Dr Vandersanden

Having a coffee by the 'mentor' of BIFS Dr. Ferdi Vandersanden, Veldwezelt-Lanaken (B)

Dr. Ferdi Vandersanden, BIFS, stands for Birds Insemination and Fertilisation Station.

Doctor veterinary surgeon Ferdi Vandersanden runs a very busy group practice consisting of 3 veterinary surgeons from his home in Veldwezelt-Lanaken. In addition he is also responsible for the firm BIFS. We don't have to explain that Ferdi is a very busy person... yet he still found a window in his diary, between the many consultations, to give us a guided tour of his pigeon lofts and to explain in more detail the working of BIFS.

What is BIFS?

BIFS stands for Birds Insemination and Fertilisation Station, in short... a centre for 'artificial insemination' (AI) for pigeons. A system which has already been applied on a large scale with 'top stallions' in the equestrian sport, but which is also been used in other sports... and is even used widely by human beings... was now going to be introduced into the pigeon sport. Dr. Ferdi Vandersanden searched for and found the right formula for applying this to pigeons, the firm BIFS was a fact. We can summarise the main activities of BIFS as :
.Fertility test by cocks: the quality of the sperm is determined by the motility, concentration and morphological abnormalities of the sperm.
.Fertility test by hens: via endoscopic or hormone determination.
.Artificial fertilisation of pigeons
.Freezing of sperm
.Information about artificial insemination
.Pedigree control DNA
.Sale of youngsters born by artificial insemination
.Development of feeding supplements to promote the fertility, health and racing performances of the pigeons.
In short, a broad pallet of activities, which bid enormous possibilities for our modern pigeon sport. The underlying idea is in fact not so silly, because, in short, it means... how can we can get more out of our best pigeons where the breeding is concerned. Ferdi's busy professional life means that he doesn't actually have time to actively participate in the pigeon sport. But the breeding of 'top pigeons' is and remains, a passion... that's why Ferdi looked for a method to get 'more' out of real toppers... to get as much as possible from excellent cocks in as short a time as possible... especially then out 'top breeders'! The solution lay by AI, whereby in the short time of 2 months about 60 or 80 youngsters can be bred from a certain 'Breeding cock'! You can compare it to the ancient 'stallion method' that used to be used by many fanciers by 1 or a few toppers in their loft, but then more modern. A method with a few remarkable and not to be sniffed at advantages. Let's elaborate...

How does it work?

When a couple of breeders are paired, then by a normal cycle, the eggs are laid on the 9 day after the pairing. If we take into account that a cock will 'trap' his hen 3 or 4 times a day, then that means an average of 30 ejaculations for 2 eggs, where normally 2 youngsters would be born. That is then a great 'waste' of energy by the cock and of 'hereditary material'. According to Ferdi, this also largely explains why there are unfertilized eggs by older cocks. Compare it to a human being... Put a man of 50 with a young girl of 20, and let him 'have his way' every day (several times ???) (read: fertilise)... after 5 days the light usually goes out. Well, it is similar by the old cocks... but then with the consequence that when they have to fertilise the eggs 5 or 6 days after coupling, they either don't have enough energy... or a shortage of 'vital sperm cells'. AI offers the ideal solution to all these problems. How does this work?

The sperm is drawn from the 'top cock' that is being used for AI and is used to fertilise multiple hens. Prior to this the 'top cock' is separated from the other pigeons for a few days in another room so that he is fully rested... when the sperm is due to be drawn... so that there is enough fresh sperm for the fertilisation. This happens through massaging the cock in question... a nervous cock will often produce 'droppings' by the massage, meaning that the sperm is also wasted... that's why it is necessary that the cock has been separated and is peaceful. Then the sperm can be drawn 3 or 4 times a week. The cock is given animal proteins in advance 2 x per week which improves the production of sperm, the same as it stimulates the hens to lay the eggs. When, in the space of 1 week, sperm is drawn 3 or 4 times, then there is sufficient to fertilise enough hens to produce 20 youngsters... What a world of difference to the 'natural way' where the cock has to trap his hen 30 times for just... 2 youngsters !

The hens that take part in the AI... are always coupled by BIFS against 'sterile cocks' (cocks that have had their vas deferens cut through via a surgical operation). This can also be done with hens that are coupled by sight (whereby the cock can't get to his hen) so that the hen can't be fertilised. On day 6-7 (in de winter) and on day 4-5 (in the summer) the hens are artificially inseminated once. By a normal ejaculation there is enough sperm to fertilise 3 or 4 hens. When the hen lays her eggs within 5 days of being fertilised they will be normally fertilised. In order to be fertilised the hens are lightly sedated (1 or 2 minutes is enough)... so that they won't squeeze during the artificial insemination... as a result of which optimal results are obtained by the fertilisation. In this way there is a return of between the 70 and 80% by artificial insemination. And what's also important: one is for 100% certain from which couples the youngsters are.At the same time that the hens are used for AI and are coupled with 'sterile cocks'... then by BIFS the equal number of feeding couples are put together. When the via AI fertilised hens have laid, the eggs are simply placed under the feeding couples. The sterile cocks are then later coupled with the following (a different) group of hens, which again will be fertilised via AI with the sperm of the 'breeding bull'(s), these being the top cock (s).In this way one can get from a 1 National winner, a 1 National Ace pigeon, out a 'top breeder' or other 'stock breeder' not only a large amount of youngsters in a short time... it also gives a direct insight into the breeding capacities of the 'top cock' in question... and with which hens he gives the best breeding results! A benefit not to be scorned at!

