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 laths.
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 loft,
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.
The 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.
When 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 sections.
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 mid-December.
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.
When 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 result.

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 morning.
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 races.
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 youngbird's loft.
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.