Struyf Francois from Zandvliet
It was my intention to pay a visit to Leo Kloots in Zandvliet early September. This Barcelona star has a private telephone number though, so I was not able to reach him. I telephoned an ‘old’ friend who lives in Zandvliet as well to ask him if he could put me in touch with Leo Kloots. That ‘old’ friend was Francois Struyf about whom I had made a report somewhere in the mid nineties. I naturally asked Francois about his season 2006. ‘I’m not complaining’, he said, ‘I obtained some good results.’. And that was that. A couple of weeks later, I was very surprised to see the national championships KBDB on my computer monitor. François was first in the extreme long distance championships. HE WAS CHAMPION OF BELGIUM. And he tells me on the phone ‘I’m not complaining’. Typical of Francois. No boaster at all, not showing off. On the contrary: he is a model of modesty. As far as Leo Kloots is concerned: it didn’t work (for now). Leo likes to keep his telephone number private and he prefers to keep his pigeons to himself as well. He is of course fully entitled to his privacy and I respect that.
This is the top of the KBDB championship of 2006:
1. Struyf F (Zandvliet) 6 points and 33,1418 %
2. Vandamme-Bodaert (Oostkamp) 6 points and 34,4284 %
3. Dejonghe H. (Kruishoutem) 6 points and 40,7222 %
4. Van Coppenolle L (Ouwegem) 6 points and 41,1170 %
5. Henry L (Nandrin) 6 points and 41,5053 %
6. Van den Berghe J. (Landege-Nevele) 6 points and 44,6319 %
7. Joosen J. (Brecht) 6 points and 45,1912 %
8. Emo D & B (Visé) 6 points and 46,1003 %
9. Meyvaert R. (Ertvelde) 6 points and 52,0877 %
10. Pollin M (Snellegem) 6 points and 59,1762 %
11. Hebberecht C. (Evergem) 6 points and 62,0842 %
12. Slots D. (Lede) 6 points and 68,4537 %
I immediately contacted Francois to congratulate him. He told me that he has to thank a friend who lives in Deerlijk and friend Jan Sas from Vosselaar for winning this title. They pointed out to him that the results he had obtained this year were good enough to send to KBDB. Otherwise, Francois would probably not have sent them in at all. Last year, the national title of extreme long distance racing went to Van Gils Frans and Paul from Ravels and this year, it’s won by Francois who lives in Zandvliet. The Antwerp fanciers are certainly being remarked as far as extreme long distances are concerned. International winner of Perpignan 2006 Jos Joosen from Brecht obtained a nice 6th place. 6 October 2006 was a day-off at school so I went to Zandvliet. Zandvliet is situated northward of Antwerp, if you take the A12 motorway, you have to take the last exit before entering Holland to get there. In this nice and quiet little village, Francois lives in ‘Verbrandstraatje’ at number 11. It’s an extremely small and narrow dead end. You can barely turn around your car. The CHAMPION is standing on top of his loft when I pull up my car. ‘I’ll be right with you Johan, I’m just calling in my young pigeons!’. Then, we go to the kitchen to write some things down.
Origin of the breed
Francois Struyf has celebrated his 70th birthday in September. He’s been retired for 15 years and he used to work at a furniture factory but he has mainly earned his living as a dockworker. The docks of Antwerp are situated close to Zandvliet. His father used to be a pigeon fancier and Francois got his first loft at the age of 12. He raced the birds from Qieuvrain till Pont St Max and sometimes, he dared to have a go at it with his pocket money. When he was 16-17 years old, he stopped racing pigeons for a while.
He married his Roza back in 1958 and not long after that -one year after he got married to be more precise- Francois installed a pigeon loft. He principally focussed on speed and middle distance racing. ‘I was just messing around the first couple of years but afterwards, it went pretty well’, says Francois. ‘I was among the champions and obtained first prizes in “het grote Grensverbond”’. In the early seventies, he switched to long middle distance till Brive. At the end of the seventies, he had the 3rd Ace Pigeon Long Distance Club of Antwerp with ‘Baron’.