There is now also the possibility to freeze sperm, which can be of interest if a certain cock is sold and they later want a few descendants for their own use... or when a top breeder has reached a respectable age and they quickly want a few more descendants . However, the freezing results are not yet optimal according to Ferdi. Sometimes they need 10 doses of frozen sperm to achieve the same result as by 1 fertilisation with 'living sperm'. Seeing that normally they only tap sperm from a 'top cock' 3 or 4 times a week... they need almost 3 weeks to obtain enough sperm for freezing... and achieve the same result as with 1 dose of living sperm. In other words, to fertilise 10 times, you would need the cock for 10 months in order to have enough sperm... and that could turn out to be very expensive. The result by freezing is then everything but optimal.

Breeding from top pigeons!

By applying the method of AI they can also easily breed 'more directly', whereby in a short space of time they obtain pigeons with 3 to 4 times a 1 National winner or a 1 National Ace pigeon or a certain 'top breeder' in the pedigree. That doesn't have to be one and the same top cock, because it can also concern several pigeons, for example through fertilising a daughter of a 1 National winner with the sperm of a different 1 National winner! In this way Ferdi has built up a powerful breeding loft with top pigeons mainly originating out the line 'Olieman' from Gijs Peeters, in 2000 5 pigeons came from Erik Limbourg (including het Mooioogje), in 2003 40 pigeons came from Edgard Dusaer (and they pigeons originating from Gebr Kuypers, Vd Wegen, and Willems-Thoné), further pigeons from Quintens from Paal-Beringen, Pros Roosen from Kermt, Albert Derwa from Herent etc... The idea of AI grew by Ferdi when he came into contact with the now deceased English billionaire and top fancier, Mr. Brian Long. At the time he bought top pigeons so as the 'Vale Cahors' (winner 1 Nat Cahors) and the 'Red Barcelona' (1 Nat Barcelona)... which were not only proven racing pigeons, but also real top breeders. Brian wanted to obtain a large number of youngsters out of these pigeons in a short time by coupling these pigeons with several top hens from Ferdi, mostly out the pigeons with Thone blood in the veins. That's why these 2 'top studs' participated in AI, whereby Ferdi was allowed to retain 10 hens as counter-payment. This started the ball rolling... Ferdi had in the meantime also bought various toppers with which he used AI, so as :

-The 'Narbonne' B97-7013746, winner 1 Nat Narbonne 6.423 p.. and 2 Nat Ace pigeon BDS '00

-The 'Cerafin' B00-6141004, winner 1 Nat Limoges 16.945 p. '02' 56 Prov Limoges 4.619 p. '01

-The 'Limoges' B99-4288739, winner 1 Nat Limoges 23.550 Yearlings

-The 'Asbie' B01-5131007, 1 Prov Ace pigeon Middle distance, 5 Nat Ace pigeon Middle distance KBDB

-The 'Full Try' B00-4443884, the 1 Nat Ace pigeon Long Distance KBDB '04 that won 31 Nat Barcelona 13.021 p. '03, 38 Nat Barcelona 12.275 p. '04, 20 Nat Perpignan 6.189 p. 04.

-The 'National II' B01-6182211, winner 1 Nat Limoges 13.502 p. '04, 1 Nat Zone B Limoges 2.787 p. '03, 4 Semi-Nat Chateauroux 12.422 p. '04, 6 Semi-Nat Montlucon 9.300 p. '04, 15 Vierzon 3.240 p. '04... and was with this 1 Nat Ace pigeon Ave Regina '04

The 1 National Blois with a BIFS-pigeon
So as we cited earlier Ferdi doesn't have the time to competitively practise the pigeon sport. That's why the breeding results were tested by 3 fanciers, Harry Winkels, Loft Smulders and of course Geenen-Peters from the Maastricht region. Tony Geenen-Peters thus obtained via KI his 'Blauwe Ferdy' B06-5088338, a direct daughter out the 'Nationaal II' (from Roger Turlinckx, but now super breeder in the BIFS-lofts) x 'Daughter Top Gun' (out 'Top Gun' Gijs Peters x 'Sister Figo' Reynaert). This 'Blauwe Ferdy' won :

