Since 1981 in the world of pigeon racing, the Boonen brothers (Johan & Wil) have excelled in many national and international races in Europe, which leads us to be interested in their way of working and breeding. One of the best lofts in the Netherlands that we have been able to access and know first-hand.
So that you also do not miss the smallest detail, the Boonen brothers have agreed to answer a series of questions that we hope you like.
1.- When and why did you choose RACING PIGEONS as your hobby?
Johan and I (Wil) started with racing pigeons when we were young. Johan was 8 years old and I was 18 years old. Johan started in 1981 and I started in 1984. In the beginning we helped our father during the season and lateron we got our own pigeons. From 1985 till 2004 we raced together, ower father Loet, Johan and I. The name on the resutslist was L. Boonen & zonen. In 2005 I went to Buggenum and Johan did the same in 2008. From 2010 until now Johan and I race seperately and we have togeter our breeding loft wich we called Boonen Pigeons.
2.- Can you give us some details about your lofts.
Johan has 3 lofts, one loft for the cocks, one loft for the hens and one loft for the younsters. The system of the cocks is witherhood and the hens are raced natural. The youngster we only sent them a few times till 250 km. This we do that they learn how they behave in the basket. I have for lofts on my area. One loft for windows, one loft for the hens who raced natural, one loft for the youngster with a part for the lesbiennes wich are hens who paired to eachother. And a breeding lloft for about 48 couples.
3.- Which strains or blood are in your pigeons?
The strains we have in our pigeons is Nouwen-Paesen, Peer (B), Ton Vorselen, Thorn (NL), Janssens-Hausoul, Epen (NL), Jos Martens, Stein (NL). From some fanciers we have youngsters from top racers. So “New Janske”, ower 1 National Marseille was a daughter from two youngsters of top racers. Her father was a son of the 66 (De Nachtvlieger) from Jan Stevens who was 1e Ace 2014 in Holland of the ZLU races. He won that year 2e Nat. St.Vincent, 15e Nat. Perpignan and 41e Nat. Pau. The mother of her was a daughter of the 1e Internat. Agen 2014, from K-H Kanski.
4.- When do you couple your breeders and what method is used for make the couples?
We couple our breeders in December. We do that because we have 2 weeks free from work. In that time we can observe ower pigeons and we can see if everything goes well with the couples. From some couples we do inbred to very good breeders. So in 2017 we coupled niece to nephew. Both were grandchildren to Evi from Janssens-Hausoul. In 2019 a cock from that couple wins the 12e Nat. Marseille.
5.- What do you look for when you introduce new blood?
We look for the results of the parents and the grandparents. The race and breeding results should be good. We also look to the fancier. The pigeons you want to test should be fit to you and your system. We don’t clean the lofts every day, so the pigeons have to deal with it. If they are not strong enough they would be eliminated.
6.- How many youngsters do you breed yearly?
In a normal season we will breed about 150 youngsters each, so 300 together. Not only from the breeders, but also from the best racing pigeons.
7.- What is the system you use for racing team?
We prefer to try different parts of all the systems. We play witherhood system with cocks and hens. We also play hens natural and as lesbiennes. The youngsters we only race yhem till 250 km to learn the influence of the basket.
8.- How do you feed your racing team?
In the winter, after the racing season we only give them one’s a day food and water. In the racing season we feed them twice a day. During the season we started with light food. The last 4 meals before basketing from a race for more than 800 km we started to give high energy food. Till 300 km they only got the last 2 – 3 meals with high energy food.
9.- What do you see when you team is in good form?
It is difficult for me to observe the pigeons during the training because I have to prepair my own food and have a lot of things to do. But mostly when they are in a good shape they train very good during more than an hour. I start normaly with the youngsters who are outside the loft during the hole day when I am working. When I got home they go inside. Then I train the lessbiennes for half an hour. After that the widowwers have to train for about one and a half hour. And last but not least the hens who were raced natural have train for at laese one hour. The racing pigeons who don’t have a race in the weekend we take them away for about 80 km.
10.- What is the training programme for the international racing team?
The old birds, older than 2 years start mostly with a race from 200 – 250 km, than 5 – 7 races from 275 – 500 km depending on the weather. The last race before the international race is one week before basketing. Two days before basketing we take themself away for about 80 km.
11.- What do you think about “the eye theory” as breeders selection?
There are no 2 fanciers who think in the same way but everyone had to do what he thinks it would be the best. In mine opinion I don’t believe in the eye theory, because there are very good racing pigeons with a white eye, and there are also good pigeons with a coulered eye. I prefer a coulered eye but it’s onley because I like them the most.
12.- How do you manage your birds during the moulding season?
It is very simple. Once a year we vacinate the pigeons for paramixo and parathyfus. During the week the pigeons got an elixer from different natural products in the water. It is a kind of tea with an acid taste. One week before Barcelona they got for about 4 day an ornithose threatment. And the day of basketing they got a pil for trichomonos
13.- How often do you receive the vet visit?
Normaly we visit the vet once or twice a year. One time during the winter season and about 4 or 5 weeks before Barcelona. If he discoverd a problem we have me enough to claer the problem. And we visit him if we see that ower pigeons are not good. I think that it is the most important that you see by yourself if a pigeon is not good. If you have to wait till you visit the vet it,s mostly to late, and is your season lost, because it’s to short.
14.- What do you think it is the most important to have continue success with pigeons?
It must be that you would improve yourself each time. It’s also important if you have a good season that you breed some youngsters out of your best racers to improve your breedingloft. The race results from your own pigeons are very important for continuing good results in the future. We always crossover best racers to eachother and put the youngsters in over breedingloft. Last year we made the choise to put again a few youngsters out of over best racers in the breeding loft. But the most important thing is to stay normal. Don’t think that you know everything the best. There will be a time that the success will be less and then you have to do the utmost to come back again.
15.- If I am a beginner what are your suggestions to have a good start with pigeons?
In the first place if you are a beginner it’s important to learn something about pigeons. Don’t spent a lot of money to buy good pigeons. It’s more important that you can keep your pigeons healthy. Go to a fancier in your area who is a man who wants to help you. He can visit you and give suggestions about the building of your loft. Johan and I helped several young fanciers who just began with pigeons. In the beginning I gave them about 10 youngsters to start with at the end of the season. When everything was right he got also from the better pigeons all for free. I hope that these young fanciers would keep the pigeon racing sport alive.
Wil & Johan Boonen
|Successes in the last 5 years|
|2019||1º National||Marseille||2.734 pal.|
|3º National||Marseille||2.734 pal.|
|12º National||Marseille||2.734 pal.|
|24º National||Barcelona||4.129 pal.|
|30º National||Marseille||2.734 pal.|
|44º National||Narbonne||3.829 pal.|
|46º National||Marseille||2.734 pal.|
|2018||5º National||Marseille||2.750 pal.|
|23º National||Marseille||2.750 pal.|
|44º National||Marseille||2.750 pal.|
|2017||10º National||Perpignan||4.789 pal.|
|12º National||Narbonne||4.566 pal.|
|27º National||Barcelona||4.504 pal.|
|2016||6º National||Barcelona||5.239 pal.|
|50º National||Narbonne||5.042 pal.|
|2015||18º National||Marseille||3.610 pal.|
|44º National||Narbonne||5.338 pal.|
|2014||23º National||Agen (O)||5.910 pal.|
|37º National||Agen YL||4.379 pal.|