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The History of the Belgium Racing Pigeon : Jan Grondelaers & Son - Opglabeek (BE)

Introduction : Bom May lOth 1920, retired tradesman. Date hè became a f ander : from the age of 8. Definitive start af ter military service in 1953.

]an Grondelaers and his son-in-law André or the Master and his pupil

Origin and development of strain :
1954 First birds from Bammes from Zwartberg and from Camiel Durant from Grammont who were each fantastic champions in their districts.
1956 Introduction of 10 birds from the Kellens loft in Winterslag, 10 birds from Joseph Geyskens from Testelt (Janssen) and 2 birds directly from Janssen, Arendonk out of the „ Old Blue " from 48 line.
Following years :
Crossing with birds obtained from Vanhee in Wervik, Raymond Cobutin Anderlues, and Hofkens in Merksplas, when the last was at his best.

 Crossing in the Hofkens strain was most succesful, since with them three Limburg Province middie distances races were won in 1980.
Recent introductions
— Are you in favor of introducing new blood every year ?
Indeed !
I want to bring in fresh blood every year.
It doesn't always bring the hoped for success. When the cross isn't successful the new birds are disposed of.
My latest introduction, among others, is a '72 cock from the Van Reeth loft in Mol. This bird won 30 short races. He is a Janssen x Fabry x Hermans cross.
From the same Van Reeth loft I bought two yearlings that had already shown real promise, also the nestsister of „ Merckx " a pure Janssen, Arendonk.
But before this I had crossed the Hofkens strain into mine which is what gave such really fantastic results.
It is true — and also a fact that in Limbourg middie distance races from 450 km (280 miles) on are tremendously popular — that I
continually hunt for new stock from the best middie distance lofts.

— Do you attach any importance to the eye sign theory ?
— What do you think of the wing theories ?
Coincidence or not, but among my very best birds one finds all eye colors possible. Eye color cannot play any significant role whatsoever. When paring up my birds I check above all that their eyes are neatly set into their heads ; no buiging eyes nor other type of imbalance. No eye discharge either. These birds have bright colored eyes that shine like pearis when they are in form.
Concerning wing, I like a bird whose last three flights are almost the same length and whose tips remind you of the rounded end of a table knife blade.
I insist above all on soft feathers. Not all birds' feathers teel soft as velvet. It is no accident that my birds do have soft, velvety feathers. They were chosen that way. Young birds with hard feathers will never become winners, albeitthere is a type of bird that takes three years to develop good feather.
This isn't something to count on.

Breeding - Ace Pigeons
— What is the breeding of your Ace and Semi-national winning pi-
geons ?
The selection of good breeders and the creation of outstanding breeding pairs is not done overnight.
I have been lucky in crossing because every year my outcrossing has produced winners. I am not exactly against inbreeding. I do it myself. But I use inbreeding to produce breeders for crossing. Famous birds in my loft were „Orieans', „£ourges " „Dax ", „ Ijze- ren " etc. They were all the results of crossing. Whenever today's Grondelaers pigeons are discussed, everyone agrees
that they originate from exceptional breeders that have passed on their super vitality and staying power to their of f spring.

— When are your lofts cleaned ?
— Are they disinfected and, if so, with what ?
It is not enough to have beautiful lofts, they must be kept clean every day.
My lofts are cleaned twice a day. I solved the problem by getting a helper. Twice a year the lofts are thoroughly washed with plain water after which they get scrubbed with bleach. Then my wife Catho takes over and assures the lofts are completely dried out. During the race season my son-in-law André Cardinaels is of real assistance. That is the reason we are listed as Grondelaers and Son on race results.

— What do you feed widowhood cocks ?
Mixtures for each season are mostly bought from Verzele or de Bosmolens.
See below the mixture we formerly made up ourselves and gave, 30 to 35 grams per bird per day to all of our birds (28.35 grams equals an ounce).
Mixture :
11  barley
27  corn (indian corn)
23 legumines (protein) made up of: gree peas, beans, tasmanian,
peas, veces
11  dari (kaffir corn)
13  wheat
13  little white sunflower seeds

Vitamins and tracé elements
— What vitamins do you give widowhood cocks ?
At first there was no general knowledge of which vitamins and how much to give pigeons, my birds were given lots of them whether they were going on short or long races, But suddenly one heard that vitamins could be used to help birds recuperate tast and as a sure way to build up their reserve supply. In no time at all there were all kinds of vitamins on the market. After learning in „De Belgische Duivensport" newspaper that in South Africa everybody takes Supradyn, I obtained these effervescent tablets.
They are made and sold for human consumption. My birds get one fourth of a tablet per liter of water one or two days at the beginning of the week.
Meanwhile it has been determined that a greater amount serves no useful purpose.

Medical treatment
Every year a lot of visitors come to my house. Some are more or less ,, wise-guys " who know all there is to know about pigeon medicine and who use the names of products whose existance I have never bef ore heard of. I have my own opinion about the medical treatment of pigeons. When I believe something is wrong with a bird I go to the veterinarian. He advises me and this advice is followed to the letter until the birdis completely back to normal.
I go immediately to the veterinarian whenever a bird or two are too  long in getting back from a smash or catastrophic race. Such birds are carefully checked and then treated individually as per the veterinarian's instructions. They are returned to the loft only when completely recovered. They usually recover quickly but, in my judgement, it is better to get a specialist's advice than to treat the birds for somethingthey do not have.

Up to and including 1977 in my old lofts, and starting in 1978 with re-settled birds in my new lofts, I have had highly renowned flying results. You have only to look at the yearly Championships organized by ,, De Belgische Duivensport " newspaper to see what I mean. My lofts were always dry due to judicious efforts to keep them that way. My new lofts, in my new house, are examples of dryness.

 The birds I settled there feit at home immediately and fiew even better than bef ore ! The whole set up is difficult to describe. Visitors really „ feed their eyes. "

Widow hens are allowed to set on their second nest for ten days and then are removed to the fly pens. Fly pen floors are of lath work (trellis) and are 10 cm (4 inches) above the ground. The hens sit on laths and have no desire to pair up together. They are fed barley exclusively except that the two days prior to their mates' race days they are fed the regular mixture. From the Chateauroux race on, hens are put in individual comartments two days prior to their mate's basketing day. They get very ardent
which triggers a real stimulus in their mates.

Good advice for beginners
— What advice have you for beginners ?
I ask beginners, „Do you read a pigeon periodical or book ? " If the answer is negative my assistance will be of little use.
A beginner needs to know exactly what hè is getting into. If hè regularly reads a paper hè will be up on „De Belgische Duiven-
sport " Championships and know who are at the top. Beginners' first steps should be to visit those f anders who rule the
above mentioned Championships. They should get end-of-season eggs even in October, and should have mated birds at home in such a way as to be abie to rear these late youngsters. That is the best assistance I can give a beginner. Bef ore I personally will pro vide such assistance though the „ beginner" has to prove to me hè is really and truely a genuine beginner and entirely on his own. Too often an experienced father, brother, or uncle is bidden somewhere behind the so-calledbeginner hoping to profit from my assistance.