Arjan Beens equaled his fantastic achievement of 2011 by becoming 1st International Gouden Duif competition Extra Long-distance for the second time in 2013!
Genemuiden, the Netherlands – Genemuiden is a village situated in the ‘Kop van Overijssel’, the northern part of the Zwartewaterland and is part of the Province of Overijssel. It is a typical Dutch village with a small church and a boating lake in the centre.
Since the 16th century, the cultivation of rushes has been a major industry there, especially for the production of chair seats. After World War II this was changed to the production of coir mats, which developed into the modern carpet industry. They also have a major role in manufacturing artificial grass for sports fields, especially for hockey and football fields.
We went to visit the winner of the International Gouden Duif competition Extra Long-Distance 2013, who equaled his fantastic achievement of 2011. Arjan Beens (37) lives with his wife Janine and his three sons Rik, Jan and Gijs in the beautiful village of Genemuiden. By now, he is one of the most successful long-distance racers of the Netherlands, and in recent years, many superlatives have been attributed to him.
The 2013 season was just fantastic, and resulted in the absolute highlight of the title of 1st International Gouden Duif competition Extra Long-Distance and also Superstar of the year Long-Distance the Netherlands!
Arjan’s brother, Gerrit-Jan, became interested in the pigeon sport through a school friend whose father was a pigeon fancier. When Gerrit-Jan was 12 years old, he made his first wooden pigeon loft at the back of his parental home, and until he married and left home he used to race to this loft. As a matter of fact, Gerrit-Jan is still active in the pigeon sport. Meanwhile, Arjan had been doing odd jobs in the loft for him… and father Jan became interested in the sport as well… and when Gerrit-Jan left his home and his feathered friends, the question arose ‘who will look after the pigeons now?’ Arjan volunteered for the task… and since 1994 he has been racing independently from the lofts behind his parents’ home, where he is still living.
At first, he continued racing with the pigeons from his brother Gerrit-Jan… But basically these were birds from various sources … speed pigeons and long-distance pigeons were all housed together. The first turnaround was made in 2002, and for several years Arjan concentrated on the long-distance and overnight races. In 2006, all long-distance pigeons were sold and the choice was made to participate exclusively in overnight races. The colony was extended with pigeons from the Limburg Bros from Zuidveen… Jelle Jellema from Steggerda… the Hagens Bros from Achthuizen… First Prize Pigeons from De Bilt… Jan Polder from Middelharnis… and the Combination Verwey-Castricum from Mijdrecht. Arjan also bought from Chris van de Velden from Zuid-Beijerland… from the Combination Batenburg-v.d. Merwe from Klaaswaal… A.P. Overwater from Strijen and from the Bakker Bros from Genemuiden. The two most significant pillars in his thriving overnight colony are the pigeons from the Limburg Bros x Jelle Jellema.
Results to win the International Duif-Competition Extra Long Distance..
02.6 Brive 7061 b.: 4, 1
12.7 Orange 5895 b.: 77, 22
2.8 Bergerac 13273 b.: 17, 9
Results to win Superstar of the Year Long Distance..
02-6 Brive 7061 b.: 4, 1
02-8 Bergerac 13.273 b.: 17, 9
The 2013 season saw a fantastic start with winning the 1st and 4th national from Brive. There were 15 pigeons entered in the race from Pau… they obtained 12 prizes, but the Olympiad pigeon was lost.
In the race from St. Vincent, it was 9 prizes with 13 pigeons, starting with the 9th national. Perigueux was a difficult race for the yearlings, with the first pigeons returning home as late as 8 pm. In the race Bordeaux ZLU the prizes started with 5th and 10th national. Barcelona and Cahors went less well, and Arjan was not happy. However, in the race from Orange, the pigeons performed very well with 10 prizes with 10 pigeons and 9 real lead prizes. Marseille ZLU became a difficult race, with the first pigeon 100th national, but Arjan was content with this.
In the race from Bergerac, the first nominated pigeons won 8th and 14th national. The earliest prize in the race from Perpignan was 170th national and Arjan had to be content with this and was just glad that the season was over!
Only racing from the nest!
The season of 2013 was started with 110 old pigeons (2 years and older)… 140 yearlings… 150 young pigeons (these only get a thorough training)… and 50 pairs of breeders as backup. The entire racing season is mainly concentrated around the races from Brive… Orange… Bergerac… Bordeaux… Cahors… St. Vincent (1,136 kilometers) and several ZLU races.
