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  News > Theo Janssens and Gerarda Boen

National Champion
Great Middle Distance

by Stefan Mertens


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  for larger version

Theo Janssens
and Gerarda Boen

The loft of the
widowers and

Sputnik of


hens' loft

Racing hens

Mol: Fanciers who follow the Belgian pigeon sport a little bit know that a few years ago the national organization, the K.B.D.B., made a differentiation between small middle distance and great middle distance. The national championship termed great middle distance can be won with the best five results with 1st and 2nd nominated old birds on races between 350km and 600km. This championship is only for old birds, and the total length of the five races has to be a minimum of 2,000 kilometers. The period during which this championship can be won is between the middle of May until the middle of August. There has to be minimum of 150 participating birds and 20 participating fanciers per race. In the weekend of the Bourges national II, only this race counts.

The winner of this championship was the husband-wife team of Theo Janssens and Gerarda Boen from Mol.

Janssens-Mol had a coefficient of 38.09%. Second was Paul Becker from Budingen (coefficient of 42.03%), and third position was for Maurice and Yvan Vandersmissen from Rummen (coefficient 52.77%). Regular readers of my reports on SiegelPigeons.com will remember that for this championship, among others, fanciers did not have enough opportunities to create a low coefficient due to ending the races from France, caused by the bird flu.


Theo has reach the age of 66 years, and of course for some years he hasn't worked anymore. Theo started racing pigeons as a young guy. The national champion explains by saying, "I started with pigeons because my brother stopped." Theo continues--"First he asked my father if he was interested but my father said no. My father had a very busy job as a farmer and he had no time to race pigeons. The second option was to ask me, and there my brother was more successful. Even more, I was very happy, and I started with the birds from my brother with a lot of enthusiasm."
Theo explains, "Most of these birds came from a fancier named Jean Smaars (Mol). My brother worked for Jean, so the link is quickly made. The birds from Smaars had a lot of long- distance pigeons in their pedigree. But in spite of this, I raced them weekly on the short distance, namely Quievrain, and I can assure you that I did this with a lot of success. It is with a lot of joy that I think back on my two top birds, 'De Koekoek' and 'Kleine Blauwe.' Not only on the racing loft but later on in the beeding loft they performed extremely well. Nowadays I still find the names of these two birds back in the pedigree of some top birds."

"My first pigeon career stopped suddenly," Theo says, "when I started to work. This was at the same time that my father stopped as a farmer, and we had to move to another house, which brought my hobby to an end. My four best pigeons went to my brother-in-law. But the pigeon sport didn't disappear from my life for very long. My girlfriend and later on my wife, Gerarda Boen, was a daughter of a famous short-distance racer named Frans Boen, and without knowing I was again fascinated by this nice hobby. In 1963 I married Gerarda and a few weeks later our first round of young birds was sitting in a home-made pigeon loft. I again collected my old base from my brother-in-law and crossed this line with pigeons from my father-in-law. This made me a champion again."

Theo explains, "One of the base couples was without any doubt 'Goede Blauwe' X 'Late Duivin.' Out of this couple came a base cock. That base cock coupled with a hen of Lievens Brothers (Geel) put a lot of super fast short-distance pigeons into the world. But just because you have a superb breeding couple does not mean that you don't have to invest anymore. In 1986 I collected two hens from Hooyberghs Brothers of Mol. I was very successful with those new birds and three years later I bought 21 more pigeons from the Hooybreghs Brothers."


Human contact

Pigeon bath

In the youngbird

"In this last deal," Theo continues, "there were two super pigeons, namely the '6611031/89' and the '6611026/89.' The '031/99' was a pure Louis Van Loon pigeon and won 5 x 1st and 2 x 2nd. The '026/89' was a cross of Van Loon X Verstappen and won 2 x 1st and 5 x 2nd. In 1990 I bought three pigeons from Flor Engels (Putte). There was one superb breeder among them. At this moment there are still three sons of this Engels bird in my breeding loft and several grand-children can show impressive race records. In 1991 there was an auction of summer birds from Verberck-Van Hove from Berlaar, and when the auction was finished I went home with one hen. That hen was coupled with a cock from Cyriel Vandereycken from Vorselaar and it was bingo again. Certainly their son 'De Lichte 436' gave a lot of good youngsters."

Nowadays it is certainly the line of the 'Goede Jaarling' (6543341/95) which is very successful. He was bred out of '317/92' (old strain Smaars) X '829/03' (daughter Crack 031/89). As already mentioned, I like to invest in some new blood and along with the above mentioned names I'm also successful with pigeons from Willy Vangeel (Hulshout), Geert Strijker (Midwolda - The Netherlands), Gommaar Van Opstal, Marcel de Feyter (Schilde), Eddy Vos (Mol), Binnemans-Vandeweyer (Geel), Louis Van Loon (Poppel), Frans Berghmans (Mol) and Louis Heylen (Olen)."

