Sixty two year old Nico had racing pigeons as a child. He was introduced to the sport by some of the employees of his father's construction firm.
In 1966 he had to go to school in Utrecht which brought an end to his pigeon hobby. In 1987 a wounded racing pigeon landed in the Schaik family garden. Nico and his sons took the pigeon to Willem Takke, who at that time was the president of the P.V. De Klepper in Breukelen.
As a result Nico thought that perhaps his sons, of which the oldest at that time was 10 would like to keep a few racing pigeons.
They obtained 6 youngster from Willem Takke.
In 1989 they began flying under the name of van Schaik Brothers.
With a youngster out of these pigeons, the "15", they took part in an overnight long distance race from St. Vincent. Nico can still see the pigeon coming home. It was around six in the evening. He is not 100% sure but thinks the "15" had won a prize. He still has a picture of the "15" hanging above his desk.
Because of Nico's passion for the pigeons he continued with the sport even after several years the Schaik brothers lost interest in the birds.
He is still a member of the earlier mentioned club in Breukelen and he specializes at the middle distance and one day distance (dagfond) races.
In 2010 Nico and his pigeon friend Jan Manten began racing together. Since that time the quality of the race performances has definitely been on the upswing.
Jan is 65 years old and has been involved in the pigeon sport since his youth (he began with his father).
Nico and Jan have known each other since childhood. Jan had to stop with the pigeon sport when he moved from his detached single family home to an apartment in Breukelen. It was about that time that Nico and Jan began flying together.
Jan flew the vitesse/middle distance races when he raced on his own. He had no interest in championships, he was only interested in winning races. For example: in 2009 he flew 16 races and had 12 first prizes in the P.V. de Klepper club in Breukelen and 5 first prizes in Area CCG8 of Section 7.
Several of Jan's pigeons went to the Fanger Bros. in Badhoevedorp, including the top pair, cock 01-1653689 with his hen 01-1535332. These are Vandenabeele and out of this pair and their offspring national winners have been bred.
Usually Jan looks after the pigeons in the morning and Nico looks after them in the evening.
Information and observations are shared. Ideas, evaluations of the birds quality, condition and chances of a top performance on each weeks race are discussed daily.
Sometimes they leave each other memos letting the other partner know what to watch for, what has been done or still needs to be done.
Often they talk to or call each other in the morning to discuss how they are going to approach the pigeon day.
Nico has two breeding lofts: one loft for five pairs and another one for eleven pairs.
There are also two racing lofts: one for the widowers and one for the race hens. He also has a young bird loft, which has room for 60 or so youngsters, another loft for "reserve" cocks and summer youngsters and finally an aviary for "reserve" hens. Each loft has an aviary attached. The fronts of all the lofts face south. The widowhood loft has room for eighteen cocks. The other race loft, which is situated beside the cock loft, holds twenty widowhood hens and one old breeding pair.
There are sixteen nest boxes, on the back wall of the race loft and two nest boxes on the left wall. The fronts of these nest boxes are even with the inside wall of the loft and stick out of the outside of the wall into the aviary. This means that these boxes don't take up any of the space inside the loft. The hens are in an open loft, which has a moveable partition across the entire length of the loft. This partition can provide a hallway in front of the birds.
All the lofts have floor heaters covered by plywood floors.
The ceilings in the lofts have a fourty centimeter opening at the front and ventilation can be controlled with moveable plywood panels. By means of the opening in the ceiling the air moves out through the ridge of the tile roof.
The floors and the breeding boxes are cleaned once a year with water to which bleach has been added. The last while Nico has cleaned the racing lofts once a month during the racing season while the birds are on their way home. If done during the week, the birds are moved to their aviaries till the lofts are dry. When the weather is sunny and warm the floors dry quickly.
Nico has seventeen pairs of breeding pigeons which originate from:
- The old family from Willem Wassenaar from Abcoude, where in 1992 Nico obtained 10 young birds.