The last race of the season is flown from Perpignan ZLU (1st weekend in August) and afterwards there are two more breeding rounds. Then the nesting boxes are closed… the nesting bowls are stored… and the pigeons stay together until the middle of March.
During the moult period, they are fed with a good moult mixture. The racing pigeons stay in the loft… every day they will go into the aviary in front of the lofts… and in the quiet period, they are released only during good weather. Fortunately, birds of prey are not a big problem in Genemuiden.
The racing team is coupled around the middle of April… the old pigeons sit for 5 to 6 days and then the nests are removed… and the yearlings rear a couple of young. Usually, they will get the eggs of the best old pigeons in their nesting bowl.
The old pigeons are not trained at all but are directly basketed for a flight from Ede (70 kilometers), and there are no abnormal losses at all. The yearlings first fly twice from Zwolle (10 kilometers)… then they are taken to Ede. Leading up to the ‘real’ racing season, the intention is that the pigeons fly a lot of kilometers and get used to the flying routine. They then fly Lommel (160 kilometers)… Duffel (200 kilometers)… Strombeek (224 kilometers)… Houdeng (260 kilometers)… and Morlincourt (400 kilometers). After this, the racing team is divided in three teams and entered in the races from Brive… St. Vincent… and Orange… after which the rest of the program follows.
The old pigeons are usually entered in two races of 1,000 kilometers… the yearlings are presented with twice 600 kilometer and one overnight race from 900 kilometers.
On the Saturday before every classic, they are taken to Breda (155 kilometers) for a training flight.
The racing team races from a nest position… and preferably, they are basketed after 8 to 12 days of sitting eggs. After returning home, they are allowed to sit for another two or three days, and then the nest is removed.
Before the next race, they are coupled again in order to basket them once more on the preferred nest position.
Three weeks rest
Between two marathon races there is a rest period of three to four weeks. Upon returning from a race, the pigeons are fed with a sports mixture (with added animal protein) and with warm weather they get honey in the drinking water. Twenty-four hours a day… seven days a week they are given ‘Premium Koopman’ (heavy mixture with also peanuts and granular feed). In the morning, they get a fresh portion of the mixture (the surplus goes to the young pigeons)… and in the evening, the mixture is topped up again. Who eats well must train well… and vice versa. The last days before basketing, they get extra peanuts and candy seeds (high fat seeds) and Super Energy. During the second week of the rest period, a training flight is scheduled… and on the Saturday before basketing they are taken away to 155 kilometers. The pigeons never stay at home for a full week… because ‘rest… rusts’ is the opinion of long-distance champion Arjan Beens!
The 10 Commandments of Arjan Beens
1. Once you find a system that has proven to work… stay on this course. Don’t change direction every few minutes… just persevere with this method!
2. A rigorous selection, or in other words use a sharp knife. Make the selection based on health and natural resistance. In my loft, every year about half of the racing team is disposed of!
3. The marathon pigeon must have a well balanced build… properly closed vents… and with long and supple muscles. A good pigeon always has a good plumage.
4. During the racing season, the feed has to be adapted to the program that the pigeon must fly. But always, the fact remains that the pigeon knows better than the fancier… although not many will believe that!
5. Training is an important part of a successful season! Training from home is important… but in the period between two long-distance classics, the pigeons are every week taken away for a training flight.
6. There certainly is a big difference between pigeons ‘up to 1,000 kilometers’… and pigeons for over 1,000 kilometers ! The pigeons that perform well in the 1,000 kilometer races will never be sent to Barcelona (1,288 kilometer).
7. There are many stories about providing medical support or not… and what you can truly believe. I do not want to do without medical care. My season depends on six races, and the pigeons must be in top form during this time. I do not want to be in doubt if my racing team is in perfect shape or not at the start of the racing season.
8. Having confidence in your own pigeons is essential for success in the pigeon sport! The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence!
9. A quick recuperation is a must for an overnight racer! I prefer a pigeon coming home from a race that drops down on the trap ‘half-dead’ to a pigeon that does a few victory laps around the loft first! But on Sunday, all pigeons must be fit again!
10. A well thought through plan is my guidance during the entire pigeon season! I take the whole winter to puzzle over the planning, and in February it is ready. Which pigeons will be entered in which races… when coupling will be and when the nests will be removed and so on. Cocks and hens are basketed for the same race… and that is helpful in avoiding broken nests.
A long-distance career
The young pigeons are trained only during their first year, and they fly one or two short flights. Because there is not enough time, some of the youngsters are not trained at all.
