1. Please introduce yourselves: what disciplines do you play? How long? Were you pigeon fanciers back home?
We are Adela and Daniel Filipovics and we are 17 and 16 years old. We specialise in short distance to heavy middle distance flights (max 550 km). So we play not only the regional short distance and shorter middle distance flights, but also the national long middle distance flights such as Bourges, Argenton, Chateauroux, Gueret, La Souterraine.
I myself (Adela) have been doing it for a while, but my brother Daniel started pigeon racing only 2 years ago. Our father, Zigfrid Filipovics, has been a pigeon fancier since he was 7 years old. At home in Romania, he had ornamental pigeons and racing pigeons, but he did not take part in competitions. In 2001, he came to Belgium to work in order to make a decent living. He lived in Brussels and after work he would always go to the park to feed the pigeons. In 2011, we finally bought a house in Liedekerke. Our neighbour across the street, Arnaud Breynaert, was a pigeon fancier, so with his help our dad started pigeon racing in 2013.
2. Do you do winter breeding? When do you start preparing for breeding? Which pigeons are allowed to do winter breeding? All pigeons or only the breeders? How many rounds do you breed?
At the end of September, at the end of the racing season, we make the selection. We then let the pigeons moult and make sure they are set for winter. All pigeons are separated at the end of September and treated for paratyphoid for 10 days. About two weeks later, they get a 5-7 day cure against trichomonas. After that, we assume the pigeons are healthy and leave them together in the loft for two days every fortnight until 25 November so they can pre-match and get used to their partner. The cocks always stay in the loft, the hens are in the aviary in between. We don't really have fixed breeders yet, so we let all pigeons breed during the winter (both breeders and racers). The racers breed one round and the so-called breeders two or three rounds until we have 100-150 youngsters.
3. How do you pair the pigeons? Do you follow a certain line or do you have family breeding or do you just breed "good x good"?
We actually pair based mainly on performance. The best cocks are coupled with the best hens in the hope that the youngsters are as smart or even smarter than the parents.
4. How are the pigeons fed in preparation for breeding? How and with what do you feed the pigeons in the breeding season? And how much do you feed them?
During the breeding period we feed half Plus I.C.+ Start and half Mariman Standard Breeding & Racing. We use the Plus mixtures because they contain a vegetable pellet and everything is added in the right proportions. During the preparation for breeding, the pigeons get just enough so they don't get too fat and lay easily, just like during breeding. Once they have youngsters, they obviously get more food to help them grow up properly. But they should always eat everything!
5. Do the pigeons get extra light in winter for breeding?
The pigeons are given extra light so that they can be paired optimally. When the youngsters are weaned, we don't darken yet, we do so from 15 April to 15 June. We also put a heating plate on the ground during the first weeks so that the youngsters can lie down on it during cold winter nights. We always put some hens with the youngsters to teach them how to eat and drink.
6. Which additional products do you give during breeding preparation and which additional products do your pigeons get during breeding itself?
We use a fixed schedule for the products:
- Sunday: Form-Oil Plus + Digestal over the food
- Wednesday-Thursday: Form-Oil Plus + Digestal over the feed and Herbolan in the drinking water
- Friday-Saturday: Garlic Oil + B-Pure over the feed and Ducolvit in the drinking water
- Monday-Tuesday: Garlic Oil + B-Pure over the feed
Why do we use these products? We use Garlic Oil because garlic is great against worms. The pigeons sometimes walk around in the garden and eat all kinds of things. Garlic also kills bacteria. B-Pure is brewer's yeast and we think it is good for the pigeons' stamina. We see that it makes them train well. Herbolan is a kind of herbal tea that is good for maintaining health. Digestal is beneficial for the intestines. In fact, pigeons have a lot of stress due to environmental factors or when they are basketed for transport. We see that Digestal has a positive impact on the intestines and therefore there are fewer issues with adeno. We have found that Oropharma Intestinal Top is also a great product. We gave it to the weaned youngsters for the first time this year and had very few problems, whereas in the past we had some deaths due to adeno virus.
7. At what age are the youngsters weaned? What are they fed in the first weeks after weaning?
The young are weaned when they are about four weeks old. At six weeks, they are vaccinated against paramyxovirosis. We use only one type of vaccine. As long as the youngsters are exploring the area, they get 50% Plus I.C.+ Start and 50% Plus I.C.+ Junior. In terms of supplements, we regularly alternate between Garlic Oil, Form-Oil Plus, B-Pure, Digestal, Herbolan, Ducolvit, etc. When they are about eight weeks old and they start flying reasonably well, they get 100% Plus I.C.+ Junior. Once we start training, they get Plus I.C.+ Gerry.
During the racing season our pigeons always get the Plus I.C.+ mixtures Junior, Gerry, Champion and Energy, and in terms of supplementary products we use these Oropharma products: Digestal, Intestinal Top, Supervit or Dulcovit, Dextrotonic, Glucose + Vitamins, Boost X5, Recup-Lyt, Hemolyt and Carmine Mega Forte.
8. You haven't been racing for very long and yet you are already very successful. What good tips can you give beginners to make it in pigeon racing?
The start is always difficult. It is important to persevere, even if it is not always easy. Our success is also partly due to pigeons we got from good friends. Don't look too far, if it doesn't work out and you do your best, it's usually down to the quality of the pigeons. Good pigeons can do just that little bit more, even if the fancier doesn't know much about them yet!