Rotterdam, the Netherlands – When you ask a group of fanciers what the attraction of the pigeon sport is, you will undoubtedly get many different answers. Seeing the young growing in the nest, the daily contact with the pigeons in the loft, the excitement when the pigeons are returning from a race, the social contacts in the club, the champions days and celebrations and all the attention that comes with it, and so on.

It is the same, and much more, for Klaas and son Rik van Dorp, except for the attention of the media that they got after their top year 2014.

But when you become 3rd Nationaal Kampioen Midfond, possess the 1st Olympiad pigeon yearlings for the Netherlands with ‘Olympic Mistery’, you also have the 1st Olympiad old pigeons for Holland with ‘Olympic Gipsy’, when you are the owner of the 3rd ace pigeon old pigeons WHZB/BOTB, and as icing on the cake, you are winner of the Gouden Duif for the Netherlands, then it is not so strange that you receive all that media attention. “I do enjoy all the attention, but even so, I shall be happy when it’s after 21st February. Then I can just concern myself with the pigeons again and prepare for the next season.” Characteristic words from Rik that are shared by Klaas. But for the moment, they still have their moment in the limelight as proud winners of the Gouden Duif the Netherlands.

Klaas (74) and Rik (52) van Dorp are best described as hard working, honest people, who have no pretensions at all. Rik is the talker of the two, Klaas nods in agreement or asks a very interested question when Rik has gone to the kitchen for more coffee. Both men enjoy the pigeon sport enormously, as members of the Van Dorp family have done for over 50 years. They are pigeon fanciers through and through and would like nothing better than being among their breeders or young pigeons for the entire day. The way Klaas describes it, Rik is clearly the captain, but luckily, Klaas himself is able again to help in the necessary jobs after two knee replacements.

When Rik was still very young, father Klaas already gave him the pigeon bug. From 1977 on, they started to participate in earnest from Klaas’ paternal home, and they managed to develop into the champions that they are now. It is not possible to list all the fantastic results of these many years, but where 2013 was already a great success with the 4th National loft championship speed and with winning the Superstar speed of the Gouden Duif competition, 2014 turned out to be even better, as we mentioned above.

Inside the widowers loft...

Inside the widowers loft…

Gouden Duif

With three mentions and 24 points, they just managed to stay in front of Peter Janssen from Kleve. They obtained 10 points on the speed, monthly winner, 6 points on the middle-distance and 8 points on the long-distance. Nicely distributed. They owe this to five different hens that I shall introduce below. According to Rik, you need a bit of luck to win this championship. “We are of course fortunate to have some very good pigeons, but that is no different than many other good lofts in the Netherlands. Three times, our nominated pigeons returned early, but we tried the same on all other races and it just didn’t happen. After winning the Superstar speed in 2013, I had become fascinated with this competition. For me it’s the best celebration of the year. And that makes it really very special for me.” But for father Klaas this is still no argument to accompany him to the ceremony. “Just leave me at home with my pigeons, I’m busy enough looking after them,” he said.

Duffel    1171 d. : 1, 3, 10
Nanteuil  6771 d. : 14, 21, 70
Argenton  3148 d. : 1, 4

Girl Power

For many years now, Klaas and Rik have raced their pigeons on total widowhood. Despite the fact that the cocks did almost as well as the hens in 2014, in the end it was the ‘weaker’ sex that came up trumps. Both the two Olympiad pigeons and the other birds that scored the points for the Gouden Duif are hens. According to Klaas, this is because of their racing system. This system suits hens better than cocks. Hens are much calmer, they settle straight after entering the basket, and they recuperate much quickly after a difficult race. Another big advantage is that you not only can, but must race hens every week, and so they have a lot more chances to get good results. Rik would like to race the cocks every week as well, also in between the long-distance races, but he realizes and sees that this is not always possible. Cocks just need to rest once in a while.

