L Stabel and son saw the light
Goirle is a little town in the Netherlands near the Belgian border. On summer evenings you see that pigeon sport is still alive there. Everywhere you see groups of pigeons training and among them one real big group. The ‘big group’ are the birds that belong to Louis Stabel and his son Eugene. Louis, now in his sixties, has been a pretty good racer all his life, but in recent years he and his son are real top.
It was back in the 80-ies that the name of Stabel was on everybody’s lips. Then he had a ‘once in life time’ long distance bird that he had gotten from a friend. It won in one year time 14th National Bergerac, 3rd National Dax and 7th National Sint Vincent against average 15,000 birds. Those were races of approximately 1,000 kilometers. Naturally the bird was transferred to Japan.
In those days nearly all good long distance birds were transferred to the land of the rising sun. China was ‘a developing pigeon country’ then. Chinese buyers did not exist. Anyway, with this sensational hen Louis Stabel had proven how good a handler he was.
In the years that followed the star of Stabel kept on shining. In 1990 he became national champion young birds, he won National Orleans twice and he became provincial champion as well. The birds that were doing so well for him were the off-spring of pigeons he got from Mr Sas, Mr J Verhoeven and the Heesters-birds through Verhagen van Gorp. Verhoeven had the direct Janssens, Heesters had Klak-birds. In 2007 Louis Stabel and his son, who had become as pigeon crazy as his father, decided to try out something new:
They had heard about other fanciers that raced so well with hens and now they also wanted to give this system a try. They have never regretted it. Only 9 years later they became 2nd National champion and they owed it to their hens.
Initially they only raced eight hens but that was enough to see the light. They were so impressed that they knew what to do from then on: Focus on hens and race more of them. It was to be the start of a sensational reversal.
Quievrain 156 km 16-08-2015
4.264 pigeons: 9,15,17,19,22,34,37,40,52,64,70,73,113. 54 prizes from 70
St Quentin 225 km 02-05-2015
2,936 pigeons: 6,7,15,23,31,32,34,56,60,63,69,83,91. 51 from 94
St Quentin 225 km 01-08-2015
2,589 pigeons: 1,2,14,20,21,23,41,44,46,51,56,57,58,59. 59 from 100
Morlincourt 260 km 08-08-2015
1,268 pigeons: 1,2,6,9,10,11,12,22,23,24,27,29,32,33,34. 49 from 75
Creil 312 km 09-05-2015
23, 378 pigeons: 3,5,6,58,147,160,213,241,278,396,399. 48 from 86
Creil 312 km 06-06-2015
12,648 pigeons: 2,3,36,49,51,76,101,124,196,213,237,267. 44 from 60
Creil 312 km 11-07-2015
9,912 pigeons: 6,7,13,17,84,126,127,136,143,150,151. 54 from 70
Creil JG 312 km 19-09-2015
3,293 pigeons: 1,2,3,18,23,24,25,31,33,36,43,44,46. 38 from 66
Creil old birds 312 km 19-09-2015
1,263 pigeons: 1,5,8,9,10,12,14,16,18,19,21,46,49,50,62. 37 from 47
Sens 390 km 17-05-2015
17,226 pigeons: 4,5,9,22,39,71,78,88,96,131,162,197. 54 from 89
Fontenay 432 km 27-06-2015
6,704 pigeons: 17,18,19,75,89,91,94,162,385,415,419. 28 from 45
La Souterraine 643 km 20-06-2015
3,785 pigeons: 4,18,81,105,144,199,200,221,255,268. 18 from 25
These are some results of 2015 only. In 2016 it was about the same but I prefer not to combine the best results of 2 years with the intention to make things look better than they really are. What is striking is that these results were achieved at short distance, middle distance and little long distance. And… mainly with hens!
When I asked father and son if they had an explanation for their fantastic results in the last few years they unanimously said: ‘We owe it all to our hens. If we would race cocks only, as we did in the past, we would be average or even less. Our winning birds are hens and our ace pigeons as well.’
As mentioned before they started with 8 hens 10 years ago, now they race no less than 80. That is quite a lot. The new system turned them into mob flyers indeed but their prize percentage is mostly over 60% which is considered as real good. They still race cocks but they cannot even compare.
The birds that are responsible for their great achievements of to-day are partly of their old family but since 2000 they did not sit still and successfully imported new bloodlines. They did not pay crazy prices for paper tigers, on the contrary. The birds they imported were pretty cheap and most of them they got through a voucher. Especially birds from J v d Putten, Bart Verbeek, Gert v d Boogaert and F van Huygevoort have improved the quality of their family even more.
To-day they have a handful of hens or even more that you may call the basis of their family. These birds themselves are responsible for the recent successes and most of their top racers of to-day are related to them.
Unlike other champions who race hens only Stabel does not darken them. How should he? They are housed in an open aviary all day long. Only at night they are inside in the main loft that is closed off with a sail. Naturally they are raced on widowhood. Each hen has its own partner, which is shown every time before basketing. Especially in the autumn races the results are sometimes spectacular and they think they know why. Then the birds that have been on widowhood before get a boost by being raced natural and especially on babies they are outstanding..
Till July, when on widowhood the birds train daily. Since they are locked up in winter the training is built up in spring from half an hour to one and a half hour. A flag must help. When they are on the nest even a flag would be useless and therefore they go on the road with them. How often? When the weather permits nearly daily.
Also for youngsters they find training important. They are forced to fly and when the weather permits they go on the road with them as they do with the old birds. ‘You get nothing for nothing’ is a saying in the Netherlands.
Father and son are real all-round racers. They are good at short distance, at middle distance and at long distance. ‘Long distance’ are the races up to 650 kilometres. The 2 day races they skip. They won National Orleans (section) twice which implies that they are also good at the young bird races. As for long distance they race the same birds that do so well for them at short distance.
MEDICATION AND FEEDING AND STUFF
In fall the birds are medicated against paratyphoid. They are not injected. On Tuesday they put Sedochol in the water and when the distances become bigger the birds get special pigeon oil.
And what about canker and respiratory problems? They treat the birds incidentally. When? That is mainly a matter of feeling on the part of the fancier they say. They owe their successes definitely not to fancy lofts. They are very modest. If one thing is not responsible for their fantastic results it is the lofts.
Keeping such a big family of birds is quite demanding for the fancier. But no problem for the Stabel family. They are busy with the birds many hours a day and also Louis’ wife Annet has joined the team now. Like so many others they have to face some jealousy, but those people that envy them are still in bed when early in the morning Louis Stabel and son are grabbing the birds for their training.
If it really helps to go on the road with the birds that often? They would not do it if they did not believe in it.