Kees (61) took early retirement two years ago and that was evident in the results this season. He is however of the opinion that when he was still working, there was more regularity in the care of the pigeons and that is something which I fully agree with. Kees began with racing pigeons in 1968 after previously owning tropical birds. He came into contact with racing pigeons through his brother-in-law Hans van Uden who owned racing pigeons. After he had watched the pigeons returning from all the races for a year he started enjoying the thrill of waiting for the pigeons. Kees thought: "I'm going to keep racing pigeons, because I think it is more enjoyable than keeping budgies and canaries." He built a pigeon loft in the attic of his house. In 1981 Kees became a member of P.V. De Duif in Zwolle, a club with more than thirty racing members. Next to practising the pigeon sport, he was also involved in all sorts of administrative functions. He was a member of the Commissie Nationaal Bergerac (Commission National Bergerac) from the N.P.O. for more than twenty-five years (including the function of bookkeeper). In appreciation for his work he was awarded the Gouden Speld (Golden badge) by the N.P.O. He was also involved by the NABvP where he was co-organiser of union competitions and bookkeeper. De NABvP appointed him as wearer of the Gouden Speld of the NABvP. Later he was also involved in the arbitration commission from province 8 GOU. In his club, the P.V. De Duif he has been the bookkeeper for years. He takes care of the pigeons all by himself. His wife Diny doesn't mind that Kees has pigeons. Now and again she waits with Kees when the pigeons have to return home. When necessary (if Kees is ill for example) she takes care of the pigeons.
Kees and Diny have an 8 metre long garden at the back of their house and a large part of it has been claimed by the pigeon loft. Kees has a loft measuring almost six metres, which is divided into three compartments: two for the widowers and one for the youngsters and a small loft directly behind the house for the hens. The breeding pigeons reside in the attic of their house. The front of the racing loft faces south-south-west. The garden loft has mechanical ventilation, which turns on for ten minutes per hour from 6am to 8.30pm.
The successes actually began in 1998 when Kees came in contact with Jan Willem de Weerdt from Hattem. Jan Willem asked him if he could place his four breeding couples in Kees's attic because he didn't have enough room for them. Jan Willem only needed one round of youngsters per year and the following rounds were for Kees. The following year the top racers from Kees and Jan Willem moved to their joint breeding loft. The pigeons in the breeding loft include pigeons from Rein Dunnink from Zwolle (mainly sort Steven van Breemen from Hilversum and Gebr. Janssen), from Dirk Fijn en zoon from Oldebroek (sort Piet Meevissen) and from Mrs. Gerry Jansen from Zwolle and her cousin Henk v.d. Hulst from Herxen (sort Cees Suykerbuyk from Eefde). This year Kees was allowed to choose a youngster by Gerry Jansen. In his choice, Kees used, amongst other things, the eye theory as he had learned from Jos Evers from Born. Kees chose well, because the selected pigeon, the 07-NL-1259621, a red chequer, sort Suykerbuyk x v.d. Flaes, won a 1st prize from Pommeroeul against 10.733 pigeons. Kees prefers the speed races: sprint, small middle distance, youngsters and late races.
Fourteen breeding couples sit by Kees in the attic. There are two super breeding couples: 168 x 702 and 447 x 645. The cocks from the first couple, paired with hens from the second couple have produced various 1st prize winners. The pigeons are coupled between Christmas and the New Year. The eggs of the breeders are transferred to the widowers. Kees also breeds a few youngsters out of his best widowers. The second round from the breeders goes to Jan Willem de Weerdt. In total, Kees breeds fifty to sixty youngsters for himself.
Racing system Late races
Kees practises the traditional widowhood with his racing pigeons and he wants therefore to race his hens in the Late races. Seeing that his hens were not yet trained, he wanted to race the widowers in the Late races for the first two to three weeks. Because the hens couldn't match up to the cocks he raced all the seven Late races with his widowers. His widowers performed superbly. From the third Late race he used lighting by the widowers from 7am to 10am and from 5pm to 10.30pm. The widowers therefore kept their feathers. In order to decide the order of nomination, Kees studied, amongst other things, their behaviour during the training. Sometimes a pigeon doesn't want to go inside and this can be a sign that she is super. He also looked at the eye colour. They have to be sparkling and the line in the eye has to be very sharp.
