Willem de Bruijn, Reeuwijk (NL) is the King National Competition ‘The Best of The Best’ 2010

The National Competition ‘The Best of The Best’, which is organised annually by ‘Het Spoor der Kampioenen’ is considered by many as the toughest competition in the world

All pigeons that meet the tough requirements for entering this competition are already top pigeons in themselves. In 2010 there were 5 categories. The best scoring fanciers in these 5 categories fought for the title ‘King of The Best of The Best’. A prestigious title that really counts! This time the title ended up by a man we all know, namely Willem de Bruijn from Reeuwijk. He is the successor to Pieter Veenstra, who had the honour in 2009. On a sunny Spring afternoon we left for Reeuwijk, where Willem lives with his family in a beautiful farmhouse with a large barn, just outside the village. In the attic of the barn he has created his own paradise in the form of a number of spacious lofts with plenty of room and fresh air. And that space around the property! You can see for miles over the green meadows with full ditches here and there. If we look carefully we can see the contours of the new lofts of  Gerard and Bas Verkerk in the distance, from which they will cross daggers with the competition next season. Over the last few months there has been a great deal reported about what could happen this year in Reeuwijk. But with your permission; we would like to look back at the fantastic 2010 season of Willem de Bruijn, which in the end gave him a.o. the title ‘King of The Best of The Best’. A title that Willem is very proud of. He has won this title twice now and he was also best fancier in WHZB twice. He sees these titles as absolute highlights of his exceptionally successful career in the pigeon sport !

A short introduction
The now 61 year old Willem de Bruijn has been continuously at the top of the native pigeon sport for 25 years. He grew up in the centre of Gouda, where he came into contact with the pigeon sport via his schoolmates. Since that time he has known a.o. Cees Everling, the man who has performed so fantastically over the past few years, mainly with pigeons from Willem. Cees visited the HBS, Willem het Gymnasium. Then a period followed during which Willem didn’t keep pigeons. Studying, cycling, building up a busy business as dentist, starting a family. All reasons not to keep pigeons for a while. In 1984 Willem picked up the thread again from the current location. In 1985 he bought forty summer youngsters from Gebr. de Wit from Koudekerk aan de Rijn. In fact that was the beginning of the great successes in the pigeon sport, which are still carrying on today. The blood from the Gebr. de Wit pigeons is still flowing through the veins of his current pigeons for 50%. In 1987 Willem was already General Champion of the strong C.C. ‘Gouwe and IJssel’ and a year later he was General Champion of the former Province C of the NABvP. What this man has further achieved over the last 25 years no pen can describe. It is a chain of great championships, national Ace pigeons, successes at Olympiads etc. etc. And during all those years he had a great friend in the pigeon sport in Herman Roos. Herman was a man who Willem regarded as his father, brother and child. He loved the man. Understandably the passing away of Herman came as a great shock to Willem. It also changed Willem. Knowing that life is fragile, he now enjoys every day that he can be busy with the pigeons. Not thinking about problems, but about solutions. And putting things into perspective, because there is more between heaven and earth than just pigeons. He is then positive about life and about his hobby. Whoever sees photos of him will notice that he always has a smile on his face and his thumb in the air. Carrying out and enjoying the pigeon sport in a positive manner. That is the message. And Willem really enjoys himself there in his own paradise in Reeuwijk. With a tremendous effort he governs his extensive colony of pigeons every day without any outside help. I have rarely seen a man with such a radius of action. He attacks the loft like a whirlwind. No difficult systems or extensive schedules, as this doesn’t help according to Willem It is all about good pigeons. And despite the fact that he has a large number of pigeons, he is still in search of other pigeons every day. Every Sunday morning, often in the company of Cees Everling, he sets off to Belgium, always looking for new top material. And with success !                 

