Pros Roosen one of the Sports biggest personalities and greatest pigeon fanciers passed away in August 2010. For quite some time prior to his passing, the renowned pigeon sport author ‘Columbus’ visited Pros and documented his thoughts about his lifetimes passion.
This work was published in the ‘De Duif’ Pigeon Sport magazine in its original Flemish in 2009 shortly before Pros died and it we translated it into English for the ‘Duif Chronicles Online’ however due to the unfortunate timing of events, we decided not to publish at the time.
Now its ten years later and we think it would now still be of interest to fanciers around the World, so with the kind permission of ‘Columbus’ and Jan and Rik Hermans we will publish the story in three parts.
Pros Roosen,Kermt,Belgium…. Part 1 The Man and the fancier.
Nobody can dispute: there is only ONE Pros Roosen … In our pigeon sport world, we have an abundance of champions, would be champions, super champions, champions with a capital C, superstars, stuntmen, magicians and so on. We even have two wonder boys. We also have Pros, and there is no other like him.
Have you noticed that Pros Roosen is the only fancier in Belgium, or maybe even the whole world, whose titles have more to do with his personality than with his pigeon racing? Not that his pigeon racing isn’t of the highest order, but because of his friendly and honest personality. Ask any fancier who the ‘ambassador’ of the pigeon sport is … We have only one: Pros. Or ask the fanciers in Limburg, Holland, who their role model, their mentor is … and they shall all say the same: Pros.
I had the honour to be this gentleman’s guest. So sit yourself down comfortably. It is going to be a story of emotion, ambition and passion. And an appeal for an honest and transparant pigeon sport.
It is a story in three parts:
- The man and the fancier
- Composition of the breed (1965-2000)
- The new career (2001 until now)
The man and the pigeon fancier
Suddenly everything became different…
“I should have looked after myself like I have always looked after my pigeons …”, Pros says when I enquire after his health. “I have lived life in a very high gear, and now I am paying the price for it. All my life I have said that you must feed pigeons sparingly, but I myself ate and drank much too much: I could always leave alcohol, but soft-drinks, sweets and good food were my addiction … My heart has already rebelled against that a few times, my back is mostly worn out, and then of course this has happened to me …” And Pros indicates his legs, that have not been working properly for the last few years: almost no feeling, no strength and no control anymore. Condemned to the wheelchair. “It all began very innocently,” Pros tells me with some resignation, “A specialist in Pellenberg said he would cure me of my backache with a special operation. The operation took eight hours and the surgeon was content with himself and his work … But when I woke up, everything appeared to have gone wrong: I couldn’t feel the lower part of my body, couldn’t get my legs to work and standing up was out of the question. What has happened? Nobody can tell me. But I have to go on. Life goes on. The backaches have not lessened and I am permanently dependent on other people to help look after me. Especially to move about … Life can sometimes take unexpected turns. Suddenly everything has become different.”
The operation was just the beginning … afterwards the recuperation started: recovering from the operation, getting to grips with sores from lying down, learning to live with a very big handicap and especially trying to get his mental balance back. “The blow to my mental health was enormous,” Pros tells me a year and a half after the operation. “I can handle a misfortune, even a small disaster, but something like this, I had never envisaged. The medical staff and the psycho-therapist at the hospital insisted on prescribing anti-depressive medicines to help me to cope. But I have always declined these offers with a smile: I wasn’t depressed and didn’t ever want to become depressed. I have always been an optimist, and I was determined to stay an optimist, handicap or not. But it is not and has not been easy. Seven months I have been in hospital to recuperate, and all that time only one question stayed uppermost in my head: “How can I get out of here?” Or in fact there were two questions: how can I get out of here and in what condition will I get out of here. It was a very challenging period. Luckily I had lots of support from my family and friends. They had never encountered anything like it in the hospital: forever there was someone on the phone to enquire about me, and always visitors came and went. Of course a lot of them were friends from the pigeon sport. And every time I asked myself: how am I going to race with my pigeons again … because my pigeons are the last thing they can take away from me.”
Irony of fate
We can’t resist asking a question that Pros without doubt will have asked himself dozens of times: “Don’t you think it ironical, Pros, that you have to go through life like this, after all those years that you have been campaigning for the less fortunate in life and the handicaped: like the ‘Actie Zorgenkind’, the ‘Ave Regina’ and so many other charities that you have supported?” But Pros looks at this philosophically: “You mustn’t see it like that. There are still so many people, adults and children, who have a much harder life then I have. I don’t regret anything, I’m not bitter about anything and I will always keep doing my best for good causes. We still do far too little for the less fortunate then ourselves … I myself will survive, have no fear.”
And in that we recognize Pros again, the good soul with a big heart.
