Jos & Lars Vercammen (BE)
. . . A family of winners : Click here (English)
Vremde, a peaceful little town at the edge of the city of Lier. Grotehoevenweg 28, a quiet lane with old oak trees, a haven of peace in a magnificent scenery. A beautiful villa, a magnificent garden with a pond and a series of very fine and well-cared-for garden lofts. A luxury car in front of the garage. All of this radiates class, professionalism and success. This is the home of the family of Jos Vercammen. Everything Jos does in pigeon sport exudes class and success. This is a true top loft in the category of 100 to 700 km with pigeons that come home in any circumstance and that perform well at many other lofts as well.
How it all started!
The year was 1967. Jos was 17 years old and exchanged his birds for pigeon sport. Following his older brother Marcel, Jos started playing with pigeons independently. At first, like many, he entered for speed races and achieved limited successes. At the time, Jos was running a demanding business, wholesale of fruit and vegetables, so there was not much time left to spend at pigeon racing. But Jos is passionate and he does not like to twiddle his thumbs. As from 1977 he started looking around for some reinforcement. He bought several pigeons from Filip Herbots, mainly from the Stoces/Janssen strain. In 1978 he obtained some pigeons “from the best” from William Geerts. In 1979 he bought 4 children from the top couple from Alois Van Der Plas, “Ventje” x “Vlinder”. And in 1980 he obtained 2 grandchildren from “de 019” from the Janssen Bros. in Arendonk.
For years and years, the youngsters that descended from these pigeons have been subjected to a severe selection procedure: they are bred, raced and if they are good, they are used for breeding. Results got better and gradually the foundation of the “Vercammen strain” was formed. In those days, he focussed mainly on middle distance races.
In 1988, Jos acquires a grandson from ‘“Panter” from Theo Gilbert. A masterstroke. This grandson, who was also called “Panter” x “Yasmine”, a beautiful hen from own breed, soon formed the new main couple at the Vercammen lofts. This couple reproduces several top pigeons each year. Blood from this main couple can be found in nearly every pigeon at the Vercammen loft. Jos has been able to develop a pigeon strain that achieves top results on any distance between 100 and 700 km, in any type of weather and not only at his own loft but at many lofts all over the world as well. This is a strain that can be easily and successfully crossbred.
Still, Jos has not been sitting around doing nothing, these last few years too he has been looking for reinforcement. In 1997 4 pigeons were obtained from Lou Wouters, in 2003 he bought pigeons from Dr. Eckardt Schwidde (Louis Van Hove strain, Merksplas). As from 1995 he started focussing on long middle distance.
Care and way of racing:
Early December he couples 21 breeding couples as well as 12 couples “to try”. Between Christmas and New Year all the racing pigeons are brought together for a ((ronde winterkweek / winter breeding round)). The pigeons, cocks as well as hens, are raced according to the classic widowhood method. This year, we are talking about 36 widowers and 30 widow hens (old and yearlings). When the youngsters are 14 days old the racing couples are separated.
The youngsters are raised by the partner who is not used for racing, this means that they are brought up by the cocks as far as the racing hens are concerned and by the hens as for the racing cocks.
The racing hens stay separated until April 1, are then re-coupled and stay together up until 6 days of brooding. Widowers are not re-coupled prior to the start of the racing season. To support a good winter breed the breeding pigeons receive an extra 3 hours of light a day. Racing pigeons are not lit during winter breed.
The veterinarian is not consulted during winter until mid April unless in case of illness.
Training races start as from mid April. The weakly check-ups (on Mondays) by the veterinarian are also started around this time. Guidelines issued by the vet are followed up very conscientiously and cures are only administered if advised so by the vet. Old and yearlings are brought away up to 100km (Quievrain), which happens about 5 to 6 times. For races as from Noyon they travel with the club. About 15 pigeons fly middle distance races all year through, the others participate mainly in races from 450 km to 750 km. And the latter races have clearly become the main goal the past few years.
The widowers race as from May up to the first week of August. The hens race from May until early July, are then coupled and played on the nest in August.
Training: Cocks as well as hens train twice a day around the loft. The hens are forced to train with the flag which is not the case for the cocks. The window is closed in order to bar them from entering loft.
Food: Jos mainly uses Versele-Laga mixtures. During the racing seasons some seed maize from Badens is added. As a supplement the pigeons receive Neo-oxygen and Prange-Suppe from Dr Schwidde, as well as Belgasol and -to a lesser degree- BS from Belgica-de Weerd, Sedochol and some vitamins and products from the Herbots selection.
Youngsters: About 150 youngsters are weaned for own use. Youngsters for middle distance racing are darkened up until mid May, the others until early June. Initially, the youngsters are kept in a department with young pigeon boxes. As soon as they are sexually mature they are moved to a department where couples can be formed which allows them to get to know their box. They are taken away to train about 7 to 8 times up to 50km and then they are off to Quievrain (100km) with the society. The youngsters stay together until their first Noyon race (200km) after which the sexes are separated. Then they are played separately until Vichy young pigeons.
The national young pigeon races are not only used to perform good but also especially to make a selection, to separate the wheat from the corn. The last 2 years the best young pigeons on the first national race (Bourges) are kept home and saved for the next years. These pigeons are taken from the racing loft which is also done as for the next national races, such as Argenton and La Soutteraine. Highly remarkable is the fact that this does not affect the achievements of the Vercammen pigeons on the next races at all. Pigeons that are less good succeed every time in taking over and perform clearly better than in the previous race. Jos attributes this remarkable phenomenon to the fact that there are always young pigeons that dominate the loft and the best positions at the loft and are therefore more motivated than other pigeons that have to do with less good positions. Once the dominant pigeons are moved, a new series of young pigeons takes over the dominance and the motivation to perform increases.
