Familie Huizer, Rhoon (NL)
Driving in a foreign land can be intimidating but I have come to enjoy driving in Holland. Long, flat well maintained roads running through an attractive and well cared for landscape act as a pleasant change to the mad cap scramble I am used to in England’s south east. It still comes as a surprise though, when coming to a sudden, short, sharp rise to find yourself driving across a bridge over a vast expanse of water, sea water that is, higher than the land you have just left behind. But the sense of peacefulness and tranquillity, the sun rays streaking off rippling waves and myriad wildlife, ducks, geese, divers and gulls bustling about their business soon distract you from any other thoughts than those of appreciation for this calm, ordered, beautiful landscape. Today though it is a little different, very different, as I drive towards Rotterdam, along the main road leading to its industry and the Europort beyond. There is no time to take in the view here and little opportunity to see it either, hemmed in as I am on all sides by massive trucks taking what seems like the whole worlds goods to their destination. The only sliver of salvation comes from my little sat-nav and that quiet, reassuring voice “Keep right” and “Keep left”, while I whisper to myself “and keep me on the right road please”. She does and soon is telling me to turn off this monster road and, within a few hundred yards of that thundering mayhem, delivers me at last, “Approaching destination on the left.” to the tranquil peace and quiet of the house and lofts of Familie Huizer of Rhoon. Here, as in many parts of Holland, the narrow tree lined road, just wide enough for one lane in each direction, sits atop a steep and narrow bank, and forms part of the intricate network of dykes, ditches and dams that controls the water level, while the house is down below the road looking out over fields and woodlands beyond. It is difficult to believe in this peaceful, beautiful setting that we are on the very edge of, what was until only recently, the busiest seaport in the world and that this is actually part of the eighth largest urban area in Europe, Rotterdam-Den Haag.
Family Huizer is just that, a family affair. Living at the house where the lofts are situated is Jaap Huizer Senior, now in his 70’s, retired and attendant to the pigeons throughout the day. Next there is Jaap Junior, now in his 40’s and employed in the health service. As Jaap Junior is in full time employment he can only attend to the pigeons in the down time from his demanding job, so he can often be found at the lofts at 5 am. carrying out a lot of the essential tasks before he goes to work. The other member of this tight knit group is Ara, Jaap Juniors wife, who is also employed full time in the health service but who also puts in a lot of time with the pigeons. Jaap and Ara live near by. There is fourth member of the family, although he races in his own right from his lofts at nearby Poortugal and that is Jaap Juniors brother Arie. Arie is very much involved with the administration of the pigeon sport and is also President of his local club in Poortugal. So Familie Huizer are a pigeon family. Jaap Senior has been involved with pigeons since his early years and his two sons for all of their lives. Rotterdam is a hotbed for pigeon racing as you might expect from such a large urban area. I must say the racing seems very well organised and I felt quite jealous looking at the programme available to them, which has a constant stream and a wide choice of races right through the season and all done at what can only be described as very economic prices. Here, because of the popularity, because they are well organised and because they work together they can take and make advantage of scale which keeps costs down whilst providing a full range and variety of racing and extremely competitive racing into the bargain. If you shine in the Rotterdam area it is because you are good, there are no two ways about that, to be at the top of the game in the Rotterdam area is to be at the top of the game.
A hobby not a business.
Famile Huizer compete right through the programme from the local shorter races right through to the Internationals. That of course means a lot of work for all three and, as you can imagine, they are all very enthusiastic. While they work very much together I think it is fair to say that Jaap Junior, being that bit younger, has a more modern approach to the sport but it would be wrong to think that his father is stuck in his ways, that is not true at all, they all work very well together. They are not a wealthy family, they are very compassionate people taking great pride from working as they do for the benefit of others in a sector that is never going to provide them with great riches, so they try to ensure that the pigeons pay for themselves. Again this does not mean that they turn the sport into a business but they simply take their first round youngsters to the Spring Fair at Houghton where they are sold, quite quickly usually, at realistic prices. This straightforward exercise covers the bulk of their costs and allows them to concentrate on racing, which is their interest. It has also allowed their pigeons to journey abroad and find success in various parts of Holland, Germany, Belgium, France (where they are very popular), Ireland and Japan and I am especially pleased to say that there are one or two in England as well.
