Interview with Jelle Roziers

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Jelle Roziers y Javier Peral

WINKIE had the opportunity to have an exclusive interview with Jelle Roziers, Belgian fancier, expert in young pigeons and heir of the birds of the Houben lineage. 2016 has been an incredibly exceptional year for Jelle Roziers, having won nothing more and nothing less than eight national top 100 in the As Paloma championships: 2nd, 7th, 47th, 55th, 66th, 68th, 83rd and 91st As Paloma Nacional de Half Fund (young pigeons). But it is that in 2017, it has achieved 7 classifications in the top 50: 1º, 10º, 11º, 17º, 19º, 35º and 43º  ACE pigeon Middle distance (young birds). This translates into a record with 15 of the best ACE prizes, including the 10 best 50 prizes. His super player, Queen L, has reproduced two ACE national pigeons, once again. This is the case of New Queen L, which has been 1º National ACE pigeon middle distance and the pigeon Helen, 11º National ACE pigeon middle distance. Likewise, cock Berre has also obtained a title of ACE pigeon; 10th ACE National pigeon in Great Fund. Berre does not descend from Queen L, but shows the incredible dexterity and superiority of the Roziers birds.


WINKIE: Where does your interest for pigeon start?

J. ROZIERS: I started with the world of pigeon racing when I was very small. My two grandparents had pigeons, my uncles also. My grandmother on her father's side, is a relative of the Houbens, that is why I have always had a good relationship with this lineage. My grandfather, August, flew pigeons, locally, for pleasure, and he did it very well. Even, the Houben came to ask him what was his secret to get such good results in the races. I was born in 1983 and, at the beginning of the 90s, I was already in the loft, cleaning, learning from below and the best. My grandfather, without a doubt, was my mentor, he guided me in the world of pigeon racing.


WINKIE: What is your connection to the Houben family?

J. ROZIERS: My grandmother on her father's side is a relative of the Houben family and when I was 12 or 14 years old, I spent more and more time in this big loft, helping them with cleaning and everything they left me, we had a very good relationship and For me, it was an honor to be able to spend time in such an important place at the fancier level. In 2004, when we won the 1st National La Suterraine, with Queen L., Jef Houben called me and said: "Jelle, please, could you bring me that hen to the loft?"

Then I went to his place and he said: "go up and take that cock". He was referring to Pinocchio, grandson of Jonge Artist. We took it out of the cage and put it next to Queen L. We sat on the floor and put the two birds in the cage together and I asked him, "Now what, Jef?" And he replied: "Now, Jelle, you are going to be a fancier. "

Of the four pigeons I got from that union, between Queen L. and Pinocchio, are among the top 10 nationals in Belgium descend. In the competitions of young birds in my country involved between 15,000 and 30,000 birds, a very high number and be among the top 10, is an honor and means that my birds should do well.


WINKIE: How do you remember your beginning in pigeon racing?

J. ROZIERS: Between 2004 and 2007 I was the manager of two other lofts, when I was 21 years old and I used to go out and I did not take this sport so seriously. It was in 2007, when I decided that I would make my hobby my way of living. In the last 10 years I have tried to build a family of pigeons around Queen L. and Pinocchio and always trying to get better results every year. All I want is to be at the top of national races, in Belgium. It is not easy, but every year I get better results. I learn from my mistakes. In these 10 years I have built a loft, thanks to the experience of my family and the Houben, and I dedicate 100% to this sport.


WINKIE: Have you had a fancier as a reference?

J. ROZIERS: My grandfather and Jef Houben.


WINKIE: The lineage of your pigeons makes your offspring highly valued, how would you summarize your trajectory until you get to have these champion pigeons?

J. ROZIERS: The combinations, Pinocchio with Queen L. and Ribaldo with Queen L., are the reproducers from which all my pigeons come. I am not an expert in young birds or anything like that, my birds do the hard work and I, only, do what I have to do, take care of them and train them. I take care of them as I do with my wife and my children.

For me the easy part has always been that I had the Houben family very close and had an access to them that many people have not had. I have learned a lot from Jef and I have tried to follow his method of work. A little more modernized, but the base is the same as they used in the 80s. Try to consanguinity between families to maintain the lineage, cross them with other birds from outside and try to maintain the lineage of Queen L. with those Houben birds and always look for good results in the high level races in Belgium. And I think I'm getting it.