Feeding system pigeons Late races
On Saturdays the pigeons are given superstar widowhood mixture from Versele Laga. Saturday evening Powerplay 90% is added to the feed ( two dessertspoons per kilo feed). He used to use Powerplay 96%, but you can't buy it anymore. Powerplay 90% is added to the feed again on the Sunday morning. Starting Sunday, and up to and including Wednesday morning the pigeons are given Gerry Plus. In general the pigeons are fed 15 grams twice daily, but this depends on the weather. After Gerry Plus, and starting on the Sunday evening, they are given barley after they have finished eating. Kees saw this in a film over Martin van Zon. The pigeons feel full, whilst the result is that they fly more at home and get into shape quicker. On Wednesday evening the pigeons receive ½ Gerry Plus and ½ superstar widowhood mixture. On Thursday they receive a bit more than the usual allowance of superstar widowhood mixture. On Friday morning they receive the same mixture. Extras for the pigeons: from Wednesday evening half a teaspoon of nibbling seeds per pigeon in the breeding box. They receive fresh grit and redstone every day.
Training of the pigeons
The widowers train twice per day: from 8am - 9am and from 5pm - 6pm. Once the pigeons have finished flying they have to go inside straight away. During the week they are not taken away or entered in a race.
Before the start of the season the youngsters are taken away about eight times, but never further than twenty-five kilometres. The youngsters are also entered for the training races in the region. The youngsters are selected on the basis of their eyes, build and descent.
The pigeons are given LUGOL once a week to purify the throat and the airways. In the evenings after a race and the following morning the pigeons are given SA-mix from Nanne Wolff over the feed. Before the races they are given a seven day cure for tricho.
Notations by the first 10 in the club.
11x 1st pr.: 7x 2nd pr.; 6x 3rd pr.; 71x by the first 10.
Notations by the first 10 in District 1, Region 2, province 8 (GOU)
9x 1st pr.; 6x 2nd pr.; 2x 3rd pr.; 43x by the first 10.
Notations by the first 100 in Region 2, province 8 (GOU)
2x 1st pr.; 2x 2nd pr.; 1x 3rd pr.; 61x by the first 100
Others that race well with pigeons from Kees
" Jan Willem de Weerdt " Mrs. Gerry Jansen (including a youngster out a pigeon from Kees x a pigeon from Cees Suykerbuyk)
The yearlings and the old pigeons have to have raced a minimum of 50% and then there is usually room for 10 to 12 yearlings.
Kees came into contact with Jos Evers, who was inspecting pigeons based on their eyes during the opening of the veterinary surgery of Nanne Wolff. Kees didn't believe in this, but went to take a look and the outcome was that he went home to fetch a few pigeons. Jos picked out his best racers straight away. Afterwards he has studied the eye theory for about a year and now uses this with success since 2000. Kees doesn't only look at the eye, but also at other important things about the pigeon such as the general build, the muscles etc. The performances are also taken into account when he is judging the pigeons.
Kees's vision of the pigeon sport in his region
Kees is of the opinion that the governing board of region 2 should take on the responsibility of redefining the districts. According to Kees there is: " An uneven relation qua number of pigeons per district and this affects the winning of championships." In Zwolle there are a few fanciers who have stopped (including Cor Walda and Dries Hellendoorn), meaning that there are fewer pigeons in the races in this district. This makes a good classification more difficult in the various competitions such as region, province, NPO, WHZB, The Best of the Best. According to Kees there should be a set rule in the pigeon sport that everyone should have an even chance in a championship. He thinks that in region 2 the reasons why decisions are made should be more transparent, in other words the fancier should be better informed. This could be done through a report in the pigeon magazines so that the fanciers could respond to the governing board in the region. Kees says that at the beginning of 2007 all the clubs had a meeting about how to achieve a good relation in the division of the District in 2008. At the end of the 2007 season the fanciers/clubs filled in a assessment form. He has heard nothing more through the official channels about the dividing of the District. Through his own initiative he found out that in 2008 everything would stay the way it was. Kees would like to make it clear that his above comments are meant in a positive manner in order to continue the discussion about the District. Kees is very satisfied with the liberation policy in his region. The later start to the season is also a good thing, but the drawback is that the fanciers have less chance of winning competitions such as NPO, WHZB, The Best of the Best etc. Kees believes that the N.P.O. should present a national programme with the same number of races in all the different categories.
Goals for the future
Kees will try to equal the 2007 season, but this will depend on the weather, health and governing decisions. Finally, I was the guest of a very passionate fancier, who is fanatically involved with his hobby. In addition he also follows the developments at governing level and is prepared to discuss decisions and look for alternative solutions which will suit everybody.