Schellingwoude – Schellingwoude is a rural village and part of the county of Amsterdam in the Dutch province of Noord-Holland. In 1870, the Oranje locks were built to the south of the village. They form the water divide between the IJsselmeer (formerly the Zuiderzee) on one side, and on the other side the IJ, the Noordzeekanaal and the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal.
Schellingwoude used to be a fishing village with just a few hundred inhabitants. In those times there were four pigeon fanciers in the Liergouw Street alone… now there are a total of three fanciers in the whole of the village.
One of these fanciers is Rob Timmermans (53), who works as a civil servant for the county of Amsterdam. His passion it the extra long-distance and for him 2014 was a fantastic racing season! So fantastic, that at the end of it, he could add the title of 1st International Gouden Duif Extra Long-distance to his track record.
Father Theo Timmermans was a fancier, but after only one year, he stopped with the pigeon sport in 1974. At that time, when he was just 12 years old, Rob’s interest in the pigeons of his father had already been awakened and this was stimulated even further by neighbour Willem Gruningen. Father Theo continued to support his son, and they had a fair bit of success. Rob entered every type of race, from speed to long-distance, and in 1976 he became youth champion in the club Oranje Nassau in Amsterdam Oost.
In 1980, he moved to Schellingwoude, amid pigeon fanciers who were seen as the terror of Amsterdam. A new loft was built, and in 1980 Rob started racing seriously.
The basis of his colony then was mainly formed with ‘give-aways’ from friends and neighbours. In the early nineties, Rob bought a round of young from neighbour Henk Kok… a racer who followed the program… and who was one of the best of Amsterdam. In the mid nineties, the focus was already on the extra long-distance, and pigeons were acquired from Antoon & Lucy and Jac. v.d. Wegen. He bought a total of twenty birds from them and after a slow start, they achieved well later on.
Later, pigeons were bought from Erik Piels, who had pigeons in his loft from the Giels Bros from Steenbergen, and from the Dominicus Bros from Goes. Rob’s breed was further strengthened with pigeons from the late Flip Gielen from Durgerdam, a very successful fancier on the long-distance. Over the last years, pigeons were also bought from the Jacobs brother from Nes a/d Amstel, who had pigeons from Gerrit Veerman, known especially because of his ‘Betuwe couple’. And pigeons were also acquired directly from Gerrit Veerman from Volendam, who built his colony with pigeons from Jan Peters from Bemmel.
Meanwhile, Rob and the Hendriks Bros from Zuiderwoude have become good friends, and together they constructed a breeding loft that has given them both success.
Racing from the nest
Rob Timmermans enters the extra long-distance races with a team of 48 couples that are raced from the nest.
The last race of the season is Perpignan, and when the pigeons have returned from this race, they go on breeding on the nest that they raced from. After this, there is one later breeding round, of which the young are weaned at the end of September.
From late September until the end of January, cocks and hens stay together. They are released together… go through the moult together… and yes, there are a few eggs to collect of course, but never too many. The eggs of the toppers are moved under the yearlings and the young pigeons.
At the end of January, cocks and hens are separated. The long-distance pigeons are only coupled at the end of March, and all nest couples raise one young.
In early April, training of the nest pigeons is started… 30 kilometers… 50 kilometers… 80 kilometers. After that, the nest pigeons are released on Sunday, through the entire summer, usually at 50 kilometers. This is done alternately together with the Hendriks Bros and the tandem Bogaart-van Buuren. The nest pigeons are released often enough, but they don’t exercise from home like the widowers.
Their compartments are open all day, and they like to visit the wasteland of IJburg at the edge of the IJsselmeer. Therefore, the training trips on Sundays are an absolute necessity to keep the nest pigeons in a training rhythm. Consequently, every Sunday they train for 50 kilometers… even when the Sunday is a day of basketing!
The favoured nest position here is when the young in the nesting bowl are four days old, and this applies to cocks and hens alike. Pairing of the pigeons is done in accordance to the function of the races in which they participate, and they are never raced on a different nest position.
