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“On The Road” With Keith Mott

 

Jeff & Sherry Poole of Kings Langley

 

The month of September saw Terry Haley and I visit the loft of Jeff and Sherry Poole for a YouTube filming session and they had enjoyed a brilliant 2016 racing season winning: 2nd Club Salisbury, 2nd, 3rd Club Blandford, 1st, 8th, 9th Club, 15th, 16th, 17th,44th Federation, 30th, 31st, 32nd Combine Yelverton, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th, 12th Club, 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 23rd Federation, 4th, 7th, 10th, 11th, 13th, 42nd Combine Coutances, 5th, 7th Club, 10th Federation Honiton, 7th, 12th, 13th Club, 10th, 19th, 20th Federation Carentan, 2nd, 8th Club Exeter, 4th, 5th, 6th Club Carentan, 3rd, 7th, 8th Club Blandford, 1st Club, 1st Federation Salisbury, 2nd Club, 2nd Federation Salisbury, 5th, 17th, 30th, 34th section, 13th, 48th, 90th, 113th open BBC Coutances (1,860 birds), 5th, 6th, 17th, 28th section, 44th, 48th, 79th, 127th open BBC Messac (1,616 birds), 18th, 28th, 44th section, 25th, 43rd, 89th open BBC Fougeres (1,857 birds), 12th section, 46th open BBC Bordeaux, 26th section, 104th open NFC Coutances. Jeff and Sherry are lovely couple and made us most welcome at their wonderful home just off the M1 Motorway in Kings Langley. The partners have a beautiful big garden with the smart loft set at the bottom and keep three big dogs, a few laying Chickens and a big Carp pond near the house. It really was a pleasure to be there!

The partners have enjoyed several great seasons, but they had a super 2013 young bird season racing in the National and Classic, winning: 14th, 75th, 77th, 87th, 338th open NFC Carentan Young Bird National (3,330 birds), 4th, 6th, 31st, 50th, 51st open L&SECC Guernsey (young bird). Jeff and Sherry have won many premier positions in Combine and Classic races up to 400 miles in recent seasons racing on the roundabout system. At the end of the 2012 season they sent five young birds to the Stevenage Open Race and won 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th open, lifting all the pools. Other highlights have been: 1st section, 3rd open L&SECC Guernsey, 3rd section, 11th open Messac and they won 1st open UBI Combine (three Federations) from Carentan. Jeff and Sherry’s Combine winner was their yearling Van Loon blue cock, ‘North Grove Supreme’ and he was bred in the stock loft from their best Paul Russell pair.

The first question I asked Jeff was how he started up in the sport and he told me, ‘I was born in South Oxhey, near Watford and my brother and I had pigeons. We had a few pigeons as boys from the local market and from an old clock tower in Pinner, but our first proper loft was a gift from an old pigeon fancier called Nap Perry whom we didn’t know too well at the time. After a few years the birds went and football took over. I played football twice a week, also trained twice a week and spent most of the weekend recovering with the knocks to the old legs. I now play golf when I am not racing the birds at the weekends, I am an 11 handicap. I got married at the age of 20 and by the time I was 23 had two children and was looking for a hobby to do at home with my kids. My next door neighbor’s brother in law was Mick Brimicombe and he had pigeons and suggested getting some pigeons and joining the Oxhey Flying Club. My first loft was ‘L’ shaped, 24ft long with 3 sections, one for stock birds, one for young birds and one for racing old birds. The loft had an open dowel front and a high landing board, with a bob wire trap. The first pigeons came from all over the place and my first winner was a Blue Bar hen, which I had lost a month before. She came back to me in mint condition obviously been kept in and we were racing from Berwick, some 300 miles on the North Road, on a wet day and not many birds got home. I got to the club to find only two members with clocks and Stan Dolling asked have you got one, and I replied, no I have got two. Much to his disbelief I won 1st and 3rd club! Terry Haley was the man to beat at that time as he was always there at the top and Mick White of Wood and White had some top Kirkpatrick pigeons that always looked immaculately turned out, whether it be racing or showing. I had a pigeons for about ten years and then left the sport due to work commitments. Then I moved to my present address with my new wife, Sherry, and we have enough land to fly pigeons with only one neighbor to consider. Terry Haley bred me a pair to fly around the house and then the pigeon bug bit again’.

