Bertus lives in Colesberg, South Africa. He is married to Lida and they have three children. Colesberg is in the most eastern region of the Northern Cape Province and close to the border of the Eastern Cape and Free State. Part of the Northern Cape is known as the Karoo and Colesberg is one of the towns in this semi-desert area.
Bertus has been involved with pigeons since the age of 10. He started racing (in partnership with his father and brother) in 1983. In 1994, two years after completing his studies, he started on his own as a member of the Riversdale Pigeon Club in the Southern Cape. He moved to Colesberg at the end of 1997 and lives at his present address since 2001.
Pigeons from different sources have been tried and tested over the years with mixed success. In 2001 Bertus managed to get hold of HANNES VAN DER MERWE'S Golden Pair, GOEDE BLAUWE (OBU 92D/1849) and SCHONE BLAUWE (OBU 93D/0452). Both birds were union 1st prize winners in long distance races. Hannes, who lived in Riversdale, had super results with the children of this Janssen based pair in long distance races. They bred 4 union first prize winners and a daughter won 8th in the final race of the 1998 Sun City Million Dollar Pigeon Race. Their best children at that stage were KROONSTAD I (OBU 95/0189 - 1 union Kroonstad 925km), the BLOEMFONTEIN HEN (OBU 98D/0230 - 1 union Bloemfontein 724km) and the SUN CITY HEN (OBU 97/2100 - 8 SCMDPR 1998). Hannes gave these birds to Bertus and they changed pigeon racing as he knew it.
Selection of the breeders is very strict and only breeders able to breed winners and ace pigeons earn a permanent place in the stock loft.
When Hannes decided to sell all his pigeons at the end of 2002, STEVEN VAN BREEMEN of Holland wanted to buy all the new stars out of the Golden Pair. Among them were KROONSTAD II (1 union Kroonstad 925km; only bird on the day), the NAMIBIA COCK and BLOEMFONTEIN II HEN (2 union Bloemfontein 724km; beaten by less than a second). Bertus arranged the deal between Hannes and Steven and another deal was struck; Bertus would exchange a few inbred youngsters out of his Van der Merwe pigeons for youngsters from Steven's national winners and ace pigeons like Goede Jaarling, Magic Mealy, Magic Olympic Grizzle, Vechter, Crack Venema, etc. Bertus crossed the Van der Merwe and Van Breemen pigeons, raced the offspring, kept the best racers and started building a line around the two families. In 2002 the late James Jennings sold all his imported stock birds by public auction. Bertus and Paul Viljoen bought his best breeding cock, an original VICTOR CHRISTIAENS with ring number BELG 93/2066895. This cock bred many 1st prize winners for Paul and Bertus and Bertus used his offspring to cross with the Van der Merwe and Van Breemen pigeons.
Bertus tries to keep up to date with the latest happenings and news in the pigeon sport and is a subscriber to international pigeon publications. Many of these have and still publish articles about the exploits of GABY VANDENABEELE. Gaby is world famous for his racing success at provincial and national level in Belgium and breeder of super pigeons like KLEINEN, WITTENBUIK, BIJTER, KOLONEL, PICANOL, PLAYBOY, SISSI, BLIKSEM and many others. Fanciers that have introduced Vandenabeele pigeons have enjoyed unbelievable success and to name all would be an impossible task. It is a fact that he owns the most dominant middle distance pigeon family in the world and that their offspring dominates the national races and national ace pigeon competitions in Belgium. The fanciers knocking on Gaby's door to buy pigeons are many of the top fanciers in the world. After making a study of the Vandenabeele pigeons Bertus decided at the end of 2003 to introduce them to his loft. The most famous pigeon of Gaby at that stage was the phenomenal WITTENBUIK (BELG 88/3206112). He was undoubtedly one of the best breeders in the history of the sport, responsible for first prize winners at provincial and national level for countless fanciers. Bertus started looking for Vandenabeele pigeons in South Africa and was told by Willie Steenkamp that a friend of his, Gerrie Maritz, imported pigeons from Gaby and was selling all his pigeons. Bertus bought 8 pigeons from Gerrie, one of them a grandson of Wittenbuik. This cock, BELG 98/3020316, was bred by Silvere Toye out of a son of Wittenbuik. Bertus named him WITPEN WITTENBUIK SA. Bertus also wanted to buy a g/daughter of Wittenbuik, BELG 99/3199599, which Gerrie bought from Gaby, but she was already sold to Andre Carelsen. A few months later Bertus managed to buy her from Andre and he named her THE GABY HEN. He mated her with WITPEN WITTENBUIK SA and they bred super pigeons from the first nest. They are the foundation pair of his loft and at the moment around 70% of all the pigeons in the stock loft are their offspring.
About 95 percent of his breeders are from the VANDENABEELE line...
In 2006 more Vandenabeele pigeons were introduced and these included two sons of BLIKSEM (unofficial best middle distance bird Belgium 2000) and a daughter of SUPER AS (2 National Ace Pigeon KBDB 2004). Bertus also made contact with the successful British partnership of M&D EVANS (MYRTLE LOFTS) and bought children of some of their best breeders like GOLDEN GABY (1 National Orleans 606km 12 875 pigeons). Bertus has been very successful with the VANDENABEELE pigeons and introduced more of them over the last few years; most of them proven breeders and mainly from the BLIKSEM LINE. This line is responsible for an unbelievable number of National winners and National Ace Pigeons all across the world. As a result BLIKSEM is considered by many experts as the best breeder the pigeon world has ever seen.
Bertus does not believe in pure strains and will introduce any pigeon as long as they come from an exceptional winning family; capable of winning in all types of races. About 90 percent of his breeders are from the VANDENABEELE line and he uses the VAN DER MERWE/VAN BREEMEN and VICTOR CHRISTIAENS lines as crosses. Selection is based on race results only and Bertus pays no attention to theories. He prefers medium sized pigeons with strong bodies, light supple muscles, strong pigmented eyes and primary flights eight, nine and ten must be well ventilated. Selection of the breeders is very strict and only breeders able to breed winners and ace pigeons earn a permanent place in the stock loft. He makes use of cross-, line- and inbreeding and keeps around 30 stock cocks and 50 stock hens.