The ‘Amy’ (12-844), played a very important role. This beautiful, checkered hen scored important points twice as first nominated; she won 1st Duffel against 1,171 pigeons and 14th Nanteuil against 6,771 pigeons. She is a direct descendant of the super breeding couple Kleine Jan (Jan Ouwerkerk) x Jane. Klaas and Rik bred many good pigeons out of this couple. Notable detail: almost all of these were hens.

The ‘Bayli’ (13-013) showed to be a formidable yearling hen in 2014. As second nominated, she won the 3rd Duffel and 21st Nanteuil for the Gouden Duif. That same year she also flew among others 5th Peronne against 16,716 pigeons and 6th Meaux against 15,713 birds. Besides 1st ace pigeon of Groot Rotterdam, she also became 15th national champion pigeon middle-distance. This, in my view super hen, comes out of a crossing Geerinckx x a daughter of Kleine Jan x Jane.

The ‘Dory’ (11-269) scored, as third nominated, a 10th against 1,171 pigeons from Duffel. Together with the ‘Amy’ and ‘Bayli’, she then became monthly winner speed. The ‘Dory’ also had an important role in winning the Superstar speed in 2013, but sadly, this top hen was lost in the last ‘natoer race’.

In the race from Argenton the points were scored by two Olympiad pigeons.

The ‘Olympic Mistery’ (13-816) won 1st against 3,148 pigeons and 1st NPO against 6,926 birds. She is a 50% Geerinckx x Lichte Poelman. In 2014, she managed to win a lot of lead prizes and was delegated to Budapest as 1st Olympiad pigeon Yearlings, where she became 8th in the final score.

The ‘Olympic Gipsy’ (12-919) finished as 4th against 3,148 pigeons and 11th NPO from Argenton. She also got points with a 70th Nanteuil. She is a cross of Geerinckx x the own sort. Besides Olympiad pigeon, she also became 3rd ace pigeon all-round WHZB/TBOTB. In Budapest, she finished as 17th overall.

The Olympiad

The fact that they participated in the Olympiad is entirely thanks to Bart Geerinckx. Bart kept calling and stressing that they should find out if they had pigeons that were suitable to enter. In the end, Rik complied and when he gave Bart the results, Bart called straight away that they should send them in immediately. And with what an outcome! Two Olympiad pigeons and a fantastic experience into the bargain.

The breed

The lofts of Klaas and Rik have three very important bloodlines. The first line is the old Van Loon bloodline, which they got from former champion Piet Becht. Especially the yearling couple frequently features in the better pigeons on the speed and middle-distance. These pigeons are super on the races up to 400 kilometers.

A definite further improvement was the pigeons from their good friend Jan Ouwerkerk. Over the years, lots of pigeons were bought and exchanged, and both parties did very well out of it. An excellent example of this is the above mentioned couple Kleine Jan x Jane. Jan Ouwerkerk was also very successful with the crossings with the Van Dorp pigeons. In 2005, he became national champion long-distance. His three top cocks of that time, the ’83’, ’84’ and the ’69’, all have Van Dorp blood in their veins.

Since 2006, Klaas and Rik have been adding pigeons from Bart and Jurgen Geerinckx from Wommelgem. Through the years, young out of the very best pigeons in Wommelgem have found their way to Rotterdam, and we can now confidently say that the crossing is very successful. On the speed races, their own breed is often a bit faster, but especially on the long middle-distance and on the long-distance, the pigeons with Geerinckx blood have the upper hand. Over time, Bart and Rik have become good friends. They are in contact almost every week. Rik can always depend on Bart for suggestions or advice, something that he appreciates very much.

Each year, they keep searching for reinforcements to their colony. But you need a certain degree of luck whether the addition will prove to be suitable. Klaas gives a good example of this. “The ‘007’ was the cock of the best breeding pair that we ever had. He came from Piet Becht. As a young pigeon he didn’t perform very well, and he was already destined for disposal. But because we had a spare nest box, we coupled him anyway. All that wisdom… and in the end, none of us knows anything at all.”