The program for the yearlings starts at the end of March and ends in early August. They fly one long-distance race and two overnight races.
If possible, the two-year old pigeons fly two overnight races.
For the three-year… four-year… and fifth-year pigeons there are two overnight races planned, and when these are not too difficult, there is an extension to three overnight races, including St. Vincent and Barcelona.
‘A long-distance racer has to accept that he has just a modest role in the run-up to the more difficult long-distance races. Long-distance pigeons are not as quick in form as speed pigeons, and many fanciers demand too much too soon from their pigeons. In the search for quality, I bring in a few new additions every year… and naturally, my patience with newly acquired pigeons is not unlimited. The newcomers are coupled with the best pigeons in my loft. A four year old breeding pigeon that has still not made his mark is disposed of.
Just recently, I was able to buy the 1st NPO Orange from Mark v.d. Berg, and I am going to couple him with the best pigeons that I have.’
Top 20 Results in NPO / National flights
1st Nat. Brive 7.092 b. 895 km 1402 m/m 2013
1st Nat. Bergerac 15.490 b. 955 km 1721 m/m 2007
1st NPO Brive 9.053 b. 895 km 1895 m/m 2005
1st NPO Periqueux 6.843 b. 914 km 2032 m/m 2007
2nd ZLU Perpignan 5.616 b. 1117 km 1202 m/m 2012
2nd Nat. Munchen 1.508 b. 628 km 1020 m/m 2006
2nd Nat. Bergerac 15.490 b. 955 km 1721 m/m 2007
2nd Nat. St.Vincent 5.862 b. 1136 km 1125 m/m 2008
2nd Nat. Limoges 10.823 b. 824 km 1101 m/m 2008
2nd NPO Brive 6.536 b. 895 km 1207 m/m 2006
2nd NPO Periqueux 6.843 b. 914 km 2029 m/m 2007
3rd NPO Orange 2.058 b. 949 km 1108 m/m 2012
3rd NPO Periqueux 3.773 b. 914 km 1313 m/m 2012
3rd NPO Brive 5.097 b. 895 km 1037 m/m 2010
3rd Nat. Bergerac 15.490 b. 955 km 1721 m/m 2007
3rd NPO Periqueux 6.843 b. 914 km 2029 m/m 2007
4th Nat. Brive 7.092 b. 895 km 1121 m/m 2013
4th Nat. Bergerac 15.490 b. 955 km 1713 m/m 2007
5th ZLU Agen/Borde 6.112 b. 1024 km 1192 m/m 2013
5th NPO Albi 2.471 b. 1013 km 1903 m/m 2012
5th NPO Aurillac 3.661 b. 896 km 946 m/m 2012
5th Nat. St. Vincent 5.698 b. 1136 km 965 m/m 2010
5th NPO Periqueux 6.843 b. 914 km 2011 m/m 2007
5th NPO Ruffec 10.034 b. 847 km 1174 m/m 2003
6th NU Orange 4.022 b. 949 km 1129 m/m 2010
6th NPO Brive 5.097 b. 895 km 1019 m/m 2010
6th Nat. Bergerac 15.490 b. 955 km 1708 m/m 2007
6th Nat. Limoges 10.823 b. 824 km 975 m/m 2008
7th NU Montpellier 10.253 b. 1014 km 2057 m/m 2011
7th NU Brive 12.332 b. 895 km 991 m/m 2011
7th Nat. Cahors 11.054 b. 999 km 1741 m/m 2010
8th Nat. Bergerac 10.327 b. 956 km 1343 m/m 2013
8th NU Orange 4.022 b. 949 km 1115 m/m 2010
8th NPO Brive 5.097 b. 895 km 1012 m/m 2010
9th Nat. St. Vincent 4.201 b. 1134 km 1401 m/m 2013
9th Nat. Cahors 10.178 b. 998 km 1446 m/m 2012
9th Nat. Bergerac 15.490 b. 955 km 1704 m/m 2007
10th ZLU Agen/Bordeaux 6.112 b. 1024 km 1183 m/m 2013
10th Nat. Bordeaux 5.575 b. 986 km 1849 m/m 2008
10th NPO Ruffec 8.849 b. 847 km 1110 m/m 2003
13th NPO Periqueux 6.330 b. 914 km 913 m/m 2009
13th NPO Periqueux 6.843 b. 914 km 1979 m/m 2007
14th Nat. Bergerac 10.327 b. 956 km 1281 m/m 2013
15th ZLU Barcelona 6.392 b. 1288 km 1384 m/m 2012
15th NU Brive 12.332 b. 895 km 968 m/m 2011
18th NPO Albi 2.471 b. 1013 km 1795 m/m 2012
18th Nat. Bergerac 18.053 b. 955 km 1264 m/m 2000
19th Nat. Orange 4.307 b. 949 km 871 m/m 2013
19th NU Montpellier 10.253 b. 1014 km 1833 m/m 2011
19th NPO Periqueux 5.801 b. 914 km 1585 m/m 2008
20th Nat Cahors 11.054 b. 999 km 1623 m/m 2010
‘By playing with light and dark, I try to have the pigeons in top form at the right time. The racing pigeons are darkened from the end of February until the end of April, from 7 pm to 7 am. I also try to avoid sunlight in the loft during the day.
