The world's best allround pigeon fancier?
this loft report a trip to Belgium was made, to probably the best all-round
pigeon fancier in the world, or in other words, a fancier that excels in short -
as well as middle distance racing. As already can be guessed, the leading figure
in this loft report is Jos Thoné, the miracle man from Niel near As.
pigeons dominate his life. Jos Thoné speaking: ,,From the moment I could walk,
I was obsessed by pigeons. My dad had pigeons too and I spend most of my time in
the lofts. At a very young age already I knew I felt the urge of being the best.
The so successful fancier Jan Grondelaers from Opglabeek was my big example at
the time. When I was about twelve years old, and I had some time off, I stared
through the fence to his lofts, of pure admiration. And as the example for what
I wanted to achieve myself.''
1977 until 1991, apart from the time he fulfilled compulsory service, he was
loft manager of the Peeters-loft in As. In this period he learned the finer
skills of the profession, but in those days too he developed an ideal picture in
his mind. Before his thirtieth birthday he wanted an own home with a
professional loft situation. Because this was no cheap ideal, Jos at one time
had three jobs, as loft manager at Thomas Peeters and Sons from As, in day-time
deep under the ground as miner and in the evening as computer science teacher at
a day release centre. Something Jos also kept from his time as loft manager at
Peeters, is his wife Gaby, the daughter to Thomas himself.
1989 the time to make his dream come true came and Jos gave instructions to
build his present home. Thoné: ,,At the time I had to make a difficult choice.
Or get through all the work inside the house entirely and wait building my
pigeon lofts for two more years, or waiting with the house and being able to
race independently. I chose the last option and this gamble, because a gamble it
really was, turned out to be extremely well!
first two years the birds raced from carton boxes in stead of breeding boxes,
but they did so very well that within the two years they brought in enough money
to get their own interior as well as the entire interior for my family.''
he says he must have a guardian anger, because reaching all he has now,
certainly surpassed his biggest expectations:
As only Belgian fancier he became
overall champion in the International Gouden Duif competition twice!
He was world champion (Versele
Lage) four times, also something no one ever matched.
He won (Inter)national Barcelona
several times; with yearlings, hens and also International, with partner Willems
The last nine years he won the
overall championship of La Colombophilie Belge six times, a competition in which
everyone can enter.
In 2003 he won three provincial
races (Perpignan, Chateauroux and Vichy) and he won over 30 pure first prizes
from 100 until 1,100 km.
The last season three National
victories were won at other lofts with Thoné birds, with a/o 1. International
(42) has two sons, Maxim (9) and Xavier (14). Both are very involved in the
sport and they really look forward to succeed their father. But also Jos Thoné's
parents can be found at the lofts every day. Since two years they help in the
daily care of the colony that contains about 450 birds!! Furthermore Jos has two
more assistants. First of all Robert Clemens. He helps especially in weekends,
in basketing, clocking the birds, training, etc. Leon Geebelen is also of
important assistance to the champion from Niel near As. In the contrary to
Robert he is present a lot during the week, mostly from 8.00 until 10.00 a.m. He
cleans the lofts and also helps in other small tasks!
manages the whole lot. He decides what birds are entered for particular races,
he gives instructions for the medical guidance and feeds the racers during the
racing season. That he does not have to take care of 'the small tasks' gives him
more room to put his energy in more important affairs.
Thoné succeeded to create his own exclusive strain in only ten years time! It
all started with birds of his father in law, who lived close to Jos. Besides he
could count on many friends that welcomed him a good start. Jos: ,,Eventually I
was able to start in 1991 with three hundred racing birds. What followed was a
matter of racing, selecting and an iron regime. I did not want a situation in
which the wood can not be seen because of the trees. And therefor I tried to
estimate what was the winning and was the losing side as soon as possible.
Without many detours it eventually resulted in useful material! The character to
come home soon can not be seen at an eye, wing or throat. That is simply just
not enough to race well with birds.''
away Jos had the ambition to win. Not in one single category, but in all. The
birds were raced again and again and selected on the distances for which they
were particularly bred. In the meanwhile a clear view developed about the birds
that brought him to where he now is: clear on top with his own strain. A special
place is reserved for the already legendary 'Poco', the small hen ringed
B92-5000631. Jos: ,,In her year of birth I made her race about 5,000 kilometres!