WINKIE: Which pigeons are most common in your breeding loft, the ones that are native to your area and flight line, those imported from other areas or even from abroad, or a mixture of both?

J. ROZIERS: The natural pigeons of my zone and my line of flight, the base is the combination Queen L. and Pinocchio, their descendants that in turn have given me great runners, and Queen L. with Ribaldo, too. I bet on consanguinity between families to try to maintain the lineage, I also cross them with other birds from outside, I maintain the lineage of Queen L. with those Houben birds, that's how I do it.


WINKIE: How do you proceed when selecting the runners?

J. ROZIERS: Over the years, we have used Houben pigeons to reproduce and in the end it was like, Jef, please, I can cross your hen this or that ... and that's how I created my reproductive picture. It was easy and simple, I did not have to spend large amounts of money to shape my players and I could use the Houben pigeons with ease. It was fast and very cheap.

When Jef passed away, his son, Luc was the only one in the family who remained in the loft but in 2012 he left sports and racing. I was playing two rounds and those pigeons came with me to my loft. I flew those birds in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

At the beginning of 2015, Luc decided to sell all his birds to China and I was lucky to have the last batch of pigeons from his reproducers.

Currently, I choose them based on the good results they have in national competitions and always cocks. The hens I keep for the following year to compete in yearlings. The best ones are those that remain for the breeding team. I am not a fancier who wants to stay with the pigeons, I am a fancier who wants to fly them and take them to competition.


WINKIE: Tell us something about your loft.

J. ROZIERS: It is a unique loft with four large dovecotes. With a spoutnik for the pigeons in the center of the pigeon house, which causes all the birds to enter through a single site and then go to their corresponding pigeon house. I have innkeepers in the beginning, so the birds can perch if they want, there is a lot of ventilation and on the floor where the nesting boxes are there are wooden grids, which allows me to be able to sweep and clean very easily under them. Each element is well placed which makes everything organized so that it is easy and fast, that's why I have only one spoutnik in the center, for example.


WINKIE: Which training and competition systems do you usually use?

J. ROZIERS: In August the races of young birds begin in Belgium. In April I start to train my pigeons around the loft and then, at the beginning of June, I start training on the road with the car and, at the end of the month, I send them to the club; 100 km, 200km and, in the middle of July, they range from 200 to 400 km. Then, I fly my birds once a week from 450 to 600 km until the end of the season.

When August arrives, I take them to the national competition. For example, this year, in 2017, we were winners in Bourges II in the youth category. The pigeon registered on Sunday at 13:51:20 CEST after a race of 477,514 km, achieving an average speed of 1359.15 m / min, competing with 38,000 pigeons.

My birds compete in all the national races and after the season, then I select which ones I stay with and who do not follow in my loft. The best go to the breeding loft and that's how I try to create my family of pigeons.


WINKIE: What is the type of contest that has given you the greatest prizes?

J. ROZIERS: Flight, only, young and, next year 2018, I'm going to start with yearlings and 30 hens. Young birds are those born in the same year in which they are sent to compete. I like young birds because it's something new every year, they have to learn, they have to be taught, new hopes, I can build something different every season ... I do not know, I find it very interesting and dynamic. And, on the other hand, it is the most difficult to achieve and therefore, it becomes a challenge, because you have to do a very important observation work, every year you have new pigeons that you have to study, that you have to know and know your reactions and needs ... If you know someone two years already, it is easier to guide him, to train him, you know how his reaction will be to certain things, but with young birds ... it's another story. It's a way to not get bored.


WINKIE: Do you consider yourself a specialist at some distance?

J. ROZIERS: I am not a specialist in anything, but my pigeons compete in 480-600 km, in middle distance.


WINKIE: Do you use consanguinity or are you more in favor of open crosses?

J. ROZIERS: I try to do consanguinity to maintain the lineage and for my reproducers. But I cross my lineage with other families of pigeons from outside to form the flying team, which will go to compete.


WINKIE: Do you have a preference for any line or lines of pigeons?

J. ROZIERS: Those of Houben and those who are good with cocks, specialists in cocks. I go to places where I know they are very good at raising and training males. It's something that Houben told me once and I listen to him.


