Batenburg van de Merwe Klaaswaal,
With their "Miquel", score 6th National and 13th International from Barcelona, despite a south-western storm.
It is Saturday morning july 7th when many look into the sky, searching for the late arrivals from Tarbes or the first arrivals from Barcelona. This was the same with combination Batenburg van de Merwe from Klaaswaal, in South Holland province. Because the previous day and night there had been a strong south-western storm, really early arrivals from pigeons on the western side weren't expected. Despite the weather being a negative influence, friend and housemate Ad Fortuin (earliest clocked pigeon National St. Vincent 2007) who arrived at the combination early. When several latecomers from Tabes arrive, suddenly another pigeon can be seen in the distance, coming towards the house. Once above the loft it makes a few circles, where Hugo humorously remarked that it may be one from Barcelona. As the pigeons who raced Tarbes were staying in the left-sided loft, Hugo was perplexed to see the new pigeon land on the right loft. It was true, it was one from Barcelona. As the arrival times were monitored very carefully, it was clear this pigeon had to be a very early arrival.
To introduce them seems almost unnecessary. Several hundreds of meters from Hugo's parents house is the place where this combination has manages to start an incredible pigeon empire. Several years earlier, father and son Batenburg stop playing together as a combination, but Hugo decided to continue a short distance away together with Anita, with a new loft on the Boomdijk street. This cooperation turned out to be very effective, because in a really short time they were able to get impressive results very quickly. Where initially they played all the pigeon races that were available, they decided to play exclusively on the extra long distance races from the year 2004 and onwards.
A look into the past
On this impressive loft on the Boomdijk, many memorable results have been achieved. There is no room here to mention all of them, but if we just look at the last two years, the following list can be presented:
Narbonne 2.992 pigeons 13, 20, 77, 78, 79, 85, 90 etc.
Perpignan 6.299 pigeons 25, 41, 46, 83 etc.
Perpignan 4.719 pigeons 25, 33, 84, 88, 111, 146 etc.
Narbonne 2.563 pigeons 30, 39, 69, 108 etc.
Just in the year 2006 the combination scored great results like 9th nat. Bordeaux, 12th nat. Bordeaux, 21st internat Bordeaux, 25th nat. Perpigan, 30th nat. Narbonne, 33rd nat. Perpignan, 36th nat. Mont de Marsan, 39th nat. Narbonne, 39th nat. Bergerac, 42nd, nat. Carcassonne. Verder nog een, 53rd, 59th, 65th, 69th, 74th, 75th, 80th, 81st, 81st, 85th en 87th. So all in all, their name has been mentioned 21 times among the first 100.
But their pigeons do not only score on the Boomdijk. On other lofts, many fanciers have done very well with using Batenburg-pigeons. Because this is a long list, I will merely focus on the National and International winners that carry the Batenburg blood.
1st International Pau 7.867 pigeons Piere Verove Frankrijk
1st National Mont de Marsan 7.245 pigeons Ad Fortuin Strijen
1st National Bergerac 28.402 pigeons J. van 't Land Naarden
1st National Montauban 7.281 pigeons G.J. van Kooten Krimpen a/d IJssel
1st National Bergerac 9.354 pigeons Aad van Berkel Rotterdam
1st National Barcelona 7.875 pigeons Vrösch-Meijers Heerlen (also 1st Int. Nat.)
1st National Barcelona 1.933 pigeons Robert Ben Calais, France
1st International Pau Hens 1.544 pigeons Delrue Pere & Fils, Framce
1st International Perpignan 20.859 pigeons Menne & daughters Hamminkeln, Germany
1st International Barcelona Hens Felix Roosendaal Piershil
1st National Bergerac 16.828 pigeons C v.d. Linden Krimpen a/d IJssel
1st National Dax 12.797 pigeons Felix Roosendaal Piershil
1st National Dax 3.662 pigeons J.H. den Haan Strijen
1st National St. Vincent 6.385 pigeons W. Schouten Strijen
1st National St. Vincent Sector 1 16.057 pigeons Louis Boden Heerle
1st National and fastest pigeon 32.149 pigeons Jan Polder Middelharnis
But the following As-pigeons also carry the rich Batenburg blood,
1st International As-pigeon Pau 1998 - 2002 Jan Polder Middelharnis
1st National As-pigeon Long Distance 2001 G.J. van Kooten Krimpen a/d IJssel
1st National As-pigeon Long Distance 2003 Aad van Berkel Rotterdam.
NL 04-1993069 "Miquel".