On Jeff’s return to the sport he started to look for a family of pigeons to fly from 50 through to 400 miles and on looking on the ‘Elimar’ pigeon website, and he found a clearance sale of Van Loon pigeons from a small team flyer who had winning birds from Paul Russell of Essex, who was not very well, and had to give up the sport. Racing the first young birds they won Jeff three races and then at the end of the season he entered five birds in the Stevenage Open race from Blandford, winning 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, lifting all the pools. What a lovely end to his first season back racing!

His new loft at Kings Langley was made by Eco Lofts, who made a lovely job of making sure it was level and put together well. Jeff’s very smart 56ft loft is ‘L’ shaped, with two widowhood sections fitted out with 24 boxes, one hens section and a 20ft young bird section with a 10ft wire flight built on the end. The structure has a 2ft corridor running along the front, four louver vents on the front and two big vents in the roof. Jeff maintains, good air flow is a must in any pigeon loft and his young birds go in the flight, and with all the fresh air always look brilliant. On the loft floor he use a good layer of sharp sand at all times and told me, ‘I always have used sand, it is easy to clean and always dry. I clean out every morning before work whilst the birds are exercising and at night when I come home. If I am running late my good wife, Sherry, helps me out with the loft management. She is the greatest and will help out with anything around the pigeon set up at home, and enjoys coming to the club and training’.

This year he has tried the roundabout system and the hens have flown very well and the cocks have performed even better. Jeff is an early riser and the hens go out at about six o’clock in the morning every day come rain or shine, and they will fly for about an hour, whilst he starts to clean out the lofts. He moves the cocks over to the hens compartment and traps the hens into the cocks compartment, where he feeds them in their cocks box. The cocks are then let out and the hens moved back to their compartment. Jeff then has to leave for work so Sherry gets the cocks into their compartment with their feed in their boxes. The cocks and hens are both trained two or three times a week down to Basingstoke (40 miles) and on Thursday's they are given as much corn as they want to eat. On Friday mornings they all go out for their exercise and are fed in their boxes, but normally don’t eat much. On Friday marking nights the hens are shown to the cocks just before basketing and then taken to the club.  The partners sometimes break down the birds at the beginning of the week, depending on how hard the race has been and on their return from the race they stay together for about an hour, depending on how they race. At the moment Jeff has only raced up to 400 miles and at the moment he is looking for pigeons to fly the longer races, but says that takes time to get right. There is no fancy feeds fed in the Poole loft, only best ‘Titmuss’ Widowhood mixture for the old birds and Young Bird mix for the babies, and they look and race very well on it. Depatagoon grit and minerals are always on hand in the lofts, and they love it. Clean bowls and water is a must every day.

