On a sunny spring morning in April we left for Antwerp, where close to the busy traffic-artery Wommelgem-Ranst, the top colony in the middle distance short middle distance from Roger & Eddy Grootjans resides. Roger and Eddy Grootjans belong to the absolute top in Antwerp, and received the pigeon bug from their father when they were still very young. Father and grandfather Karel Grootjans made furore in the sprint races half a century ago. When he passed away in 1973 father Roger took hold of the torch… but Roger was still too busy with football and other activities to be really successful in the pigeon sport. The positive change came in 1986 when son Eddy started taking more and more interest in the pigeons, and so started building on the road to top successes in the pigeon sport under the combination name Roger & Eddy Grootjans… in Borsbeek. In 2002 a new start was made in Broechem by Eddy´s in-laws, where the racing lofts are housed, 2km away from Eddy’s house. 20 breeding couples reside in Ranst by Eddy in a large loft with an airy aviary.
De Goede Donkere’ x ‘Het Sterk’
The current colony is based on 3 basis lines which have evolved over the years. One of the stock couples, also known as the ‘Diamond pair’ is formed by ‘De Goede Donkere’ 6260005/99 x ‘Het Sterk’ 6240105/00. The ‘Goede Donkere’ stems from a crossing from René Verdonck (who had excellent Vd Bosch-pigeons), while the ‘Sterk’ is a 100% Van Elsacker-Jepsen. They are the parents of several real toppers so as:
-Lore 6054923/04: was 6° Ace pigeon Long Distance Youngsters, and 5° Ace pigeon Long Distance Yearlings with amongst other things, the following performances: 1° Arlon 144 p, 9° Orleans 1.961 p. and 127° Prov 17.057 p, 176° Nat Vichy 11.275 p., 13° Prov Le Mans 701 p, 11° Limoges 261 p, and 149° Nat Limoges 13.581… etc.
-Popeye 6117019/03: 1° Ace pigeon Middle Distance 2005, 3° Ace pigeon Middle Distance ZAV with 1° Melun 448 p, 2° Melun 573 p, 2° Melun 377 p… etc.
-Roxy 6374217/06: 1° Ace pigeon Middle Distance ZAV, 2° Nat Ace pigeon Middle Distance ‘Ave Regina’, and won 1° Melun 1.654 p, 4° Dourdan 922 p, 4° Noyon 397 p, 10° Dourdan 1.038 p… etc.
-Spider 6374315/06: 2° Ace pigeon Middle Distance ZAV ’06, 3° Nat Ace pigeon Middle Distance ‘Het Duivenblad’, won 1° Toury 460 p… etc.
A second excellent breeding line was formed with descendants of the top pigeon ‘De Maurice’ 6506376/00 (pigeon with Houben blood), which Eddy obtained via a voucher from Maurice Scheers from Heist-Goor (a topper in the Sprint and Middle Distance in the Zuiderkempen). As a yearling the ‘Maurice’ was directly 2° Ace pigeon Middle Distance ‘Ave Regina’, after he had won 3 x 1° Prizes, with:
1° Dourdan 241 p, 1° Dourdan 332 p, 2° Dourdan 194 p, 3° Melun 260 p, 3° Toury 245 p, 2° Orleans 150 p, and 12° Prov 3.820 p, 2° Orleans 121 p, and 14° Prov 2.863 p. etc…One the one hand it is a pity that the racing career of this crack pigeon came to an abrupt halt through the house moving in the winter of 2001 (and re-start in 2002), but on the other hand it was also a great fortune, because this ‘Maurice’ was a direct hit in the breeding loft, where he was mainly coupled with the ‘Zwart Panterke’ (line Zwarte Panter from Alfons Slaets), and produced a glorious series of descendants which gave the ‘Grootjans-colony’ a firm shove in the back towards magnificent ‘top performances’ in de pigeon sport. The ‘Maurice’ passed on his dominant breeding capacities to his descendants, and they felt the result in Antwerp. So is he father of:-The ‘Witstaart’ 943/03: 2° Quiévrain 809 p, 7° Quiévrain 1.314 p, 3° Toury 1.0331 p, 3° Toury 780 p, 5° Orleans 269 p, 67° Prov Orleans 4.048 p, 5° Dourdan 527 p, 7° Dourdan 1.032 p, 7° Dourdan 359 p… He was 1° Ace pigeon Youngsters Quiévrain and 1° Ace pigeon Middle Distance Yearlings-The ‘Blacky’ 944/03: 2° Quiévrain 160 p, 12° Quiévrain 547 p… and nest brother of the ‘Witstaart’.