But not everyone is pleased by the Chinese invasion.
"I find it too expensive. EUR 200,000, that's not a normal price," said Marcel Candenir, who travelled to the fair from Lille in northern France.
"It's daft, it's killing the sport, how do you expect a young person to start out?" asked fellow Frenchman Gilles Vanneuville.
Willy Anquinet, a 75-year-old from the village of Gooik, near Brussels, fell victim to this new golden goose-like craze.
In early February, one of his champions -- the "Black" -- was stolen from his pigeon loft.
"I'd been offered EUR 15,000, but I wanted 20,000 so that I could buy a new car," he said.
A few days after a visit by would-be customers, "the lock to the pigeon loft was broken".
"They stole "Black" and tried to take another, but just broke its wing," he said, saddened by the loss both of his champion, and by the injury that will force the second bird to retire from competition.
Marc De Cock, who owns 600 pigeons in Temse, northern Belgium, has invested in a top-of-the-range secure lock-up for his birds, some of which are worth EUR 100,000.
They are watched by 15 video cameras, have their own shower and solarium, a sort of sauna for pigeons, and are treated like top sport champions.
De Cock is looking to sell many of his birds to Asian clients.
"The Chinese attach a lot of importance to prestige. Even if they don't want to breed them, or race them, they want to buy a luxury pigeon much like an art collector would like to buy a Rubens or a Rembrandt," said De Cock who remains very discreet about his earnings.
Philippe Siuberski / AFP / Expatica
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