Basis pigeons colony Willem de Bruijn
As stated, the pigeons from the Gebr. de Wit from Koudekerk aan de Rijn still form the basis of the current colony. These brothers were the champion makers by far. What about men like Peter van de Merwe, Piet van de Merwe, Comb. Verbree, Gerard en Bas Verkerk etc. By the successes of all these top colonies there are pigeons from the Gebr. de Wit, simple people with a formidable loft of pigeons. These pigeons are crossed by Willem with pigeons from Belgian origin. Because it is in Belgium where he looks for reinforcements. ‘In Belgium they race from one distance. Quievrain, Dourdan, Ecouen for example. The best pigeons per discipline come from Belgium. Here in the Netherlands we have the better all-round pigeons. By crossing the Belgian specialists with the Dutch all-round pigeons you get the best results in my opinion. Every Sunday morning I go to Belgium in search of reinforcements.  Sometimes I don’t even  know where I’m going when I’m at the border. Every year I buy 70 to 80 youngsters. They are raced here and measured with the same yardstick as my own pigeons. Those allowed to remain are crossed with my own pigeons and with success. I now own pigeons from the following Belgian fanciers: Michel van Lint – Leo Heremans – Theo van Genechten – Charles van Lancker – Gilbert Meire – Frans van Tilborg – Lanslot-Dockx – Karel Boeckx – van Damme-Boddaert – Stickers-Donkers – Maurice Hasendonckx – Cyrille Lambrechts – Gaston van de Wouwer – Jos van de Veke – Vereckt-Ariën – Deno-Herbots – Albert Derwa – Albert Nauwelaers – Jepsen-Elsacker. The breeding strategy here is good with good as much as possible and the breeders especially are over-coupled a great deal. I read a lot about pigeons. You could almost say: I breathe pigeons. How I now am with my pigeons, I used to dream about it as a child. And it’s all about good pigeons. the rest is not important. You read of champions of yesteryear who no longer perform. They then look for all sorts of excuses and causes. But there is always only one reason why it is no longer successful: the good pigeons have gone. And all the reasons as to why one is no longer successful is only masking a lack of quality by the pigeons. And then that carry on about the eyes. Very amusing and entertaining perhaps. But it’s a load of rubbish. There is not a single animal in the world where one looks into its eyes for the selection. Not a horse, not a cow, chicken or goat. Nothing. And it’s possible by the pigeons? No, it’s all about good pigeons, and good pigeons always come out good pigeons. Let’s remain matter of fact and think simple’, says Willem de Bruijn .

‘Whatever you cure against, you get 
‘The animals have come closer to the human beings. In the old days a rabbit was eaten, now he runs around the living room being spoiled. It is the same with the pigeons. The tendency towards selecting on health was much stronger than now. Now all sick and weak pigeons are given medicine and allowed to remain. In this way you dig your own grave. Up until three years ago medicine was given regularly here too. I became more and more convinced that the use of medicine made the pigeon stock weaker and the bacteria stronger. It is too stupid for words that when you have twenty pigeons and two have tricho, you cure all twenty and so give healthy pigeons medicine. Then you are in fact selecting the pigeons on the need for medicine and not on health. Hence my thesis: ‘whatever you cure against you get’.  Three years ago we dramatically changed direction. No more preventive cures were given. The selection based on health and vitality is very tough. In the beginning the performances took a step back, but this way of action now pays back double. Youngsters with health problems are given the chance to recuperate and so build up resistance. Those which don’t improve after a while are removed. It is a relief for you as a fancier when you are free from the almost compulsory cures for the pigeons’ says Willem .

Highlights in 2010

‘National competition ‘The Best of The Best’:
1st Ace pigeon Extreme Middle Distance with ‘Olympic Schanulleke’
3rd  Ace pigeon Youngsters with ‘Olympic Hurricane’
5th Ace pigeon Allround with ‘Babette 

National NPO

1st National Ace pigeon 1-day Long Distance with ‘Olympic Schanulleke’
3rd  Olympiad Poznan Category with ‘Olympic Schanulleke’
8th Olympiad Poznan Category F with '  'Olympic Schanulleke’

8th Olympiad Poznan Category F with ‘Olympic Hurricane’

Who has done better: 3rd Best Cock with ‘The Theo’ 5th Ace pigeon Extreme middle distance with Olympic Schanulleke’ 6th Ace pigeon Late races with ‘Dokus’ and 8th Ace pigeon Late races with ‘Babette’ 10th Best fancier of the Netherlands .