And Pros has indeed, out of sheer necessity, adjusted himself. His house and the lofts have been altered a bit and Pros has bought himself a highly technological wheelchair, which allows him to manoeuvre about the lofts and even helps him (mechanically) to stand upright so he can handle his pigeons. Everyday a physio comes to help maintain the circulation in the lower half of his body and to help strengthen his arms. “And besides that I am of course in many cases dependent on family and friends,” Pros concludes, “but enough about me, let’s talk about pigeons now”.
If you want to offend Pros, you only need to call him a ‘pigeon wizard’ or ‘pigeon magician’. “The pigeon sport is not a question of magic tricks or shortcuts, and certainly not of miracles,” Pros says, irritated by the people who see the pigeon sport like that, or even worse, who practice the sport like that. “I can’t abide people who sell hundreds of pigeons for astronomical prices, but with whom other fanciers never win anything, allegedly because they didn’t buy the fancier along with the pigeons. I can’t stand it how some of those ‘magicians’ succeed in ruining things by selling pigeons that won’t produce decent offspring for others.” Pros thinks for a moment and then adds: “I don’t accuse anyone of dishonest practice, don’t get me wrong, but when I give pigeons to others or sell them, then I want them to be very successful with my birds. For that matter, I have two shoe boxes full of thank you notes and references from people all over the world, who are having success with my pigeons. And I will always take the opportunity to give advice to people who ask for it. I don’t have any secrets, but in my experience people often think they know better themselves. Or they don’t want to spend the energy or the time to put my advice into practice.But that is alright by me.”
We will take up his offer of advice and later we will try to extract every tip and trick out of him, so that our readers can also try to race like champions with their pigeons.
“But you have to have the best pigeons in order to be successful,” Pros insists. He is already regretting what he said about those ‘magicians’ and quickly he adds: “I am not naming people personally, you understand.” And that is the true Pros again, he doesn’t want to offend anybody.
Numerous times people have tried to describe what defines a top pigeon. Many reporters and pigeon chroniclers have tried in vain. Let’s listen again to what Pros has to say about this. The man who managed to breed top pigeons like stringing beads on a rosary. Non other but Pros Roosen has reared so many pigeons that flew multiple prizes from many thousands of contestants. Or have won 10 or more first prizes. Or that won over 80 prizes without doubles (Pros has one pigeon with 104 single prizes, another with 97, some with 89, 84 or 80 prizes … could you match that?). And always with a limited number of pigeons.
Who doesn’t know the names, The ‘Supercrack 327’, or the ‘Bourgeske’, or the ‘Nationaal’, the ‘Computer I and II’, or more recently the ‘Flits’, the ‘Tarzan’ and so on?
“Does that mean there is something to see, to feel, to notice in a good pigeon?” we enquire …
“I’m afraid I have to disappoint you,” Pros admits, “Don’t think that I can go to the pigeon market in Lier and just by feeling or looking at a young pigeon, return home with a couple of provincial winners. It isn’t that simple. Not in the least because super pigeons almost all come out of super breeds. A bit like Piet de Weerd has been saying for decades: “all good pigeons are related to each other … therefore you have to find such a super breed and then start selecting ruthlessly. Not all of them are good pigeons, let alone super pigeons, not even in the best dynasties.”
And Pros makes a calculation: “When I buy pigeons, let’s assume 100, from someone and there are 10 acceptable pigeons and one very good one among them, then I am a very happy person. Sometimes I buy 60 pigeons from a loft and after two years not one is left. A fancier who breeds 1 to 3 per cent good pigeons, will appear on the front page of every magazine. Fanciers should keep this in mind more, when they are buying a pigeon …”
It is clear: for Pros (and for many other champions) everything revolves around good pigeons. If the ‘secrets’ would be successful, then every champion would have nothing but good pigeons.
If you gave Yehudi Menuhin a toy violin, he would undoubtedly make music with it. But to hear the man at his best you had better give him a Stradivarius. The same applies to the pigeon sport. The pigeon is the instrument and the fancier the virtuoso who gets the best out of it. But with a ‘bad’ pigeon, that best doesn’t amount to much.
With which we mean to say that Pros, we can surely call him a virtuoso, believes above all in the quality of the pigeon. That’s why he buys his pigeons where he expects to find good quality pigeons, and often with success …
Pros himself likes to make the comparison with a cycle racer and his bicycle. The best cycle racer usually also has the best bicycle, but give that bicycle to a second class racer and he doesn’t achieve anything with it.
So fancier and pigeon form an inseparable two-some. The most important of the two being the pigeon: without the exceptional pigeon it will never happen, not ever. The second factor is the input of the fancier and that means everything; from insights in looking after the pigeons, providing the ideal loft, to keeping the pigeons healthy, motivating them and so on, and so on.
