In conversation with Albert Derwa
The man that we propose to you now is not a Belgian star but a world star.
I know, "World Stars" there are many, but unlike others who owe their fame to huge amounts of birds that they race or propaganda that they pay for, jovial Albert Derwa races few pigeons.
But nevertheless it is hard to beat him.
In the past he was outstanding with young birds.
"You should race old birds, that is the name of the game" some sneered.
He did so and very soon his results with old birds were devastating as well.
"You should race long distance" was the comment some made now.
He started racing long distance and won 1st prizes national.
Today the name of Derwa is often connected with living legend "Paulien".
Was this hen the best breeding hen of all Belgium in recent years?
The record of "Paulien" is unparalleled by:
- Chateauroux 8,218 p - 1st
- Gueret 1.298 p - 1st
- Chateauroux 3,969 p - 1st
- Blois 540 p - 1st
- Argenton 432 p - 1st
- Sens 195 p - 1st.
Of course that is not it.
And what makes that hen so special? She won firsts and she bred winners as well.
Her first baby "Pellina" became 8th National Ace.
In 2011, two sons of "Pauline" were on every body"s lips: "Primo" and his brother, "Zoon". In no less than 6 races they arrived together.
Then "Zoon" won 1st with yearlings, his brother 1st with old birds. UNBELIEVABlE. "Zoon" won in 2011 alone 5 firsts and also a 5th National Chateauroux (8,092 p).
Only one year later a new phenomenon presented itself in the Derwa loft, "Pricilla" from 2012 and full sister to "Pellina", "Primo" and "Zoon" and probably the best hen of Belgium in 2014. She won:
- National Gueret (z) 3,114 p - 1st (National 15,007 p - 4th).
- Pihtiviers 822 p - 1st
- National Argenton (z) 1,544 p - 1st
- Blois 372 p - 1st
- Blois 1,717 p - 4th.
- Argenton 1.927 p - 3rd. National (z) 4007 p - 11th, National 22 463 p - 16th.
- Gueret 4,165 p - 8th. National 16 988 p- 33rd.
And more top prizes. ("z" stands for zone or section).
"Petrova" and "Perla", also bred from "Pauline" were other excellent racers but moved to China.
Albert Derwa has reason to smile with such fantastic hens
Could this man have a secret? Results of his birds in other lofts give the answer.
- Take Dutch Koen Minderhoud. He stunned the nation with his "Geeloger" that won 3 firsts against thousands of birds, always in hard weather conditions.
It was bred from a daughter of "Paulien", so a sister to "Zoon," "Primo" and "Pricilla".
- Matthias Coel got a bird from Derwa that descended from "Paulien". It beat 32,044 pigeons from a race from Argenton.
- The 1st prize National Issoudin is a grandchild of "Pauline".
- Jos Thone won 1st Provincial with a granddaughter of "Paulien". .
- Also Eric Limbourg got a sensational racer that descended from this miracle hen.
- Finally, I want to refer to the one million dollar race in South Africa. It was a tough race, as usual, and was won by a German. The winning bird had "Derwa blood" in her veins through J vd Pasch Netherlands.
Fanciers that read my articles know how I think about "breeding pairs" and so called "Golden couples". But Derwa had a couple that gave at least one super each year. And when I say super I really mean SUPER.
I said "had" because "Paulien" died in 2014. I asked Albert some questions.
I will not ask you what attracts you in pigeon sport because everybody has the same answer: "Seeing pigeons arrive from a race". My question to you is: What do you NOT like in this sport?
I need not think about this for long: It is the jealously among the fanciers. "Why" I sometimes wonder.
What, in the pigeon sport, is your best memory and what your worst?
I have many great memories. The worst one is from 1996. It was the first year that I raced old birds. Then I had nine widowhood cocks. Nine good ones. In a smash I lost them all in one day. Afterwards, three came back but you never forget such a day.
Which birds are mainly responsible for your fame?
Obviously, "Paulien" but the "Black Pearl" which I got for free from Pierre Verhoeven had a big impact as well. She was a "Verbruggen bird" and descended from "Kletskop" and "son Elvis" from Verstraete.
Can you talk about "Derwa strain?"
