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Sjaak Buwalda

Dutch master of the long distance


Entrance in the sport

Being grown up in the sport, dreaming of pigeons coming home from long distance races, Sjaak Buwalda has been with racing pigeons all his life. His father being a program racer in the small town called Balk, up in the northern province of Friesland, racing very well in the ’70, Sjaak joined his father in the early ’80. They were amongst the first 10 champions of the 200 member ‘Kustrook’ union, being amongst the best at 500-700km races. Sjaak his interest was always in the longer racers, the tougher the race, the better Sjaak liked it. After getting his bachelor degree in economics Sjaak moved to Zutphen to join up with the Eijerkamp family business. He worked for the world-famous pigeon crazy family at De Ponderosa as an office manager, and raced the long distance team very successfully. Sjaak managed to win the only national overnight race ever won by the Eijerkamp family, became the champion of the big provincial union with 5000 members then still, on overnightracing, and a national title in long overnightracing organized by the Fondkrant. After six year working for the ‘Ferrari factory’ of pigeon sport, the best schooling a pigeon man can get, Sjaak decided to move back with his wife and daughter to his ‘home country’ Friesland, to start racing on his own name, starting all over back in 2003. By then Sjaak won until 2002 in sectIII; 1st Nat.Ruffec, 2nd Nat.Ruffec, 4th Nat.Mont de Marsan, 5th Nat.Mont de Marsan, 6th Nat.Brive, 8th Nat.Dax.  It took only three years until another national win was made with the new team at an overnight race, and since then many top prizes have been won. Sjaak is fully concentrated on the six nationals with afternoon liberations, which are 850-1150 km long races, and the international race of all races, Barcelona, which is 1302 kilometers away from the home loft. In the last 5 years Sjaak won amongst others in sectIV; 1st Nat.Ruffec, 2nd Nat.Montauban, 3rd Nat.Cahors, 5th Nat.Bordeaux, 5th Nat.St.Vincent, 9th Nat.St.Vincent, 10th Nat. Limoges. On the hard Barcelona 2009 it was 74th and 85th against 8800 birds, with some 200 more kilometers to the north and longer than of most competitors. So racing in two different areas and starting all over again, winning a national and many top10 national prices, Sjaak must have a good system and organization, knowledge on pigeons and pigeon racing is it?

Creating a family of winners


To create a family of winners at his new place Sjaak started testing with the best he could find, from his network of friends and competitors in the Eijerkamp-years. Racing in Friesland is something else then in the Zutphen area, being some 100 kilometers more to the North West and as the last kilometers are the hardest, and the racers having to cross 60kms of water to stay on the shortest route, being welcomed by hawks in the woods as well. Selection only on the hardest races, nature being the big selector. Nowadays only a few bloodlines were able to win under these circumstances being the best of the famous Dr.H.P Brockamp, Friedhelm Menne and Harry Brakelé of Maarsen, being originally Muller, Van Wanroy and Carteus bloodlines.

The birds here in the south west of the province are real small type slender build like fast sailing ships, smaller wings perfect for the hard labor. The winners have a real strong character, are very vibrant but calm in the lofts. The color of the eyes vary from very dark chestnut, but mainly dark orange and yellow eyes, with so now and then your white pearl eyes, mainly in the Brockamp offspring. The breeding method in Sjaaks opinion should not be made that complicated. We let him speak; now when you believe in lucky shots in pigeon sport, stop reading now and go back to what you were doing before. So you want to learn something, keep on reading. Create a breeding method in which you do a natural value method, in making A, B, C or D pairings. An A pairing is champion racer cock x champion racing hen, or champion breeding father x champion breeding mother. Now this is the hardest to get your hands on, as there are only a few on your loft, and if you want to buy them, the most expensive to find. Now of course this is no guarantee for success, but be sure you only breed donkeys from donkeys and racehorses from racehorses. The next level is the B pairing, which is son x daughter of racing champions, preferably from two A pairings, so all 4 grandfathers/mothers are champion racers. The third level is the C pairing, which is grandchildren from champion racers mated to each other, preferably from two B pairings. The final D pairing are the so called pedigree pigeons paired up where there are no champion top racers involved in the first two generations back. Of course you can breed champions from all these type of pairings, this happened, and will be happening. But be sure there is a reason why champions only bring in the best they can find on the planet and keep winning, keep the winning birds close to your racers in the pedigree. Now you can make this system of breeding much more complicated, with Ab, Bc pairings, of which the one with the capital sign is the racer, but that is your choice of course. The big names in sport use the A pairings on their loft as much as possible, for one reason only, keep winning. If you cannot afford it, no problem, go for the B pairings and challenge the big names with that.

