Theo Keemers and Son Albergen (NL)
I think that Twente, lain between the rivers Regge, is one of the nicest areas in our land. Many rustic villages can be found in Twente, where you can forget all the hustle of daily life. One of these villages is Albergen, not far from big brother Almelo. In the outside area of Albergen lives the 51 year old Theo Keemers, one of the great tenors of the pigeon sport in East-Netherlands. For twenty years in a row he has raced by the first ten General Champions from East-Netherlands. First in the former province G from the NABvP, later in the current province 9.
In January 2007 he experienced the unique fact that he was allowed to represent the Netherlands with two pigeons at the Olympiad in Oostende, 'Olympic Speedy' in the Sport class and 'Zorro 527' in the Standard class. It went crescendo again the following 2007 season with superb performances in all disciplines. One sunny autumn morning we went to visit him in his beautiful countryside house with enormous grounds, on which he built a magnificent new pigeon palace in 2004. We are pleased to introduce you to maestro Theo, a jovial Tukker.
Theo Keemers: a fancier with feeling
Theo Keemers has been involved in the pigeon sport for more than 30 years. He is a welder/metal worker by trade, but ill health has forced him to stop work. He started with his brother, Johan, who is no longer active in the pigeon sport due to lack of time. In 1992 the combination ended and the pigeons were divided. Theo continued with his now 24 year old son David and this successful combination is still active. In the early years they started with pigeons from the strain Gebr. Janssen and Tournier via Gerard Telgenhof from Harbrinkhoek and Anton Spies from Almelo, two fanciers who at the time were almost unbeatable in their region. With these pigeons Theo became, in 1987, 1st General Champion of the former province G of the NABvP.
In 1994 good pigeons were bought from J. Monnikhof from Oldenzaal and Willems from Holten, who both had pigeons out the successful '05-line' from Bertie Camphuis.
At the moment the '05-line' forms the basis of the loft, together with Van Loon pigeons via Hans Eijerkamp and sons and pigeons from C. & G. Koopman out the line of the 'Zitter' - 'Aladin'- 'Ons Louis' and 'Golden Lady'. Theo, who races the whole of the provincial programme, including three overnight races, tries to buy something good every year. In principal, the new purchases are first tested before they are added to the stock. If they don't pass the test, they are disposed of straight away. What is his secret that has kept him at the top for so long? 'Everything starts with good pigeons of course. But you have to spend a lot of time on them. It's not always successful, but don't make the mistake of trying to change everything straight away'. Theo's pigeons are tame and definitely not afraid. They let you touch them when they are in their boxes. They are fanatical and give everything they have in a race. The short middle distance is Theo's greatest passion. 'Yes, I like the 400km races the most. Then my pigeons are really at their best.
In 2007 we were 1st Champion short middle distance in the short middle distance club province 9. I think that the middle distance is sometimes too far for my pigeons'.
Lofts and loft occupation
Up until 2004 they raced from all different old garden lofts which were spread out all over the grounds. Now all the pigeons live in a beautiful new loft. The lofts are all built on the first floor of this gigantic barn. Theo has furnished a room downstairs which is used as an office and where everything is to hand. The lofts upstairs are efficiently arranged. Something that hits you straight away is the pleasant climate in the lofts. The pigeons look extremely well, tightly packed feathers and chalk white ceres and eye rims. This housing has definitely given a new dimension to the performance level of Theo and David Keemers' colony. There are 40 widowers available for the programmed races (100 to 700 kilometre), which are raced in classic widowhood. In addition they also have ten cocks at their disposal for the three overnight races and thirty breeding couples. Every year Theo breeds about 100 youngsters, wherefrom 80 are for own use.
Fine championships in 2007
- 1st General Sprint Province 9 District 1 (1.000 members)
- 1st Champion Short middle distance club Province 9
- 1st General C.C. Twenterand (3 years in a row and 180 members)
- 4th General Sprint Province 9 (app. 3.000 members)
- 8th General NPO races Province 9
- 3rd Champion Short middle distance club 'Ons Samenspel'.
Preparation, care and racing method
The pigeons for the programme races are coupled round about the 20th of January. They raise all the youngsters and lay eggs for a second time. After brooding for three or four days, the second brood is removed. They then stay in widowhood until the end of the regular old pigeon programme. The widowers train once a day until the 1st of May, namely from 5pm to 6pm. After the 1st of May the training is intensified to twice a day. They are then let out in the morning from 6.30am to 7.30am. The pigeons for the overnight races are coupled later and train daily from 7pm to 8pm. Before the start of the season the pigeons are taken a short distance away once or twice. Starting with the first race, all the pigeons are basketted and are raced every week. Yearlings have to race one or two middle distance races. Theo makes sure that there is not too much expected of the youngsters. Except for the first two races, the pigeons are always shown before a race. Depending on the toughness of the race, the cocks are allowed to stay longer or shorter by their hens. The food consists of Mariman sport mixture with red corn. In addition they are given plenty of nibbling seeds, pick stone, vitamins and grit. Two days before basketting the pigeons are given vitamins from Natural in the water. The pigeons are fed on the ground. Theo uses weighing scales. It is important that the pigeons keep eating and listen. The temperature and the weather also play a role in the giving of more or less food. In contrast to the programme pigeons, the overnight pigeons are given a lot of peanuts.
The medical picture is simple
In December a paramixo-vaccination - a cure for tricho before coupling and nothing further, unless the form declines. And that hasn't really been the case for the last few years. One of the reasons that the pigeons stay in form is the wonderful loft climate in the new loft, which makes health problems a thing of the past. In the late races the hens are darkened and the darkened youngsters are raced. The latter usually perform best. In 2006 there was an exception to the rule and two favourite cocks were further raced in the late races due to possible qualification for the Olympiad. The cocks are not normally raced in the late races.
So as mentioned earlier, 80 youngsters are bred for own use. The youngsters from the breeders, which are coupled around Christmas, are not darkened. The rest are darkened until the 1st of June. In preparation for their first season the youngsters are placed in the basket for two days so that they can learn how to drink. They are taken away ten times to a maximum distance of 40km. There is nothing done between the races. It is their experience that otherwise the pigeons won't train at home. The food for the youngsters consists of three mixtures, namely Mariman, Robaeys and Beyers Elite Koopman. By the weaning and three or four weeks before the races, the youngsters are given a para-coli cure by the veterinary surgeon Hans van der Sluis.
Here in Albergen they keep to the principle that every year 50% of the widowers have to be yearlings. In the selecting of the youngsters they especially look at the pedigree and build. By the old pigeons it is simple. Only the best are allowed to remain. Thanks to a certain caution in the game the good pigeons keep performing exceptionally up until they are four or five years old. Then the very best go into the breeding loft.
Future of the pigeon sport
'Sociability in the club is very important. As a member of the governing board or as a commission member you have to keep the enthusiasm of your fellow fanciers. As a member of the governing board you can't please everybody. Very often it is difficult. In the club they have to be supported as much as possible, just like volunteers. It is the cork that our sport floats on. It's a pity that the introduction of electronics in the pigeon sport means that the small fancier doesn't stand a chance against the larger fancier. Through the further aging more clubs will have to fuse together in the future. I would like to add that fewer fanciers doesn't necessarily mean that the individual pleasure in the pigeon sport has to be any less. It is still a fantastic hobby, that I hope to continue enjoying for many years, together with my son and with the support of my wife Francien'.