By the end of 2019 these fanciers are likely to have an incredible 1000 first prizes to their name. And their young birds did particularly well in the national rankings KBDB, claiming most notably a 1st National Champion Sprint Young Birds.
Gert together with his parents
Frans and Gert Rondags are still racing under the name of son Gert. Frans explains: "We race pigeons together, and hence we still race under Gert's name."
Gert claimed quite a number of titles on the National Days in Stayen, Sint-Truiden
Besides their title of 1st National Champion Sprint Young Birds, Gert had no less than three young birds that won a national ace pigeon title: there was the first place of Nafi (BE18-5117610), which was also 3rd Olympiad Pigeon Category F, the 7th place of Rogerke (BE18-5117600) and a 10th place with De Sterke (BE18-5117588). Each of these three ace pigeons will be discussed in detail later on. Gert also claimed a national second prize in the junior series, which might sound less prestigious to some, but any experienced fancier will agree that this is an important feat as well. And his palmares in the provincial championships KBDB is perhaps even longer: 6th General Champion, 2nd Sprint Yearlings, 1st Sprint Young Birds, 2nd Shorter Middle Distance YBs, 1st Junior Series, as well as 1st Ace Pigeon Sprint YBs with the aforementioned Rogerke.
Unsurprisingly, we were particularly interested in Nafi, since claiming a title of 1st National Ace Pigeon does not happen overnight. This is her palmares as a young bird:
|21/7||Dizy le gros 170km||2/366 (behind a loft mate)||14/3935||0.3557|
|18/8||Chimay (120km)||4/326 (behind 3 loft mates)||11/3245||0.3389|
The pedigree of Nafi shows that she originates from quite a few fantastic bloodlines. Her parents are still fairly young as well, both born in 2016. And a sister of Nafi won two first prizes and two second prizes in the last four races of the 2018 season. That says it all.
Click here for the pedigree of Nafi.
Results in the national young birds' races sprint:
|Date||Race||Prizes||Number of birds|
|21-7||Dizy 170 km||43-51||3935 pigeons|
|29-7||Chimay 120 km||10-12||1114 pigeons|
|11-8||Chimay 120 km||10-8||1525 pigeons|
|18-8||Chimay 120 km||14-11||3245 pigeons|
|25-8||Dizy 170 km||18-14||2391 pigeons|
|1-9||Dizy 170 km||39-7||2137 pigeons|
We remember Asking Frans about his prospects for 2018 in an earlier report. This is what he said: "It will all depend on our one year olds, since our old birds' team has been sold. We will start the season with 24 widowers and 25 hens raced in semi-widowhood. An additional 80 youngsters will be raced as well. We are racing a few yearlings that have not won a single prize as youngsters, so we'll have to wait and see. The majority of this team will be competing in the sprint and the shorter middle distance but we are increasingly focusing on the nationals as well, racing with just a handful of birds on a regular basis."
“Young birds are just like kids”
Frans and Gert did something incredible with Nafi (BE18-5117610), Rogerke (BE18-5117600) and De Sterke (BE18-5117588): they had three national ace pigeons in the top ten. Surprisingly enough, the young birds' training schedule was close to being a complete failure at one point in time; Gert explains: "We had released our 80 youngsters about ten times from Tongeren, which is about 10km away from our loft. All young birds arrived home without hassle. So we agreed that it was time for the next step: Waremme, 20km away. By 3pm we had one single bird back in the loft, and by the evening a mere 15 pigeons had managed to return home. We were devastated. 15 of our pigeons were found across the country, and we picked them up, one by one: Bruges, Ghent, Liège, Tienen, Antwerp, Breda. They were everywhere. We decided to give our young birds a break for three weeks, racing with the second group instead."
Frans adds: "Believe it or not but our ace pigeon Nafi landed in the loft of Jef Smeulders twice, and Rogerke had to be tretrieved from Roger Bruninx's loft on two occasions as well. Racing bird De Sterke would only return home after a few days. Racing hen 604-18 had to be picked up from the loft of Ludo Reynders and the Raets Brothers, before claiming a 1st provincial of almost 4,000 pigeons some time later. Young bird are just like kids: they make youthful mistakes, they are sensitive and not always very stable." Gert remembers retrieving one of their pigeons: "I was about to pick up one of our young birds from a Walloon fancier in Milmort, or at least that was the plan. But I could not find the correct address in Milmort. I then got a text message from the fancier in question, saying that the pigeon was being kept in a shoebox, in the town of Waremme. It was only then that I realised our pigeon was dead. "Il est mort", the Walloon fancier had said, which I misunderstood for 'Milmort', a village in Wallonia."
"I don't want our young birds to be away for hours because they risk hitting the wall. 30 minutes is enough I think. We raced the remaining 30 birds in widowhood. Since we had more young hens than cocks, we paired a few of these young hens to a group of old cocks. The pairs were kept apart until they started to mate. This takes a lot of time and effort but the results were great in widowhood", says Frans.
