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Jan and Kees Bleeker –
Top in the Netherlands
by Stefan Mertens
Pancras is a small village of 5,000 people near the city of Alkmaar in
northern Holland. It is also the home of the Bleeker family, one of the
top lofts in the Netherlands on the short- and middle-distance races.
The Bleekers’ results are especially impressive when you consider the
size of their loft—only 20 widowers, 8 stock pairs, and 40 youngsters!
started with pigeons at an early age, with his first birds coming from
one or two friends who were local fanciers. He married in 1965 and, like
many more before him, he disposed of all his birds. However, a move to
Heerhugowaard in 1972 saw a comeback for Jan, with his first pigeons being
obtained from his brother Klaas. Those birds were of the early Janssen
line Bange 59. Around that time Klaas was one of the top fanciers in his
Combine. Right from the outset, Jan was among the top fanciers in his
local club of 35 members. One of his cocks (1458117/72) was the "star"
of the club, because he won eight firsts and later became one of the super
breeders of the Bleeker loft.
In 1976, Jan obtained a pure Van Loon hen, again a winner of three first prizes.
In 1986 Kees, Jan’s son, obtained a young Van Loon cock, and a year later this cock became of the father of the absolute number one stock cock, namely "De Romario" (1836982/87). In 1988 the Bleekers moved to Sint Pancras, and once again Klaas provided the pigeons with which to begin again, some ten pairs and a few late hatches. In 1989, in the first race from Roosendaaal (80 miles), "Romario" won first prize. But that was not all. In the following four races, he won three first prizes, performances which contributed to being selected as the 8th best bird for short distance in Holland. That same year a son of "Romario" won Pont St. Maxence (255 miles) against 2513 pigeons, and he was also second provincial against more than 16,000 birds. In two seasons, "Romario" won seven first prizes, with the following top results: 1st Arras of 9406 birds, 1st Duffel of 3604 birds, 2nd Aalst of 3271 birds, and 2nd Doornik of 3062 birds. Later he was transferred to the stock loft and became father and grandfather of more than 30 different first prize winners. His hen was a granddaughter of the "1458117/72" mentioned earlier.
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One daughter of "Romario"—"De Etampes duivin" (2288118/90)—won twice from Etampes and then went on to become an outstanding breeder. At the present time, she is forming one of the top stock couples together with "De Goede 86". In 1996 the three best Ace-pigeons in the Combine of 500 members were three sons from this pairing.
"De Rappe" (1206959/94). As a yearling he won 1st Roye against 8802 birds and 1st Chantilly against 4696 birds and was also the best in the provincial. In 1996 he was judged as sixth best ace pigeon for the short distances for Holland. He won a 1st Kapellen against 2007 birds and a 1st Strombeek against 1704 birds.
"De Super 15" (5562315/95). In 1996, he was 8th best Ace-pigeon of Holland as well as winning 1st Middle Distance and 2nd Ace-pigeon in his club. In only two seasons he won 1st Peronne against 8798 birds, 1st Chantilly against 849 birds, 2nd Kapellen against 2207 birds, 2nd Chantilly against 1019 birds, and 3rd Roye against 1533 birds.
"De Rakker" (2472181/93). He was the best yearling in the club, and then in 1996 he was the best short-distance pigeon as well as the 1st Ace-pigeon of the Combine. He also won 1st St. Ghislain against 1750 birds.
And that was not all! Other pigeons from this couple are top birds. For example, the "Mustang" (2472159/93) won four 1st prizes and was also the best short-distance bird in the club for the 1994 and 1995 seasons. A son of the "Mustang" won four 1st prizes, always against many pigeons.
But let’s go back to the breeding capacities of the "Romario." If we take a closer look at the breeding impact of this bird, only one word fits—unbelievable. At this time, "Romario" is the grandfather of:
"De Prins" (2472153/93) was the second best pigeon for Long Distance in 1995. He won 3rd Bourges against 928 birds, 3rd La Ferte Bernard against 1156 pigeons, and 8th Etampes against 1778 birds.
"959/94" won 1st Kapellen against 2007 pigeons and 1st Strombeek against 1704 pigeons.
"Super 15" won 1st Peronne against 8798 pigeons and 1st Chantilly against 849 pigeons.
"Super 22" won 1st Kapellen against 3236 pigeons and 1st Strombeek against 2504 pigeons.
"022/97" won 1st Houdeng against 1490 pigeons, 1st Chantilly against 880 pigeons, and 1st Peronne against 841 pigeons.
"163/93" won 1st Roye against 1506 pigeons, and 2nd Kapellen against 3845 pigeons.
"621/96" won 1st Kapellen against 2016 pigeons.
So today we can say that in 90 percent of all Bleeker pigeons, the blood of "Romario" is present. Only a few time have Jan and his son Kees looked for new blood to introduce to the loft. When they did, they looked to a clubmate named Co Van Gullik from ‘T Waarland. From Co, Jan and Kees bought two sisters from "DeWitkop," a cock who won 21 prizes in the first ten percent of the race results, always on the short- and middle-distance races. Co has a fantastic Janssen strain. A quick look at the pedigrees of those two hens shows that they come from that famous breeding paif of J. C. De Zwart. We are talking about the "400" from Christ Van De Pol (Goirle) and "Koppel 17" from Marien-Pieterse.
A second outcross came from Piet and Jaap Van Exter (Bergen). These fanciers had a son of the legendary "400" from Christ Van De Pol (Goirle), and our Bleeker friends bought two sons from that cock.
As we can see, Jan and Kees built their strain up with pigeons from "little fanciers" (based on the number of pigeons they have in their lofts) but with big results, mainly on the middle distance.
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De Super 15
As mention earlier in this report, the Bleekers have only 60 birds during the winter period, stockbirds included. The second week-end of February, all the pigeons are coupled. The first eggs of the stockbirds go under the yearlings. By doing this, the stockbirds can quickly start the second round. That round they have to raise themselves.
When the widowers are sitting the first round of eggs, they are ready to make their first tosses. Normally they do three tosses of 25 kilometers, and then they are prepared to be basketed in the club for a race. So the first race takes place with big youngsters in the nest, and when the birds come home from that first race, the youngsters are separated and the cocks are placed on widowhood.
During the week, the widowers train twice a day. When they come into the loft, they can eat as much as they want from a racing mixture for ten minutes. After those ten minutes the food is removed. Only on the day of the basketing do they get food for the whole day.
Every day, they get a little fresh grit with redstone, and a pickstone is always in the loft. The last day before basketing, the widowers receive a supplement of Versele-Laga "Sneaky Mixture." This race mixture is very rich in small seeds which contain a lot of fat. Fat is fuel for the pigeons during the race.
The lofts are cleaned twice a day, so that when you visit our Dutch friends unexpectedly, you will always see very clean lofts.
Medically, a sound routine is followed. Every three weeks the pigeons are treated against canker. They are vaccinated every year for PMV, and against pigeon pox only when they are youngsters.
Speaking of youngsters, the young bird season is not so important for the Bleeker team. They pull the nice young cocks after only three or four races, to preserve their energy for the old bird race series which is most important to the Bleekers.
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