This fifty-one year old is father to two daughters and a son and will soon be a grandfather.
Combining the full-time occupation as a railway worker with the pigeon sport is not the easiest job. Everything demands regularity, but he often has to work overtime because the trains have to run on time.
How it began.
The Vangronsvelt family had the pigeon bug microbe. Father didn’t race anymore, but several uncles had a healthy recreation and good social contacts via the pigeons.
Together with his brother, Albert was given permission to keep pigeons. Dad and his uncles built a loft for the two rascals.
Albert remembers like it was yesterday how mother raised her voice when she saw the boys coming out of the pigeon loft. They had just had their communion as seven year olds and visited the pigeons whilst still wearing their new and expensive suits. A clout was well deserved.
Keeping pigeons is still a secondary activity for Albert. As is so often the case, once bitten by the bug, forever infected.
Albert got to know the T’Jolijn brothers through his work. Albert wanted to race the long distance races with these men. The year ’00 they were obviously on the right track with 3/6. Other, and hopefully, better pigeons was the slogan.
They bought pigeons from Theo Weytjens from Zutendaal. They often talked about the pigeons with their brother-in-law because Theo is well-known in the pigeon world. He knows the pigeon world and knows who has good pigeons. He himself claimed 4th and 6th place provincially in the very tough race from Soustons for yearlings.
In this way Albert came into contact with the Dutchman Fons Van Ophuizen, and pigeons moved form him to the Tipstraat.
In his search for long distance pigeons, Albert came in contact with Robert Gubbelmans from Diepenbeken.
In 2008 they also obtained more pigeons from the T Jolijn brothers.
Amongst the few breeders we find a pigeon from Louis Deleus from Boortmeerbeek. This topper bred a son, “Brive” 2093951/96, who was bred from 325/92, a cock that won 1st nat against 16560 pigeons from Brive. A 1st prize from Toury is also included in his honours list.
Mother of the 951/96 is 047/93, is a hen that won 1st nat La Souterraine ’94 and further registered a 31st nat. Argenton ’94 and 45th nat. La Souterraine’93 against 16897 pigeons.
Albert has two wooden garden lofts in his long narrow garden. In front of the lofts there is a vegetable garden that the fancier takes care of himself and which means that he has a clear view of the pigeons when they are training.
The widower’s loft stands half a metre above a concrete floor. In his quest for improvement, Albert even lied flat on his back under the loft to insulate it. Albert has chosen to use a 6 cm thick board. Since then he has the feeling that the loft is drier and more pleasant.
The loft for the youngsters has gauze in the window openings so that plenty of oxygen comes into the loft. The trap is also unusual. A mosquito net hangs at the trap and it has a small opening so that the pigeons can enter the loft.
Another small aviary houses the breeding pigeons, a loft with just five couples.
This blue hen also had a great result from St Vincent ’08. Locally she was 9/355 and 22/940 provincially. A performance that gave her the privilege of being coupled with the first pigeon in the loft from Barcelona’08.
The father of this two year old is no longer in the loft, probably killed in the field of honour. Albert also bred from yearlings and this is the price that is paid.
Father is a son of two pigeons from Fons Ophuizen. On father’s side the grandfather is a pigeon out the line 1st international Pau and 1st international Dax.
Grandmother on father’s side is also a pigeon with the Dutch ring from Fons Ophuizen. 360/04 is a granddaughter of “Rambo Barcelona”
Mother of the brand new national victor in the Queen’s race from Barcelona was bred from a cock from Deleus Louis, son of “Brive”.
Grandmother on mother’s side is a granddaughter of “De Witneus”, bred from a son of “De Witneus” 1st nat. Barcelona ’99 and also 2nd international Dax ’99. A Florizone pigeon.
The son “ De Witneus” was coupled with a daughter of the 3rd international Dax.
The feeding is a fixed ritual that begins with making a guess as to how much food the pigeons will consume, because it is obvious that the pigeons don’t eat the same amount every day. So a bit more than is probably necessary is put into the feeding dish and is removed after 10 minutes.
Albert mixes a mixture himself from existing commercial names. Albert fills a bucket with several makes of super widowhood mixture, mainly from Versele, Mariman and Paloma to take to the loft.
If there is a lot of food left over in the feeding dish then Albert sometimes skips a feed to keep up their appetite.
There is always two types of grit for the pigeons, this is necessary for aiding the digestion.
The pigeons from Vangronsvelt are also taught to eat peanuts to give them a last push in the build up to a race.
Care & Medical guidance.
The widower’s boxes are cleaned every day. In the autumn, when the days are not so long, they are cleaned every week.
The zijkes, dialect for hens, have to make do with a 1 hour training every day.
The pigeons are given drops against vermin regularly.
Albert has now enriched the grain with precious oils, and dried with brewer’s yeast or vitamins.
The pigeons are prepared for Barcelona and in the preparatory period the veterinary surgeon is visited 3 times. The advice is followed, Albert doesn’t cure blindly.
The preparation of the racing pigeons is simple. The yearlings and the old birds are coupled at the same time in the middle of February. The youngsters are allowed to raise a nest, and sometimes also the eggs from the old birds. The old birds brood for 5 days and then they are let free.
The old birds are allowed to build a second nest around the 1st of April, but they are not allowed to brood. After five days the eggs are removed.
Picture + Pedigree national winner :