The long-distance pigeons in Schellingwoude are participating in seven races a year, but only nominated in a race twice a year. The planning of the long-distance pigeons looks as follows… one team flies Pau – Narbonne… a second team is entered on Agen – Perpignan… a number of pigeons fly from St. Vincent… and then there are the pigeons that race Barcelona – Perpignan… and the pigeons that fly the duo Pau – Marseille. Obviously, it takes quite some calculating to ensure that all pigeons that are basketed have young of exactly four days old.
In between two classics, there is a recuperation period of at least four weeks. It is easy to see when the pigeons are recovered. They leave the loft easier… are more fierce on the nest… their feathers become sleeker… they start to swell up… and they begin to shine again. In short, they become ‘real’ pigeons once more… pigeons that ask to be basketed again. Rob is very careful in maintaining his quality pigeons, and the birds are entered in races until they are seven years old… and sometimes even longer.
The first two days after returning from a race, they get a light feed in a separate bowl attached to the nest box. After these two days they get the normal ‘full tray’ sport mixture again. The last week before basketing they get an additional mixture of Tovo + peanuts + candy seeds + white seeds + hemp.
Nothing is done to boost the motivation of the nest pigeons. The nest position is their only motivation. After returning from a race, the nest is not terminated, so that they will have small young again at the time of the next basketing, four to five weeks later. It is better to prevent the pigeons starting a new nest, because then the birds keep the plume for longer and better. From the longest day on, they get extra light, from 5 to 11 pm, so that the moult starts later in the season.
The care for the pigeons is done meticulously. During the racing season, they are released every morning at 5.45 prompt. After Rob returns from work, they are called inside and the yearlings and the young birds are released for an hour’s exercise. At 6 pm, all pigeons are inside again.
ZO WERD HIJ WINNAAR INT. GOUDEN DUIF-COMPETITIE ZWARE FOND 20.6 Pau 3020 d. : 31, 37 26.7 Narbonne 6650 d. : 124, 48 05.7 Barcelona 21.169 d. : 145, 215
The career of a long-distance racer
As mentioned before… a young pigeon isn’t entered in races here. The young of the early breeding round are trained up to 30 kilometers. Some 90 young are ringed, and normally, if nothing unexpected happens, they all survive the first year. As yearling, they are taken to the club every week. They are ‘flown-in’, after which they are basketed for the one-day long-distance flights… from 400 to 700 kilometers. There is no selection yet, but there is a natural first selection in the team because of the pigeons that are lost during the race.
As second-year pigeons, they all go into the basket for Agen and Perpignan, there is still no real selection done, but it is normal that about 1/3 of the pigeons are lost during the races.
When the pigeons are three years old, it is about time that the long-distance flyers start to prove themselves. They are divided over the various races, and it becomes important now in what kind of condition the pigeons return. If the race wasn’t too difficult, it is a good sign when the pigeons are not too tired on coming home. When it was a difficult race, it is fine if they return very tired, but it is important how long it takes for them to recuperate. This is the time for them to show their worth. Preferably by winning a prize per ten, but better still by winning a real lead prize. A good long-distance racer will certainly be raced until he is seven years old. The good pigeons are the key to success, and to keep pigeons back that have won three good prizes isn’t done in Schellingwoude. And winning eight good prizes in seven years time is usually the norm here.
The perfect long-distance pigeon
‘A perfect long-distance racer is a pigeon that is not too big… and that can slide easily through the hand. She must have a wing that is in proportion with the rest of her body. The eye of a pigeon is not that important and they don’t attach too much value to it. On the other hand, the musculature of a long-distance pigeon is most important. A pigeon may not feel like a sponge, but must have volume and muscles. Two more characteristics that are considered a must are a strong back and a firmly closed plumage. But once again… the separate features are not all important… a pigeon has to be perfect in balance as a whole.’