"Don't think that my breeding loft is a mix of different strains," Theo insists. "No, I know perfectly well what I'm doing. The new pigeons are always selected very hard, and little by little they are brought into my base line. Listen, somebody who thinks that the quality of his birds cannot be increased is thinking wrong. If you don't invest in new pigeons then you're making, without knowing it, a step backwards. Be careful, though. Not every investment is 'bingo' and therefore it is important to invest every year!"


For the 2008 racing season our national champion had 45 widowers and 12 hens ready on widowhood. Theo describes his love of the racing season this way: "I love to basket for races between 100km and 700km, so it is logical that I need a big team. Within those 45 widowers I certainly have 30 year birds.

"At the beginning of March, everything is coupled," Theo continues, "and after a few days brooding they're on widowhood. Concerning the preparation of the widowers for the racing season, I have already tried a lot of systems but none of them could be classified as very special, so I just follow one of them. Of course the system plays a very important role but it is still the birds who have to perform! The quality of those is more important than a system."

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Youngbirds on

In front of the
racing loft

Second round

During the racing season at the Janssens-Boen lofts, the old cocks and hens are closed up in their box and the windows of the lofts are closed with curtains. The widowers come, with the exception of their training hours, only a half hour per day free on the loft. Just time enough to drink and to eat. In their box they have a little pot to drink from. "But be careful," Theo cautions, "widowers need to be used to the fact that they're closed up. If they're not used to that, they're very nervous and that is not good. During the winter time I already close up the widowers in their box so that they know this system. I act as follows. When the new year birds come into the loft I close up the old cocks. The year birds then have time to take an empty box. Once they have chosen a box the year birds are closed up in their box during the night, and the old cocks come free on the loft. This way they have time to get to know each other."

"The racing season for the widowers ends at the middle of August," Theo explains. "After the season the widowers, who survived the selection, may brood for a couple of days. Very important is to create a close bond with the pigeons. I like that pigeons start to fight when you come close to their box. When a cock starts to fight I reward him with a peanut. Once they know this, they start to fight more because they're really crazy about those peanuts! Feeding pigeons is an art. I am more than convinced of that statement. Pigeons need fiber, and therefore I like to feed barley. I have a little pot and that pot is the portion for 18 pigeons. Never, and then I mean never, are the pigeons fed more. Only the composition of the feed mix is different. The base mixture continues to be a mixture with barley and some Super Diet. When basketting day comes close, I feed a racing mixture. The art of this is to ensure that the pigeons keep on eating till basketting day."

Theo continues: "When the pigeons arrive they receive electrolytes. I give either Recup-Lyt from Colombine or Fortalyt from Oropharma. The pigeons are twice a week dropped, with the blue Forma Drops from Oropharma. On Tuesday and Wednesday I mix Colombine Form-Oil on the mixture, and I dry everything with Colombine Brewer's yeast. On basketting day the mixture is enriched with Zell Oygen (Herbots) and Optimix (Herbots). If the pigeons are not sitting 'fresh' and the weather will be sultry then I give a tablet for trichomoniasis, namely Tricho Cure. This is something which I learned from my vet."

Top bird in
top condition

Feed corn


"Concerning our system," Theo elaborates, "I must also say that my wife has her own recipe to keep pigeons healthy. Look, here it is. She uses a bottle with two liters of water in which she has had five cloves of garlic soaking for a long time. From this, we mix one liter of 'garlic water' with five liters of ordinary water. I can assure you, from the smell, I can tell you that it's very healthful for the birds!"


"Some years ago," Theo recalls, "I saw that some fanciers were very successful with hens raced on widowhood, and therefore I decided to try out this system. Well, I'm happy that I have tried this because the hens are as good as the cocks. Also in 2007 I have to say 'thank you' to the hen system because from the needed 10 points, eight were won by a hen. The 12 race hens could breed a couple of youngsters during the month of January and were not coupled any more, so they were immediately on widowhood. Just like the widowers, the hens are also closed up during the day in their box. They train twice a day. In the beginning of the season, they train with the flag but once they know that they must train hard, I can put the flag away. Every week they're basketted for a 500km race, and pigeons who work out such a program don't need to train very hard during the week. The hens are raced on widowhood until the middle of June, and then they're coupled and raced on nest position for the Bourges national at the end of July. The fact that the hens are in nest position at the end of the season can be very motivating because this is the way that I won not only the 1st provincial Bourges last season against 1,348 birds but also the fastest one against 7,737 birds."

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Grit for a treat


Theo explains, "Every year I breed about 100 youngsters for my own use. As I already said, I prefer to race with old- and year birds, but of course the game with the youngsters is also important. My second round is weaned in a kind of open loft, and I must say that this loft is my best loft. A lot of oxygen is so important to keep the youngsters healthy. The youngsters of the first round are darkened, and after they have flown two short-distance races they're raced following the open door system. I have a group that is basketted weekly on the short distance and another group that is basketted weekly on the middle distance."


"Thanks to a good friend," Theo says, "I sent in my results for the national championship. Personally, I found my coefficient too high but as we have already mentioned, in a 'strange' season you never know, and later on that seemed to be the right decision."

The combination Janssens-Boen had the following results :

# of birds
1st nominated
2nd nominated


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