Parkinson. L J
Around the year 2000 we had a trip to Belgium and that was the first time I came across some of the more well-known top names on the continent. That was a learning curve that I remember well and when we drew up at the lofts of Marc Pollin straight away I could see the change. On our first trip there were several small lofts but now they were much bigger lofts and fewer of them. My later trips to the continent and in this case the Pollin lofts were made easier as the trips passed by because I had Frans Rigole taking to the lofts. Then we had Guillaume Vanneste whose English, so I could learn far more than on previous trips. You would think that after all the times we have visited Belgium I should have picked up more on the language. The difference is the continentals have the benefit of listening to English music which must be a help plus they are taught other languages, again something that we did not do when I went to school all those years ago. There has also been a benefit to me on this trip and that was we went later in the day when Geert who is fluent with the English language, so I did have a good conversation with him.
Geert & Mark Pollin with Guillaume Vanneste & Les J Parkinson
For those who have been into the long-distance races will be aware of the name of Pollin Marc so doesn’t need any introduction in the international pigeon world, we must also not forget Geert. As a partnership they have been competitors at the highest level for many years and with the change in priorities for the racing they have now become known to a wider circle because of their excellent performances in the short and middle-distance races. Geert did point out that there are not that many long-distance races to make the competition worthwhile, mainly because they are only in a short season. With the wider range of races this team are now known for winning with National and international victories and they also have Olympic pigeons. They really got going with the change of direction in 2013, where they reached the highest step of the National Championships. This was the year when they became 1st National Champion Heavy LD KBDB 2013. Although there are two names on the partnership, wife Diane was a great help but in 2014 she was involved in a car accident while out training the pigeons. This was a period when Marc was looking after Diane, so Geert and his wife stepped in to do a bit more and help with the work in the lofts. The pigeons at this loft are now known for their all-round capabilities, what has proven to be a good point in the lofts is that even the long-distance pigeons are breeding middle-distance winners.
Geert Pollin with Les J Parkinson
This is certainly a professional set up and one that is made for pigeons and the visitors that are very often seen at this address. Marc was winning then, and he still is today, in fact he has just had another cracking season. It is always a pleasure meeting top fancier’s, to see what they have changed, but in many cases, there is as expected a language barrier, but pigeon fanciers soon get over that. Pigeons are in the blood and that is how it is with Marc who even as a child was already passionate about his father’s pigeons. Then in the early 70’s he had his own lofts and they like Marc and Geert have grown in the sport year after year. The results followed and what results they have been, the passion about pigeons is still there and the search for good and better pigeons is still going on after all these years. I have to say that they did say that the racing pigeons is getting smaller as a sport but more competitive because those who stay are trying to win the races. All the racing lofts are made in wood and there are corridors in the widowhood lofts so that Marc can go in the loft and see the pigeons without putting the pigeons on edge. A great benefit is that there are a good range of lofts that allow Marc to try different things with the pigeons.
A view of the Pollin Lofts
When they are looking to bring in new pigeons they look at two things. The first, and most important is they must like the pigeon. I suppose many fanciers have been in the same position of trying to explain what they are looking for but there must be “a click” between the pigeon and these fancier before a pigeon is considered. Then, the pigeon has to have good family background but the pigeon itself does not have to be a winner. However, they believe in family lines so must be good and not generations away from the winners. They do realise that the pigeons need time to acclimatise but most important is that the fancier must give the pigeons the necessary credits. Try to breed with different partners, search for the best breeding partner and you will find the top pair to breed from. When you breed out of a family of winners, sooner or later you breed winners. In any breeding loft both the cock and hen must be equal. You must look at your loft of pigeons and you must be honest and critical. When you have a good set up of winning cocks/breeders, you look for a good hen for them. They do experiment a lot with our breeders, they change a lot of partners, this in search of the “ideal pairing”. They do not breed too close with a family but look more to the family-lines and bring two good lines comes together. They also look at the body of the pigeons and we do not pair up two big or two small pigeons together. Where possible and with so many winners it is easily done here they like to use our own winners and the pigeons they bring in need to be from a very good winning family. They are both very selective when it comes to the pigeons for breeding. There are of course cases where a bird produces promising youngsters, so it is not unusual to take them from the race loft sooner than they would normally would have done.
Trophies on show and this is only a very small number of them
They start the season with something like 100 widowhood cocks and those that score well from the beginning of the middle-distance races remain at that sort of distance for the rest of the season. With those who do not perform so well at the shorter distance they are sent to the long-distance races, this system has seen them achieve some top results at both distances with pigeons from the same pairs, which must be good in any loft. Let’s get back to the widowhood cocks and how they are raced, and they start with about 100 widowhood cocks that are split between 6 compartments. To make life easier each compartment has its own colour, so that they can easily see where the pigeon belongs. The 100 pigeons are made up with 30 later and summer bred youngsters from the previous year. These pigeons to be trained more than the others and are therefore not counted as full members of the main race team.
Wing of a National winner
All widowers are paired around the 25th November the remaining pairs are put together 6 weeks later, this means the work while the breeding is in progress is spread during the complete breeding season. With splitting them and pairing them at two different times of the year the amount of work can be managed much better and less stress all-round. They do like to breed off the race team because this gives them an indication of the capabilities for the breeding loft after their racing career is over.