Amongst them were two races above 700 km. The last race was Brive (720 km). Only
a few birds managed to reach their loft on the day of liberation that day. As I
wanted to go to the club with the clock (it was already pitch-dark then), I
heard a pigeon trying to get in. I heard it because I made an alarm, otherwise I
would never had noticed it. It was 'Poco' . . . the bird that had never excelled
before but with this showed its great character and definitively ensured its
spot on my loft.''
with a bit of sense for pigeons knew it for sure: 'Poco' had made too many
kilometres at such a young age and was finished for the rest of her career. As a
racer she would be useless from then on. But how surprisingly to everyone,
already within the year this hen would astonish the pigeon world again. In 1993
she won first prize International on the leaden race of Barcelona in the
yearlings category. In 1995 again she shocked the world by winning 1st National
on Barcelona with hens. And again it runs in the blood and 'Poco's family kicked
up some more rows. 'Polanova' won 1st National Barcelona (yearlings) 1994. In
1996 Thoné won 1st International Barcelona with partner Willems, the bird 'Gerda'
being fastest. 'Arnold' was given to Valentin Vanheusden as an egg, in 1997 he
won 1st International Barcelona.
birds became fundamental for the overnight Thoné strain. Before some of them
were sold, they were first paired up to each other, their parents and more
superb birds. The youngsters of these pairings are the present stock birds.
the shorter distances Jos has other birds as his disposal. Jos: ,,The bird that
a became a golden breeder to me was 'Superman' (B82-5192253), the best National
acebird middle distance of Belgium KBDB in 1986 for Jacques Debacker. He is a
bird of Janssen origin. But 'Mooiste Reus' (B90-5105244) too was a bird of such
calibre. He was still such reinforcement through his father in law from the
absolute beginning. And not to forget of course 'Napoleon' (B93-5010004) - a
Grondelaers-bird - and 'Milton' (B90-5109916). This last one came direct from my
friend Dirk Leekens. Furthermore I started crossing the lines of 'Mooiste Reus'
(the ancestor to all my grey birds and of heavy overnight origin) to my 'Poco'-line.
These crossings appeared to be excellent in heavy oneday races. One of the best
examples is my 'Kleine Molenaar' (B98-5075521), the cockbird that became 1st
provincial acebird long distance, 1st provincial acebird marathon and that won
1st provincial Marseille in 2000.
I bought a DNA tested (by pulling out a plume of the parent and its descendant
it can be ensured the full hundred percent if the birds really is bred from
chosen parent) son to the 'Nationaal I’ of Schellens through Herbots. The
'Nationaal I' won 1st National Bourges, 1st provincial Orleans 4,701 birds and a
total of five times first. I used his son, my B95-5055105 'Sars', this year for
the first time on the Artificial Insemination method. He is truly a top bird. 32
of his youngsters I entered in racing this year. On a certain race I won the
first nine positions, with six direct children of him amongst them. One of his
youngsters that was a product of AI is my B03-5071667, that I appropriately
called 'Artificial Jutta'. She was one of the best birds of Belgium this year.''
this quote most certainly is no exaggeration, as can be seen at its great list
of honour, only as a youngster 'Artificial Jutta' won a/o:
1st (2nd National from 11,510 birds!)
'Sars' was paired back to the old basic lines (Grondelaers, 'Superman' and
'Mooiste Reus') and like this he forms the present day top colony for races from
100 up until 700 km.
big lines, this is the base that created the ambitious beginning in this so
Jos is in the vein for talking, there is no stopping him anymore. Some questions
were asked him and hopefully the answers are educational:
do you prepare your birds for the racing season?
have 44 pairs of breeders and 64 pairs of racers at my disposal. The racers are
divided over four sections of each 16 birds. Three lofts are for short-, middle-
and oneday long distance; one section is for the overnight racers. The middle
distance racers are paired up in December, to raise two youngsters. They are
re-paired in March to breed a few more days and like that they start the season.
The yearlings are first paired up in March and they get to raise one or two
youngsters. The overnight racers do not get to raise one single youngster and
they are paired up in the beginning of March, after a few days of breeding they
are separated and in the beginning of April this ritual is repeated.''
is your medical guidance like?
short I try to maintain the natural health of my birds as high as possible. If
at any occasion I do need a medicine, I will only give this for a period as
short as possible.
to fifteen years ago there were supplements like Suanovil, Linco Spectine and
some more things for the bronchial tubes. By know you do not see the wood for
the trees anymore. I also hate it when I go to a veterinarian and he gives me a
medicine without description of the contents. That certainly does not give me a
system is mainly based on the throat-smear I have done about one to three times
a year. Not the traditional, but the so-called 'SWOB' smear. Herewith some slime
in the front of the throat is taken and send to the University of Liege and is
examined there bacteriological. When my birds have any problem the result of
this examination tells me exactly what the problem is and, more important, they
give me just the right medicine that solves just that particular problem. Many
medicines do not work anymore because the birds became resistant to it.