Marco Borsato sings “One second”, and that is precisely how long Pros claims he needs to form a fairly definite opinion of a pigeon he is holding for the first time.
“When I go to a sale, or to inspect a loft,” Pros tells us, “I know after about one second if I like a pigeon or not. I don’t want to be impolite of course, so I hold them a little longer, but only very seldom shall my opinion of ‘bad’ change to ‘good’ by looking more closely at the bird …”
What does Pros feel when holding a pigeon? An overall impression of body, strength, stability and balance, combined with an unfailing feeling of plentifull and soft, oily feathers. “A hard or a dry pigeon is never a good pigeon,” Pros states with authority.
It is very difficult to put into words the general impression of a pigeon, and undoubtedly a considerable part of it is intuition, an instinctive feeling of … “this one has what it takes” and “this one I don’t want”.
I probe a little further: “And when the first impression is positive, Pros, what else do you look at then?”
“It depends what I am looking for, a short distance pigeon needs different qualities than a long-distance pigeon. But every one of them has to be sturdily built, and have a broad and firm chest, because that is where their ‘motor’ is situated. I don’t want any pigeons that are not firm, because that breeds in very quickly and before you know it, your whole loft is weakened and with that your success. Pigeons must have good muscles: abundant and supple, and I have learned that the same goes for the speed racers. And further, yes, like Piet de Weerd states, the tension of the body, the obstinate wriggling and tugging. Not the fidgeting of a shy pigeon that wants to escape, but the impatient quivering of a full-blood that says, “Keep your hands of my body” … all these factors as a whole have to be satisfactory, I shall never select on one detail.”
Not a man of theory
Pros can’t understand how some fanciers can follow the more charismatic prophets, who swear by the ‘eye theory’, the ‘wing theory’, the ‘muscle theory’ or the ‘throat theory’.
“Take the ‘eye specialists’ for instance,” Pros explains, “after several generations they have built a collection of pigeons with eyes that even ‘De Dolle’ would be jealous of, but they never win any races with them. These pigeons look good in photographs, on the Internet or in a catalogue, and you might entice a few fellow fanciers with them, but never a serious fancier who wants to have success with these pigeons. You won’t hear me saying that eyes are not important, on the contrary, but they should never become an objective on their own. On the other hand, not every examiner with a magnifying glass is a rag-and-bone man. But there is so much more to see and feel in a pigeon. I’m already content when the head shows character and when the look is intelligent.”
The same applies to the ‘wing theory’. Preferably, a wing must be according to the book, but here it is the same: it should never become an obsession. From Jan Grondelaers and Rick Vrancken, Pros learned what the ideal wing should look like. Pros himself likes a sturdy fore-arm, which indicates a well feathered and windproof wing-beat. Especially the first six flights have to overlap and combine together to keep the air movement flowing efficiently. And then the wing tip, the step of the seventh flight, the ventilation, but everybody will know about that.
‘Muscle examiners’: the same story, very important but never the only standard to give priority to in breeding. Pros admits that he doesn’t know that much about muscles himself …
The throat is another story altogether. The throat is more an indicator of condition and health, Pros thinks. His experience is that a pigeon that feels silky, will have a good throat. Only if he has a doubt will he sometimes carefully open a beak.
But Pros also has his preferences. “I like to see an inky black and wide band at the end of the tail,” he tells us. “I don’t try to breed that in my pigeons, but I don’t want to lose it out of my base stock either. Although with red and mealy pigeons the band is not visible …” This wide band indicates,the promise of good blood, of pedigree. When the pigmentation colours become watery and pale, then you are losing that pedigree and strong bloodline”, at least, that is the opinion of Pros.
To breed and select handsome athletes is a start, but definitely not the whole process. “A pigeon has to have great physical qualities,” Pros says, “but that is only the beginning. The rest goes on inside the head of the pigeon: the character, the psychological capability to fly a race, the fighting spirit, and of course the orientation. A top pigeon is always a pigeon with its own ‘personality’, a unique and sometimes willful character.” When we ask what all that entails, Pros becomes very psychological …
Because animals are exactly the same as people
In Holland there once was a cartoon on television, called the ‘Fabeltjeskrant’ (the ‘Fairytale Paper’). In that there was a song ‘Because animals are exactly the same as people, with the same wishes as humans …’ And that is exactly how Pros thinks about his pigeons. “Don’t say too quickly, it’s just a pigeon,” Pros muses, “pigeons are usually much smarter than you would think. They learn quickly, and also the wrong habits, like being shy or slow coming in to the loft.”
