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of Holland

More than 30 years at the top


by Les Parkinson


The British pigeon fanciers have always taken a shine to the continental lofts and have always purchased pigeons from the winners of the top races in both Holland & Belgium. Many of today's STAR names in the British fancy owe their continued success to the fanciers who have cultivated their own top winning race teams on the continent.

Ray Lunt,Les Green and Gary Wall are a team of fanciers who have built their own team of pigeons on the top Dutch winning lofts and been rewarded with 10 Combine wins in 1995, they re-wrote the books with their Combine especially with the young birds where they won 6 of the eight Combine races. As these notes are being penned it is early May and the lads had already started to put another string of results together with these same pigeons and the present team are only young. You may think that we have started to go off track from the report but that is not the case because our subject for this article also has the same family of pigeons but as any of the good continentals has gone a step further forward which will become apparent as the report goes on. Ray,Les & Gary have visited Holland on many occasion's and in particular the Zutphen area of the Country where they became friendly with the local fanciers.

One name that came to the front more often than not was Peter Van Osch, he is a fancier who has always been prominent in the results week after week. Never missing an opportunity the lads took it upon themselves to contact the man himself that is with a little help from a few new found friends, they obtained his phone number and duly called and made arrangements for a loft visit. From the first meeting is was immediately evident that here was a totally dedicated fancier and a man that would go totally out of his way to make you most welcom. Since that first introduction he has helped in many ways with different things whilst in Holland. The lads are most grateful for the help and consideration that Peter has given them because their visits would have most definitely not been anywhere near as enjoyable, so they would like to thank Peter for his time and hospitality. Now lets get back to that first meeting and of course the preliminary's of meeting Peters charming wife who entertains many visitors to these winning lofts. They then went out to see the pigeons and they do stress that it was a shock seeing the size of Peters lofts, after all he is a winning continental and we are all under the impression that they have beg elaborate lofts. Not the case as this one really does have to be seen to be believed, his entire back yard measures about 20ft x 12ft and in this small space he races his youngsters, widowhood hens and houses his stock birds so you can imagine that space is not of a premium, so we shall start at the beginning and give a detailed Interview Style report about the Peter Van Osch lofts.

Peter grew up with pigeons from a very early age because his father was a pigeon fancier who was extremely successful for many years. He was one of the rare breed of pigeon fanciers who could instantly tell which pigeons were good ones and which were the poorer specimens not to be tolerated, the winners were Easily recognisable to this most knowledgeable fancier the Champions were recognised as well as the future Champions and he had the most fantastic memory when it came to the pigeons. For instance when he had a pigeon in his hand and had thoroughly looked it over he could remember that pigeon for years to come, all details where easily reported on. This type of memory is truly a gift but as Peter pointed out at that when you go back to the fanciers of the 50's & 60's they only housed a small team of maybe 6 to 8 pigeons therefore it was far easier to remember the individuals. Even so he was without doubt one of the best fanciers in the area. He was also one of the very first to race the widowhood system with the cocks and Peter says at that time they talked about the widowhood system in much the same way that they talk about the dope situation of today.

Peter said that he very often looks back with a smile and hopes that he too can do the same one day about the doping situation. Many fanciers knew the gifts and qualities of Peters father has with pigeons and would on many occasion's ask him to help with the selection of their own teams. So in the winter months he visited his fellow fanciers and always with the then young Peter Van Osch by his side taking it all in listening and learning all the time. His father would look at the balance of each pigeon, the feather quality, the eye and moreover he would look very closely at the throat, on this point with the pigeon he pointed out on many occasion's that only the "Real Cracks" have special looking throats. Peter emphasised the point that everything that he learnt from his father is still in practice today with his present day winning team.

Like most keen pigeon fanciers Peter also had other sporting interests with his main one being a love of football which he did play as a in his younger days. In those days the world was far more simple and most young men followed in the footsteps of their father and Peter was one of them hanging up his boots and turning to pigeons which he has always given 100%. The next point of interest was the origin of the "Van Osch" lofts which went into full flow shortly after the war when Peters father went to Belgium to buy a few stock birds. This came about because the Germans had killed almost every pigeon in Holland. So through Jos Swinnen he brought into Holland the first Janssens of Arendonk pigeons which were later followed by the Tourniers. These two families when crossed produced many Champions of the day and the present loft of pigeons that Peter houses are descendant's of those original introductions and therefore form the base of the present day multi winning team. Also in the 70's and 80's further introductions came from the lofts of Jan Jacobs Tournier pigeons with the very beautiful eyes, these pigeons which went to Zutphen to complete the family of Van Osch pigeons in 1976.