In the early eighties, he started racing long distances. His first real top long distance pigeon was ‘Den Oude Elias’. ‘When I had this bird examined at an older age by an inspector, he was rejected. The man said that the pigeon was burnt-out. But only one year later, ‘Oude Elias’ won the 1st provincial Bordeaux (clocked at 11:05 PM) at the age of 7! Three weeks later, he won the 5th provincial in the Perpignan race. This cock ended his career as a racer at the age of 10 with a 12th provincial Pau. ‘Oude Elias’ was the oldest pigeon in the international results of Pau for 3 years in a row.’ It doesn’t really matter but this story proves that Francois is taking good care of his old stars. ‘Oude Elias’ descended from the cock ‘Damiaan’. This is the old main pigeon of the Struyf loft. ‘Damiaan’’s father was ‘Vale Dereere’, which he bought at the total sale of A. Dereere = breed Van der Espt. The mother was ‘Shiela’, Francois got her from Kil and son in Zandvliet. She was a daughter of ‘Pandoer’ (ace pigeon of Belgium) x his own daughter ‘Habbekrats’. Kil and son were participating in competitions of all distances but the pigeons came mainly from a long distance racer, the late Jozef Vandenbroecke from Wielsbeke. The old foundation of the Struyf colony also consists of the Comaes breed from Roosendaal (NL). Comaes was the winner of a car in the St-Vincent and the Dax races for 2 years in a row. This long distance racer had very little pigeons and Francois mainly got some eggs and small youngsters. The strain was reinforced with pigeons from Theo Streefkerk (NL), A&L van der Wegen, his friend Chris Musters from the nearby situated town Hoogerheide (NL), Jaap de Haan (Strijen, NL) and his friend from Zandvliet: Leo Kloots.
In 1997, Francois also got some pigeons from Stan Denissen (Putte-Kapelle) who possesses the Devooght breed. Francois bred his ‘Blauwe Stan’ in 1998 from this strain. He won, a.o., a 1st provincial and 8th national Pau in 2002, 26th intern. Bordeaux and 194th national Pau. Only just recently, Francois switched with C. Van Oers from Heerlen (NL). The recent contribution of the strain of Jan and Hanne Sas from Vosselaar is working out quite well. All these breeds provide wonderful colours to the Struyf loft. All the colours are represented. The most important thing is of course the fact that these are super pigeons with respect to extreme long distance racing. Francois obtained 9 provincial victories and several nice placings at the Cureghem Centre. In 1995, he became 3rd Champion KBDB extreme long distance which is naturally worth mentioning too of course.
1996 Dax en Pau
All of this in the province of Antwerp against old pigeons. No doublings or hens. Struyf isn’t just anybody. He is simply one of the best long distance fanciers of Antwerp province.
The 68 widowers are spread over several garden lofts: wooden lofts and one brick loft. They are all placed in the shape of an L in the small garden. Francois experimented for some years with hen racing but it wasn’t really much of a success. They haven’t achieved real good results so it is likely that Francois will stop racing hens. The cocks are usually coupled by the end of February and brood for 8 days. This is repeated in April and then the widowhood starts. The yearling cocks are allowed to raise a youngster (taken from the best old pigeons) and in 2006, a number of old widowers were exceptionally offered this opportunity as well. According to Francois, there isn’t much of a difference. Once a good pigeon, always a good pigeon. The rest of the season is just plain widowhood. He never shows the hens to the cocks when they leave and Francois sometimes let the cocks wait until the next morning to see their hens when they return from a race. When the other cocks train, they get to see their better half. They can all raise a nest when the season’s over, followed by a period where they sit on fake eggs. The boxes are closed by mid October and Francois installs V-spots everywhere. The hens remain in their lofts until Christmas. That’s when the pigeons often show the need to couple. The lofts are open until the evening during wintertime. The floors of the lofts are covered with straw which is changed twice a year. Yearling cocks fly till Limoges and some of them race Bordeaux or St-Vincent. 20 breeding couples provide young pigeons. Youngsters are all trained well. The first round is flying middle distance twice and the others race Qieuvrain a couple of times. Francois naturally doesn’t care for results at this point: his selection procedure is based on health. The vet is not very important. The pigeons receive the necessary vaccinations but apart from that, the vet is rarely called. ‘Three to four years ago, I treated one loft for tricho, the other lofts received a cure 28 or 29 years ago’, says Francois. ‘Maybe people won’t believe that but it’s the truth. I give them lots of tea which I make myself: nettle, dead nettle, onion and lots of garlic. If they don’t race, they receive this almost on a daily basis. On the other days, I give them cider vinegar and 8/10 drops of bleaching agent to 10 litres of water every 14 days. You have to be careful with this because not all the brands have the same composition. Whether all this helps...I wouldn’t know, honestly. But it can’t do any harm and maybe it’s just not really important. The pigeons will probably fly just as good without all these products. I suppose I continue to give it to them because it has become a habit.’.
As far as nutrition is concerned Francois also likes to keep things simple. Widowers get their feed in a large dish. There’s always 10% of barley in the sports mixture. They get sufficiently to eat but have to finish everything. Pigeons that fly extreme long distance races get some extra maize in their feed dish which is placed in their living box. In the other boxes, this little dish is empty. When they arrive, the pigeons are locked in their living box and are offered something to drink. That way, they cannot be disturbed by other pigeons in the loft. ‘Kil, the father, once told me: ‘Keep it simple, that’s already plenty of work!’ I never forgot what he said’, says Francois.
