The pigeons loft accommodation.
When Wal and his wife Dinny were
married they went living in the Bernardstraat in the village
Riel. In the back garden, not bigger than 250 square meters,
Wal did build his first pigeons lofts.
At present the back garden is almost completely build in with
lofts for the widowhood cocks, young birds and the stock pigeons.
Meanwhile a lovely summerhouse gives the chance to chat with
many visitors from all over the world.
The lofts are made of wood while the outside is made of plastic
All have a lean-to roof. On the right hand side of the garden
garden is the racing loft for the widowhood cocks.
It is separated in 4 sections for about 45 to 50 widowers.
Three sections give placeto appr. 30 widowhood cockswho race
on the One-day races of 500 - 700 km.
The fourth section gives place to appr. 15 widowhood cocks,
almost all of them are yearlings. They fly on the short- and
middle distance (100 - 500 km). Some of these yearlings will
also fly the One-day races. On the front side of the racing
| Wal build bow windows
in glass. Thus to catch the sunbeams and lead the warmth
into the loft. Especially in the cold days and nights
in the early spring, the warmth will bring actual profit
and will keep the widowhood cocks in a better condition.
The inside of the racing loft is almost completely closed.
Thus also to keep the warmth indoors.
Lately grates have been placed on the floor of the racing
loft. In the nest boxes also grates have been placed,
while the dung falls trough the grate on a belt.
racing is completely closed. During the racing season the
slides in the ceiling are closed to keep the warmth inside
the loft. The ventilation of the lofts takes place only in
the morning and afternoon, when the widowers are outside for
the training. At that time the windows of the bow windows
are open, so that the fresh air can get in.
the flying season is ended, the windows inside the bow
windows will be removed so the ventilation of the loft
takes place through the bow window.
Even an under-floor heating is installed. It will only
be used to keep the loft dry when there is moist weather
outside.When the widowhood cocks arrive from a cold
and rainy race, Wal will switch on the under-floor heating
for a while. Squared to the widowers loft the loft for
the young birds is build, with a total length of 5 m.
In this loft about 90 youngbirds will be placed in three
In the lean-to roof several glass plates are put in
to bring more light in the loft and also to catch the
warmth of the sunbeams.
Placing lamellas in the windows controls the ventilation.
So the young birds have plenty of fresh air. A wire
gauge can be placed in the door opening when it will
be extreme hot. Especially when the temperature is very
high it is very important to have plenty of fresh air
This loft also gives enough
possibilities for the young birds to make nests in all corners
or behind cardboard. By means of a gap in the wall, which
is on the side of the racing loft of the yearlings, the
young hens can go to the section the yearling cocks, when
their racing season is ended. Then the young hens can mate
with these cocks and Wal can prepare the young hens for
the biggest National youngbirds race, Orleans.
Between the loft of the stock pigeons and the young birds
loft is an aviary in which the stock pigeons or young birds
can stay during the day.
Opposite to the widowers loft is the stock loft. Here live
24 excellent stock pairs and they take care for the most
famous descendants throughout the years.
In the stock loft many sires have an excellent palmares,
were Ace-pigeon or Champion or did win several first prices
throughout the years. The dams did fly excellent as young
bird or did win first prices in the most important races,
such as Orleans, Chateauroux or Bourges.
On the floor of the stock loft also grates have been installed.
The nest boxes are also equipped with a grate and with a
belt to transport the dung.
Beside the stock loft is an aviary where the widowhood hens
stay during the week.
The racing method for the Old pigeons.
The breeding period in Riel starts
All stock- and racing pigeons are mated to their partner.
The yearlings and some of the racing pigeons will hatch the
eggs of the stock pairs and the best racing pigeons.
Then the stock- and the best racing pigeons start breeding
for the second round.
When the chicks are about the age of 16 days, one of them
together with the hens will be moved to the loft of the young
birds. The other one stays with the cock.
This to avoid stress among the cocks.After the chicks are
weaned, the cocks will rest till the 20th of March. As contrasted
to the past, the cocks, which fly on the One-day races, will
raise only one chick again. By a coincidence Wal found that
in this way the cocks would not get under stress as it would
be when they only hatch on eggs for 8 days and became widower
afterwards. The period that they are widower is shorter and
the result was even better afterwards.