Peter made his first visit to Ravels to look in on the lofts of the world famous Albert Van-Der-Flaes who's treasured family of "Red Fox" Janssen lines. The predominant Red pigeons of Albert-Van-Der-Flaes are the base of many good racing lofts all over the world in modern day racing teams. When Peter put the pigeons of Van-Der-Flaes with his already established "Van Osch" family they bred many good pigeons which brought more success to Peters lofts. Then in 1983 Peter invested in the "De Klak" pigeons through Harri Van De Mierden who was the loft manager for "De Klak" and with these latest introductions Peter now believes that he has complemented the team beautifully and feels that success is assured for many years to come. As any visitor can see when inspecting the pigeons at the Van Osch lofts it is easy to recognise the Janssen lines and also the "Steel Blue" lines of the Tournier/Van Osch family. The later being at their best when the velocity is around 70 to 100klm per hour, no other fancier in the surrounding area has any better pigeons than these at these vels. They may have pigeons as good says Peter but not better and when there is a head wind then the Janssen pigeons from Arendonk put up the better performances.

In the area where Peter races his pigeons which as mentioned earlier is Zutphen, competition is very tight indeed. He races the pigeons in a club with 40 members and in Zutphen itself which is only a small place there are around 200 members and in his own district "The Rijn Iissel", which is equivalent to a combine there are between 1500 to 1600 members. In Peters immediate area there are some household names nearly all being based on the Janssen lines, of these Peter believes the best is Bertie Camphuis, with these pigeons each year there are many Best of Holland winners, indeed Zutphen is an area well known for best pigeons or "ACE" pigeons which is their proper name. Peter pointed out that such names as Eijerkamp who have many extremely good pigeons and Bert Camphuis himself plus the partnership of Roording and the renowned Cees Suykerbuyk being the racer of "James Bond" "Commander Bond" and "Glamour Boy". Marcel Sangers was a great help to Peter and not forgetting Alwin Petrie are all top names that he must compete against each week in his Fed and Combine, so as pointed out you can see that the competition is really hot.

Peter did say that with no Camphuis pigeons in his loft he feels a bit of an intruder but it does stimulate him in the excellent competition. Marcel is a very good friend of the family and from about 1992 Marcel has received several good pigeons from Peter's loft with most winning first prizes to his loft. Peter advised him in that period to purchase pigeons from Bertie Camphuis because he in Peter's opinion is one of the best breeders in Holland. Marcel took his advice and little by little the Camphuis pigeons in Marcels loft took him to the absolute top in Holland. Especially the crosses between the Camphuis pigeons and the lines of Peter's "Ace pigeon 43" they were excellent. The very well known "Tommy Gun" winner of 7 x 1sts is a son of a Bertie Camphuis hen when paired to a direct Red son of "43". "Tommy Gun" is also an excellent breeder with his children winning first prizes, several similar pairings were also very successful in many lofts. In 1999 Peter heard that Bertie was about to cease racing so he went along and asked him what he was doing with the eggs off the very best of his w/h team. The reply was "Come to me and we talk about it". So in August 1999 the eggs off the best widowers and several youngsters off the best breeders went across from the Camphuis loft to Peter's. Over the next few years Peter is going to try to breed a couple of Champions from brothers and sisters and youngsters off the "Ace-pigeon 43" together with the best of the Camphuis loft. It is the big challenge for Peter in the new Millennium.

While brothers and sisters to "43" have won many prizes with their youngsters doing the same Peter is working on the principle that the crossings will bring more "Champions" to his loft. Regarding the distances that Peter prefers to race the pigeons at his own view is "Because my pigeons are very fast I specialise in races up to 400mls and I can compete in about 18 races to this distance each season with the old birds and 7 more with youngsters". Because of the rather small set-up that Peter has he likes to race a few hens which makes up a nice sized team for the season, these hens are raced with great success wins that include topping the fed. Peter emphasises the fact that the competition is made even harder because of his limitations and his competitors greater possibilities. But in spite of the handicaps his results are very satisfactory and over the last 15yrs he has won more than 100 x 1sts. Also in this same period he has had the best pigeon for the whole of Zutphen area award no less than S8 times which is something his competitors have never bettered. What we must remember is that in one season in the club and the area there are 7 Champion pigeon titles to be won with the cocks, hens, yearlings and young birds. In 1986 Peter did the ultimate which is something he believes will never be beaten, he won all the titles in the same season which is quite an achievement, this can only be equalled but never beaten.

