Niel-bij-As – As is a little village that surpasses the much bigger Arendonk in terms of pigeons and top level pigeon sport. And one fancier there, Jos Thoné, has achieved such superb exploits during an explosive career, that ordinary mortals can only respectfully bow their head to him.
Because he is not the only Belgian fancier who became four times World champion Versele-Laga… who won the Gouden Duif competition six times, thereby proving true brilliance in the pigeon sport? He also became 1st General Champion Belgische Verstandhouding… 13 x National Champion of LCB… and 12 x National Champion of the Belgian Pigeon sport.
He was co-founder of the World Pigeon Center… his lofts have been copied world wide… and he was the one who introduced total-widowhood to the lowlands of Europe.
In 2014 he excelled in all categories with 1st Provincial Ace pigeon Speed Limburg, 1st Provincial Champion Middle-distance Limburg, 1st Provincial Champion Long-distance Limburg (X. & M. Thoné) and the Bronzen Vleugel in the Brugse Barcelona Club. The day he won the 11th national Barcelona, he bagged the 1st prize against almost 2,000 pigeons from Chimay!
But winning the Gouden Duif Belgium for the 6th time gives him the best feeling of all. And this is more important than ever because, after the sale in 2010, this was the first time that he raced for the championships again.
“To become Gouden Duif winner Belgium now… you can safely say that I am a very happy pigeon fancier,” says the champion from Limburg!
The lofts of Jos Thoné…
The previous five years
In 2010 Jos Thoné was diagnosed with an eye disease, and the chance of an operation is still very real. In 2010 his pigeons were sold, except for the young birds. The young out of the top pigeons stayed in As, together with a number of basis pigeons from John Hanson, and these formed the basis of the present colony.
It was intended that from 2011, Carlos Marquez Prats and father Gerard Thoné would start racing from the property opposite Jos Thoné, but in 2010, Carlos suddenly died. But the desire to keep racing was still there and former loft caretaker Akagi agreed to step in for three years. At the end of 2013, part of the pigeons were sold and another part was bought back.
In 2014 they raced from this location under the name of Xavier & Maxim Thoné. Father Gerard took the entire care of the pigeons under his wing, and the new tandem became Fond champion of Limburg in 2014. And in his own loft, Jos Thoné became General Champion of Limburg… and winner of the Gouden Duif competition 2014. They didn’t race with a larger number of pigeons, but the birds were housed in two separate lofts.
At this moment, the races of 100 to 700 kilometers are mainly raced from Jos Thoné’s loft, and from the loft of Xavier & Maxim the emphasis is on the long-distance and extra long-distance. Both lofts have a full team of pigeons to race ‘everything’.
To run both lofts, Jos Thoné can call on an excellent team. First of all, there is father Gerard and mother Anna, who look after a large part of the caretaking. Then there is Pascal Leeman, who helps with basketing, major cleaning jobs, and the care for the breeders. Patrick Spe, Marcel Vierendeels and Guy Baerts take responsibility for the paperwork and especially for sending in the results of the championships.
In addition, friend Guy Baerts breeds a part of the long-distance pigeons. Also gardener Firmin Roux gives a helping hand in the care for the pigeons. And Ludo Reynders, Marc Vanonckelen and Gert Noels help out where needed, but especially with testing Jos’ pigeon in their lofts.
ZO WERD HIJ GOUDEN DUIF-WINNAAR
Snelheid 17.5 Reims 228 d. : 5, 3, 1
Snelheid 28.9 Chimay 599 d. : 11, 54, 13
Hafo 17.5 Gien 397 d. : 2, 5, 1
Hafo 16.8 Sourdun 152 d. : 2, 6, 1
Fond 31.5 Limoges 1723 d. : 15, 14
Fond 12.7 La Souterraine 160 d. : 1, 7
Old pigeons and yearlings
From his own loft, Jos Thoné started last season with 48 couples on total-widowhood, and from the loft of X. & M. Thoné with 24 old cocks, 16 old hens and 60 yearling cocks and hens, also on total widowhood. The last races of the season, a few middle-distance pigeons were raced from the nest. At the end of the season, the young were weaned and the pigeons were put into the aviary. During the moult period they were given premium mixture from Beyers, supplemented with wild seeds and linseed.