- Pigeons from Hans and Evert-Jan Eijerkamp (about 30 Eijerkamp-Janssen and Eijerkamp-van Loon youngsters) which were acquired in 2001, 2005, and 2007 as a result of the purchase of furniture from Eijerkamp.
- Pigeons from the Fanger Brothers from Badhoevehorp through Jan Manten. These are Vandenabeele and van Loon pigeons.
Nico and Jan pair both the breeders and racers in the third week of January.
They allow the yearlings to chose an unoccupied nest box a week before they begin pairing.
While the yearlings are choosing their boxes the old bird are moved to the young bird loft.
When pairing the yearlings are paired first and the old birds are moved back to the loft the following day.
The breeders have two lofts which allows them to easily remate them later in the season.
The eggs from around eight breeding pairs are moved to the racers. These are racers that still have to prove themselves. The rest of the breeders raise one youngster in the first round. The breeders raise a total of three rounds, some will raise four rounds.
Racers that have shown their worth are also bred out of.
Around ninety five youngsters are raised of which fifteen go to other fanciers.
In 2012 the race team consisted of 63 youngsters, after the first race they had 52 left. Several more were lost during the rest of the season. Pigeons which are not healthy stay home. Youngsters they want to keep for next year also stay home.
The youngsters are trained three times after which they are trained three more times by the club.
Last season they had 14 out of the second round which they raced on the Natoer. These were flown out of an aviary on the left side of the young bird lofts. They watch the health and condition of the young birds closely and if necessary take appropriated steps to bring them back to health/condition.
Old Bird System
The old birds are flown on the double widowhood system.
The past two years, on the natoer, they raced their pigeons to the nest. The natoer races are short races, flown after the regular schedule, organized at the club level to which both old and young birds can be sent.
Before the commencement of the season, the pigeons are taken for two training tosses.
This year, before the races began, was the first time they treated the birds, for 5 days with "Total Disinfection" from Dr. van der Sluis.
The pigeons only exercise around the loft. The hens are let out once per day and the cocks exercise twice each day. The pigeons are not taken away for training tosses during the racing season.
The pigeons are on widowhood for the first race of the season. They are not repaired in the spring after raising a youngster earlier in the winter.
On shipping day the birds are shown their partners for half an hour to forty five minutes. The weeks they ship to two races they have to chose which pigeons see their partners, that is either the middle distance entries or the dagfond team. This results in one team not seeing their partners before the race. This is done to keep the birds as calm as possible before shipping.
On race day the birds are left together till after clock off. If the race has been tough or long, pigeons are left together longer, though they are always separated by the evening of race day. This lets the birds rest and recuperate quickly.
Nico and Jan use a feeding schema from Versele-Laga and an energy mix from Matador. The race birds are fed till they begin to leave a few grains on the evening of race day. This may mean that they eat less for a while at the beginning of the week.
They try to treat the young birds with regularity which means they are fed the same mix at all times. While racing the amount of feed they are fed is increased.
When the birds come home they get Nauramine (liquid minerals from Natural)and "Kokki" mix from the Fanger Bros. The "Kokki" mix is made up of minerals, tovo, grit, charcoal, vitamins, sunflower, treat seeds etc. The Fanger Bros. put this mix together themselves.
The day the birds come home from the race Provitar is put on the food, using a lemonade syrup to adhere it to the grain. Profitar is a protein preparation which helps the pigeons to recuperate quickly.
Every day the birds are allowed access to fresh a grit/red stone mix and this past year the used the Beute Bak (mineral mix) along with the trusted "Kokki" mix.
To keep the pigeons healthy, good care is required. Attention has to be paid to the pigeons everyday and when required measures have to be taken quickly. As an example Nico says that at the beginning of the 2012 season they noticed several of the pigeons had pox.
Late that Monday evening the veterinarian Dr. van der Sluis vaccinated the pigeons. The following weekend, the infected pigeons were left home and the other pigeons were basketed with other vaccinated pigeons at the club. Quick action saved their season.