The main strain raced is Van Loon and at the present time Jeff and Sherry have 12 pairs at stock, and they are paired up at the beginning of December. The stock loft has light and heating for those colds nights. They are fed ‘Titmuss’ breeding mixture, with plenty of grit and minerals, and they love ‘Homoform’ twice a week. The stock birds when feeding young are fed in the boxes and a hopper on the floor, using this system the young birds seem to pick up quicker that way. Sherry told me, new stock birds brought in needs to be either from wining birds or from birds that breed winners. The cocks want a nice bold head and full body, bright intelligent eyes and calm. The partners hate pigeons that are too flighty, as they seem to breed the same. Last year they purchased some lovely Van Loon birds from Planet Brothers and some others at the Blackpool Show from the Bolton and Williamson / Van Loons bloodlines. Jeff told me, ‘ I’m not really a believer in eye sign, but I do like to look and see a nice bright eye that shines, this is always a good sign in a pigeon, along with snowy white wattle’. In the 2013 Jeff and Sherry have bred about 90 youngsters, 70 for their own racing and 20 are gifts for others to fly. The young birds are hopper fed to appetite, with grit and mineral before them at all times. They are put on the ‘darkness’ system on the third week of March and stay on it until the second week of June. Jeff ‘darkens’ at about 16.30hrs and then lifts the blinds at 22.30hrs that same evening so they see the sun rise next morning. Doing the system this way he has found that when he starts training the losses are very few, in fact this season he lost only two birds in training. Sherry told me, ‘if the young birds want to pair up we let them. Sometimes two hen’s pair and lay four eggs, and this happened at the end of last year's young bird racing when we sent five birds to the Stevenage Open Race. Two hens had paired together sitting four eggs and those two with two others won 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th open, and all pools. The young birds will all fly the program if fit’.

Jeff is a roofing contractor by trade and says, ‘my lovely wife, Sherry, is a real diamond! She is always there to help out whether it be training, cleaning out the birds or getting them in from exercise. We always go to the club marking and shows together, and with the lads from the club, to trips to Blackpool, Belgium and Holland. Every fancier should have one, she is great! At present she is the club press officer and always takes Madeira cake to the pigeon club on a Saturday nights for Terry Haley and Brian Chitty. I must admit I do like the one day races up to 400 mile, but I will be having a go at the longer races soon. I have had a few pleasing races in the past and I think you always remember the great feeling of pleasure from your first win. But to win the Combine is always very pleasing, as was to take the first four positions in an Open Race. At present I have a very good pair of Van Loon pigeons from Paul Russell. In their first year together for me they have bred pigeons to win the first three in an open race, 1st section 3rd open London & South East Classic Club Guernsey, 3rd section, 11th open Messac and three birds to take first positions in the club. The Van Loon pigeons will race very well up to 400 miles’.

Jeff is the ‘club chef’ at the Boxmoor club and if the sun is out and it is warm on Saturday evening after striking the clocks, there will probably be a Bar BQ. All the members bring something to cook and Jeff’s assistant, Terry Haley, will oblige and cook it all on the Bar BQ and then wash it down with a few well-earned pints. Jeff says the Boxmoor lads are great company to be with. He thinks it would be great if all the smaller clubs, which struggle to survive, would amalgamate together to make bigger clubs, for more enjoyment for all and better racing. Jeff also thinks the racing of pigeons has moved forward with the new systems to race pigeons and hard work does pay if you want to be successful. His advice to new starters in the sport would be to start with a good dry loft with good air flow. To look for the right pigeons for the distance you want to fly and to make sure they are from wining lines of pigeons, and don’t keep too many pigeons. Twelve good pigeons are better than 50 average pigeons and keep them clean and healthy. Jeff maintains, in the Boxmoor club they have four or five top pigeon men, but if you are in the clock before Chitty Brothers or Terry Haley, then you not normally too far from the top. The Poole partners are not averse to inbreeding but winner to winner normally produces the goods they want. Late bred pigeons are hard work and very unpredictable, but can sometimes breed good racers in the stock section. They like tame birds, it makes for a happy loft and they think most race better. The moult period is a very important time of the year and the birds are parted at the end of old bird racing and allowed to rest. They are exercised once daily in the winter months and have a bath at least once a week. They are put on a moulting mixture when parted. Jeff would just like to finish by thanking the members of the Boxmoor Club, for their congratulations on their good wins in the 2013 season. They are a fantastic bunch of lads and a very friendly club and a joy to fly with.

Thanks to my ol’ mate Terry Haley for making the arrangements and riding ‘shot gun’ on this great loft visit.

 

I can be contacted with any pigeon news on telephone number: 01372 463480

or my new email address: keithmott1@virginmedia.com

TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT

(www.keithmott.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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