All of his career Pros has been saying that a fancier has to be a pigeon psychologist: he must understand the soul of a pigeon through and through. He has to be able to think like a pigeon. He has to understand the pigeon language. And not everyone can do that.
“When we are talking about pigeons, we often use conceptions with a double meaning: like instinct, vitality, perseverance, character …,” Pros says. “What Piet de Weerd calls vitality, I would rather call temprament … and perseverance, is that toughness, persistence, fighting spirit? There is no clear vocabulary for talking about pigeons. I’d much sooner use terms out of the human psychology, although I know that it isn’t the same. The real top pigeons have something human in them: they are wise instead of shy, they have personality instead of herd instinct. The ‘327’ always told me himself when he was in form. Then he would walk right up to me. If he avoided me, it was because he wasn’t ready yet …”
Besides an excellent racer, the ‘327’ was also a special pigeon. According to Pros he didn’t like to fly with the group. When he was in good form he would fly above the group, or very low underneath the rest. While exercising he often disappeared out of sight for hours and flew himself into form. The ‘Rode Interpares’ was also a special pigeon. He also didn’t like flying with the group and liked to exercise alone. His specialty was to fly up and down, like he was flying up a mountain and down again … maybe with the Pyrenees in his head?
And Pros likes them, these ‘eccentrics’.
“When they are exercising, they should fly overhead like they don’t belong to you,” summarizes Pros of the behaviour of widowers in form. Pros can’t understand how some fanciers can open the window and then go away to do some cleaning or to drink a cup of coffee. “That way you miss everything, don’t you?,” Pros works himself up. “During the season I don’t want to miss a wing-beat when the birds exercise. Can you imagine a football trainer who sets his player to work and then goes off to the canteen himself? He wants to be present and observe his players for the next match. And with pigeons it’s the same, isn’t it?”
If you have to throw stones or a ball at pigeons on the roof, there is something very wrong, according to Pros. Pigeons have to be willing and keen to fly, although he doesn’t shy away from using the flag at the beginning of the season to get them into the routine. Pigeons are quick learners.
Of course, observing isn’t confined to exercise. Also in the lofts Pros wants to see everything: nest behaviour, rivalry that he can exploit, attatchment to the nestbox, pecking order … Observing these things forms the basis for motivating the pigeons.
Motivating pigeons means, appealing to their survival instinct. Like every other living creature, pigeons want to breed to keep the species going.
In classic widowhood it was enough to show the hen at basketing and the same (or another) hen placed in the nest box upon the return. “I don’t think that this is sufficient anymore,” Pros says. And Pros has very different ideas about motivating his pigeons.
The method of motivating that Pros favours is almost entirely based on territorial instinct. A pigeon wants to secure its territory, which is the first requirement for breeding in safety. This is instinctive behaviour that you see all over the animal kingdom.
“So, how does that work in practice?” I want to know.
“Well, I have told people dozens of times, but as yet nobody has followed me,” Pros chuckles. “Each loft houses only a couple of pigeons, and of those a few are sacrificed to extra motivate the others. It’s a game that continues throughout the week. The pigeons are shut into their nestbox, all except one. That pigeon prevails and thinks himself master of the loft. The other birds become so furious with his strutting about, that they would happily kill each other, if let loose all together … By alternating the one free pigeon, you can make two or three pigeons think that the whole loft could be theirs … if they are the one that returns home first. Simple, isn’t it?” Pros notices the look on our faces and understands that we are not completely convinced. “Don’t worry, you will learn from experience,” Pros reassures me.
For over 30 years I have visited Pros, and every time I enter into his lofts, it amazes me how tame his pigeons are. They are visibly happy to frolic about with their master. “That personal relationship is important,” Pros tells us, “I maintain that bond every day and I am convinced that they also return home for me.”
Looking after the pigeons
We have already had a lengthy talk with Pros about the quality of a pigeon and about pigeon psychology. There remains another important topic of course: how do you bring those super selected pigeons into the best condition ? What about health, feeding, management, ventilation and everything else. Pros doesn’t usually hold his tongue, so I hope that you and I can learn something from the master pigeon coach.
“Everybody who has ever had a cold themselves, knows how that feels and can appreciate that a pigeon with a cold just can’t win a prize. Therefore, health is of the uppermost importance,” Pros explains. But that is something we all knew already. Not one fancier will doubt that. But it is easier said than done. Behind every change in the weather, behind every little bit of damp or draught, behind every night in the basket there lurks an illness. Over-populated lofts and even more crowded baskets, eating and drinking together from the same, often contaminated, containers and drinkers, offers the ideal environment for pigeon ailments.
“Putting only a few pigeons in a loft, that is the best rule for the pigeons’ health,” Pros says. “Pigeons can usually keep themselves healthy, and even conquer light infections without any help from the fancier. But only if there are not too many in a loft. It could have something to do with more oxygen in the loft, but certainly the absence of stress is a factor.”
