Sint-Oedenrode, the Netherlands. Sint-Oedenrode – better known localy as ‘Rooi’ – is situated in the ‘green heart of the Meierij’, an area around the city of Den Bosch. The village is expanding and at present has some 18,000 citizens.

Johan van Boxmeer (53) was born and bred in this village, growing up with the pigeon sport because his father Johan was a fancier.

Besides the sport, Johan used to run a flourishing garage, until about a year ago, when he said farewell to it.

In the pigeon sport, Johan followed in his father’s footsteps, which was underlined in an already excellent 2012 season with among others the loft championship young pigeons in the district of Oost-Brabant and the 2nd Olympiad pigeon young bird in Nitra.

The Zoontjens breed as a basis

The basis of the Van Boxmeer colony was laid by father Johan, shortly after the war. Initially with pigeons from Bert van Lappes from Arendonk, with which Johan senior raced at a top level for years on end.

There were for instance those 6 cocks… pure ‘Lappes’… that won the 1st prize eight Sundays in a row… they were basketed 48 times in the middle-distance club of Oost-Brabant, and they won 46 times all of the pools.

Pigeons from no less than Jan Zoontjens from Riel brought Johan senior, Johan junior, and also brother Harrie real national and international fame. In the 1960’s Jan Zoontjens belonged to the absolute top in the Southern Netherlands. In his search for ‘the best’, Johan senior bought several excellent pigeons in Riel.

As is well known, Jan Zoontjes acquired the basis of his colony from the Janssen Bros from Arendonk and he then strengthened the colony with the ‘vetblauwe’ breed from Nelles de Volder.

Pigeons with a Zoontjens ancestry that made a furore in Sint-Oedenrode were the ‘500’, the ‘Den Aap’, the ‘Bahamontes’, the ‘Het Vlug’, the ‘Goede Jaarling’, the ‘Zwarte Aap van ’72’ -3x lead in district Oost-Brabant, the ‘Treuzelaar’ – General champion in CC Uden, the ‘De 81’ – also champion pigeon in CC Uden, the ‘Dandy’ – 1st Chateauroux N.P.O. rayon 2a against 11,600 pigeons, 1st Chantilly against 3,633 pigeons, the ‘De Kliko’ – 1st CC Midebo Limoges and 2nd National against 9,257 birds.

In 1983, brother Harrie started racing under his own name.

As none other, Johan senior and junior knew that being successful in the pigeon sport can only be continued when the bar is set high. Breeding a lot and a ruthless selection have always been the motto in ‘Rooi’… and especially preventing over population. In the breeding loft they created a strong foundation with the best of the best, which eventually lead to the ‘Conimex koppel’… an unparalleled super pair that has for many years -and still is- made an important mark on the successes that followed.

In 2010 father Van Boxmeer passed away, and Johan took over the helm at the Hertog Hendrikstraat in Sint-Oedenrode. He had understood very well the wise lessons of his father. And Johan junior understood like no other, ‘that racing successfully can only be done with good pigeons’. The Zoontjens pigeons were of course top quality, but Johan kept searching for new introductions to get ‘even better’ results than before.

Through his search for ‘the best of the best’, he also came into contact with the pigeon trade, and he got the best that money could buy under his roof.

Proof of the craftsmanship of Johan are the super results in the CC Midebo, the district of Oost-Brabant, some International One Loft Races, among which are 3 x First Drop in the Las Vegas Classic (together with Bert Oostlander)… 7x teletext results in 2012… The ‘Olympiad Couple’ and the ‘Olympic Ranomi’.

These results were also made possible by some of the good pigeons that he bought over the last 3 years from Jan and Rik Hermans. Among which are the ‘Sister Beautifly’ and children of the ‘Cow Girl’ and ‘Athena’ and others. The ‘De 413’ (B12/413) this year has already won 5 very early prizes, after she had already won 9th NPO Pithiviers last year, and the ‘De 402’ (B11/402) flew 6th NPO Bourges against 9,311 pigeons (1st against 1,283 birds).

Trilogy Widowhood

The pigeon’s race until mid September, then they are allowed to breed once more, but no young are reared. The couples stay together until October, when they are separated. They get a good brand of moult mixture, supplemented with sweet seeds, of which the pigeons can eat as much as they like. Through the entire year, the birds get ‘Allicine’, a garlic extract, in the drinking water.

During the winter months, the cocks are released on one day and the hens on the next.

In the first week of January, breeders and racing pigeons are coupled. And as soon as the young are weaned, hens and cocks go to their own specific compartment, with only perches for them to sit on.