-‘Son Maurice’ 840/04: won 2° Quiévrain 315 p, 6° Quiévrain 183 p…-‘Gerarda’ 347/08: 22° Noyon 1.013 p, 28° Toury 903 p, 17° Prov Salbris 2.269 p…One of his most famous grandsons is without doubt the ‘Rappe’ 6054842/04, which was 1° Nat Ace pigeon Sprint LCB ’04. He was a big candidate for Olympiad pigeon Oostende, before he perished on the field of honour in the very last Dourdan. Pure bad luck, as it later turned out, because his direct children also grew into powerful breeding pigeons. The ‘Rappe’ achieved the following top performances:1° Toury 1.087 p, 1° Toury 1.024 p, 1° Quiévrain 539 p, 1° Dourdan 505 p, 1° Melun 503 p, 1° Quiévrain 470 p, 2° Quiévrain 1.097 p, 2° Noyon 577 p. (after loft companion) etc… In total, he won no less than 31 x within the first 10, including then 6 x 1° Prizes!At the moment 5 direct children reside in the Grootjans breeding lofts…out of 4 of them there have already been real toppers bred. The 2 principal grandchildren are the ‘Chatter’ and ‘Indra’, their honours lists look like this:-the ‘Chatter’ 6163069/07 won: 1° Chateauroux 301 p, 2° Chateauroux 483 p and 6° Prov 2.179 p; 80° Prov Montlucon 2.152 p, 49° Prov Limoges, 73° Nat Zone B 5.830 p and 147° Nat Limoges 16.012 p.-the ‘Indra’ 6164341/08 won amongst other things: 20° Marne 1.092 p, 18° Prov Argenton 3.371 p, 24° Nat Zone B 9.884 p. and 28° Nat Argenton 25.583 p, 27° Prov Salbris 2.269 p, 186° Nat Zone B Gueret 5.692 p, 345° Nat Gueret 14.784 p.A grandchild also races in England and won 6 x 1° Prizes in the space of 2 years. Talk about a marvellous breeding line!A third major breeding line is formed by the ‘Gussy’ (a direct Stan Raeymaeckers, Emblem) x ‘Kirsten’ (a direct daughter of the star breeder ‘Castor’ by Van Elsacker-Jepsen), a stock couple from which several 1° Prize winners and Ace pigeons have been bred. Amongst others, this line has produced the ‘Supra’ 6374318/06 (coming out ‘Honeybee 713/02; a daughter of ‘Gussy x Kirsten’). The ‘Supra’ won:9° Nat. Ace pigeon ‘Grand Middle Distance’ KBDB 200639° Prov Chateauroux 3.857 p.22° Prov Montlucon 1.913 p.89° Nat Bourges 16.023 p.91° Nat Argenton 5.927 p.
Eddy also became good friends with Serge Van Elsacker and his wife Kirsten, so much so that over the last 10 years about 40 direct Van Elsacker pigeons moved from Schilde to Ranst, with the result being that at the moment this blood flows through about 75% of the pigeons. In addition to delivering top origin and excellent breeding pigeons, Serge also helped Eddy whenever it was necessary. These 3 stock lines have now been crossed with each other, with great success! Yet Eddy & Roger try to buy 1 or 2 toppers per year either in a public auction or direct children of toppers if the price is getting too high… Sometimes pigeons are also swapped (so as with H.Van Venrooij and Jan Bravenboer from Oud Beijerland who owns the very best from Kees Bosua). A few direct Jef Houben pigeons also did very well, so as the ‘Banco’ 816/04 (coming out a grandson of the ‘Rico’ from Jef Houben) who has already won 6 x 1° and 19 x within the first 10, and with this he became winner of the ‘GVA-Trophy’. The ‘Paco 335/04’ was obtained from Linda & Michel Baertsoen from Brasschaat, and it was immediately 1° Ace pigeon Middle Distance Yearlings ZAV in 2005, and won 3 x 1° prize, including fastest of 16.457 pigeons from Melun. A first rate breeding hen named ‘Romy’ was obtained from Hermans-Hoekstra, originating from the ‘Jaarling Dondersteen’ (grandson Kannibaal) x Janssens hen.At the end of last year the ‘Max’ was bought in the auction of Kris Cleirbaut, a pigeon that won 37° Nat La Souterraine. By the auction of Kees Bosua, Eddy & Roger dug deep into their pockets… so was one of the best breeding pigeons by Kees , the “INTEELT RAPPE” 6411893/06, a direct Grootjans pigeon who was already father of the 3° NPO, the 9° NPO and the 64° NPO… impressive when you know that this top breeder was coupled for the first time in 2008, and coupled with ‘Joy’ (self 1° NPO) he delivered ‘class material’! Eddy and Roger bought this pigeon back, along with 2 direct daughters of his. They further managed to lay claim to the top hen ‘Penny 907/07’ who won 39° Ablis 10.126 p., 4° Pommeroeul 3.470 p, 6° Strombeek 1.289 p, 23° Creil 12.422 p… and is daughter of ‘Bruce 585/06’ (son of the ‘Kleine Figo 837/02’) x ‘Demunter-hen 832/06’ (from Adriën Demunter & Zonen from Zarlardinge). A collection of top class with which Roger & Eddy Grootjans have achieved a powerful series op top performances and prominent titles at provincial and national level, so as:
