Raub’s racers

KwaZulu-Natal fancier Mark Raubenheimer talks to Thomas Smit about his imported pigeon racing lines.

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Mark Raubenheimer of Moreland Racing Pigeon Stud is a member of Pinetown Racing Pigeon Club, one of the strongest of the 15 clubs in the KwaZulu-Natal Racing Pigeon Combine. There are about 200 members within the combine and approximately 2 500 pigeons are entered every Saturday.

How long have you been a member of this club?
I competed in the Durban Federation for six years, then joined the Pinetown Racing Pigeon Club five years ago.

How were you introduced to pigeon racing?
My dad practised the sport. At the age of 10 I joined the Durban & District Racing Pigeon Club as a junior member. My father raced in partnership with Dave Foster and Bennie Adamson way back in 1965. Their performance was out of the top drawer.

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What are some of your performance highlights?
I was KwaZulu-Natal Racing Pigeon Combine North Route Points League Champion and Westville Racing Pigeon Club Champion. I won the federation’s Open Points Championship and Ten Bird Limit Race from Polokwane on the same day. Also, many winners for participating fanciers were bred by me. Another highlight was my pigeon tour to Belgium and the Netherlands in December 2010.

In Belgium, I was able to visit two of the greats in the pigeon-racing fraternity: Louis van Loon and Louis Janssen. And I got to select pigeons from these two legends. In the Netherlands, I was thrilled to be able to handle the famous pigeon, Kannibaal, at Dirk van Dyck’s loft. I also acquired direct sons and daughters from it.

What kind of pigeons/families do you keep?
My foundation pigeons are all imported from the lines of Karel Meulemans, Janssens, Louis van Loon, Jan van den Pasch
(current five-time Dutch champion), Gurt Reinerink, Eijerkamp Janssens and Kees van Meel. (He only competes from 700km upwards with ultra long distance birds and is the ultra long distance champion of the Netherlands.)

I also have pigeons from the lines of Van Boxmeer, Van Advont and Jos van Limpt de Klak (I currently have sons of Pearl Prince, a 13-times winner De Klak cock in my loft). I also have many sons and daughters of the famous Silver Shadow Van Loon grizzles and pigeons from Willy van Berendonk Meulemans’ lines.

What are your breeding methods?
My programme consists of a combination of cross- and line-breeding. However, when inbreeding is needed for purity of the line, then of course it’s practised.

What are your training methods?
Road training my pigeons along the same route and direction of the racing programme is a must for me. Racing pigeons are creatures of habit and to reinforce habit has its merits. Naturally, winds will affect the course of flight on the day and, subsequently, the race results. But beware if there’s no wind, or the wind favours the route – the pigeons are going to race on the line of flight, and the fittest and the best will excel.

There’s a difference between training and exercise. The fancier needs to determine that and adjust accordingly. Feeding is also critical for the performance of the pigeons. Once the birds are fit it’s a matter of a diligent regime of up early and on the road.

What are the basic requirements of your ideal pigeon loft?
In Durban the humidity is high. A well-ventilated loft, with a north-east facing front, provides ideal temperature control. I also clean the pigeon lofts regularly because of the high humidity. I house a considerable number of birds, so hygiene is critical for me. Timber, or brick and mortar lofts are best here. In addition, I use a timber or boarded ceiling because of the high condensation in Durban, which causes moisture to drip from the ceilings.

What’s your advice to beginners, especially when it comes to One-Day Loft Pigeon Racing?
Acquire good birds from renowned stock. You don’t have time to mess around with inferior pigeons only to find that after three to five years you’ve made no progress. One-Day Loft racing for beginners is always a gamble. You’ll invariably find 30 and more pigeons entered by an individual or syndicate. So, for the beginner, rather concentrate on gaining perfection at a local level and perhaps buy pigeons already tested in a One-Day Loft Race.

Contact Thomas Smit at [email protected] with ‘Pigeons’ in the subject line of your email.