long Distance, Old Birds, Derby Hainaut (Hainault, Walloon Brabant)
5th General National KBDB/RCFB Champion of Belgium
5th Champion Young Pigeons Cureghem Centre