1° General Provincial Champion KBDB Antwerp 2006
2° Provincial Champion KBDB Middle Distance youngsters 20063° Provincial Champion KBDB Fond youngsters 20085° Provincial Champion Middle Distance Old birds 20065° Provincial Champion KBDB Sprint youngsters 20049° National Ace pigeon KBDB Extreme Middle Distance 2007 (with ‘Supra 318/06’)10° National Champion KBDB Sprint & Middle Distance youngsters 200611° Provincial Champion KBDB Middle Distance Old birds 200513° National Champion KBDB Sprint & Middle Distance youngsters 2002
Eddy is a full-time employee of the firm ‘Natural’, where he takes care of the administration and the distribution of the pigeons from the very well known ‘breeding station’! This means he doesn’t have much free time to take care of his colony of pigeons. He gets up at 6am because he has to leave for work at 7.30am, and the pigeons have first to be fed and watered. Luckily he can rely on father Roger, who takes care of the youngsters and helps with the cleaning of the lofts and the care of the other pigeons. Eddy is quite punctual where the care is concerned, he takes care of refreshing the drinking water and the feeding of the pigeons. According to Eddy it is not difficult since the same basis mixture is always used. Only at the beginning of the week 50% diet may be added, but for the rest… always the same feed. This for both the young and the old birds. Pigeons that have to work hard during the sport season have to have good food, otherwise they won’t last for the entire season.
In the introduction we wrote that 20 breeding couples are housed by Eddy, say the proven breeders… while a few younger proof couples reside behind the racing lofts. The 2009 sport season was started with 30 widowers in classic widowhood, while for the first time 12 racing couples will also be raced according to the principle of ‘total widowhood’. It is the intention to race the hens weekly in races from 450 Km to Limoges, while the cocks have a ‘tough Middle Distance race’
or a ‘middle distance race’ on the programme every 2 weeks, with normally a race in between from Dourdan (now: Etampes) or sometimes a rest week. The old cocks train 2 x per day for 1 hour from home. The hens sit in an aviary at the back of the lofts on ‘schabs’, and during the week they come into the loft of the youngsters. The pigeons in total widowhood come together for 10 to 15 minutes before being basketted, while the cocks in traditional widowhood are not allowed to see their hens before they leave, not even the nest dishes. They used to, but since they started basketting the pigeons for the provincial races they stopped. These pigeons were basketted on a Thursday… so there was little or no time to show the hens..so they tried ‘not showing’ . This didn’t only save time, the pigeons were more peaceful when they are basketted… and the main thing: there was no noticeable difference in the performances… so, why bother, Eddy asked himself? The widowers breed in the winter and are coupled once again at the end of March, after which the training starts. They are then allowed to brood for 3 days just before starting widowhood. It is the intention of having them somewhere up to Quiévrain by this time. The pigeons in total widowhood are coupled later and are started with youngsters in the nest , and after their nest they are put directly into widowhood.