Peronne (247 km)     16.716 d. : 5, 7, 14, 26, 30, 40, 52, enz (48x 1: 10) 99 mee / 77 pr.
Meaux (350 km)	     15.713 d. : 3, 6, 8, 16, 26, 66, 99, enz (43x 1: 10) 95 mee / 63 pr.
Bourges NPO (558 km) 16.992 d. : 9, 17, 53, 69, enz (11x 1: 10) 40 mee / 19 prijzen
Sens (424 km)	     10.420 d. : 15, 18, 20, 24, 43, 80, enz (33x 1: 10) 80 mee / 50 pr.
Nanteuil (333 km)      6771 d. : 13, 14, 21, 22, 32, 55, enz (34x 1: 10) 69 mee / 51 pr.
Argenton NPO (631 km)  6926 d. : 1, 11, enz (14x 1: 10) 30 mee / 20 prijzen
Duffel (94 km)	       1970 d. : 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 21, enz (25x 1: 10) 46 mee / 38 pr.
Mantes (380 km)	       5943 d. : 9, 16, 21, 53, 60, 80, 87, enz (18x 1: 10) 60 mee / 31 pr.
Asse Zelik (118 km)    3906 d. : 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 20, enz (40x 1: 10) 77 mee / 59 pr.

Strength of the combination

Father Klaas is very definite. “The unbelievable commitment and dedication of Rik. He makes good use of the Internet, has many contacts with top fanciers and is doing everything he can in the loft. Nothing is too much for him. I don’t have that same drive anymore, I’m old-fashioned in that respect. Rik is the absolute captain in the loft; he really is a very good pigeon fancier.” This is high praise, and you can see that it is meant sincerely. For a moment, Rik looked to be moved by these words, and then he added. “Nowadays, you must of course have fabulously good pigeons, everyone knows that. And the loft must definitely be good, dry and easily heated up in warm weather is a must. But the pigeon sport is not possible anymore without spending a lot of energy on it. We are not super progressive, but we will always keep searching for good pigeons. We have spent years in improving the lofts, and sometimes an alteration worked, and sometimes it did not. At the moment, everything seems to work out and we won’t change anything more. This year, we also changed the sort of feed. We now use Matador, with which we are very satisfied, and luckily, the pigeons are doing well on it, but every year is different. When all goes well, everything seems to go automatically, but tell me just what I have to do differently when things don’t go well.”

Care of the pigeons

The most important selection is done in the winter. All pigeons are put in the aviaries in front of the young pigeon lofts. “It doesn’t matter if the pigeons are big or small, thick or thin, they just have to be healthy. The ones that can’t cope with the aviary are disposed of.” Medically, as little as possible is done during the season. But when necessary, we immediately call for vet Nanne Wolf. The pigeons are inoculated against paramyxo, paratyphoid and pox. And before the season they are treated with amoxicillin. We have done it this way for years and it has always been sufficient. We use less and less supplements. Rik: “Koopman was far ahead of his time with things like sheep fat and training and so. At that time, it worked because there was not enough fat in the feed. Nowadays, feed has changed significantly in composition and there is less need for supplements. That is our view. You can also give the pigeons too much. I believe that many fanciers hear stories about products and darkening systems, without exactly knowing how to go about it. That is when mistakes are made.”

The cocks are released for exercise twice a day, the hens only once in the afternoon. Last year was the first time that the pigeons were not shown before a race. We meant to do this only at the beginning of the season, so that we could give the birds extra motivation later on. However, it worked so well that we kept it up during the entire season. It was the first time that we fed the old pigeons with Matador. At first, it was a bit hit and miss for pigeons and fanciers. It looked like they were hungry constantly and that they weren’t as nicely rounded as before. But the achievements were superb, and the pigeons soon got used to the feed. Klaas and Rik find hygiene very important. “We are real scrubbers.”

Everything indicates that here we have two true pigeon fanciers, who are enjoying all facets of the sport. A good result gives a lot of pleasure, whether on the long-distance or a short flight is not so important. As said before, Rik longs for all the attention to abate, so that they can concentrate completely on the pigeons again.

The Gouden Duif for the Netherlands was won by pigeon fanciers through and through. They more than deserve it.