Now you can do eye theory, and believe me, look on the internet and most are trying to mate white eyes to colored eyes, so In future you will only see perfect eyes , and then how are you going to make the breeding couples? I think a better method is to look at the combination of eyes from the parents, who bred you champion racers. Look at all the signs in the eyes, the wings, the structure of your champions, or from the champions who are beating you, and try to copy that with the mentioned breeding method. Because there is a big probability that this combination of physical and brains is what is perfect for racing in your area, transport and dealing with geographical advantages and disadvantages, nature knows best. Select your breeders just as hard as you would do your racers, and keep your breeding loft young, as most top racers are bred from 2-7 year old breeders. How much you paid and from which big name you are bringing in new blood, select them just as hard, otherwise you will never improve. Look for birds who can deal with the race circumstances better than the ones you already have.

Race preparation/system

Sjaak races the system of total widowhood with cocks and hens. Now he races with a big team, because selection is hard in de first couple of years, as he is on the search for not just good pigeons, but excellent winners who peak at the age of three. On the distances around 1000-1300 kilometers it is most of the time a 2 or 3 year old racer who win. Yearlings are not fully grown and experienced to deal with the night racing, and at the age of 4 they are mostly too experienced and won’t go full gas home again. So the whole system is focused on creating a 20 headed team of 3 year olds who should be able to win, or finish under the first 10 national positions. To get to that elite force, Sjaak starts with a team of around 100 youngsters, who race some 5 races of maximum 200 kilometers. Now when they are racing, they are in full moulting process, so it is extra hard for the inexperienced featherless birds. As a preparation they have been in the basket 3 times one night, so they learn to deal with the stress of being packed up in a small basket. Before that the normal drinker has been taken out of the lofts a few times, and replaced with the drinkers that are used in the transporter. In this way the youngsters learn to change from one system to another, and drink from different drinkers. Youngsters are vaccinated against pmx and pox some three weeks to the first race.  Different to what most other pigeon man do, give the yearlings a nest box and race from that, being a widower already, Sjaak has chosen to race his yearlings as youngsters, on the so called ‘door system’, which most young bird specialists use. So as yearling the hens and cocks are split up, with the hens sitting on v-perches, and the cocks in small young bird cells, during the week. When they arrive from a race, they can play whatever they want, pair up, and in the evening they will be split up again. In this way the cocks stay somewhat calmer because they don’t have to defend a territory already, using all their energy for no good purposes. Better let them develop, use the energy to get home; they learn the real widowhood when it is effective at the age of 2 and 3 year old. With this system the cocks last longer and don’t learn the bad side of widowhood, not having a partner at home at arrival from a race. So as yearlings after a few short races, they are raced in the first week of June from an 850 kms race, this is their first real selection race. It can still be very cold in the night this time of year, or real warm with easterly winds. Later in the season they will have to go to another around 1000kms race, to see who can manage a second race, recovered well from their first selection. They have to be able to recover easily after marathon racing; otherwise they will never win when older. At the end of that first season the yearling will be paired to their next year’s partner, and rear up a youngster. They get more mature after bringing up a youngster, and physically grow as well. As two year old they race total widowhood for the first year, racing 3 races from 900-1000 kms. And then in the peak season as 3 year olds, they will compete in 3 races again, with main goal the national classic from St.Vincent 1142kms, or the international greatest race in the world, from Barcelona 1302 kms, depending on which discipline they showed themselves the best: morning liberation or afternoon liberation. In afternoon liberation they will start at 13-14.00, and need to fly big part of the race into the night, in order to win.

For long distance racing you need to give them enough preparation kilometer training races, but even more important is that they are in full health, as at 1000kms, birds get lost when not 100% healthy. So make sure you do a checkup and search for tricho, orni, lice. In the pre season vaccinate against pmx, pox and I do paratyphoid every year, just so be sure, you have done everything professionally. Because when you are a hobbyist in the preparation, you will be a hobbyist on racing day as well. For long distance racing Sjaak gives the bird’s cold pressed oils on the food some 2-4 evenings. In the morning the food is always a light mixture, so the birds will eat plenty in the evening and all energy stores when they are sleeping at night. You have to keep them eating until the last hour before basketing, so they keep eating well when in the baskets and on their way to the liberation site. The racers train ones a day, most in the afternoon, from 1-2 hours, depending on the weather. Only products from Dr.Brockamp Probac range are used, probiotica before the race, and a perfect recovery system after a race, which is just as important, in order to peak again in the next race. Sjaak gives his racers the day after a marathonrace, all a warm hand bath and massages the muscles like professional sporters get. In this way, with lots of protein and magnesium, the birds will recover nicely and will be training again after a couple of days, the way they were before the race. With modern systems your top racers will last longer, and you can enjoy them for many years to come. Sjaak advices that you should race the system which fits in your life. When you are working from dawn until nightfall it will be hard to race both cocks and hens, as you have to train three teams, also youngsters, and that will not work, rushing your birds will not make you a lasting champion. Race natural when you like that best, but don’t do it because you think it is easy, as natural kept birds will not train that easy, only after 13.30, as the hens have all left their nests by then, but then the cocks won’t train. So pick a system you like, and works for you, top quality birds will always be winners, no matter the system, and believe that there is no difference to cocks and hens, they all race just as fast. The system you race will show if cocks or hens fit better in the system you race, and accept that, or change and adjust it, keep it simple.