The roughly 100 youngsters that are ringed are, like in most places, darkened (from 6pm to 7am). The 1° round until sometime in May, the 2° round until the beginning of June. Once the youngsters have been sufficiently trained and started the racing season they are hardly trained from home. Eddy prefers to basket them every day and Roger takes them away for a trainings race of about 45 Km. This doesn’t only polish up the orientation capacity, but pigeons that ‘sprint’ home also train sharper! When they arrive home they are called in and are not let out again. The 1° round of youngsters are raced with the sliding door up until the Middle Distance. From the 2° round 1 loft is raced with 22 cocks in widowhood
(coupled with old hens)… these are then kept for racing the sprint races. The provincial and national races are normally reserved for the young hens. Over the last few years Eddy sometimes had problems with the youngster’s health in the big loft, often paired with great losses. Eddy discovered that this was dependant on from which distance the wind blew, as a result of which there wasn’t enough fresh air coming into the loft. A sport friend drew his attention to this, and so the roof with ‘quick cover tiles’ was replaced with the very old ‘Boomse slates’. They immediately noticed a world of difference in the lofts, both by the old birds as by the youngsters that were residing there! At the moment the pigeons are much more ‘taut’ and ‘blink like peacocks’. That this an enormous improvement is was proved in the early breed with the racing pigeons having 95% fertilised eggs, a great success! Where the medical picture is concerned, they mostly use the products from Belgica-De Weerd and Dr. Norbert Peeters, yet only when necessary. They do lavishly make use of health supporting natural products.
After the sport season the old racing pigeons raise a youngster, after which (about mid September) they are put into the aviary to moult. In this period they are given moulting mixture (Rui Maxi from Natural) sprinkled with garlic oil and brewer’s yeast several times a week…as well as being given a lot of tea. They are also given a bath twice a week. This is very simple where the care is concerned and it is especially time saving.Start season 2009 was cause for optimism…
That this treatment works was repeatedly proved over the last few seasons, not only with a beautiful chain of titles up to provincial and national level (see above), but also great performances in the weekly races. The Grootjans colony has obviously the wind in its sails, and during the last season has grown to be one of the most authoritative colonies in Antwerp! The first performances in the just started sport season 2009 give in any case the very best hope for the future. Because a good beginning is half winning… A colony to be followed closely over the next few weeks by the start of the new Middle Distance season when the pigeons ‘are sharp’ because in this colony there is clearly ‘music for the future’! We wish Eddy and Roger the very best and a top season 2009 with their pigeons!
Hope giving start 2009 05/4 Quiévrain 505 yearlings (club Ranst)3,4,15,16,31,33,114 (7/14)05/4 Quiévrain 306 yearlings (Club Broechem)9,12,22,24,26,32,46,57,59,60,67,92,93,101 (14/21)12/4 Quiévrain 325 yearlings (club Broechem)4,5,15,36,46,49,67,79,87,99 (10/19)12/4 Quiévrain 510 yearlings (club Ranst)9,23,35,42,49,50,54,70,90 (9/14)19/4 Noyon - 352 old
3, 10, 49, 60, 94, 120, 131 (7/16)
19/4 Noyon - 495 yearlings
11, 21, 22, 34, 40, 44, 69, 75, 92, 98, 102, 111, 117, 134, 188, 193 (16/32)26/4 Noyon 575 yearlings1, 3, 18, 26, 27, 32, 57, 59, 67, 80, 118, 120, 123, 132, 148, 151, 165, 210, 216 (19/32)26/4 Noyon 382 old2, 17, 20, 24, 25, 29, 44, 51, 77, 87, 104, 133, 151 (13/16)
A few highlights from 2008
13/4 Quiévrain Club 228 old 1,4,603/5 Melun Club 778 old 9,26,29,44,54,73,89,171,225 (9/11)
10/5 Melun Club 1.275 yearlings 1,15,20,111,158… (8/14) 931 old 1,9,20,22,48,61,61,127,158 (9/10)
18/5 Dourdan Club 347 old 4,9,42,57,64,79 (6/10)
24/5 Pithiviers Club 205 old 11,21,32,56 (4/4)
21/6 Melun Club 226 old 13,15,16,19,36,73 (6/7)
12/7 Limoges Nat 16.012 yearlings147,211 (2/2)
20/7 Noyon Club 1.016 young 17,19,24,28,56,61,97,99… (15/23)
09/8 Argenton Nat 25.583 young 28,111,954,3385 (4/7)
16/8 Salbris Prov 2.269 young 13,17,27,194,202,212… (11/23)
2° King Middle Distance ZAV (South Antwerp Union)
6°, 7°, 9°, 10° Ace pigeon Old ZAV
3° Provincial Champion KBDB Long Distance young