Back to the pigeon that it is all about, the "Miquel" who was clocked at 06:51 in the morning. From the 24 pigeons that were basketed for the race, he was 17th nominated. The other pigeons had the following arrival times: 10:45, 11:10, 11:14, 12:18, 12:22, 13:09, 13:35, 13:48 and 14:27. The reason that "Miquel" was not nominated higher despite his good pedigree was because he was not part of the "real" favorites for Barcelona. As yearling he didn't win a prize and as 2-year old he got 254th Bordeaux 7.409 pigeons and 307th Perpignan against 4.719 pigeons.
The second arrival that scored 76th place was one of the favorites. "Dochter Guus", now the second most important pigeon in the loft, last year scored 42nd Nat. Carcassonne and 87th Nat. Pau against 3.167 pigeons and 2.413 pigeons.
The preparations for all the racing pigeons started with separating them around Christmas time 2006. From the end of February they were let out of the lofts to help them stretch their wings a bit. On april 1st the flyers were coupled and after that first breeding period the cocks and hens were separated and played on the widowhood system. Depending on the season, there is coupling with specific flights in mind. This way, "Miquel" was sitting on a young of about 4 days when he was basketed and achieved his heroic result.
Many will be just as curious as I am about the way the pigeons are cared for, and everything else that goes along with this. As an outsider who is observing these fanciers, I can say that nothing, absolutely nothing, is left to chance. No, I can safely say that this is a good example of top sport, and to practice top sport on the highest level, sacrifices need to be made. Anita and particularly Hugo certainly make them, especially during the season. But for me, the most important thing is that everything is done with a lot of professionalism. Of course there is a lot of that with all the medical things. A treatment against trichomonis using Ronidasol during the first breeding period, and otherwise on recommendation and advice from the specialized pigeon medics. This way, Hugo has frequent contact with people like Jan van Wanrooy, Henk de Weerd or Piet Blancke (from Belgium). Hugo met Piet Blancke during one of his many trips to China, and they became best of friends. No, they are not messing around with pots, pills and powders. Thanks to the results that are achieved, others might think otherwise, but time and again it is proven that the best suited pigeons, used correctly, that are healthy and are motivated are all the reasons Hugo and Anita do so well. While enjoying a cup of coffee, I repeatedly hear that you make less mistakes when you keep everything as simple as possible. I noticed that the lofts are not very full and have a lot of space for the averies. But that Hugo does not notice everything, is clear from the following.
Not seeing everything
It was a time just before the season started, the pigeons were doing fine and flew very nicely. Just to be sure, they took several pigeons to De Weerd. They all were diagnosed as being fine, when Piet Blancke came over several weeks later he took 6 pigeons with him to check out in Belgium. Five were fine, but one was diagnosed with a bit of trichomonis. So it was treated and then sent to Jan van Wanrooy for further investigation together with 24 others. One after the other turned out to be allright and they could start the season perfectly fine.
To my question about using a constant schedule, Hugo admitted he never really puts a lot of work into that. So there is no tight schedule in use. And since the pigeons are better looking than the breeders, while these have to do nothing, their health is obviously not the issue. This is the reason why Hugo leaves the bottles of medicine alone.
About the care
Batenburg van de Merwe plays with more than 100 couples older pigeons, including the yearlings. Before the real work starts, the pigeons are trained in the early season to fly double widowhood. Then they are coupled for a certain breeding position for the long distance races. These nesting positions are different for each pigeon and can vary from a week of breeding, to a youngster that is a week old, and everything in between. There is no real difference in what gender wins the most early prizes. Hugo says that according to him, quality and health are more important than nesting position. When the races that count the most have started, the pigeons won't be taken along anymore in between these races. They are regularly trained instead, just like on the morning of my visit. All the pigeons are released for training.
Regarding the feeding, Hugo can be short. Multiple times feeding in such a way that there will be some feed left on the lofts in between.
Complements about Tarbes
With this champion I also discuss the subject of overnight races. He mentions, while sitting comfortably in his couch, that with the release of Tarbes as evidence it is clear that releasing pigeons in the early morning when there is a strong wind in the back is the best. He wins about the 18th prize from Tarbes, while 9 are shorter distances from him, and 9 are further away. Friend and observer during Barcelona, Ad Fortuin, clocked from St. Vincent a little before 3 o' clock in the morning. The result; not even a top ten position. If Tarbes had used a midday release, it would have become an even bigger joke than St. Vincent is right now.
It had not been long since my last visit to the Boomdijk in Klaaswaal. With the ambition and drive of Hugo in mind I know it will not be my last one. I hope I will revisit him for an even better achievement, because as Hugo says, this one is the most beautiful that ever happened on the Boomdijk.