From 21st June the pigeons are given extra light, I do that in two steps. First they get extra light until 11 pm. After three weeks, they also get extra light from 5 am to 8 am. The racing team has to be in top form at the end of May for the first overnight race from Brive. At the end of the season, most pigeons have cast 3 or 4 flights.’
A top breeding pair
The top breeding pair of Arjan is without doubt the ‘Mister Bergerac’ (NL04/1418542) x ‘Rika’ (NL04/1418619). They became the parents of the ‘Olympic Miss Gijsje’ (1st Olympiad pigeon Nitra)… ‘Rood Meisje’ (1st National Brive 2013)… the ‘Marianne’ (3x teletext)… and of ‘Snelle Jelle’ (a half brother to 2nd National Perpignan).
Every year, most breeding pigeons are re-coupled. New combinations are tried in an attempt to discover another golden breeding couple.’
At the end of December 2012, the pigeons were treated against paratyphoid… they started with a 7-day treatment with Parastop (Belgica-de Weerd)… on the 8th day they were inoculated… followed by another 7-day treatment with Parastop. A month later, they were inoculated against paramyxo. At the end of March, all pigeons were treated against lice and a worm tablet was given.
Leading up to the new racing season there is no additional medical intervention until two weeks before basketing for Brive. Then, the entire colony is treated for 7 days against trichomonas (B.S.). Further during the season, in the week before basketing for every long-distance classic, they get a tricho tablet. Before every marathon race, on the Sunday and on the Monday before basketing (on Tuesday), the pigeons are treated against bronchial diseases with Ornispecial. During the preparation for the races, they also get ‘Forte Vita’ (herb elixir Travipharma) and DHP (natural balance).
Loft and training
One of the key characteristics of a loft with a tiled roof is… cool in warm weather… but still comfortable in cold weather. The high roof ensures an adequate supply of oxygen above the pigeons, and the controlled ventilation in the top of the roof enhances the air circulation. In the ceiling above the pigeons there are several ventilation slits of 1 meter x 30 centimeters.
Through the use of pea straw in the loft of the old pigeons… this layer is refreshed every year in April… the loft is made pleasant and cozy. Pea straw contributes significantly to an ideal climate in a pigeon loft.
Until three weeks before the race from Brive, the pigeons only exercise once a day for one hour… after that there are two exercise periods. During exercising the flag is used. Arjan likes to see his pigeons exercising well… which fancier doesn’t… but for him it is not the absolute form indicator. Especially coming back in after exercising, the long-distance pigeons show their form. By using the feeding method of ‘full tray’, the pigeons are not really hungry… but when the trap is opened… and all the pigeons storm into the loft within the space of two minutes, Arjan knows that the form is there!
I find it fantastic!
Arjan Beens has already had several awards in the International Gouden Duif competition Extra Long-distance. In 2009, he made his debut with the 19th place… in 2010, he finished 5th… in 2011, he became 1st International Gouden Duif competition Extra Long-distance… in 2012, he finished 5th again… and in 2013, he became once more 1st International Gouden Duif competition Extra Long-distance!
For this young, ambitious overnight racer from Genemuiden, this is the absolute crown (for now) on an impressive career. He finds it absolutely fantastic to stand on the highest podium among the select international ensemble.
His friend Jelle Jellema shares in this pigeon fanciers delight by winning a well earned 2nd. Every year, Arjan and Jelle exchange a number of youngsters out of the best of the best pigeons…
And now, better start lining up the chairs, because they are coming down from Genemuiden for the Gouden Duif celebrations!
And it will be some celebration… nobody will doubt that!