So how good are Familie Huizer, purely as an indication take a look at the following list of positions from 2005 and 2006 alone starting with International races and positions within the first 100,
4th, 8th, 13th, 15th, 19th, 39th, 47th, 49th, 51st, 62nd, 64th, 89th and 99th
while National positions in the first 100 are as follows
4th Barcelona (Hens) 37th Montauban 88th Perpignan
6th Dax 37th Montauban 91st Dax
7th Pau(Hens) 41st Pau 91st Bordeaux
8th Barcelona 50th Cahors 92nd Dax
12th St Vincent 51st Dax 93rd Marseille
15th St Sebastiaan 54th Cahors 95th Montauban
19th Orleans 56th Montauban 96th Pau(Hens)
20th Pau 58th Montauban 96th Mont te Marsan
20th Marseille(Hens) 60th Bordeaux 99th St Vincent
23rd Perpignan(Hens) 74th Dax(Hens)
26th Pau(Hens) 76th Perpignan(Hens)
36th Bergerac 82nd Marseile(Hens)
36th Dax 83rd Perpignan
36th Mont te Marsan 87th Pau
positions like these have led Familie Huizer to win a multitude of Championships and while these are really to numerous to list, and lose much of their meaning unless you are really familiar with the detail, they include the following:-
3 x 1st Kampioenschap LMO Rotterdam onaangewezen overnachtfond( 1 x 2nd )
2 x 1st Kampioenschap LMO Rotterdam aangewezen 2 (1 x 2nd )
2 x 1st Duifkampioen LMO Rotterdam overnachtfond (1 x 2nd )
(the LMO Rotterdam boasts 300 competitors and classes onaangewezen is for the first pigeon to arrive regardless of how many are sent, aangewezen is for nominated pigeons and overnachtfond is for overnight, or two day, long distance races )
2 x 1st Kampioenschap Samenspel Groot Rotterdam aangewezen overnachtfond
3 x 1st Kampioenschap Samenspel Groot Rotterdam onaangewezen overnachtfond
(Great Rotterdam boasts 700 competitors)
2 x 1st Kampioenschap Fondclub Groot Rotterdam eo aangewezen overnachtfond
2 x 1st Kampioenschap Fondclub Gr Rotterdam eo onaangew overnachtfond (1 x 2nd )
(Fondclub Great Rotterdam, the long distance club, boats 100 competitors)
1st Duifkampioen ZLU vluchten afdeling 5 Zuid-Holland
2nd, 6th and 10th Kampioenschap Afdeling 5 Zuid-Holland onaangewezen
(Afdeling 5 boasts 3,500 competitors and is one of the twelve Departments Holland is divided into for pigeon racing)
1st Super Prestige Sector 2 Noord en Zuid-Holland (Afdelingen 5,6 en 12)
3rd ,4th ,5th and 10th Kampioenschap Sector 2 Noord en Zuid-Holland (Afdelingen 5,6 en 12)
(while Sector 2 boasts 6,000 competitors and is one of the countries four sectors)
How is this done.