Nico also believes that it is prudent to cull inferior/sick pigeons.
The pigeons are needled with the required paramixo vaccine.
In the fall, after the moult, the pigeons are treated for salmonella (paratyphoid).
In order to keep the pigeons healthy it is important that they train well and are fed well.
The birds are given a bath at least once a week.
Above all it is important not to keep more pigeons than can be handled or for which there is room. This is also important for the fanciers own health.
After a race the pigeons are disinfected with BS for 3 meals (1 1/2 days).
Young Bird System
When weaned the young birds are darkened up to and including the first week of June. They are darkened from 18.30 hours to 8.30 the following morning.
To teach the young birds how to find their way home they train them themselves from Vleuten (5km), to Montfoort (10 km) and to Meerkerk (25km).
The youngsters are flown to the perch.
They don't use extended daylight hours on their young bird team.
Excellent Performances of the Eijerkamp Pigeons
Performances obtained in 2012
- NL12-1376426 a cock, won 4 prizes ,shipped 4 times.
- NL10-1423724 a cock, won 9 prizes, shipped 10 times
- NL11-1490700 a hen, won 12 prizes, shipped 14 times
- NL10-1423725 a cock, won 7 prizes, shipped 9 times
- NL09-1992415 a cock, his best performance was a 5th NPO Chateauroux against 5,410 pigeons.
Click on the band number above to see the pedigree of the pigeon.
Outstanding Results in 2012
- Pommeroeul 211 km against 3,299 pigeons:
12, 23, 36, 37, 38, 39, 43, 63, 83, 84, 85, etc. 25 prizes of the 34 pigeons shipped
- Sens 458 km against 2,288 pigeons:
4, 5, 6, 22, 23, 26, 28, 29, 48, 49 etc. 21 prizes of the 33 pigeons shipped.
- Sens 458 km against 1.360 pigeons:
5, 35, 67, 81 etc. and 12 prizes of the 19 pigeons shipped.
- Nanteuil le Haudouin 373 km against 2,999 pigeons:
1, 2, 3, 8, 11, 14, 17, 37 etc. 16 prizes of the 18 pigeons shipped.
- Bourges 560 km against 17,335 pigeons:
77, 112, 120, 125, 146, 316, 403, etc. 8 prizes of the 11 pigeons shipped.
- Chateauroux 652 km against 5,410 pigeons in Section 7:
5th Teletext position.
- Laon 302 km against 2,433 pigeons:
10, 30, 39, 61, 61, 86, 87, 88 etc. 29 prizes of the 41 pigeons shipped.
- Laon 302 km against 6,172 young birds in Section 7 South:
2nd and 7th Teletext positions.
- Grimbergen 143 km against 2,640 pigeons:
38, 48, 49, 50, 54, 57, 65, 67, 73 etc. 24 prizes of the 47 pigeons shipped.
- Niergnies 256 km against 2,224 pigeons:
2, 3, 5, 12, 34, 43, 62 etc. 17 prizes of the 45 pigeons shipped.
- 5th Chateauroux 652 km against 5,41 pigeons in Section 7
- 2nd and 7th Laon 302 km against 6,172 young birds in Section 7 South
P.V. De Klepper
- 1st Champion Middle Distance (6 of 7 races count)
- 2nd Pick Bird Champion Middle Distance (6 of 7 races count)
- 1st up to and including 7th, 9th and 10th Champion Pigeon Middle Distance
- 1st Champion Dagfond (One Day Distance) 4 of 5 races count.
- 5th Pick Bird Champion Dagfond (4 of 5 races count)
- 1st Champion Pigeon Dagfond
- 2nd Champion Natoer (4 of 5 races count)
- 1st Pick Bird Champion Natoer (4 of 5 races count)
- 5th and 9th Champion Pigeon Natoer
- Winning another Teletext position.
- Realize what is going well and enjoying it.