Pieter Woord & Louw van den Berg (Urk, NL) victorious in the long distance

We travelled to the town of Urk to sit down with Pieter Woord (58) and Louw van den Berg (38). Peter works for the Dutch Aerospace Center in Marknesse, and Louw van den Berg runs a fish wholesaler. Together they laid the basis for a successful long distance team that demonstrated their strength again this season.

Last year they came to the fore with their international first prize from Perpignan with Leontine, and this year they claimed victory in the very first race of the season from Pau: their Powerboy claims a 1st International of 11,739 pigeons, over a distance of 1129 km!

The team basketed 5 pigeons in total, claiming four prizes, all within the national top 273 of 3,551 pigeons.

"Powerboy", 1st international Pau 2018

Click here for the pedigree of NL16-1124556

Strong pigeons with a big engine
And that brings us to an important question: what does the training schedule look like that enables these pigeons to excel over such a long distance? Pieter was willing to explain a thing or two: it all begins with pigeons of excellent quality that undergo an arduous training schedule from their very first season: they are basketed every single week in the province, and they are taken away a few times per week as well; adding to a total of about 700 km of training each week.

Special Lady
Their most valued pigeons came in 2014, the year in which the two fanciers invested in pigeons that were able to compete in longer distance racing, to meet with their ambitions in the new loft in Urk. These investments eventually led to an early arrival from Marseille.

That early arrival was an 11th national by Special Lady, a granddaughter of The Special One, winner of a 1st International Barcelona 2015, paired to a daughter of New Laureaat. New Laureaat is the winner of a Golden Wing title, as well as a 1st International Barcelona. She is also related to De Rode Craemers of Jan Theelen from her mother's side.

Special Lady was raced as a young bird and a yearling in the lofts of Louw van den Bergh, but all pigeons were eventually transferred to a new loft in Urk. This hen needed just two flights to adapt to her new environment, and she quickly started to show her potential in some shorter distance races. She claimed an 83rd national of 3,551 pigeons in the first race from Pau.

The pedigree of Special Lady, with New Laureaat and The Special One as the eye catchers.
The other pigeons in this team were successful in Marseille as well, with 3 out of 4 pigeons winning a top prize: 11th, 40th and 109th national. No other pigeon in the top 109 had to cover such a long distance as the racing birds of Pieter and Louw. 

The veterinary surgeon visits the basketing club in Urk every four weeks, and all members are obliged to have their pigeons checked. In case of an outbreak of paratyphus, smallpox or worms the pigeons are not allowed to be basketed. They need a written permission from that same vet that proves that they are completely healthy, before they are allowed to race again.This approach has been in use for several years now, and it has really paid off. The fanciers learn a few things about pigeons during these check-ups, during which all birds are supervised by a specialist.

The lofts in the attic, where the combination's old birds are kept

The pigeons are released twice every day: between 5 and 6 am and between 9 and 10pm. This is done deliberately to let the pigeons adapt to racing early in the morning and late in the evening. The fanciers believe that pigeons can win or lose a race on the first day. They are never paired before a race, and they are basketed with 10 to 12 days of brooding, which Pieter thinks is the perfect time. They get a full feeding tray. In case of doubt, they administer a yellow pill right before basketing.

Pieter used to win numerous races in the program competition, he had tens of teletext prizes and he won several championship titles as well. Meanwhile the two fanciers have claimed two international victories, and an international first prize from Barcelona would really be the icing on the cake. Could it be done? We believe so.