WINKIE: What level of demand do you want for the yearlings? Since next year you start competing in that modality too, right?

J. ROZIERS: Yes. My objective is national competitions. There are 8 national races, with the same distance 500-600 km.


WINKIE: What element should not be missing in a pigeon house?

J. ROZIERS: Organization. It is the most important thing. I work alone and, sometimes, with the help of my wife. I have 200 young pigeons, 30 yearlings (next year) and 40 breeding pairs and without organization, nothing can be done.


WINKIE: What do you think are the essential characteristics for a pigeon to become a champion?

J. ROZIERS: Good genetics and good training. And, sometimes, it is not always achieved.


WINKIE: What do you feed your pigeons with?

J. ROZIERS: I have been using the Matador seed mix for 11 years now.


WINKIE: Do you vary the diet during competitions and trainings?

J. ROZIERS: When they return home I give them a load of fat mixture, after several days I give them a mixture to lower the fat levels and rest, and close to the day of departure I give them again a load of fat-rich mixture .


WINKIE: Do you have a sanitary program in your loft?

J. ROZIERS: Yes. I am very careful with ventilation, it is very important. My loft is open only in the front. Clean it twice a day during the competition period. I change the water of the birds every two days because I think we should try to stay as close as possible to nature and a real habitat in which the bird does not always have clean, fresh water. I try not to use many chemical products, first because I have small children, and second, because I think it is important that it be clean but without being exaggerated. I visit the vet frequently, in short, I try to ensure that my pigeons are in the best conditions.

WINKIE: How often do you go to the vet?

J. ROZIERS: I go once a week during the competition period. I prefer to spend 20 or 30 euros a week for a bird check, which then the remedy is much more expensive.


WINKIE: What requirements must a person have in order to succeed as a fancier?

J. ROZIERS: Patience, attitude, being smart and, as I did, approaching those who can teach you well, who are good and experts in the field. This is the case of Jef Houben, from whom I learned a lot. On the other hand, you have to be constant, know your pigeons well and learn from mistakes. And, above all, do not make the mistake of selling good birds, which is what is happening now in Belgium. The secret is to stay with the bird that has given you good results and continue with your usual work system that gives you good results. You have to keep your mind open to new ideas but never forget the base of the classics, your knowledge and experience. Also, it is important not to complicate your life and not be responsible for more pigeons than you can cover.


WINKIE: Throughout your career, what do you think has changed in this sport in recent years?

J. ROZIERS: Twenty years ago, when I was with the Houben, I was less professional, less money was invested than now. Today, thanks to the Internet, people can become experts in pigeon racing in much less time. In Belgium, France, the Netherlands and also in Spain, the number of fanciers is decreasing, but the derbys are booming.


WINKIE: As for pigeon racing, what is your vision about the future of this sport?

J. ROZIERS: Well, I think that every time there is a smaller number of fanciers in Europe, I think the derbys will increase more and more, and they will make this sport more popular because it is easier; you just have to reproduce and send your birds. If you are a guy who has a loft, you have to be aware of all the birds, you can give them the medicine or the treatment they need, but when it is One Loft Race, the strongest pigeon is the one that really wins because they are all trained and cared for equally, without distinction or personalized treatment. In the end, in a Derby, the best one wins, because all the birds are treated in the same way, without mimes or privileges.

The gap between professionals and those who are amateurs is going to be greater every time. I also believe that many professionals believe they have to keep more and more pigeons on their dovecotes, but I do not think so. I think it's better to have fewer birds but a strong family / lineage and keep those.

The key? Try to fly for many fans who can not spend much on birds and put it on a professional code, that way you will be better than all those big families who want to keep and need 500 pigeons in their house to compete. Create something, keep it and make it stronger over the years. That is what I try to do.


WINKIE: The fondness for pigeon racing and competition in Spain has always been very ingrained, what news do you receive about colombofilia in Spain?

J. ROZIERS: That Spain is going more to the derby because of what I see, because it is an extensive country and the lofts are at very long distances.


WINKIE: What role do you think One Loft Race plays as a type of competition?

J. ROZIERS: I think young people will be more willing to derbys than fly on their own. It's much simple, you just have to play, send your pigeons and enjoy the competition and you can earn a lot of money. Derby is cheaper than any other type of competition, so it will be much more in demand in the future.