Actually, we all should know this from experience, but the big difference is that Pros puts this into practice. Only one or two super healthy pigeons in a loft of 10 square meters, rather than 12 that have health problems all season long and don’t achieve much as a result … drastic but efficient. But strangely enough, Pros Roosen doesn’t have much ventilation in his widowers loft. Everything is made air-tight with cardboard and insulation material. “I can get away with this, because there are only a few pigeons in the loft,” Pros explains. Every time the doors or windows are opened, enough ventilation comes in to last for a longer period …”
But of course, with the other pigeons, breeders, yearlings and youngsters, Pros too has every ailment and illness there is in the pigeon world.
From nature to the pharmacy
“I try to prevent ailments,” Pros tells us. This means that he occasionally uses pre-biotica or pro-biotica, but he mainly gives his pigeons products to improve the condition, so that germs don’t get a chance to establish themselves. He was undoubtedly one of the first to give his pigeons apple vinegar, which he learned from his German friend Dr Sauer in 1979. “Nobody else I knew used apple vinegar at that time. But immediately after I had told others of it, the tradesmen got wind of it and started selling it by the bucket load,” Pros chuckles.
“The same happened with ‘Zell-Oxygen’. A German product based on liquid yeast. I used it for about a decade with only a few of my closest friends who knew about it and who began using it too. Until at one point I told Flip Herbots about it. Next he starts importing it with trucks, and now the whole pigeon world uses it. Another of my shortcomings, I can’t keep my mouth shut, I am much too honest.
Once I almost had an argument with Jan Grondelaers. After one of my better pigeons had won 1st provincial Bourges, I named it the ‘Blitz’. Where upon Jan Grondelaers asked me: “Have you lost you mind?” … because the use of the product ‘Blitz’ (a condition product) was one of his best kept secrets. And now everybody would come to know of it, Jan feared.”
Pros is quite different. When he gives a pigeon to someone, it is guaranteed that he gives a whole sheet of instructions with it. So, many times apple vinegar, and then Zell Oxygen, then days of honey, teas, elder-berry syrup, carrot juice, garlic extract, Vior, Prange Suppe, Naturaline and so on.
“Actually, there are not enough hours in a day to give the pigeons everything that I would like to give them,” laughs Pros. He absolutely believes that pigeons that only get grain and water, have a shortage of all kinds of things. And he tries to remedy that by giving them all he can out of nature and out of health stores.
That is the reason why he complements his grain mixtures with several types of small seeds, and Tovo. But more about feeding later.
But, with just natural products they don’t get everything they need. And Pros isn’t afraid to visit the pharmacy for a bit of extra help. Electrolytes, vitamins, amino-acids, sometimes even baby food (milk powder for bottle feeding), because this contains so much goodness.
To the vet?
“Of course, when it’s necessary I call the vet. These days more often than I used to,” Pros admits. “The current pigeon sport is so much more competitive, that to race at the top of the league, you can’t afford to have one little germ undermining the condition of your pigeons. When I went to a vet in the old days, he seldom gave medication for my pigeons. Now, you can’t escape the use of medicines anymore. Unfortunately enough. You don’t finish on the winners podium by giving your pigeons only garlic and brewer’s yeast.”
For many years Pros has used Altabactine (now since long illegal), in the absolute belief that latent paratyphoid is the greatest enemy of health and condition in the loft. He still uses a similar product, once or twice a year. Not during the breeding or racing season of course, otherwise you would do more harm then good. And since two years he has vaccinated against paratyphoid with the German product ‘Zoosalt-T’. “I can’t avoid it,” Pros complains. “I loan so many pigeons to other fanciers, and they are returned at convenient or inconvenient times. Often in a lesser condition. Which leaves me worrying that they might bring paratyphoid into my loft.”
Paratyphoid of course is not the only ailment that a fancier is confronted with. Pros doesn’t often see head illnesses in his pigeons. But against canker he treats regularly (usually every six weeks), like everybody else.
Feeding is an art
“Feeding is an art,” specialist Pros explains. “Jan Grondelaers had the knack, as did Jef Houben and many other champions of more than one season. Actually, you
should feed with a spoon and know the difference between a large and a small spoonful of feed. There are not so many rules when it comes to feeding. It is a skill, like painting or writing poetry. You can’t put that in words. Every pigeon is different, every day of the week is different, every race is different, every distance is different, every type of weather is different … For that matter, every day I pick each racer up and hold him to assess his form and his racing weight. I suspect that 90 per cent of the fanciers feed too much and too heavy. For those that are not so sure with feeding would do best to give their pigeons moult mixture with barley, then the pigeons will regulate themselves. Moult-mixture is a light mixture and the barley is the control. You really should only give ‘heavy food’ twice (the speed racers) or three times (middle-distance racers) during a week. More than that will give digestive problems and constitutional disorders. And you will lose the form.