It would certainly be wrong to pick out individual pigeons from Peter's many good winners but as with any loft there is always one that deserves a special mention which is "Champion 43", this Crack belongs to the "Ace" pigeon of all Holland category. In 1993 he was "Champion" and "Ace" pigeon of the Zutphen are with 15 prizes, then in 1994 he was the 2nd best pigeon after the famous "Flits 85" of Mrs Eijerkamp with 19 prizes and then again in 1995 he again was number 1 best with 18 prizes. This super pigeon has also won the title of 6th best Ace pigeon of all Holland in 1995.Thats 3 consecutive years at the top which is a fete that very few pigeons achieve which makes "Ace Pigeon 43" a true gem of a racing machine. We must also not forget that he ahs also won several short and middle distance titles in the club, the area and the Rijn Ijssel (Combine) against around 1500 members. This exceptional "ACE" pigeon has won a staggering 62 prizes to date. "Ace Pigeon 43" was overall the best pigeon in Holland in 1993/1994/1995. Needless to say the blood of this pigeon flows through Peters loft and with his brothers and sisters racing capabilities as well as having great success with the breeding side the future certainly looks rosy.

The breeding of the "Ace 43"is a mixture of the Van Osch/Klak/Van De Flaes on he fathers side while the dam comes from Peters friend "Cor Buis" Champion of Amsterdam which is pure Klak Janssen. Peter and Cor Buis have exchanged pigeons in the past with Champions being produced both ways as Cor Buis has also produced Champions from the Van Osch pigeons. Peter has won several loft Championships in the club and the Zutphen are but better than this he has achieved success at National level with 1st National race Helmstedt,7th National Champion Middle distance 1993, 5th best Youngster of Holland, 8th Ace pigeon of all Holland, 4th best pigeon over 93/94, 1st loft Champion young birds region 6-8,900 members and 6th Ace pigeon of all Holland 55,000 members.

So you can see that a small set-up really can match the big boys if the quality is there coupled with the dedication that it takes to win at any level. To be successful year after year takes a good breeding loft and this is something Peter has worked very hard on because as mentioned earlier Peter has no room in his garden for elaborate lofts. He did have a bit of good luck when neighbour allowed him to build a stock loft in his garden but as always all good things come to an end and the neighbour moved house two years ago. But then when Peter though it was going against him lady luck popped up again and his sister stepped in and allowed him to build a stock loft in her garden. For Peter things even got better when his sister and her husband got to like the pigeons and started to clean them out and actually look after the stock pigeons which leaves Peter to be the supervisor. Because of the limitations within the racing loft Peter can only keep the first round of youngsters for himself therefore he sells the rest to prospective buyers with many making the journey from Germany where Peters pigeons are very popular, he has in fact bred many winners for other fanciers all over the world.

On the basic care for the pigeons Peter cleans the pigeons out twice per day and during this time he is always observing the pigeons and watching their individual movements within the loft, it can give Peter an indication as to the rising form of the team. Peter believes that it is very important that you give the pigeons good corn but emphasises that you must never give them too much. He said that a Champion fancier has mostly small hands. In 1995 for the first time he has fed a diet mixture until Thursday and he was satisfied with the results, Peter also fed this diet mixture to the pigeons for the autumn races when they were feeding youngsters in the nest and has you have already read he was area Champion, this is a system that he shall do again hoping that he will gain the same type of success. Peter stresses that it is important to keep the pigeons healthy but his rule is to cure as little as possible, every four weeks while racing he will treat for Trichomoniosis. He will consult a vet before the season starts but when the pigeons are healthy and flying well he does not do anything. During the season he mixes beer yeast and vitamins on Sundays and Mondays, the drinking water is always clean but of course when it is necessary he takes his measures.

When the birds have completed the moult which is around mid November he gives a medicine against Paratyphoid for 12 days. He does this because he believes the disease can be there without detection and it could influence results for the coming season, he does point out that it is important to consult your vet about the good medicines. So to conclude Peter has this advice, "Only with good pigeons, a good loft and sometimes a good fancier you can achieve success, but the most important factor of the three is to have good pigeons. When fanciers discuss wind direction, loft location and so on this is only important for the race on a particular day but when the same fanciers are winning week in week out despite wind and location, then it is with good pigeons, they race not with the wind and over a long period these good pigeons will tell.

So the message therefore is look to get some of these good pigeons for yourself, work hard and enjoy them and success wont be far coming to you. As to myself I am always looking for something better to make this loft a new Champion. A good fancier can never be still if he wishes to stay at the top.