1 National Blois 71.450 p.
5 Marche 1.928 p.
9 Orleans 630 p.
9 Reims 362 p.
10 Reims 421 p.
12 Sezanne 2.200 p... etc

In Belgium there are already several BIFS-toppers by Jos Thone (with which a lot of joint breeding is done), by Gaby Vandenabeele, Rik Cools, Mark Decock, Johan Demeulemeester, Kevin Roossens etc... more here over later. Of course a share of the pigeons bred are kept (especially hens) for use in their own breeding loft, to take part in AI with the 'top studs'! There then follows an immediate selection in the hands of top fanciers so as Jos Thone, Geenen-Peters, Cees Van Koppen... and the pigeons with '3 crosses' after their name are labelled as 'super' and are kept for use in their own breeding loft. And of course the big demand is and remains for pigeons out those national winners and national Ace pigeons!
With the 'Nationaal II' Ferdi possesses without doubt one of the best breeding pigeons in the western hemisphere at the moment. His honours list includes 1 National win from Limoges in 2004 which you have been able to admire here above... but also where the breeding is concerned, this pigeon was a real bull's eye. So is he, amongst other things, father of :

-'National Hero' by Jos Thoné which won no less than 11 x 1 Prize and was 7 Olympiad pigeon Oostende '07.

-1 Provincial Poitiers 1.363 p. in '06 by Gaby Vandenabeele

-5 Provincial Bourges 6.284 p. by Marc Decock.

-3 National Ace pigeon KBDB 2007 by Jos Thone

-2 National Gueret 2008 by Jos Thone

He is further grandfather of the 1 Reims 15.175 p. by Vluggen... and father and grandfather of a whole recital of other 1 Prize winners! This proved that the people from BIFS had real breeding gold with this 'Nationaal II'.
Let's take a closer look at a few race results achieved by descendants of the BIFS-breeding pigeons :

Geenen-Peeters (one of the pilot lofts of BIFS)
1 Nat Blois 71.450 p. '07 (line Nationaal II)
1 Pithiviers 1.163 p. '08 (line Nationaal II)
2 Pithiviers 1.846 p. '08 (line Nationaal II)
2 Sourdun 1.743 p. '08 (Van Venrooij-line)
2 Pithiviers 1.163 p. '08 (Van Venrooij-line)
9 Sezanne 2.414 p. '08 (Van Venrooij-line)
10 Rethel 1.450 p. '08 (Van Venrooij-line)

Jos Thone
3 National Ace pigeon Middle Distance KBDB '07 (line Nationaal II)
1 Prov Gien 2.060 p. '06 with 'Molokai' (Full Try-line)
11 x 1 Prize with 'National Hero' (line Nationaal II)

Gaby Vadenabeele
1 Prov Poitiers 1.363 p. '06 (line Nationaal II)

Rik Cools
5 Prov La Souterraine 2.060 p. '07 (line Nationaal II)
11 Prov Gueret 2.261 p. '07 (line Nationaal II)

Mark Decock
1 Bourges 845 p.'06 (line Nationaal II)
5 Prov Bourges 6.284 p. '06 (line Nationaal II)

Johan Demeulemeester
1 Prov Poitiers 1.286 p. '06 (Full Try-line)
5 Prov Nantes 1.843 p. '06 (Full Try-line)

And then there are the top performances by Kevin Roosens (39 Prov Bourges 1.892 p., 43 Prov Chateauroux 1.909 p with the line Nationaal II), J & p.Staddon (lines Full Try & Ronaldo), Les Parkinson (3 Ace Pigeon '20th Open Europ Classic' with the Narbonne-line), Harrison & Hull from England (including 5 Nat Flying Club St.Malo with the lines Narbonne and 'Limoges 99'), Roger Sutton (1 Fougeres & 4 Section L. National Flying Club with Cerafin & Narbonne-line), John Callan etc... an addition to the KI, BIFS also offers the pigeon fanciers a wide range of supporting products and feeding supplements, which perfectly support the fertility, the health and the moulting and racing condition of the pigeons. This product line came into being in conjunction with Dr Duchatel, who has been carrying out scientific studies for years... and then developed products on the hand of the scientific analyses of his research!
With his BIFS and the use of AI, Dr Ferdi Vandersanden offers the pigeon fanciers a wider range of possibilities, which can make the 'road to success in the pigeon sport considerably shorter... simply because they can get 'more' out of a top pigeon in a relatively short time. And that has its advantages... They can quickly breed a nice group of youngsters from an 'extra racing pigeon' (30 or 40 within a month) and also discover its breeding capacities... and then within the shortest space of time discover if he is also a 'good breeder'.
They can also get a much greater return out of a proven breeding pigeon, whereby the 'top breeding pigeon' in question does not have to tax himself more than necessary (with breeding youngsters, driving his hen to her nest etc...), as a result of which he can maybe perform for a longer, and...
For people that want to sell a pigeon there is of course the opportunity to obtain several descendants out of their 'sold pigeon' within a short space of time before he makes the transfer to the buyer!
Briefly summarised, we can say... For people who want to get 'more' out of their real top pigeons in a short space of time, one address :

BIFS by Dr Ferdi Vandersanden!

Many thanks to Dr Vandersanden and PIPA, for permission to use there articles & photo's.

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