It is different with the long-distance racers. Good long-distance pigeons regulate themselves, although here too you mustn’t give a too heavy mixture. I always use diet mixtures and ‘light’ mixtures. However, every morning and evening I give my pigeons a peanut. More as a motivator than as nutrition, and I am aware that it is heavy food. I also give them up to 10 per cent candy seed. So, a lot of fat, but I compensate this by giving them an even lighter feed mixture. They need the candy as a variation in their feed, but we have already talked about that.”
Breeding and selection
I asked Pros: “I have one question left to conclude this article for now, do you have any secrets in respect to breeding?”
Pros has to think for a moment. “Breeding here is a disaster …” he sighes. “I can’t say no. Every evening before playing cards, or preparing to dine out, before a champions celebration in fact all the time, day and night, they come to me to ‘buy a good one’. And anyone who buys a ‘Bon’, hopes to acquire a top pigeon with it. All that, combined with the charities like ‘Zorgenkind’, ‘Ave Regina’ or the Gouden Duif – where you just have to donate something and you will understand that breeding here sometimes feels like mopping up with the tap running. I can’t breed them quickly enough for my own use …”
The price of fame, in combination with a much too good heart. Pros is also undoubtedly the world champion in giving his pigeons away. And that he doesn’t donate his lesser birds, is proven by the numerous fanciers who are successful with that one pigeon, from that one ‘Bon’. On the other hand, it makes Pros also very happy when he sees that someone, who almost never won anything, suddenly wins a first provincial or even an Ace with Pros Roosen pigeons…
“What isn’t good enough for me, isn’t good enough to give to someone else,” is the opinion of Pros. Every year Pros rears about 100 young pigeons for his own use. Often enough these are late or very late youngsters, because that is the only way that he can keep them for himself. “Late pigeons are no problem,” laughs Pros, “as long as they are good ones. The ‘327’ and the ‘Nationaal’ were late youngsters, so that says enough …”
All in all, Pros manages to winter his young pigeons very carefully, but as yearlings they are ruthlessly selected. Pigeons that don’t score 75 per cent, are removed. As are pigeons that don’t fly lead prizes. And this is the reason why Pros only has some 6 to 10 old pigeons.
For the breeders the qualifications are even higher. And to become a ‘top breeder’ for Pros, they have to prove themselves first by winning preferably two or three times from thousands.
What kind of pigeons you need for this, and how Pros has managed to breed and race with top pigeons for 40 years, that will be told in the next part.
Golden achievements in the pigeon career of specialist Pros Roosen:
1981 First winner Gouden Duif
1981 Superstar Middle-distance with sport magazine De Duif
1981 Best Loft De Reisduif
1981 1st National Ace Middle-distance De Reisduif
1981 1/1,007 Provincial Bourges, 6/6,024 National
1991 1/1,426 Provincial Bourges
1992 Champion Limburgse Long-distance Marathon
1992 Best Loft in the World Championships VL
1992 General Champion BDS Vlaams Landsgedeelte
1993 1st National Bourges 9,759 old pigeons
1993 Olympiad Middle-distance Sports-class Gran Canaria
1995 Winner three-years classification Barcelona with the BBC
1996 Primus Inter Pares with the BBC
1999 1st General Champion La Colombophilie Belge
1999 First General Champion De Reisduif
1999 1st Champion Middle-distance BDS Vlaams Landsgedeelte
1999 Champion Limburgse Long-distance club
1999 1st Champion Middle-distance Midden-Limburg
2000 1st General Champion K.B.D.B. Limburg 2000
2000 1st General Champion Middle-distance BDS, Vlaams Landsgedeelte
2001 12/3,613 National Bourges zone C
2002 2nd Provincial Champion K.B.D.B. Middle-distance
2002 3rd Provincial Champion K.B.D.B. Long-distance Yearlings
2002 5th Provincial Champion K.B.D.B. Young Pigeons
2002 1st in the two-years classification Barcelona with the BBC
2002 4/23,957 National Bourges
2003 Winner three-years classification Barcelona with the BBC
2003 1st Provincial Champion K.B.D.B. Middle-distance Yearlings
2003 1st Champion Limburgse Long-distance club
2004 14/14,207 National Bourges Yearlings
2005 7th National Champion K.B.D.B. Yearlings
2005 1st Champion Limburgse Long-distance club Yearlings
2005 2nd Provincial Champion K.B.D.B. Yearlings
2005 4/12,754 National Bourges Yearlings
2005 9/9,893 National Bourges Old Pigeons
2006 8/10,759 National Bourges Old Pigeons
2006 11/10,759 National Bourges Old Pigeons
2007 12/11,933 National Bourges Old Pigeons
2007 1st General Champion Combination 31 Leages
“If you only basket two pigeons, you can never nominate the wrong pigeon for the championship,” is a popular statement of Pros. And it is the usual answer to the ever returning question of how he always manages to win the 1st and 2nd prizes …
References (in random order):
Although this isn’t a sales program, Pros would like to indicate how many fanciers achieve well with his pigeons. “Very often,in maybe 90 per cent of the cases, these are donated pigeons, pigeons on loan or from ‘Bons’ ” Pros says. He will never get rich from these pigeons, unless it is the richness in his group of loyal friends, and these days that certainly counts for something.