Most important national and provincial championships of the last few years:
2nd national champion KBDB old pigeons to 600km
2nd national champion KBDB yearlings to 600km
3rd national champion KBDB old pigeons to 600km
3rd national champion KBDB yearlings Belgium
1st general provincial champion KBDB Antwerp middle distance and long distance (to 750km)
2x 1st general champion “Union Antwerpen” middle distance yearlings
2x 1st general champion Distance Club Antwerp (province of Antwerp ± 9000 fanciers) with old, yearlings and young (450-750km)
1st general champion “Union Antwerpen” long middle distance old pigeons
7x 1st king South Antwerp
1x emperor South Antwerp (general champion 5x in a row)
3x 2nd King “Union Antwerpen”
4th national ace pigeon KBDB 2004 middle distance with B03-6287006 “Porto”
4th + 5th national ace pigeon KBDB middle distance
Top-15 provincial and (semi)national 2005
1° National Z. Vichy 566km 4.298 p.
1° Semi-national La Souterraine 593km 611 p.
1° Provincial La Souterraine 593km 401 p.
1° Provincial Vichy 566km 1.828 p.
2° National Argenton 555km 21.299 p.
2° National Z. Vichy 566km 4.298 p.
2° National Z. Argenton 555km 8.180 p.
2° Provincial Chateauroux 526km 689 p.
2° Provincial Argenton 555km 2.934 p.
2° Provincial La Souterraine 593km 2.129 p.
2° Provincial Vichy 566km 1.828 p.
3° National Vichy 566km 11.022 p.
3° Provincial Chateauroux 526km 4.249 p.
4° Semi-national La Souterraine 593km 6.845 p.
4° Provincial Vierzon 476km 205 p.
4° Provincial Chateauroux 526km 689 p.
5° Provincial Vierzon 476km 719 p.
5° Provincial Vierzon 476km 205 p.
6° Provincial Chateauroux 526km 4.249 p.
6° Provincial Chateauroux 526km 2.505 p.
7° National Vichy 566km 11.022 p.
7° Provincial Vierzon 476km 719 p.
7° Provincial Vierzon 476km 205 p.
7° Provincial Vichy 566km 1.828 p.
8° Provincial Vierzon 476km 205 p.
9° Provincial Tours 505km 1.652 p.
9° Provincial Chateauroux 526km 689 p.
9° Provincial Vierzon 476km 719 p.
9° Provincial Argenton 555km 377 p.
10° Provincial Chateauroux 526km 3.037 p.
10° Provincial Vierzon 476km 719 p.
11° Provincial Souillac 733km 715 p.
12° Provincial Chateauroux 526km 4.249 p.
12° Provincial Vichy 566km 1.828 p.
12° Provincial La Souterraine 593km 904 p.
12° Provincial Chateauroux 526km 1.401 p.
13° Provincial Argenton 555km 2.934 p.
13° Provincial Bourges 479km 1.639 p.
13° National Z. Argenton 555km 1.339 p.
14° Provincial Tours 505km 545 p.
14° Provincial Vierzon 476km 2.795 p.
15° Provincial Le Mans 471km 2.117 p.
15° Provincial Vierzon 476km 3.227 p.
16° National Argenton 555km 21.299 p.
15° Provincial Tours 505km 1.652 p.
In 2004: 1st General champion Distance club Antwerp (province of Antwerp ± 9000 fanciers) with old, yearlings and young (450-750km)
In 2005: 1st General champion Distance club Antwerp (province of Antwerp ± 9000 fanciers) with old, yearlings and young (450-750km) a unique achievement !!!
In 2005 : 2nd King “Union Antwerpen”
20 x 1° in 2005 !
Some top results in 2005 at the club:
Melun (310km) : 597 old: 1,2,3,4,5,10,11,12,…
Chateauroux (526km) : 862 yearlings: 1,3,6,19,20,32,… 22/31
Vichy (566km) : 397 young: 1,2,4,5,8,…
Toury (382km) : 1.161 yearlings: 1,5,15,… 7/8
Toury (382km) : 730 old: 1,5,13,14,16,23,… 14/16
Dourdan (366km) : 574 yearlings: 3,8,20,25,32,39,… 7/7
La Souterraine (593km) : 301 yearlings: 2,5,6,13,22,23,24,25,… 22/32
Orleans (408km) : 439 yearlings: 4,5,9,10,22,23,… 9/11
As already indicated above, the Vercammen pigeons can be easily and successfully crossbred with other pigeons. Jos literally has tens, if not hundreds, of references all over the world; all fanciers that have achieved top results with the Vercammen pigeons. An attempt to list up all of these references would surely take us too far and some would probably be overlooked. We cannot resist mentioning some real top results achieved by Vercammen pigeons at foreign lofts though.
1st interprovincial Argenton 9.864 p.
1st interprovincial Argenton 4.740 p.
1st national Tours 16.154 p.
1st Moeskroen 12752 p.
1st Creil 14.467 p.
1st Tours 10.666 p.
1st Orleans 10.173 p.
1st La Souterraine 9.864 p.
1st Argenton 9.591 p.
1st Tours 6.752 p.
1st Tours 4.779 p.
1st Orleans 4.448 p.