RUDI DE SAER, RUISELEDE, BELGIUM 1ST NATIONAL CHAMPION LONG DISTANCE OLD BIRDS KBDB 2014
By Ski Grabanski
As I sit here in the early morning watching my young birds taking their morning exercise, my thoughts turn to Rudi De Saer and the phenomenal year he has had to date. Phenomenal race results with amazing Gaby Vandenabeele pigeons. Now as we know, having amazing pigeons does not mean amazing race results. But, it is a great advantage and in the correct hands, these birds can achieve some very special race results, against very strong competition and a great number of birds, as is the case with Rudi. Last year (2013) Rudi was 21X1st including 4X1st Provincial and 2X1st National. This year he jumped out of the starting gate in unbelievable fashion.
A couple of Rudi's goals this year was to win a National Title and to win the Long Distance Old Bird KBDB National Championship. Some of Rudi's 2014 race results: 5/17 Tours Provincial (453 km) 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 19th, 32nd, etc. vs. 6,400. Winning speed 1188 MPM 5/31 Bourges Provincial (446 km) 1st, 2nd, 21st, 115th, etc. vs. 3,324. Winning speed 1192 MPM 5/31 Limoges Provincial (636 km) 1st, 5th, 26th, 54th, 58th, 62nd, 63rd, etc. vs. 3,434. Winning speed 1114 MPM. 6/14 Cahors Provincial (742 km) 1st, 29th, 50th, 52nd, etc. vs. 992. Winning speed 1062 MPM.
It was published recently that Rudi won the Long Distance Old Bird KBDB National Title. I'm not sure how the coefficient factor works, but Rudi's coefficient was a phenomenal 12.2270. Last year's winner had a coefficient of 22.9495. The lower the coefficient the better. Rudi did not fly all the races. He picked the races he would compete in before the season started and worked very hard to get his birds ready for the chosen races. Here are some of the National races that Rudi focused on. 5/13 Limoges National (636 km) 2nd vs. 18,390. 6/14 Cahors National (742 km) 1st vs. 7,140. 7/07 Limoges National (636 km) 17th vs. 7,221. 7/30 Tulle National (624 km) 42nd vs. 5,976. 8/17 Brive National (669 km) 6th & 19th vs. 5,286 8/17 Brive National Yearlings (669 km) 6th & 20th vs. 3,850. These are results that most of us don't even dare dream about.
Now a little about Rudi. He can't ever remember not having pigeons. He was added to the race sheet with his father's name when he was 6 years old, and became a real partner when he turned 19. That is when he started to buy his own birds. Rudi and his father Antoine flew as partners until his father passed away in 2011. Rudi and his father were very close and in honor of his father, still flies under the name of "Antoine & Rudi De Saer".
Rudi has been competing at the long distance races (600/800 km) since 1996. Before that, their main focus was the Sprint & Middle distance races. Rudi was a professional cyclist and when his career came to an end, he decided to focus on the long distance races. But he had one large hurdle to jump, and that was trying to convince his father to his way of thinking. That was not an easy task, because they averaged 20 to 30 1st every year in the Sprint and Middle distance races. He had to promise Antoine that the birds that he would bring in would still be as competitive at the Sprint and Middle distance as well as the Long distance races (600/800 Km). That is when Rudi decided to pay Gaby Vandenabeele a visit. A decision he has never regretted! Rudi said there was an immediate impact in the De Saer loft when the Vandenabeele pigeons were brought in. He said he liked the Gaby birds so much, he was always buying new ones. His father finally had to tell him to stop buying so many and start breeding out of the ones he had. Rudi said his young birds don't handle very well, but you would not believe how they change from September to February the following year. But, the young birds are very competitive from the start. He races the young cocks up to 300 km, yearlings in the past were raced up to 600 km. This year, 2014 he was thinking about possibly trying them up to 700 km. The two year olds are raced in five National races between 600 and 800 km. The cocks are usually retired after 4 years of racing. One of the things Rudi stressed was the birds that win the long distance races also win at 100 km.
BREEDERS: 95% of the De Saer pigeons are Gaby Vandenabeele, the remaining 5% are Ric Cools, Gino Clicque & friends. He has 25 pair of breeders that consist of 4 National winners. Three of the National winners were raised in the De Saer loft and the other was bought from Team BDS, that was bred out of two of Rudi's birds. One of his father's favorite birds that is in the stock loft is "NEW JENS" who won 1st at the Sprint, Middle & Long distance races. He is out of his foundation breeding hen "GOEDJE". She is a 2005 pigeon and Rudi said they did not realize what a gold mine they had until she was five years old. She has bred winners with every cock she has been with. Rudi said "Every now and then you hear of a hen that laid the Golden Egg, but "GOEDJE" has laid several Golden Eggs and still continues to do so". He said that when he selects his breeding hens from his young birds or non flying old hens, he uses the race results of their brothers.
OLD BIRDS: Rudi only flies the cocks on the Widowhood system. He pairs them up in the winter around the middle of December. The cocks are allowed to raise babies at this time. The hens are pulled before they lay back. Two weeks before the start of the season he brings the hens back in, but only for 5 days. When the racing season starts, he does not show the hens before shipping. When the cocks return they are with the hens two to three hours, sometimes longer. He doesn't believe the length of time makes a lot of difference. The cocks begin their training tosses when they are mated the second time. The tosses are around 20 km. The birds are set up for the National races with a 90 km race, two 94 km races, one 200 km and a 300 km race. Once the race season starts, the road training stops. The 1st week of the season the cocks are let out once a day for 45 minutes. The second week he starts to let them out twice a day for 45 minutes each time they are out. When he sets the birds up for the National races, he might send them 94 km during the off week. At the end of the race season, he does not breed out of his Widow team. He did say that his best yearling cocks are usually his best 2, 3 & 4 year olds. During the off season, he likes to try and get the birds out two to three time a week.
FEEDING: He uses Beyers Feed. The cocks are hopper fed. The birds are fed the breeding mix when they return from the race. At the start of the week, the birds are given a light feed for a few days. The last three days they are given a Sport mixture that he adds corn to. He said he might feed a high protein mixture 2 to 3 times a day. The way he decides to feed the high protein is he feeds them some Cede egg food powder. As long as they eat the egg food he will feed them the high protein. He also gives them some of the egg food powder when they return from a race. He said they love it on return.
MEDICATION: The birds are checked every month during the flying season by his vet (Piet Blancke). He follows Piet's instructions to the letter. The birds are only treated when required. He will not flock treat if he can control the problem by individual treatment. He does like using some of the natural Rohnfried products. He also likes to add Rohnfried Avitonikum on the food for five to six days the first week of the season and then maybe two days at the beginning of the week the rest of the season. He mixes this product on the feed the day before he uses it.
I would like to thank Rudi for his hospitality and his willingness to answer all my questions. We were very fortunate to handle many of his champion flyers and breeders. What a great treat that was. Also thank you to Serge Van Elsacker for being our interpreter when needed. It really takes a special person to invite seven of us into his home. Again, thank you Rudi and congratulations on a very successful 2014 racing season.