– Thibaut-Boons (Sombreffe, Belgium): 1st National Ace Middle-distance K.B.D.B. 2005 with a 100 per cent Pros Roosen.
– Jaak Koninx (Zonhoven, Belgium) wins 1st National Ace Middle-distance K.B.D.B. 1994 with the ‘5060199-91’. The father of this pigeon is a direct Pros Roosen.
– Mr. Iwata (Japan) wins National Champion three times in five years with mostly Pros Roosen pigeons (many Soontjens).
– Henri Custers (Meeuwen, Belgium). His ‘Super 36 Pros’, a grandson of ‘Computer II’, flies a 1st prize without doubles ten times; 100 per cent Pros Roosen.
– Dr. Eckart Pestner (Stadt-Hagen, Germany) wins with the ‘6361-93-0052’ (25 per cent Pros Roosen): 1/1,573 (2/6,118), 1/9,272 and 1/7,732 as young pigeon. He has won at least four Aces with ‘Computer’ pigeons.
– Udo Heyer (Germany) wins the National Ace 1997 with ‘Charlienne’: 1/1,782, 2/1,011, 4/1,756, 4/1,550, 9/1,181 and 10/1,099 … 11 times in the first 10 against an average of 1,500 pigeons.
– Jos Thoné (As, Holland) wins 1st Ace Centrum & Oost. Mother is 100 per cent Roosen out of the lines ‘Supercrack’ and ‘Computer’.
– Guido Rego (Spalbeek, Belgium) wins 1st in the first One Loft Race China (2007).
– Guisson-Vanbrabant win the 1st Ace Middle-distance Limburg K.B.D.B. 2000 with a 50 per cent Soontjens by way of Pros Roosen.
– Jean Kuyks (Kozen, Belgium) wins 1st Provincial Beziers with a 50 per cent Roosen.
– Armand Schoolmeesters (Kermt, Belgium) wins 1st National Argenton against 22,000 young pigeons with a 100 per cent Roosen.
– Vanlooy-Somers win 1st National Champion K.B.D.B. Young Pigeons. Their second nominated is 50 per cent Pros Roosen.
– Guido Nickmans (Kermt, Belgium) wins 3rd National Ace Middle-distance K.B.D.B. with a 100 per cent Roosen. He also wins 4th in the World Championship VL.
– Louis Craps (Diegem, Belgium) wins 3/9,091 National Bourges with a 50 per cent Pros Roosen.
The brothers Herbots breed a multitude of winners out of the ‘2404810-80’ (a sister of the ‘327’) with 14 national or semi-national winners. One of which is the fabulous ‘Diamant Pair’ (parents of ‘Senna’, ‘Jacky’ and the ‘As’).
– The ‘Fenomeentje’ from Hermans-Hoekstra, 1st National Ace the Netherlands, has ‘327’ blood.
– Jean Jamnik (France) wins 1st International Marseille, father and mother line ‘327’ by way of the brothers Herbots.
– Josy Rouffa (Membruggen, Belgium) wins 1st and 2nd Provincial Limoges, National 7th and 8th against 17,469 pigeons, with breed Pros Roosen, line ‘327’.
– Reinier Tonski-Samssil (Geisenkirchen, Germany) wins among others 1st, 2nd and 3rd against 25,822 pigeons. He writes that he races ‘everyone out of the competitions’ with the pigeons from Pros Roosen.
– Jacky Vonckers (Winterslag, Belgium) wins 1/28,750 Provincial Orleans and a car with 100 per cent Pros Roosen (Soontjens line ‘Computer’).
– Ludo Mortelmans (Zepperen, Belgium) wins 1/6,890 Semi-national Montlucon with 50 per cent ‘Interpares’ from Pros Roosen.
– Appeltans-Vanbrabant (Alken, Belgium) win 1/4,356 Provincial Saint-Witz with 50 per cent Roosen.