Nowadays winners and some Final thoughts


When you have read the system of breeding and the system of racing, you know that his breeding loft is where the stars of the last 5 racing seasons are staying, breeding tomorrows champions. Leading and first lady is Doutzen, who won 1st national Ruffec Sec.IV against some 3500 birds at 850 kms. Sjaak found her on the loft waiting for him at 05.30 and still won 1st national. She was the fastest bird on the day in the entire Netherlands. Some 4 weeks prior she already won 10th national Limoges secIV against 4400 birds at 845 kms, she was only 2 years old by then, and from then on went into the breeding loft. She was bred from the Menne x Brakelé bloodlines. Full sister of Doutzen is Prada; she won amongst others the 5th national Bordeaux against some 2000 birds, arriving at 7.00 being liberated the afternoon before at 15.00, so she took a lot of nightly hours to get home. She won 1st provincial as well, and top prizes from Limoges and Montauban. Two full brothers of Doutzen and Prada have shown to be top breeders. Avatar became the father of Murcia, winning 3rd national Cahors secIV in 2010 against 2100b at 1012 kms. Before that she already proved her qualities on a 475 kms race winning 1st from 2 clubs, provincially 74th from 8500 birds, against all the best sprinters. The nest brother of Avatar is Mahad. He is the father of Maicon, who won 5th national St.Vincent in 2010 against 1500b in sect.IV. This was a hard race, cold, postponed liberation, head wind and all birds under 1000mpm at a distance of 1145kms. Three weeks later Maicon peakt again with 33rd national Cahors at a much faster race than the one from St.Vincent. From that same family as the mother of Doutzen the top racer Deyean was bred. His father is a direct Eijerkamp and grandson to the world-famous Black Giant and Bergerac. As a two year old widower Deyean arrived at 20.30 from Bordeaux doing 992 kilometers from 07.00 in the morning. With this top performance he managed to win 44th national against all Holland competition of 4400 bird, with some 200 kilometers more to race than most competitors. The year after that he went to race from Barcelona. After two days fighting against the head wind, he won 74th national, all Holland again against 8800 competing birds, racing 1302 kms. From both races he came home not being tired whatsoever. Even from Barcelona in the evening he was mated to a new hen in the breeding loft. The second bird on this hard Barcelona arrived some 5 minutes later which was the beautiful Ivaña, who was bred from another super pair. She finished 85th national, arriving the year before in the same Bordeaux race also, and an hour and a half after Deyean. Ivaña is a full sister to the champion night racer Drago.  On his first race as a yearling from Ruffec he arrived in full darkness at 03.01 hours. He was the first clocked bird in this race, but because of the neutralisationsystem used in those years, he ended 19th national, with all the competition on the longer distances being able to beat him, even arriving more than an hour after him. The year after that he arrived from Ruffec again at 04.01 hour in full darkness again winning 57th national at this 850 kms race. He won some more regular prices, but also top prizes in the federation at 450 kms races. Both Ivaña and Drago where bred from Lorenzo x Monica, who are both grandchildren of Cartier, 1st national Perpignan 1997 at Georges Cartues. Monica was half-sister to the world-famous Euro Diamond of Dr.Brockamp, being a daughter of George. Another daughter of Lorenzo x Monica became mother of 9th Nat.Perigueux sec.IV’08 and a granddaughter of Brenda won 3rd national Limoges ’09 both on other lofts. The full sister of Monica is Brenda. Brenda became the mother of Sjaak topracinghen Aprillia winning 2nd national Montauban secIV against over 2000 birds at 1014 kms. Before this peak performance Aprillia already showed her class by arriving at 05.05 from Perigueux winning, and at 05.42 from national Bergerac winning 80th national against some 5000 birds at 965 kilometers. All the mentioned top racers are still in the breeding lofts in Friesland.