It goes without saying that the fanciers from Grote-Spouwen are very meticulous with their collection of super class birds. And yet, Nafi was basketed as second nominated just once. Frans explains: "That is correct. I wanted her to stay low profile, so I avoided basketing her as 1st or 2nd repeatedly. I had this happen in 2017 with 5 excellent one year olds, which were always basketed among the first six nominated. All five failed to return home from one particular race. I have no idea what went wrong, but I'm pretty sure something very strange happened that day. But even without being first or second nominated, Nafi still won the national championship young birds sprint."
"It all started in 1983, when I followed in the footsteps of my father Laurent in Riemst. My dad was a hobby player; he had more systems than there are days in the week", Frans says with a smile. Together with his father, he tried to get his team to the next level, and this led to many great results. Frans explains: "In '93 I got in touch with Paul Huls (Zonhoven), and one thing led to another. Paul gave us a group of birds that we could have only dreamt of: Vandenabeele (Picanol-Wittenbuik), Dirk van Dyck (Kannibaal), Broeckx-Van Hees (from 2 Olympiads), Herman van Gestel, Clement Robben, etc." They briefly lost their passion for pigeon racing when their entire breeding team was stolen in 2000, but they regained their interest fairly quickly. They then decided to to keep some additional middle distance pigeons in their loft. "It was our friendship with Paul Huls that pulled us through this period", Frans remembers. "We had a fresh start, and that is when our success story really took off." In 2008, one year after Laurent's father passed away, the former pigeon family was offered for sale.
Frans and his son Gert started from scratch in 2010, now racing from a loft in Grote-Spouwen. Pigeons from their old bloodlines were traced, and they also introduced the fantastic 'De Kleine' of the late Edmond Konings from Hoeselt. They race in the club of De Vrede Romershoven, where Frans is the chairman.
Like we said earlier, Nafi won the title of 1st National Ace Pigeon Young Birds Sprint, but she is not the only star of this loft. Another top class bird for the team of Rondags is Rogerke (BE18-5117600), which won the title of 7th National Ace Pigeon.
And this team was really on a roll this season, with De Sterke (BE18-5117588) finishing in 10th place in this national competition.
"I think the hens' game is the best competition of all. It is not quite as demanding, the pigeons are kept in small boxes during the day, and they go out for about an hour every evening. Their diet is quite straightforward as well: a full tray of Beyers mixture once a day. The feeding tray is taken away after about 15 minutes, and that's it. However, the hens get to see their partner every week as of mid-February. They really need to be strongly attached to their male partner, and they should never forget each other."
We noticed small aviaries in front of each loft. "This is thanks to our good friend Rigo", Frans explains. We visit veterinary surgeon Vincent Schroeder three to four times each season. We alo use side products of Vincent Schroeder, Comed and Pigeon Support."
The pigeons of Rondags are paired in early December, and that goes for both the breeding and the racing birds. The eggs of the breeders are placed under the racing birds. "This gives us 4 young birds per breeding pair in just ten days. The racing birds are not paired after the first round. We do not race in total widowhood. We want the hen to be committed to her racing cock, and the other way round."
Frans will be able to race old birds again in 2019. "The one year olds have been doing great in 2018. They did struggle a bit due to a minor outbreak of coccidiosis and tricho, which I think was caused by a number of delayed releases. But they got back on their feet after we administered some Flagyl and Appertex."
We conclude this report on top players Frans and Gert Rondags with an overview of some of their best results. They claimed 52 first prizes in 2018 without doubles, and they did not even race any old birds this year:
1-9 Dizy 487 YLs 1-2-4-5-6-8-9-11 8/8 95 YBs 1 through 23-25-26-27-28-29-30-31-32-33-34-35-36-37 . . 52/56 Prov. 2137 YBs 4-5-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14-18-30-31-32-33-37-39 53/56 Late YBs 1009 pigeons 5-6-7-8-14-15-16-22-24-26-47-49-54…29/31 25-8 Dizy 462 YLs 1-2-3-4-5-6-9-12-21-29-35-36-3960-76-78 16/18 273 YBs 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19 43/59 183 late 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-11-12-13-14-15-16-21 24/33 18-8 Chimay 1465 late YBs 1-2-3-4-5-6-9-24-25-28-30-31…24/31 326 YBs 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-20-21- 22-23-24-25-27-28… 49/58 11-8 Chimay 352 YBs 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-20-21. . 46/57 3700 prov. 2-3-4-5-6-8-9-11-12-13-14-16-17-18-20-21-25-30-31 47/57 1525 late 2-4-5-6-7-8-10-11-13-14-17-26-35-39-41-43 23/31 4-8 Trelou 319 YBs 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-12-14-15-22-23-25-29-30 30/52 29-7 Chimay 289 YBs 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-20-21 34/55 21-7 Dizy 366 YBs 1-2-3-4-6-7-8-10-12-13-14-15-16-17-23-24… 31/54 137 YLs 1-4-6-7-8-9-10-11-15-17-24-25-26-29-38-42 16/28 14-7 Chimay 377 YBs 1-2-3-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14-16-17-18-19-20-21-23-24-25…. 37/58 7-7 Chimay 315 YBs 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-14-16-18-20-21-22-23…36/61 111 olds 1-2-3-4-6-7-8-9-10-11-13-16-19-20-21-22-33 17/20 Sourdun 85 olds 1-2-4-6-7-9-12-13-15-20-22-28 12/13