Province 5 ( South - Holland) 1st Ace pigeon Middle Distance District East with ‘Marcella’ 1st Ace pigeon Long Distance with ‘Olympic Schanulleke’ 1st Ace pigeon Youngsters District East with ‘Zadora’ 2nd Ace pigeon Sprint District East with ‘The Theo’ In 2010 in a total of 24 first prizes against an average participation of  1.504 pigeons .

Lofts – Loft occupation – Racing method    The pigeons are housed in the attic of the large barn and in a garden loft. 13 compartments in total. The pigeons have plenty of fresh air through the gauzed ceilings. You can look outside through the chinks in the slates. The youngsters also have the extraction fan on day and night. The racing team consists of 50 couples o.b. and 200 youngsters. These reside in 6 lofts from 3 by 3 metres. Every day whirlwind Willem has cleaned the floors of these lofts within 20 minutes. Willem also has 30 breeding couples and 60 feeding couples. The old birds race in total widowhood, a racing system which has been raced by practically everybody in the region for years. The racing pigeons are coupled in the middle of December. Some couples are even allowed to produce six eggs. They don’t raise any youngsters. From the beginning of February the pigeons are in widowhood. The cocks train every day during the winter if possible. This to make sure they fly straight. The hens are let out every day from the beginning of March and are loose in the loft together all day.  Up to the start of the racing season they are allowed together one day a week, so that the hens don’t start pairing with each other. Before the start of the races the pigeons are trained six to ten times. This also teaches them widowhood, because the birds are not shown before the races. ‘Showing before the race isn’t right I think. An animal trainer in a circus doesn’t give his animals a treat before they have performed’ says Willem. The pigeons train once a day compulsory for one and a half hours. They are basketted every week. By the first separation the 20 best pigeons race the sprint/ middle distance programme. The rest go to the 1-day long distance. During the season more sprint/ middle distance pigeons join the extreme middle distance. Towards the end only a few sprint/ middle distance pigeons are raced, but these are the very best pigeons which also shine in the national competitions. With the exception of the overnight happenings, Willem likes all the races. He would love it if in our country we had races from 700 to 850 kilometres with morning liberation, whereby the pigeons arrive home between 19h00 and 22h00 .

The racing season
The o.b. racing team consists each year of 75% yearlings. The rest consists of two-year olds and in the racing team for 2011 we also find six three-year olds. The standard is high for remaining as an old bird. At least 17 prizes (from the 24 races) or only first prizes. The youngsters are also selected for 90% on their performances. Occasionally a pigeon is allowed to remain on the basis of an exceptional lineage. As you will understand,  Willem, who works full-time as a dentist in Gouda, has to proliferate his time. That’s why there is only room for training once a day for both the cocks and the hens. The pigeons are only fed once a day. After the training the pigeons are allowed to eat as much as they want for 30 to 60 minutes. The name of the feed is ‘Victory’ (after the top hen ‘Victory’ from Willem de Bruijn) and is mixed by Coby van den Hoek from Zevenhuizen. The composition was thought of by Willem and consists of no less than 48% corn. For dietary supplements three products from Comed are given, namely Cure Oil – Lysocurforte and Winmix. At the end of July, eight races before the end of the season, the first selection of the old birds takes place. The old bird racing team is then brought back to 50. Directly after the last race this number is brought back further to 25 pigeons. Pigeons which have achieved exceptional performances tot o the breeding loft or are allowed to remain longer as feeding pigeon. Willem doesn’t believe in extra motivation. ‘The good pigeons here are basketted in a steady system 24 times per season. That is more than enough. I don’t believe in tricks which excite the pigeons even more .

