Ijsbrand and Tijmen on one of our visits to their loft in 2019.

We talk with the Keiser Grote Fond: Ijsbrand Kaptein

The 61-year-old Akersloot fancier has been a household name in Gran Fondo Marathon pigeon racing for decades. He has won numerous head prices on flights of more than 900 km and has frequently remained at the top of the podium in major national and international competitions on the European circuit. Kaptein is a carpenter by trade and for several years has served the well-known Brügemann family from Assendelft in their cheese market. Ijsbrand began his first steps in pigeon racing when he was 12 years old, thanks to a cousin who had pigeons and introduced him to sports circles. He always kept the loft at its current address, the mother’s house.

Recently, Ijsbrand has the help of his neighbor Tijmen Soeterbroek. Tijmen became interested in pigeons at age 10, when he saw pigeons arriving from some flights. But it was at 16 that he started to really get involved in the sport, and now he shares his passion with Ijsbrand.

1.- Can you give us some details of your facilities, please?

The facilities are simple, but very spacious for the number of pigeons we handle. The main building is the former stable of the family. The upper part consists of 4 departments of 9 meters long and at the bottom it has 2 departments for the reproducers with large aviaries, and an important hole for the baskets, feed and for some carpentry work. On the right side they have a 6 meter long garden loft and at the back of the farm they have another 5 meter long loft for the pigeons. All facilities have a wooden grating, together with a thick layer of sepiolite on the floor that is usually renewed 3 or 4 times a year. The nests and perches are cleaned once or twice a day. The facilities look clean and fresh, well ventilated, and there is good weather for the pigeons. However, differences are clearly perceived between the barn’s barn departments, reminiscent of the old Brügemann brothers’ loft; while the dovecote in the garden is inspired by the installations of Cees van der Laan.

The pigeon loft behind the barn looks like that of my friend Jan Roelofs, with little ventilation. All the departments have similar pigeons and all of them breathe good weather. So what’s the best? …… I don’t know, although I love the pointy cubicle of the barn. People say that this cannot be a loft, but the truth is that pigeons are very comfortable in it. I often jokingly call it … the worst loft in the Netherlands.

2.- Which blood lines have you built your colony?

In 1982 the first steps were taken to long distance flights. I bought the first marathon pigeons from the brothers Gerard and Ario van Zelderen from Aalmeer. An exceptional loft in the 80´s based on Piet Lazeroms origin and had won 5 first national prizes. The strain is developed by putting the best pigeons of the flight team in the breeding loft every year. Since 1987, I have bought pigeons from Wim Muller. These additions reinforced the blood, since the offspring improved. IJsbrand bought 10 youngsters twice from Muller’s best breeders.

Finally, in 1990, I acquired four more late females from Wim Muller. Of these, the best reproductive female of that time came out. She was the dam of two pigeons that won a 2nd national and a 4th national, always paired with a Flip Hoogervorst´s cock (Van der Wegen). Later the Brügemann pigeons would come. That was in 1995. And that turned my spine into my blood.

In 1996 I acquired 20 pigeons from a region mate, Wim Grapendaal. There were two exceptional pigeons. The 740 that won the 8th Barcelona national in 2000, and became a fantastic breeder, mother of the “Barcelona Hen” and grandmother of the 1st Barcelona national for Wim Muller in 2019.

In 2001 arrived to our loft a Brugemann hen, the 190 daughter Ravietta, undoubtedly the  most influenced hen in our loft in the last 15 years. She became the mother of the Ace Narbonne Pigeon, the Marseille Ace Pigeon, Irún-pigeon (first Irún pigeon of North Holland) and the “Barcelona cock” of our golden pair. At her 19’s, she still lives in the pigeon aviary.

The super breeding hen, “Bruggemann 190” at her 19 years old.

More recently, I have introduced some pigeons from my friend, Jan Roelofs from his “Monter koppel”, and from Gerrit Veerman, from the “Betuwe Koppel” line.

2019 ZLU Awards Show, where Ijsbrand and Tijmen were crowned Keiser Groet Fond Champions.

3.- Tell us how you manage the loft between you two.

The players are mated in the month of January, while the flight team brings them together in mid-March. All at once, old and yearlings, to simplify the work. Normally, we divide the work. Ijsbrand takes care of the daily care and matching. We carry out the basketing and training tasks together with the car; and Tijmen takes care of the administration and the work with the computer. Anyway, we share the passion for pigeon racing and help each other when necessary.

4.- What do you look for when introducing a new pigeon in your loft?

The pigeons that we incorporate have to have marathon blood, and above all we prefer those with part of our blood. In this way, acclimatization is faster when breeding.

When we select a pigeon to breed, we do not pay special attention to the theory of the eye. We look for performance in the basket. Only proven travelers enter the breeding loft.

5.-What do you see when your team is in good shape?

We always try to keep the pigeons in good physical condition and that they radiate health, bright eyes, soft and silky plumage. And above all, we are very confident that our flight team descends from pigeons tested in flights of more than 900 km.

6.- What is the training program for the national/international marathon flight team?

The training of our pigeons is very methodical and always the same every day. They fly around the loft at 9 in the morning and remain free for about three hours. Additionally, every week of preparation for the long distance flights, they have 1-2 times private training from 70 or 80 km.

7.- If I am a beginner, what are your suggestions to get off to a good start with pigeons?

My advice for beginners is based on my personal experience. Raise many youngsters and start training them from a very young age by taking them in your trailer and selecting them for at least three years, to incorporate the best ones into the breeding. Ask and listen to some advice from the club members. Buy some cheap voucher from Marathon lofts and try. But the most important thing is to have fun with pigeon racing and enjoy the arrival of the flights. And remember that you will not always be in the lead, do not be sorry. Go ahead and prepare for next week, it can be very different.

It should be noted to honor the truth, that in recent years Ijsbrand has won the National Grote Fond Championship in 2017 and 2019, being 2nd in 2018.

Podium Keiser Grote Fond National in 2019.

Podium Keiser Grote Fond National in 2018.
Podium Keiser Grote Fond National in 2017.