These are reared with the future in mind
When the youngsters are about 15 days old, the widowhood cocks are moved to the open aviary while the hens stay in the loft to finish raising the youngsters. In this open aviary, the widowers can work on their basic health and their meals contain purification Versele-Laga and every day Kaucabam is added to the drinking water. Kaucabam is described as a miracle product because it does help to keep the pigeons in excellent health and that’s very important I any winning team. During this period, the racing pigeons are also vaccinated against paramyxo and pox plus they also receive a cure against cancer. Then on March 15th, the cocks move back to their loft and 10 days later they are repaired. This time the pigeons only stay together for a few days and they certainly not left long enough to start breeding. During this second spell of them being together the cocks get motivated to the system. They only have those few days, then the hens are removed from the loft and the cocks are on the full widowhood system. At the beginning of May they visit their preferred vet Wim Boddaert (Oostkamp) to make sure that the widowhood cocks can start their new season in a good health.
Marc & Geert do whatever it takes to get the birds in the best condition therefore they prefer quality grains and they only use the mixtures from Versele-Laga. The widowhood cocks are fed communally, and in the morning, they have a full trough which is taken away after half an hour. In the evening, they get what’s left from the morning feed but do point out that if necessary, they get some extra. On their arrival from the race, they get 100% purification and later on they change to 50% purification and 50% sport. The 100% sport mixture is given prior to the races.
Selection of pigeons from the Pollin lofts
Every year, they wean about 150 youngsters for their race team, as they pointed out the game with the youngsters isn’t the priority to the Pollin team, but if they want to participate to the championships, they have to prove your capacities on this level too. The young birds are brought up on the darkness system with them going onto the system on the March 1st till and with May 31st, from 18.00 hours in the evening till 8 in the morning. After the second short distance race with the club, cocks and hens are separated and they are raced this way for the rest of the season. They are separated because they don’t want the young cocks to start a nest. Whether this is right or wrong is another matter, but Marc & Geert think that’s not too good for his further career as a widowhood cock, because they might have too much instinct towards the young bird loft. It’s important for a youngster to get as much experience as possible and that’s why the young cocks have to race 2 or 3 nationals. To motivate the young cocks, they put a few old hens amongst the young cocks prior to basketing. Because of the system they use it is not a problem if the young hens show some lesbian tendency.
We all look back and think about the performances and this family and what they have won, 2015 was a dream year when they won the following. 1st National Montauban (804km) year birds 2,129 birds. 1st National Sint Vincent 896km 3,045 old birds. 1st National Libourne 753km 5,890 ylgs. 1st National Libourne 753km 5,024 old birds. 1st Ace bird extreme long-distance year birds KBDB. 3rd Champion Extreme long-distance old birds KBDB. 5th Champion extreme long-distance old birds KBDB. 9 Zonal victories plus 7 Provincial victories. These are the winnings that any loft can build a future on.
Selection of pigeons from the Pollin lofts
Some recent results; Angouleme (662 km) Yearlings, Reg. 127p: 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 10th. National 5,030birds, 8th 13th 15th 22nd 27th 59th 62nd Etc. Old birds Reg 177p 1st 2nd 4th 9th National 4,525 birds. 10th 39th 42nd 45th 73rd 123rd 171st.
Tulle (633km) Reg. 111p: 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 8th. Zone 267birds: 4th 5th 6th 8th 10th. Prov 623birds 11th 12th 14th 17th 20th. Nat 4,169birds 17th 20th 26th 31st 35th. 9 prizes out of 10, and 5 in first 35 National which is always good racing.
Libourne (742km) Reg. 100birds 1st 2nd 3rd which was 3 prizes from 4 entries. Zone 346 birds 3rd 8th 11th. Prov 625birds 6th 14th 18th. National 3,176 birds 59th 109th 125th and this was from 4 entries.
Jarnac (651km) The winning bird wins 1st Zone 547 birds and 1st Provincial 1,065 birds, 3rd 3, 55, 120, 241, 357, 360, 537, 637 (8/10) National 5,371 birds. Yearlings National 46th 68th 71st 86th Etc. with 8 prizes from 12 entries.
Chateauroux (495km) Yearlings; Reg 183 birds 1st 2nd 3rd 9th four in the top ten from 6 entries. Zone A1 769 birds 2nd 4th 5th 21st Prov 1,780birds 11th 16th 17th 79th National 13,086 birds 23rd 33rd 34th 218th.
Argenton (523km) Reg 353 birds 1st 2nd 3rd 18th Zone 1,083 birds 1st 3rd 9th 49th. Prov 2, 596 birds 5th 9th 28th. National 19,964 birds 15th 21st 124th.
Chateauroux National (495km) Yearlings performed with a winner zone against 1,783 birds. Reg 420 birds 1st 2nd 5th 20th Zone A 1,783 birds 1st 6th 14th Prov. 4, 161 birds 4th 15th 51st National 27,081 birds 44th 164th
They also had the Best yearling bird this year and also the Best old bird this year.
About the National Championships KBDB, at the time of the visit the following was not confirmed but on WROL calculations they win these awards:
3th National Champion KBDB Extreme Long Distance and Long-Distance Yearlings
3th National Champion KBDB Long Distance Old Pigeons
5th National Champion KBDB Great Middle-Distance Yearlings
5th Ace Pigeon KBDB Great Middle-Distance Yearlings
4 top 5 classifications in the National Championships!!!!!
Having made several visits to these lofts I have seen change and the most notable is that they no longer set their lofts out for the longer races but have made changes. We all must move with the times and they way the sport is going, especially the number of races we compete in. I do understand their move to the middle-distance races because there is far more competition in that area than the long-distance races. Will we visit again, I don’t know but is we are in Belgium I see no reason why not, there is always something to look at in any winning loft. Thanks to the family for their time. They look ahead and are of the social media including Facebook, so you can see more of them on that site.