A few good results in 2010

Strombeek     2.925 p.        4,6,8,9,10,15,16,20,24,40,44,45,53 etc.    106/86
Pommeroeul    3.306 p.        4,7,8,9,11,15,16,17,28,30,37,38,39 etc.    105/84
Creil         5.815 p.        1,4,5,11,12,22,68,69,98 etc.               105/39
Orleans       1.480 p.        5,8,9,14,20,22,27,29,32,33 etc.             75/46
Orleans       1.092 p.        1,3,4,5,6,7,11,14,20,29,30,39 etc.          87/49
Duffel        1.112 p.        5,23,31,32,33,41                              7/6
Duffel        5.535 p.        1,2,4,6,7,8,13,14,15,16,17,18 etc.         210/90
Duffel        5.031 p.        5,7,10,11,12,15,17,21,23,24,25,26,27 etc. 195/161   
(61 in the first 100)
Pommeroeul    5.995 p.        5,6,7,17,18,25,26,38,54,55,59 etc.        198/121
St. Quentin   3.885 p.        1,3,11,20,35,37,38,56,60,66,67,94 etc    55/46    

The youngsters, a total of 200, reside in two compartments from 3 by 3 metres in the attic of the barn. New youngsters are regularly added. They have to build up their own resistance and are given every opportunity to do so. They also train once a day. Willem has a system, which he can set to a particular time so that the trap falls open and the pigeons can go outside to train. The youngsters are also fed once a day according to the same system as the old birds. They also race the late races. The last four races are raced with the natural method. A lot of work is out into training the youngsters. From the beginning of May they are taken away every day, beginning with a distance of  10 kilometres. Willem, who cycles to work in Gouda twice a day, comes home at lunchtime. He then quickly gets hold of the 200 youngsters, takes them way, comes back home and then cycles to work. Getting hold of and taking away the pigeons takes exactly an hour. Many of you would not look forward to doing this. Willem does, he likes it and it is easy for him. In addition, these exertions more than pay for themselves in the races. Losing hardly any pigeons and chain results from the very start .            

Spontaneous reactions from  Willem:
Good pigeons: that’s what it’s all about, the rest is rubbish!
Feed: one of the simplest things in the pigeon sport. Feed royally and perform royally.
Motivation: remains high. Always go for the highest achievable.
Ambition: naturally great. What is fanatic for another, is standard for me. If you want something badly enough, then you will manage it.!
Commitment: always go for everything. Give everything for the sport
Selection: that’s what it’s all about. You don’t breed a strong loft, you select a strong loft. You have to know on what you are selecting.
Doping: a dead end. Outside the rules, we don’t take part.
Health: I can select upon it. This will take you further.
Winning: the result of everything you have done. You never get fed up of it!

Future: with the thumb up. Respect for each other. There is certainly a future for the pigeon sport. A lot of people are born with a pigeon in their heart. This collective passion never leaves you !

Continue to enjoy the pigeon  sport
Convey the sport positively and be happy for another. ‘I hope that everybody has a good pigeon in their loft, wherefrom they can get pleasure all year. That nice feeling gets rid of all the negativity’ says Willem. For three years now he has, together with Ton van Zwienen, been responsible for the liberations of Province 5. They do it with much enthusiasm and commitment. Thereby they give the fanciers maximum responsibility. Everything can be followed on the internet. Every decision is motivated. Willem adds however that it is not always easy. There’s a great deal involved.
That open mind also manifested the way in which Willem goes through his ‘pigeon life’. He takes pictures of everything and explains everything he is doing with the pigeons. On ‘Facebook’ he has more than 1.000 followers and he also has 90 hits daily on his ‘blog’. After a few hours of intense talking one thing is clear. For Willem de Bruijn the pigeon sport is a hobby which he enjoys to the full every day. I have seldom seen a man in our sport with such a positive effluence.
As far as I’m concerned: a deep bow for the King !