Dax national 5.189p: 52 (1st nom - and 263 (2nd nom)
Carcassonne national 3942p: 138 (1st nom) and 634 (2nd nom)
Let’s take a look at the 4 pigeons that provided these results:
Den Dalton 6452965/00
Pau national 66th in 2006
Carcassonne national 138th in 2006
This greyish cock has achieved 9 prizes out of 10 extreme long distance races.
His father is a late cock that descends from ‘Tobias’ (1st provincial Dax 1996, 8th national Dax 1996, 2nd provincial Montauban, 3rd provincial Narbonne, 8th provincial Montauban…) X ‘Tonika’ (a direct from Theo Streefkerk).’Tobias’ descended from ‘Ober’ (7-10 prov. Dax bred by Koster x daughter Baron) X ‘Blauw St-Vincenter’ (daughter of main pigeon St-Vincent C. Musters).
The mother is a direct from G.M.B. Dingemans from Stabroek. She is a daughter of ‘son Sarina’ Hagens bros. x daughter 1st nat. Dax Malfait from Jabbeke.
Pau national 37th in 2006
Carcassonne national 634th in 2006
The father is ‘Woerd’ and comes directly from F. Eyckens in Beerse. He descends from ‘Hoppel’ (1st prov. Bordeaux and 1st prov. Narbonne in 1 year’s time) x ‘Scharke’ that descends from main pigeon Bostijn x Schellekens.
Mother is ‘Het Zoeltje’. She is a sister of ‘Roetsj’ and ‘Troetsj’, two top racers who are now breeders. ‘Troetsj’ has won 9 prizes in extreme long distance races. He was severely injured during his last race and was found somewhere in Flanders. Someone reported him and Francois went to get him. Afterwards, he developed into a good breeding pigeon. ‘Roetsj’ has won a.o. 1st and 18th provincial Perpignan, 6th provincial Marseille, 7th and 10th provincial Dax, 2nd-12th and 13th provincial Pau. The father of these pigeons is ‘De Koele’, a pure van der Wegen that descends from the breed of ‘Oud doffertje’ and ‘de Lamme’. Mother is ‘Het Bont’, a direct from Christ Musters in Hoogerheide.
Geschelpte Witpen De Haan NL1117465/03
Dax national 52nd in 2006
Perpignan provincial 730p-34 in 2006
He also obtained a prize in Cahors and Dax as a two-year-old.
Comes directly from Jaap de Haan in Strijen. He is the product of ‘zoon St-Vincentdoffer’ (son St-Vincent cock) (AP Overwater x Brinkman) X daughter Barcelona-hen (breeds of Hugo and Bas Batenburg, Kuypers and De Haan)
Dax national 263rd in 2006
He is a son of ‘Feloog 662/02’ who is in his turn a son of ‘Nele’ (who won a.o. 162-462-1396 international Barcelona and who descended from a hen of Karel Huygen in Stabroek) X ‘Elisabeth’ (pure Bruggeman through Leo Kloots). The mother of ‘Gaai’ is ‘Bijouke 78/98’, a direct of Christ Musters from son ‘St-Vincenter’ x ‘geschelpt van der Wegen’.
To conclude, I would like to talk about the following pigeon:
This cock was put into the basket as 1st nominated for 9 times to fly extreme long distance races and he has won just as much prizes. In his last race, he won a 4th provincial Narbonne in 2005. He was still in the racing loft in 2006 but Francois eventually decided that he no longer had to participate in extreme long distance races. A brother of this same cock is at Ducheyne-Habraeken’s and became the father of two provincial winners over there. Father of ‘Duvel’ was ‘RIK II 456/91’ (1st provincial Cahors 1994 and 8th provincial Bordeaux, he descended from 2 direct pigeons of Christ Musters). Mother was ‘Blauw Witpen Joker 418/91’ (Joker became 2nd ace pigeon middle distance racing 1984 x daughter progenitor ‘Damiaan’)
Key results of 2006
Dax provincial 688p: 9-24-25-35-61-63-189-195 (8/11)
Cahors provincial 605p: 89-145-163 (3/5)
Barcelona provincial 1329p: 11-72-107-156-246 (5/12)
Perpignan provincial 730p: 34-73-107-138-190-197-242 (7/12)
Carcassonne provincial 401p:8-13-71-111 (4/5)
Pau provincial 2000p: 7-12-42 (3/3)