Final thought

At this moment Sjaak is really looking forward to the new race season. The racers have been training all winter for a couple of days a week. New youngsters are hatched from the eggs, new champions? Who knows, just the quality is there, now the hand of the Dutch master should do the rest. Sjaak wants to point out that pigeon sport in the west has become more and more professional, but also the number of fanciers are dropping here.  Now this is happening here in Western Europe, but the rest of the world shows a real increase in number of fanciers, with new young enthusiasts picking up the joy of our great sport. From Nijemirdum he wishes all pigeon men in all over the globe all  the best, and good fortune in our beautiful sport, keep enjoying it, never give up, never let your head down, keep it up and be proud, you are an exceptional kind of person, you race pigeons.

questions/remarks ?

Another great season for Sjaak Buwalda’s marathon maestros

Just passing the moulting months and closing in on wintertime. A perfect moment to look back before we move on to a new year, a new season with new chances and hope for new success. Well hope? not all believe in hope or luck, at least not in pigeon racing, how else would you explain the champion lofts being up front so many times, so many years. One who doesn’t believe in luck is Sjaak Buwalda, and a good reason for it he has. His top marathon birds again proved their quality in 2012, a hard season with a very cold pre-season, not making it easier for the winged racers. No two marathon races where alike in Holland, all different settings, weather, hot, cold, rain. Foremost the natural barrier of weather fronts, glass walls in the sky where much more present than in recent years. Warm and cold colliding over our heads, that hinders our birds extremely.

The first week of June means for the marathon men of the start of the real season. In the northern provinces the season opened with the race from Limoges, which meant 833 km to the lofts of Sjaak’s racers. As a yearling his yearling top hen ’Melinda’ in 2011 showed her top class by winning 23rd national against a tough east wind. On her first race, again from Limoges, she topped that winning 1st national & international against 3,200 birds. A fantastic win and fastest all Holland from the 3 nationals held that day from 17,000 birds. She proved the class of her mother Doutzen, who did exactly the same thing in 2006, winning national Ruffec, fastest on the day all Holland, a unique combination. Her father ‘Deyean’ another unique racers managed to win 47th nat. Bordeaux and 74 Nat. Barcelona 1300km against all Holland racers, with 200 extra kms to fly. Supreme quality breeds Supreme quality.

Melinda, 1. Int. Limoges 2012

Next race all focus was ofcourse on the Buwalda team. The national classic from St. Vincent, 1145 kms to the Buwalda lofts, is the most important race of the national race program. A race held since the 1920’s already. Tension was high, after a hold over for 4 extra day’s making it even harder, the birds experienced warmth and headwind. More than 24 hours after liberation it was ‘Robiña’ who took her 2nd win in a row. The year before she managed to win the ‘September’ Limoges provincial. On this hard St.Vincent again she won in the club and took 7th national in the northern section. Robiña’s full sister was 4th to arrive, hammering the sky like a widower doing his training laps. The team performed well with 7 arrivals in the top 150.

Robina 7. Nat. St.Vincent 2012

Another top performances was to be seen at the national from Orange, with the super talented ‘Dior’ up front. Again a hard race with morning liberation through the Rhône valley and enormous rain fronts coming from the west, making it extra hard. In the early morning the fierce full daughter from ‘Ivaña’ (85. Nat. Barcelona from Brockamp lines) showed again her potential winning abilities taking 7th provincial and 20th national on this 974 kms race.

In September another semi classic is raced from Limoges, open to all Dutch marathonracers. The much longer night in comparison to the summer months, and the moult starting, makes it a challenge on its own. Sjaak decided to race all his cocks one more time as it proved a very good start for the upcoming season. This time racing natural and the birds well trained on the road. For some of the older races this meant the 4th marathon race of the season. Another 444 birds came provincial to the start, and Sjaak hammered the result taking; 1-5-6-8-13-18-27-37-40-44-etc. A great finish for the season. The winning bird being a son to Bushido (Drago x Ivaña), the second one a son to Prada and third a grandson Doutzen.

Dragonforce 1. prov. Limoges 2012

And so another great season came to an end. The top hens ‘Melinda’, ‘Robiña’, ‘Shine’ and ‘Giovanca’ plus topper ‘Villa’ al where placed in the breedingloft after this, guarantee for future success. New toppers have to come out next season, this is how the Buwalda method works. A strong iron breedingloft based on the best racers will always beat paper dragons.

Take care of your birds well this winter, and good luck for the new season.