I am guided by the BIFS (Birds Insemination and Fertilisation Station, situated
in Veldwezelt – Lanaken) and their system is based on decreasing medication.''
you want to say that your birds never get a 'blind' cure anymore?
five years of research I found out that always the same birds get cancer. But
what was obvious?? They are not always the bad ones . . . I was advised to give
a cancer cure during the season three or four days every three weeks. Thanks to
the product called 'Vior', that stops cancer developing itself, I was able to
extend this to some more than four weeks. Besides, it is also good against
illnesses at young birds, but that really has all to do with bad nutrition.''
your top breeder 'Sars' you use Artificial Insemination. What gave you that idea
and how does it work?
is like this. With the help of science I can force time. First it took me five
years to breed fifty youngsters from a topper, no I do that in one year!! Of
every ten birds 'Sars' breeds, he gives one real topper and with that he is by
far the best breeder I ever had. So now I have five super birds from him every
year. How it works? The partners of the hens I breed with are made infertile and
about six to eight days after pairing I must take the hens to the veterinarian,
in my case BIFS, to inseminate them, and so on. The most important thing is only
to do this with a real proven breeder! Otherwise the danger occurs you have too
many descendants of a second class bird. During the winter months 'Sars' has
problems fertilising the eggs - therefor his name - and because of the
artificial taking of sperm from him, I can still breed youngsters of him in this
period. AI has many advantages.''
were the main factors you paid attention to in building your loft?
me it is very important that I can take a maximal profit from my birds and (partly)
therefor my loft is made in a way that enables me to race total widowhood.
always try to send the entire pair to one race as much as possible. It does not
matter at all that sometimes circumstances make you place one of the partners
with another one, in the contrary! Besides, when the partners must wait for each
other a long time this is mostly on heavy races and than they really do not feel
the need of seeing each other right away. The front of my lofts point towards
south-east, and here I house my widowers. One section, in the middle, is only
used to let in the hens. They are housed at the backside of my loft in an open
aviary. The loft is five meters wide. The measurements of my sections are quite
small, what forces a good band between the birds and me. A loft in which the
temperature fluctuates too much is never good. In my loft every widower gets an
individual heating-plate in its breeding box. Cocks in the widowhood system are
very susceptible to cold and moist. When the weather conditions ask for it, I
want to be able to take action. A good ventilation is very important too. The
saddleback roof of my loft is covered with roofing tiles of 'Pottelberg', that
are ideal for pigeons and ensure just the right ventilation. In extreme cases I
always have the aviary ready!
cleaning I hardly waste any time. The floors as well as the boxes are provided
with grates. And also the 'big cleaning all the way' in winter I dropped this
year. As I fear that by doing that, some very important and favourable elements
of the whole environment of the loft are wasted.
the grates I have basements of 90 cm deep. They are not only effective in
catching the droppings, but they also ensure the dust to disappear.''
recently put your own mixture of food on the market. What can you tell us about
Three days before the eggs hatch of the first youngsters until about three weeks
after weaning, 15% of Liege mixture (based on peas) is added, only when it is
cold outside because then you notice at your birds they really are in need of
protein. In the summer months this Liege mixture is left out entirely already.
The last three to four days before basketing on a heavy overnight race about
fifteen percent of extra's are added: cribs corn, maize, some peanuts and some
pealed cereals: sunflower pits, oats and rice. This to replenish the fats some
more, with my youngsters I did the same thing for the 'Nationals'.
The first days of the weeks the hens get a purifying mixture.''
curiosity about the composition of the 'Thoné-Special mixture arose now. The
Beyers firm supplies it and its composition is: 25% cribs maize, 33% peas, 3%
sorghum extra red, 2% barley, 1% linseed, 2% pealed sunflower pits, 5% saphlore
pits, 6% dari, 10% paddy rice, 12% wheat and 1% sesame seed.
kind of supplements do you give to your bird? Do you find it important to basket
your birds every week or is frequent rest more important to you?
give my birds fresh grind once a week. When the youngsters covet they get
pick-stone. Once in a while I put some mineral-powder over the food, but tight
rules for that I do not have. Beer-yeast whether or not in combination with
milk-yeast I also like to give them. Furthermore I use several supplements I got
of BIFS from Lanaken: T-Cur, Oligo-fertile, Vior and Perform-oil. All products
that support the natural health.''
am not blind however. Last year I gave Aviol and I raced superbly. This year
they took Aviol out of production, I did not gave it but performed just as well.
The main thing is to own top bird and all the rest are matters of secondary
it is perfectly healthy, a short-middle distance bird is basketed every week.
