Piet de Jong and Son
That the old ‘Steenbergen breed' can certainly keep up with other pigeon breeds was proven in 2007 by the pigeons of Piet and his father Geert de Jong from De Heen. Their pigeons are well-known for achieving the best results in true pigeonweather, the harsher the better. But that wasn't the case at all, last season.
In 1965, Geert de Jong moves to the Dorpsweg in De Heen where he starts with the pigeon sport. In 1969, Piet is born. From age 4 he spends time in the pigeonloft. "He was already able to see when a pigeon that wasn't ours was in our loft." Mother Joke proudly says.
The foundation of the De Jong colony has been laid halfway through the 60's. Father Geert has filled his loft at that time with the ‘Steenbergse' strain. We let him do the talking: "It all started with the ‘Oude Donkere' (NL65-567340), a brilliant breeder and cross breeding product from Antoon Schouteren x Tinus van de Meer. A big impact was also made by ‘Modjo'. This full blooded Aardencock from Frans Geertse from Steenbergen was a son of his basic pair, that was seventeen years old at the time. Especially hens from Tinus van de Meer produced great race- and breeding pigeons together with the ‘Modjo', like ‘De Barcelona' (NL78-7866514) who scored 21st, 29th and 185th National Barcelona. Another succesfull breeder with Aarden blood was the ‘Kaai Doffer', which came from Antoon Schoffelen from Steenbergen. That pigeon fathered among others "De 21", that won 46th and 133rd National Pau and 15 National long distance prizes in total."
With these success stories from Steenbergse origin, a solid foundation is made that offers many successes on all program races that are participated in until 1975. But Geert, now assisted by his son Piet, realized early on that he could not always depend on his old strain. Especially not since he completely switched to long distance races with pigeons that had been selected for short distances for years. "We later traded pigeons with Peet Korst from oude Molen and this turned out to be a great decision. The mother of their 1st National Pau 1986 came from that loft which was built up from pigeons of the legendary Belgian grand masters Delbar and Desmet."
Van der Wegen
The big breakthrough for the family De Jong was halfway throughout the 80's when pigeons from Van der Wegen were introduced. "We quickly scored victories with these pigeons. For example, the winner from National Perpignan 2003 is from a straight Van der Wegen and these days we still get pigeons from Antoon and Lucie."
With Kees de Baat, also coming from Steenberhen, ‘Dochter Super 63' (NL96-2476151) was bought. She's the mother of the 1st national Perpignan and many other great performers.
The men from De Heen do not really have a focused breeding system, they say. ‘Good combined with good' gives the most chance of success, they reply. But if we ask a little further, it quickly becomes clear that breeding a good pigeon is not that simple. Geert: "It comes down to us placing two inbred colonies with each other, or in other words two inbred strains. This is because we try and stick as close as possible to the old Steenbergse strain. If you place two inbred strains with each other, the pigeons become faster, that is proven. In the past we tried introducing some fast Janssenpigeons. It was a relative success, since our 1st national Pau of 1986 is part Janssen, but the problem with those was that they only performed in good weather. When conditions weren't perfect we would lose too many pigeons, and this wasn't the plan of course."
The combination has a big loft-construction in an U-shape. From the greenhouse we can look into the loft. To the left are lofts for about a hundred young pigeons and the widow-hens. These face north. Facing east is the loft for twenty breeding couples and several young pigeons. The loft for the single cocks, of which we will talk more later, is also here. Finally, facing south is the loft with 24 two-year olds and 63 old widowers.
Single cocks and hens are ‘hot items' in the pigeonsport lately. But father and son De Jong have had these for years already. They are yealing cocks that are placed in young bird boxes, just like the young pigeons. Piet: "It really was just a practical solution. Because we did not have to place breeding lofts we had more room for extra yearlings. They will never see a hen, we specifically do not want to motivate them. ‘Ripe early, rotten early', my father always says. The paters will race the regular program with Bergerac or Bordeaux as the final one. It used to be that yearlings would race Bordeaux ZLU now and again, but for a lot of pigeons it turned out to be too hard. Plus we never had a long use out of the yearlings that were the top racers there."
The older cocks race the widowhood system. In the past an attempt has been made to play the hens on widowhood but their kind was not suited for it. The two year olds are brought to a midday release, in early june, and normally fly ZLU-Bordeaux and Narbonne. The combination thinks that a heavy race isn't good for the two year olds. The older pigeons are more suited to the heavier things. Two heavy ZLU-races and a few pigeons are kept for the National midday releases.
Near the end of November the pigeons are checked and treated for Salmonella. During the holiday period in February they also get the compulsory treatment for Paramyxo.
Geert and Piet de Jong provide beer-yeast with garlic-oil and vitamineral throughout the year. There isn't a lot of treating against trichomonis, maybe twice or three times a year. Besides that, only a few days are used for treatment, and the products are changed to prevent immunities. Treatments against ornithosis is a definite bad thing, the combination thinks.
ZLU is more beautiful
"We like the race on the ZLU-flights most of all," son Piet says. "We have no issues with a midday-release, but these last few years the overnight-flyers are getting more attention and we aren't planning on waiting for our pigeons in the middle of the night. And the mix is much better looking on the International flights anyway. We play National in Sector 1 and then this just isn't the right place to be, since the mass mostly decides the direction the pigeons take, even on 1000 kilometers. Maybe this will change at some point in the future by introducing more truly National releases, in the past we always picked a few pigeons for those National flights because we like to play in the National marathon."
Father Piet adds: "We will never race out best ZLU-pigeons on a short midday-release like Bergerac or Bordeaux. The chance is just too big that they will continue on during the night, with many negative consequences. There are people who claim pigeons won't get into accidents during the night, but that is nonsense. In the early 80's I had a very strong and solid Barcelona-team that scored 100% prizes for several years in a row on the ‘queen's flight'. I raced them on Bergerac once, and I ended up losing my best two pigeons!"
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