20-6 Pau, 6 duiven ingekorfd Nat. 3020 d. : 31 (1e get) en 37 (3e get) Internat. 8295 d. : 272 en 285 Prov. Noord-Holland 291 d. : 4 en 6 27-6 Agen/Bordeaux, 24 duiven ingekorfd Nat. 5910 d. : 501 en 695 (3e get) Internat. 11.227 d. : 1277, Etc. Prov. Noord-Holland 825 d. : 25, 39, 113 en 202 05-7 Barcelona, 6 duiven ingekorfd Nat. 5423 d. : 67 (1e get), 94 (2e get), 1191 Internat. 21.169 d. : 145, 215, Etc. Prov. Noord-Holland 413 d. : 6 en 8 12-7 St. Vincent, 7 duiven ingekorfd Nat. 3824 d. : 124 (1e get), 577 Internat. 11.388 d. : 625, Etc. Prov. Noord-Holland 260 d. : 12 en 37 18-7 Marseille, 9 duiven ingekorfd Nat. 4899 d. : 33, 124, 223 (1e get), 1072, 1149, 1156 Internat. 12.054 d. : 108, 243, 399, Etc. Prov. Noord-Holland 365 d. : 5, 17, 24 26-7 Narbonne, 8 duiven ingekorfd Nat. 6650 d. : 48 (2e get), 124 (1e get), 595 Internat. 12.528 d. : 191, 310, Etc. Prov. Noord-Holland 303 d. : 5, 14, 47 01-8 Perpignan, 22 duiven ingekorfd Nat. 6414 d. : 266, 269, 304, 380, 623 (3e get), 626 (1e get), 845, 1506 Internat. 17.971 d. : 1301, Etc. Prov. Noord-Holland 590 d. : 39, 40, 44, 49, 76 (3e get), 77 (1e get), 103
Perpignan is the last race of the season, and after their return from this race, there is no immediate medical attention.
Later on, they get a 10 day treatment with Parastop, but they are not inoculated against paratyphoid.
When the pigeons are sitting on 10 day old eggs in the first breeding round, they are treated against trichomonas for six days (v.d. Sluis). Just before the first race, and halfway through the racing season, they are treated against tricho again for 1 to 2 days.
During the racing season, bronchial infections are tackled with Ornicure. They are treated for two days before every long-distance race. Every Sunday they get garlic oil… brewer’s yeast… and oregano over the feed.
The breeding loft
There are 25 couples of breeders in the loft of the Hendriks Bros in Zuiderwoude. They are the suppliers of young pigeons for the Hendriks Bros and for Rob Timmermans.
Rob doesn’t concern himself at all with breeding. Each year, some 50 young pigeons from the joint breeding loft find their way to Schellingwoude. Together with the 40 young from Rob’s own pigeons, that makes a total of 90 young. When it is necessary to buy new pigeons for breeding, they do that by mutual agreement. This happened among others with young out of the famous ‘Betuwe couple’ from Gerrit Veerman, and out of the ‘Super Barca 621’, who is a son of the ‘Betuwe couple’. The super breeder ‘Stet’ has resided in the breeding loft of the Hendriks Bros for a year, and the results are noticeable.
Loft and Hygiene
The loft is 15 meters long; the racing section for the old pigeons is 9 meters long and consists of 48 nesting boxes. In front of the boxes there is a corridor with an open ceiling for the ventilation.
The nest boxes of all pigeons are cleaned twice a day… summer and winter. On the floor of all compartments are beech wood chips, which are renewed once a year. The drinking containers are cleaned once a month, and are regularly filled up.
A fantastic season 2014
In 2013, they did very well on the race from Barcelona (8/9). From Marseille… Narbonne… and Perpignan they clocked early birds. In 2014, the race from St. Vincent was very hard and they lost four good pigeons. After that, they only basketed pigeons for the races of the ZLU. They kept achieving enormously and it turned into a fantastic season! Rob has entirely switched to the morning releases, and since he has forsaken the afternoon release, his pigeons fly more and more into the lead.