The middle loft has breeding boxes, but the couples can only come together there when they return from a race. This means that there is no second coupling. The pigeons are basketed from the compartment with the perches.

Because this method uses three lofts, Johan calls it trilogy widowhood.

Both cocks and hens are darkened for 12 hours a day, from early March until one week before the first long-distance race, which this year will be Bourges.

This year, to be able to peak on the long-distance, Johan intends to use the system of Co and Piet Verbree from Putten (the Netherlands), which means that the pigeons are taken away by Johan himself for extra training flights. The week before the long-distance race, the pigeons will not be raced, but a few days before they go into the basket for the long race they will be taken away again by Johan for extra flights.

The first weeks the hens and cocks exercise once a day for one hour. From 1st May this is increased to twice a day.

In every race Johan aims for the highest prize and only top results in the Combine, Sections or Nationals count for him. If the pigeons don’t finish at the top of the list, he tries specifically to discover what went wrong.

100 Young pigeons

Every year, some 100 young pigeons are bred out of the racers and breeders. They are weaned when they are 22 days old, and they are only released for the first time from 1st May. This was born out of necessity when Johan still worked in the garage, but it proved such a good method that he kept doing it. This way he never loses many birds, and he also doesn’t have many problems with birds of prey. It should be noted that the birds can go into the loft using the sputnik, and that the top part of the young pigeon loft is open at the front.

The young birds are darkened from mid March until one week before the first prize-race, from 8 pm to 8 am. From 21st June, they get extra light until 10.30 pm. The youngsters are raced using the sliding door method. Their training starts one week before the first prize-race; they are taken as far as Retie (about 35 kilometre) in stages, and from then on they are taken there (and sometimes a bit further) every day.

Feed, by-products and medical care

“I don’t know anything about feeding”, Johan says.” When I raced together with my father, I looked after the care of the pigeons and he did the feeding”. Young and old are fed in the same way. After returning from a race they always get the same flight mixture, which Johan calls ‘large feed’. The next day they get cleansing mixture in the morning and in the evening.

From Wednesday evening until basketing, they again get ‘large feed’, in the afternoon before basketing, supplemented with extra energy mix from Versele Laga. When the pigeons have to train a lot, they have to eat a lot as well, and the amount of feed is adjusted accordingly.

To stimulate a quick recovery after a race, the pigeons are firstly given heavier feed… but also form stimulating products like Oregano Oil from Dr. Brockamp two days a week (structure oil for the prevention of bowel complaints), Strike Two (an English product from GEM) + on Wednesday brewer’s yeast and regularly some vitamins from the vet Ferdi Vandersanden. Usually during the racing season, they also get the previously mentioned Allicine (garlic extract) in the drinking water. When the weather is hot they receive Honey after returning from a race.

Every month, there is a bacteriological examination by vet Ferdi Vandersanden (droppings test for trichomonis, and paratyphoid). The results of these examinations are retained and compared with each other. The advice of the vet is certainly not always followed. Johan decides himself when and if he takes action; sometimes he only uses Vior (accidification) from BIFS, a product to improve the resistance against salmonella, coli bacilli, streptococci and more…

The breeding loft

The basic bloodlines in the breeding loft are formed out of descendants from the ‘Dandy’ and the world famous ‘Conimex Man’… a dominant breeder, out of whose bloodline the ‘Olympic Late Jonge’ (NL 05-4033332) was also bred. A sublime champion with 11 times a first prize… that was represented at the Olympiad 2008 in Dortmund… and that in the same year also became 1st Speed pigeon of the district Oost-Brabant. He has already produced first-prize winners and excellent offspring with several different hens. According to Johan, the ‘Dandy’ is evidence that ‘Olympiad pigeons’ always possess exceptional breeding value, because they have to prove themselves repeatedly. Incorporating such pigeons in the breeding loft and pairing good with good, is the basis for new top achievements, says Johan.

The ‘Olympic Ranomi’, shown at the Olympiad in Nitra, will become the regular partner of the ‘Olympic Late Jonge’, together they form the ‘Olympic Couple’. In Johan’s opinion a super couple, that will make his colony even stronger and with whom he can extend his results even further. The offspring of these pigeons, coupled to the bloodlines of the ‘Dandy’, the ‘Kliko’, the ‘Conimex Koppel’ and the best of the best pigeons that Johan can acquire elsewhere, have to lead to new Olympiad success in Sint-Oedenrode.