Gerard Koopman, a name synonymous with excellence in the world of pigeon racing, resides in the tranquil village of Ermerveen, nestled in the Dutch province of Drenthe. On the day of my visit, the entrance to his farm was adorned with a grand “Abraham” made from straw, a local tradition celebrating his recent 50th birthday. Gerard Koopman is not just any pigeon enthusiast; he is renowned as one of the foremost experts in the field of pigeon sport globally. This article takes you beyond the accolades and championships, delving into the insights and philosophies of a master of the sport.
The Man Behind the Mystique:
Gerard Koopman’s exceptional achievements in pigeon breeding and racing have often led people to regard him as possessing almost supernatural abilities. However, those who know him understand that his success is a product of dedication, hard work, and a deep understanding of the sport. Gerard hails from a family of small entrepreneurs who instilled in him a strong work ethic, a sports mentality, and the importance of having the best resources for success.
The Quest for Top Pigeons:
Gerard emphasizes that at the heart of his success are exceptional pigeons. His approach is straightforward: “It all starts with good pigeons.” Over the years, he has meticulously selected and bred from proven racing pigeons, aiming to create families of champions. Notable among these are three main couples that have consistently produced top-quality birds.
Creating the Ideal Loft:
For Gerard, a well-designed loft is paramount for pigeon success. He draws inspiration from his observations of lofts at other champion pigeon racers’ establishments and combines it with his own insights. The key features of his loft include proper insulation, orientation for maximum sunlight, and well-ventilated sections. Gerard believes in utilizing natural heating from the sun, especially during the critical early spring season.
A Focus on Middle and One-Day Long-Distance Races:
Birds of prey in the area limit his pigeons’ ability to train in the fall and winter, making early preparation for the season challenging. Gerard uses speed races as training and carefully manages when his pigeons are allowed to interact with their mates to optimize their performance in middle and one-day long-distance races.
Feeding: A Natural Approach:
Gerard advocates a natural approach to feeding, providing pigeons with filled feed boxes that allow them to self-regulate their diet. He believes pigeons know what’s best for them. Apart from their regular diet, he supplements their nutrition with cheese, peanuts, and sheep’s fat to fulfill their protein needs.
Training is an integral part of Gerard’s regimen. His pigeons undergo rigorous training, especially during the racing season when they train up to three times a day. He believes that regular training keeps them in peak condition.
Medical Support with Caution:
Gerard employs a conservative approach to pigeon health, focusing on loft conditions and nutrition. He follows health schedules recommended by specialized vets and administers treatments out of precaution rather than routine.
Youngsters and Future Plans:
While Gerard has reduced his focus on racing youngsters in recent years, he plans to rekindle his interest. He emphasizes the importance of training and exposing young pigeons to different race experiences to prepare them for future challenges.
In conclusion, Gerard Koopman’s success is built on a foundation of dedication, a quest for top-quality pigeons, meticulous loft design, natural feeding, and rigorous training. His journey is a testament to the artistry and science of pigeon racing, and he remains a beacon of inspiration for enthusiasts worldwide. As the years unfold, there’s no doubt that Gerard Koopman will continue to leave his mark on the world of pigeon sport.