– Geert and Clara Philips, 1/14,773 National Bourges with ‘Napan’, who has a few per cent Roosen out of the line ‘327’.
– Leon Jacobs (Tremelo, Belgium) wins 1/14,138 Semi-national Chateauroux with blood of the ‘Computer’ line.
– Jaak Koninx (Zonhoven, Belgium) wins 1/5,646 Provincial Bourges with a 50 per cent Roosen.
– Cyrille Cams (Spalbeek, Belgium) wins 6th National Barcelona 2006 with a pigeon out of the line ‘Interpares’ from Pros Roosen.
– Pedro Lopez (Portugal) wins 1/4,015 Provincial Torre de Moncorvo and 1/4,989 Provincial Loulé with a 75 per cent Roosen.
– Henri and Hans Verschueren (Zingem, Belgium) win 1st National Argenton with a direct Roosen, a grandson of ‘Computer II’, acquired with a coupon. This Roosen pigeon also wins 5/916 Dourdan and 37/13,118 National Bourges.
– Mark Bollen wins with his ‘F16’ (5109123-94) 17 pure first prizes with direct Pros Roosen pigeons.
– Geert Schepers (Zolder, Belgium) wins 1st National Bourges against 12,766 Yearlings with a 50 per cent Roosen.
– Theo Corthouts (Tessenderlo, Belgium). His ‘Limoges’ wins 1/10,291 National Limoges 1993, 2/8,095 Semi-national Argenton 1993 and 3/1,244 Orleans. The ‘Limoges’ is a 50 per cent Pros Roosen out of the line ‘Supercrack’.
– Hugo Vlaminck (Ruppel, Belgium). A grandson of the ‘Hond’ won 35 prizes in 36 races over three successive years… 1st, 2nd and 1st Ace. A 50 per cent Pros Roosen.
– Jos Deno (Leefdaal, Belgium) wins 1/1,253 Provincial Limoges with a 25 per cent Roosen.
– Albert Willems (Eisden, Belgium) wins 1st Semi-national Jarnac with 25 per cent Roosen out of the line ‘Interpares’.
– Robert Vernijns (Kermt, Belgium) wins 1/2,588 Provincial Orleans Yearlings and 1/2,827 Provincial Orleans Old Pigeons with 50 per cent Roosen.
– Robert Vernijns (Kermt, Belgium) wins also 2nd Provincial Ace Middle-distance K.B.D.B. with a 50 per cent Pros Roosen.
– N. and E. Didden (Neeroeteren, Belgium) win 7/11,278 National with a 50 per cent Roosen. This pigeon also wins a 38/23,078 National.
– René Geladi (Stokrooie, Belgium) wins 1st Provincial Orleans (fastest of 19,000 pigeons) with a pigeon out of the line ‘Supercrack’.
– Hugo Bogaerts wins 1/4,98 Provincial Dax and 2/1,063 Provincial Perpignan with a pure Roosen out of the line ‘Fabiola’.
– Jean Vanbrabant (Kuringen, Belgium) wins 1/1,877 Provincial Chateauroux 1994.
– K.H. Schneider (Germany) wins 1/3,379 National and 8/24,947 International Barcelona with a pigeon out of the line ‘Supercrack 327’.
– Fresson-Appeltans (Gors, Belgium) wins 1st Provincial Orleans and a car with a 50 per cent Pros Roosen.
– Mantels and Son (Lummen, Belgium) win 1st Provincial Ace Middle-distance K.B.D.B. with a 50 per cent Pros Roosen (line ‘Computer’).
– Guido Rego wins with his ‘Gentleman’ (line ‘Computer’) 3/9,432 Chateauroux, 3/2,605 Vierzon and 28/7,381 Montlucon.
And so on, and so on …
Quite some evidence that Pros is above all a very talented breeder of top pigeons and … that he enjoys helping others acquire good pigeons too.
amazing nothing like that in australia
I once bought a bird from Pros , when on a pigeon trip the price he was asking was £60 but he said he had a special
one for £120 I jumped in and bought it , the sad part about it I could not get any information about it from him .
The bird was a Blue hen she bred me some really good birds one the “500” topped the Aire & Wharfe Combine
twice with other good wins up to 200 mile I was so mad with Pros I sold the hen & her mate I had no pedigree or
ring card for the hen ! but a man from Ireland bought the hen for £200 saying he knew Pros and was sure he could
get the particulars, this was about 1998/99 years later phoned the man Mr Fox ! he said he had to get rid of all his
birds and had let a relation have have the blue hen his relation was someone called ( Billy Cullane) I may be wrong
wth the name but he was a top man ! it bothers me today about the pedigree. I enjoy your article a. good read.