The first pairing took place at the beginning of January… the pigeons were just put together, and some of them produced young and others did not. At the end of February, cocks and hens were separated again.
When the weather is fine, the pigeons start their training in early March. Cocks and hens come home together… stay together for a short time and are then separated again. It also happens, when the weather holds, that the pigeons stay together for three days and that they complete the entire training cycle in one session.
At basketing for a race it is not usual for the pigeons to come together. Only when they need a little encouragement in motivation they get a nesting bowl in their nest box or they stay together for a bit longer after returning. Sometimes they rear a youngster in their nest box. Extra motivation is only given when Jos Thoné badly needs to earn points for a championship.
The old long-distance pigeons only breed twice for a few days before the beginning of the season. Their young are then raised by the yearling pigeons. So there is no early breeding round for the old long-distance pigeons.
At basketing, cocks and hens do not generally come together. Middle-distance pigeons and long-distance pigeons exercise together. All hens exercise once a day for one whole hour as soon as the weather is good enough. All cocks exercise for a full hour twice a day. It is especially important for the cocks to display some fireworks during exercising. The hens exercise in a group and with them it is more difficult to determine their form.
“I can’t learn much from the exercise behaviour of my pigeons. Their behaviour in the loft… testing in the hand… and of course the results tell me much more. We only basket old and young pigeons when they are one hundred percent fit… otherwise they stay at home”… says the champion from As.
But being flexible is the most important part! Also hens that pair together get an egg or sometimes even a young in their nesting bowl. Or like the ‘Kirin’, who won 10 x 1st prizes and started pairing with a hen in the middle of the season. We let cock and hen stay together… they were raced from the nest for a few weeks… and only then they switched to widowhood again.
The lofts of Xavier and Maxim Thoné…
4 season mixture as basis
Each and every day, the pigeons are fed with the Premium grains from Beyers, or the ‘4 season mixture’, but adjusted when necessary. In the moult period for example, wild seeds and linseed is added. During breeding, when it is really cold sometimes, the mixture is complemented with 10% pulses + CeDe proteins.
The last days before speed races during the racing season, the mixture is supplemented with maize to boost the sugar level. Before the middle-distance and long-distance races the feed is adjusted according to the type of the coming race. The supplement is then ‘Long Distance TT’ + Energy mix. In the period of 1 to 4 days before basketing, this can sometimes be as much as 50% of the composition.
As to feeding supplements, the ‘plan PigeonH.P.’ is followed. For a quick recuperation, we use ‘Recup Fast’. To perfect the bacteria system we give the pigeons ‘Herb tonic’… to guarantee a perfect amino buildup they get ‘Amino Built’… and ‘Energy’ with oil and carbo. The main objective is to have the pigeon in perfect form again three days after the exertion.
Medical Norbert Peeters
In 2014 medical care was taken very seriously again and vet Norbert Peeters was as always the best. Norbert comes to the lofts regularly to examine the droppings… and to look for trichomonas. He also ensures that the inoculations are done at the right time and in the right manner.
At the end of 2013, after a medical treatment for 14 days, the pigeons were inoculated against paratyphoid. In 2014 the breeding pigeons were inoculated again, but without previous medical treatment because examination found everything in order with the pigeon’s health.
Blind treatments are never done here, and all pigeons are meticulously examined for the classic pigeon ailments. Some compartments were treated against trichomonas (before the season)… and some compartments were treated against respiratory infections during the season. At basketing, eye drops are used, and when they don’t dissolve correctly, something is amiss.
TOPUITSLAGEN van 100-1100 km
1e Nationaal Kampioen KBDB
4 x Wereldkampioen
6 x Gouden Duif
5 x Olympiadeduif
7 x 1e Nationaal
2 x 1e Internationaal
12 x 1e Nationaal Kampioen BDS
13 x 1e Nationaal Kampioen LCB
Jos Thoné admits that for some years now, he doesn’t belong to the top of racing with young pigeons anymore… although he still won 1st National La Souterraine young pigeons in 2012. His experience is, that when you squeeze every last drop of achievement out of young pigeons, you will pay for it the next year.