More or less. My family of today is mainly based on Verbruggen, Vandenabeele and Thomas Paris in particular. Today most of my best birds descend from "Paulien".
Is feeding important?
Hmm. Do not know. I have my system. I prefer "light feed" with lots of barley.
The hens only get "normal mixture" one day before basketing, the cocks the last 2 days. Early in the week they get much barley. In winter, after the birds have reared one round, they get barley only for one months. They do not like it but this does not mean it is not good.
What is your greatest talent?
Modest Albert shrugged. Apparently he felt embarrassed but his wife Francien helped me out. "My husband has a nose for quality. He is successful with all the birds he imports. Once our friend Paul Huls stood on our doorstep with 40 birds. Albert was allowed to choose what he wanted. He picked out two.
He mated them and those birds became the parents of "Miss Belgium "
You are familiar with many champions. Which pigeons and fanciers impressed?
I have much respect for Verbruggen. Both as a fancier and a human. He has raced well all his life. The birds from Rene v d Broek from Tremelo impressed me a lot. He may not be the name that you would expect but what"s in a name? .
What is the biggest myth or nonsense in the pigeon sport?
Belief in mysteries or secrets. You cannot imagine how many fanciers ask me: "What did you give the birds?" after a good result.
What do you think of the eye theory? Eye sign?
I know nothing about such things. Maybe I am too stupid? (Again a champion who claims to know nothing about eyes' A.S.).
From whom have you learned much?
Verbruggen, Thomas Paris and last but not least an older guy; Jos Verhoeven.
With whom would it be fun for you to chat about pigeons?
Gerard Koopman. He races well, is sympathetic and is far from stupid.
Should something be done about those so called mob fliers? Do they not frustrate you?
Not at all. I wish there were more of them. Especially if they would pool money.
Do you read much about pigeons?
I like to read about pigeons indeed. When a new book came out in my younger days I was the first one to buy it.
What do you find good additives for your birds?
Certainly no vitamins. Concerning this I fully agree with you: Pigeons can do without.
In hot weather electrolytes may be useful and I believe a bit in oils. But as you often write yourself, grit is of the outmost importance.
And what about road training? Does that make you a better racer?
For old birds it does not make any sense. My babies I toss pretty often.
At least 30 times before the racing season. Tossing in between two races may be useful for short distance, but for short distance only.
What do you do after a bad race?
Nothing special and I certainly not become nervous. Nervous persons make mistakes.
How well did your best birds perform as a youngster?
Generally speaking my best young birds will also become my best old birds.
How many days per month do you medicate your birds?
Hard to say. If they are OK, I do not do anything, if something is wrong you have no choice. In the past I medicated my birds more than I do today.
Then I medicated against canker every week. Today once per month.
My "Zoon" and "Primo" were always in super condition and could do without medicine for eleven weeks. Naturally I do not take any risks concerning Paratyphoid.
You have fantastic birds for Middle Distance and what we call short great distance.
With what kind of birds should such birds be crossed?
Sprint birds! They have proven to have the main feature that good racing pigeons should have: The ability to orient themselves properly.
Do you also lose many babies like others and is Adeno also a problem here?
In 2013 I lost a lot of babies, 34 of 70. And indeed, Adeno / Coli is also a problem here. I try to solve this without medication.
Two days without food, after that very light food and electrolytes often help.
If not, there is no choice and I take refuge to medicine.
Why is "Paulien" that bird that made you so famous called "Paulien?"
Well, back in 2006 I would grow some babies for my friend Paul Huls.
But when they were ready Paul was very busy and did not show up.
Among the birds that I bred for him were some that were so special that I kept them for myself. One of them is "Paulien".
"Paul" would be more logical, but that is a rather sloppy name for a hen.
As a final question, any advice for beginners and young people?
Do not pay much money for pigeons! No pigeon guarantees good off spring. There should be enough fanciers that are willing to help beginners with eggs or late breeds.
So far Albert Derwa, the champion who has no secrets to anyone.
He emphasizes that it"s not the bottle that will make you a champion. His fame is mainly based on legendary "Paulien". He got it by chance, but without that miracle he would doubtlessly have had other supers.
Because fanciers like Derwa are different. They are born winners.