Karel Beneke and his sons, Hein and Martin make up the highly successful Beneke Lofts. Karel manages the breeding aspects, Hein does the training and Martin, looks after the logistics and club duties. He also handles the auctioning and selling of the pigeons.
Beneke Loft races with the Florida Homing Society, one of the clubs in the strong Transvaal Racing Pigeon Federation. Hein is the chairperson of the club and Martin is vice-chairperson. “I started racing pigeons in the early 1960s in Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal. I moved to Johannesburg in the 1970s and you could say my boys were born in the pigeon loft,” Karel recalls.” Their enthusiasm was there right from the start, and they haven’t stopped since.”
Beneke Lofts has been multiple union champions on the West Rand, dominating the West Rand Racing Pigeon Union from 2005 to 2010. Since joining the Florida Homing Society, the Benekes have continued winning, taking top honours at the Camelot One-day Loft, and placing second and third in the Allflight One-day in the same year. Their pigeons include a Dave Clausing cock, an Alois Wiefler cock, multiple Hardy Kruger ‘Black Power’ line breeding club champions, and the famous 777/ Tom Lock Hawk line.
“The 777 family has produced 18 winners in five years,” notes Karel.Line breeding, inbreeding and crossbreeding are all practised, with winners mainly paired with winners.
The pigeons are road-trained weekly, flying 80km on Tuesdays and 180km on Saturdays (if they are not racing,
that is). Additional training at the beginning of the season includes two weeks of flights ranging from 60km/day to 80km/day.
Asked about his ideal loft, Karel says that “high-pitched roofs were made for racing lofts, as lots of oxygen is key”. He adds that 20m x 5m per 100-pigeon team allows enough space and air flow in the lofts.
Advice to beginners
Karl advises beginners to concentrate on building up a good knowledge of the sport. Read as much as possible before building a loft or buying a pigeon. “Spend at least a year as an apprentice at a champion loft. Then only buy the best birds with proven pedigrees you can afford. “When it comes to participating in one-day lofts, it’s important to first test your birds in the national lofts before taking on the international scene. Only send your best birds.”