Every year, they breed some 300 young for their own use out of breeders and racing pigeons.
The pigeons for the middle-distance are darkened from early March to 21st June. After that date they are not given extra light. The youngsters that are destined for the long-distance are not darkened at all.
They start thinking about training when the young pigeons have proven to be healthy… which is when they start flying away from the loft while exercising.
With the young birds, it is important to eliminate stress of being in the basket right from the beginning. This is done by putting the young often (10 times) in the basket and releasing them at a short distance from the loft. When the youngsters are released and start flying away from the loft that is the sign that they are alright. From then on, the training trips are lengthened from 2, 4, 8, 16 to 32 kilometers. In total, they fly some 15 training flights before they go on a journey in the big basket.
The long-distance pigeons have much less training trips and the difference in distance is much larger because by the time their training starts it is already summer.
A few weeks before the race from Orleans (June), the sexes are separated and the young are raced on the sliding door method. The motivation is stimulated with hiding bowls and cardboard boxes. The coupled pairs go in the back of the aviary. It is the intention to use these couples on the national races. But once again… they really have to be ready to be entered, because only the ones that have a chance of winning are basketed.
An open ventilation slit in the corridor in front of the boxes… without slides…
In the selection, only the results count and winning in all categories is a must! The message is breeding and more breeding, and then finding the real quality by way of a ruthless selection. In this procedure there are two certainties… the performance list and the pedigree… and the last preferably with a DNA-certificate!
There are 48 nest boxes provided, of which 16 for the old pigeons. Annually, there are therefore twice 32 yearlings (cocks and hens) added… but the boxes must definitely not all be occupied.
Because the young pigeons are not entered in too many races, examination in the hand is also an important part… but the race from Gueret in 2014 did unfortunately make its own selection.
“With an examination in the hand, the balance of a pigeon is very important. Body and wing have to be in proportion. Also the expression or the appearance of a pigeon is important, and when you know your own pigeons well, this will be a guideline. For the breeders, I prefer the famous ‘breeding eye’… or the eye with a dark pigmentation”.
Four basis lines
The breeding loft houses 44 breeding couples and is based on four basis lines.
For the speed races, we have the old bloodline ‘Cavendish’ x ‘Avril’… crossed with ‘Kaja’ (Boutsen) or 1st Belgian Olympiad pigeon Speed (Poland).
For the middle-distance, we have the old bloodline ‘Frost’-‘Sachi’-‘Jutta’-‘Kirin’… crossed with the ‘801 Aelbrecht’ (Marc De Cock) and more recently with the Johny Jonckers pigeons.
The basis line for the long-distance is formed by ‘Crow’-‘Sedna’-‘Faro’-‘Guyliam’ (bred by Guy Baerts). The old basis was crossed with the ‘Euro Diamond’ and the ‘Mistral’ from Brockamp and the ‘Zorrolijn’ (F. & N. Norman) by way of H. Raemakers.
The basis line for the overnight long-distance is formed with the ‘Poco’-line – ‘Little Joe’ (Guy Baerts) – ‘Disney’ (Carlos Prats)… and crossed with the pigeons from Carlos Prats.
But these basis lines are getting old and the ‘wear and tear moment’ of these pigeons has dawned. In order to secure these bloodlines, some 30 children of the ‘Jutta’…’Sedna’… and ‘Crow’ were put to breeding. The young will have to take over the task in the hope of finding a new breeding couple as quickly as possible. The breeding basis consists of a lot of inbred pigeons, and crossings are absolutely vital. Meanwhile, the ‘Kirin’ (product of crossing) with partner has shown to be a top couple.
A trophy cabinet that gets larger year after year…
An ideal loft
The concept of an ideal loft has always been one of the goals of Jos Thoné. The loft accommodation with Xavier and Maxim had to be extended, and that would have to become the ideal loft.