The oneday long distance birds are entered once in every two weeks and the
overnight racers are basketed once every three or four weeks.
fanciers say that their birds really must be entered every week, except the
overnight racers of course. That is real nonsense. Every good bird sometimes has
a moment that it is tired. At such a time the bird really needs its rest.''
against Thoné is almost impossible. The following results prove that:
Melun (Mine-area Federation) 208 birds
18 entered, 17 prize cards
Orleans (provincial yearlings) 7,272 birds
44 entered, 27 prize cards
Montauban (provincial old birds) 918 birds
5 entered, 5 prize cards
Nanteuil (Great Region combine) 6,005 birds
118 entered, 49 prize cards
Melun (Mine-area federation) 585 birds
59 entered, 28 prize cards
Orleans (Mine-area federation) 798 birds
105 entered, 53 prize cards
Chateauroux (provincial) 630 birds
22 entered, 13 prize cards
LF Bernard (Mine-area fed. young) 200 birds
59 entered, 41 prize cards
(30 birds in the top 34!)
LF Bernard (Mine-area fed. old) 165 birds
14 entered, 10 prize cards
Perpignan (international yearlings) 4,534 birds
19 entered, 10 prize cards
against 445 birds he started with positions 1.-5.-7.-15.-etc.
La Souterraine (Federation) 174 birds
35 entered, 19 prize cards
Chimay (Mine-area federation) 608 birds
71 entered, 35 prize cards
Vichy (national) 13,510 birds
44 entered, 26 prize cards
he started with the positions 1.-13.-17.-18.-39.-54.-56.-etc.
1991 Jos Thoné's birds won over 400 National top hundred positions, including 3
x 1st, 5 x 2nd, 7 x 3rd, etc. On International races over 200 times a Thoné
bird won a top 100 quotation . . . Did anybody do better??
mentioned before is the absolute world class bird 'The Artificial Jutta', but of
course some more exceptional birds house the Thoné loft. Mentioning them all
would take pages. Because Jos has many birds, of course he has many top birds.
Still it is not the quantity that makes him the great champion.
strain of birds breeds extremely well and ensures top birds in every generations.
The pictures of the birds on these pages certainly confirm that. One of them is
the top breeder B97-5008933, a son to 'Arnold', the 1st International Barcelona
1997 winner. The dam to 'Arnold' is a half sister to 'Poco' and his sire is bred
from a half brother to 'Poco' . . .
933 is sire to 'Evita', 1st provincial acebird long distance in 2002. Her list
of honour shows top prize cards like a/o 25th International Marseille (hens)
against 3,618 birds, 4th St. Vincent 609 birds, 12th Montauban 918 birds and 4th
Narbonne 452 birds.
(NL98-5075839) is bred direct from the sensational 'Poco' as he was paired to
'Kirui', the sire to 'Arnold'. He is sire to 'Pichon' (B00-5041991), a top racer
as well. She won a/o 96th provincial Cahors 1,470
birds, 189th National Barcelona 13,021 birds, 142nd National Perpignan 7,198
birds, 3rd National Cahors 549 birds, 131st National Barcelona 11,806 birds and
278th International Perpignan hens against 3,934 birds.
topper 'De Witte Meeuw' also can be categorised under the new generation top
breeders. His sire is 'Kleine Molenaar' (B98-5075521), 1st provincial acebird
long distance in 2000, 1st provincial acebird marathon 2000 and 1st National
acebird Televie in 2000. He won a/o 1st provincial (548 birds) and 37th National
Marseille (4,093 birds), 51st International Bordeaux against 11,644 birds, 51st
National Montauban against 7,220 birds and 76th National Perpignan against 6,246
birds. His dam 'Godiva' (B98-5075638) is of a seldom class too. She was winner
of 1st provincial (1,378 birds) and 9th National Bordeaux (3,651 birds), 1st
provincial (709 birds) and 11th National Perpignan (6,246 birds), 27th National
Barcelona against 13,021 birds and 36th International Bordeaux against 11,644
birds. On this race from Spain she won 25,000 Euro of price-money!!
there are many other birds that won several
National top 50 positions!
to the future' was something a reporter wrote that visited Jos Thoné ten years
ago. And on the day of today still, this quote still applies to Jos. He is far
ahead of his time and is always one step ahead of all his concurrence. With his
42 years he is one of the youngest legends in modern pigeon sport. His unbridled
devotion, perfectionism, intelligence and ambition guarantee success for the
coming era. But he is also a role model! Like Jan Grondelaers once was his great
role model, he is himself now a role model to many young fanciers. And role
models are indispensable in every sport.