Twice a day the cock birds go out for a free training for
one hour. The first training is in the early morning between
7 and 8 o'clock. In the afternoon this training takes place
between 5 and 6 o'clock. Every day the cocks also have the
possibility to take a bath. In the bath there is a little
bit of a disinfectant. It will avoid that the pigeons get
infected through the bath, because some turtledoves also take
the change to go into this bath.
the cocks will be basketing for the first two races,
they get their hen for half an hour. The cocks, especially
the yearlings have to get used to the widowhood system.
After the second race the cocks only receive the nest
bowl in the nest box and after the sixth race they get
neither the nest bowl nor the hen in their nest box.
In the meantime they are used to the widowhood system
and know exactly what is ongoing and they will be in
the basket without any previously motivation.
On the last but one race the
nest bowl will be replaced to motivate the cocks once again.
At the last race of the season he also will get the nest
bowl as well as their hen at noon, so they will be together
for several hours.
This will give the cocks an extra motivation to an excellent
After the race the hens stay
for one or even more hours with their cocks. This being
together depends on the heaviness of the race. When the
cocks arrive late in the afternoon, due to flying the One-day
races (500 to 700 km), they will stay together till next
The cocks will be basketing 10 to 12 times per season. The
yearlings will also fly on the One-day races, only they
will enter these races three times.
The older cocks will enter all the five races in these One-day
The widowhood hens stay in an aviary on the opposite side
of the racing loft. They cannot see the cocks neither the
cock can see them when the daily training's takes place.
When the racing season for the cock birds is ended, they
are mated again and can raise a couple of chicks. After
this they can hatch the eggs for about ten days and can
stay together till the beginning of the month November.
Then they will be separated for about 6 weeks till the new
breeding seasons starts again.
The young birds
The races for the young birds take place from June till
September. To get the best results on the most important
race as Etampes (400 km), Orleans (460 km), Chateauroux
(600 km) and Bourges (520 km) Wal starts the breeding period
early in December.
This to have young birds old enough to mate easier when
the important races will start.
More rounds of young birds will be placed together in the
Also the moulting of the young birds will be postponed. Therefore
Wal starts darkening the young birds loft for about six weeks
long. The darkening starts in the beginning of April till
mid Mai. The loft is darkened from 6 o'clock in the evening
till 8 o'clock in the morning. The young birds only train
once a day from 9 o'clock till 10.30. Before the racing competition
starts the young birds will be trained private on distances
of about 20 km for 6 times. It also happens that the young
birds will be trained private in the middle of the week when
the races have started. The first weeks of he racing competition
the young birds stay together in the complete loft. Several
pairs have been formed during the first period, so they will
also look for each other afterwards. The loft is made cosy,
by creating many dark corners and places to hide.
|The floor is also covered with
a thick package of straw.
After this first period, lasting about 4 weeks, the
cocks and hens will be separated and will be raced on
the "door" system a kind of widowhood.
This means that the door between the compartments of
the cocks and hens will be opened and the young birds
can stay together for about two hours before they will
be basketing for a race. After the race they will stay
together for the rest of the day and will be separated
late in the evening.
|After 7 weeks Wal Zoontjens
tries to get several young hens mated with the yearling widowhood
cocks, so they can start to breed. The best results throughout
the years were made with hens, which were feeding a chick
of about 10 days. In 1994 even the National race Orleans was
won with a hen with a youngbird of this age.
For most of the young cocks, when they are in a good shape
and do not mould, the last race will be National Orleans.
The hens, most of them are hatching or feeding a chick, fly
the other long distances as Chateauroux and Bourges with an
excellent result. Sometimes even two young hens mate and will
raise a chick by their own.
Their motivation is on top and often they are able to win
top prices in the races.
The darkening method, which Wal practises all these years
now, does not give any disadvantages at all. Because after
the last race the young birds have plenty of time to end the
moulding period. When they are mated again in December almost
all of them have finished the mould.
The best young hens, which did fly first or top prices, will
be placed in the stock loft and mated with the best cocks.