One of the typical features of the Thoné-loft is the ‘droppings pit’ under the wooden grates of the loft. Experience has learned that this pit must be 60 centimeters deep. A deeper pit radiates too much chill… less deep and it gives dust a chance to circulate. And avoiding dust is most important for fancier and pigeon. A loft in stone, insulated with Durox-blocks, is more durable, although there are also merits for a wooden loft.
Important is that each type of loft can be adjusted to the changing seasons. A good loft should be an aviary in winter. You must be able to make a wet loft drier… when it is too warm in the summer you must be capable of limiting the amount of incoming light.
Over the corridor for the pigeons, a wide ventilation slit is made… but without slides because these are not necessary anymore.
On the wooden grills of the widowers lofts they fixed maxi-boards, coupled to a hygrometer that keeps the humidity at 60-70%. There are stones in the widower’s boxes that can be heated in order to stimulate the form of the cocks.
A fancier must try to manipulate the form of the racing team as much as possible. Let the racing hens come into form first… the middle-distance racing cocks later… and later still the long-distance pigeons. Manipulation can be done through the timing of coupling (early form)… the middle-distance cocks are darkened for two months (later form)… and the long-distance cocks are coupled later still.
Leaving the droppings pits open (a bit chillier) can also slow down the form… or when adding warmth is necessary, that can be regulated with maxi-boards or with the heated stones in the nest boxes.
BESTE UITSLAGEN 2014
66 x 1e prijs van 100 tot 1100 km.
1e Chimay 1919 d.
1e Nat. Zone C2 Chateauroux 1068 d. (snelste van 2364 d.)
1e Prov. Poitiers 1033 d.
1e Chimay 896 d.
1e Nat. Zone C2 Poitiers 873 d. (jaarse)
1e Nat. Zone C2 Poitiers 848 d. (oude)
1e Prov. Montauban 722 d.
1e Sourdun 691 d.
1e Reims 604 d.
1e Nat. Zone C2 Argenton 500 d.
1e, 8e, 12e, 18e, 23e, 25e,… Nat. Zone C2 Poitiers 848 d.
2e, 3e, 4e Prov. Tulle 569 d.
11e Nat. Barcelona 8764 d.
19e Nat. Libourne 3152 jl.
22e Nat. Agen 3547 jl.
64e Nat. Agen 11.227 o.
KAMPIOENSCHAPPEN & ASDUIVEN
1e Gouden Duif
1e Prov. Algemeen Kampioen KBDB
1e Prov. Kampioen halve fond KBDB oude duiven
1e Prov. Kampioen fond KBDB oude duiven
1e Prov. Asduif snelheid KBDB oude duiven
1e Prov. Asduif fond (Fondmarathon Limburg)
6e Nat. Kampioen KBDB grote halve fond oude duiven
12e Nat. Asduif KBDB grote halve fond jaarlingen
18e Nat. Asduif KBDB snelheid
Evolution in the racing method
Jos Thoné went through the evolution of a young, ambitious hobby fancier to the professional fancier that he is today. He has made his profession from his hobby and that is great indeed… but it also means that evolving with the changing pigeon sport has become a must.
According to Jos Thoné, the merit of Michel Vanlint is that he made fanciers look at the pigeon sport with different eyes. He dotted every ‘i’ in all facets of the pigeon sport!
The pigeon has become much faster and the races are also over much quicker than before. The part of a strong selection in this can not be underestimated.
Toppers have lofts that they can adapt to the changing seasons and with which they can manipulate the form peaks. Also the care of the pigeons has been optimized. The training (mandatory training)… the adjusted feeding during training… and the ongoing monitoring of health have all become the norm for the pigeon fancier of today. The champions of the past have had to adapt or have disappeared into the mists of time.
And what will the future be for the pigeon sport?
“I advise the KBDB to instate an advisory board for all current problems, like zone racing… too many races in the program… and doping. Let this board draw up a dossier for the KBDB and present this dossier to the General Meeting. There are more and more professional fanciers, and their future depends on the decisions of the KBDB. And at this moment, there is no guarantee that there is a future for the pigeon sport”.