Well the short answer is with skill and a lot of hard work which all began many years ago now. The original foundations of this loft were laid in the 1960’s with Delbar pigeons acquired from top lofts of the day. Over the years further pigeons have been added and in more recent years pigeons have been added from Hagens Brothers, both directly and from other lofts, direct pigeons from B. Batenburg and Son and some of the most important introductions have come from Chris van de Velden of Oude Beijerland. Probably the most important introduction from Chris van de Velden was “Bonte Lady 27”, NL95-5595027, a daughter of “De Bonte Lady”, NL91-2239248, winner of 1st National Carcassonne, 12th National Perpignan and 42nd National Marseille amongst a host of other high positions. “Bonte Lady 27” has been responsible for a whole line of winners and producers of winners which include “Lucia”, NL98-1164124, who herself was 54th National Montauban, 56th National Montauban, 58th National Bergerac and 3rd Champion of Overnachfond for Afdeling 5, South Holland. In turn “Lucia” is the mother of “Anja”, NL01-1840630, who won 7th National Pau, 20th National Marseille and 41st National Pau amongst many other positions and who has then bred pigeons in 2004 that have raced well in their early years. The other main line of recent times is that of “De Blauwe 69”, NL88-5903169, this pigeon derived from the old Familie Huizer lines and again is responsible for a dynasty of good pigeons. Amongst his direct offspring is “Sissie”, NL93-2636771, who won 15th National San.Sebastian, 19th International Pau (hens), 20th National Pau and 89th International Pau and as well as being a first rate racer she is the mother of “Bo”, NL98-1164127, and “Frauke”, NL98-1164128. “Bo” has won 4th International Barcelone (hens), 4th National Barcelone (hens), 6th National Barcelone, 8th International Barcelone, 51st National Dax and in the 2002 race, together with “Frauke” her nest sister, won 1st National for two hens from Barcelone. “Bo” is the mother of several good pigeons like “Schoonke”, NL02-1591209, who won 319th National Bordeaux, 423rd National Marseille, 582nd National Barcelone, 919th National Perpignan and 1518th National Barcelone, and “210”, NL02-1591210, who won 76th National Perpignan hens, 263rd National Perpignan and 300th National Bergerac and then there is also “296”, NL02-1591296, who won 26th National Pau hens and 116th National Pau. In the meantime “Frauke”, has also bred a couple of good young pigeons “562” and “562” who have shown well in their early races and look good prospects for the future. What you can see here are two lines of pigeons in the loft producing good racers through several generations and providing a solid foundation against which more speculative breeding plans can be launched. Jaap Jnr. is constantly looking for new pigeons that can bring additional qualities to the loft and in particular he feels the need to increase the speed of the pigeons to keep pace with what he perceives as faster and faster races. His recent introductions include pigeons from Gebr. Simons & Zn. of Ransdaal, and in particular from their famous Bordeaux yearling champion, that he hopes will do just this. Only time and the results will tell if he is correct.
Most of the pigeons are kept on what has come to be called a roundabout type of system racing both hens and cocks. There is a loft for the hens and a loft for the cocks and the pigeons return from exercise or a race to the cocks loft. They start of the year in the cocks loft when they are paired, usually on the first weekend in January and usually they are separated after the first round. Sometimes they will take a second round from some pigeons, but as they have several sections this is easily accomplished without disturbing the remainder. Most of the race team will remain separated until early August but they have also experimented recently, with some success, with a few pairs on Natural particularly for the later races like Perpignan. In the early months, March-April, the pigeons are exercised once a day but as the days grow longer and the races begin this is increased to twice a day for about one hour each time and a flag is used to keep them in the air. The loft of the young birds is darkened between 6pm and about 8.30 am from mid March until two weeks before the first young bird race. They have been doing this now for several years and have found no ill effects either on the young birds themselves or in their adult years. This regime, whilst relatively simple, does require a lot of effort and dedication considering they race, what many in England would consider, quite a large team and participate in a large number of races. Feeding is quite simple because they feed the same Mariman mixture through the whole of the year and only vary the amount to suit the amount of exercise the pigeons are getting or expecting. Treatments and medicines are dealt with in much the same way, as you would expect from health workers, they get what is required when, but only when, it is needed. So with a simple regime of good stock, good food, good exercise and good accommodation in glorious surroundings Famile Huizer have made themselves true Champions.
The last couple of years have been good for Familie Huizer but they believe that you are only as good as your next race and so they have been busy through the autumn and winter months preparing for the breeding season which is now upon us. The season that awaits will bring new challenges and provide a testing ground for the fresh ideas and stock they have introduced and I for one will be keeping a close eye out for the results as I am sure that this is a loft that will be challenging for the top honours during 2007.