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Brooks Bros of High Littleton






2nd Open BICC Pau International 2014

by Gareth Watkins

The name of Brooks Brothers of High Littleton has appeared at or near the top of National and Classic long distance races almost every year for the past 60 or so years. The latest of these successes came on the weekend of 21st June 2014 when Rob Brooks clocked one of his team of just two widowhood cocks to be narrowly beaten into 2nd place in the BICC Pau International race.

The original Brooks Brothers are now sadly deceased but the name and level of performance has been maintained by Rob Brooks, the son of Trotsky, one of the original brothers.

Rob has been involved with pigeons since he was old enough to pick up a scraper and as such, is just short of his half century in the sport.

Rob's first major influences were obviously his late father and uncle Harry but I know he has great admiration and immense respect for the world class west country superstars Geoff Cooper and Geoff's wife Catherine.

Rob Brooks and daughter Emily


The original loft was typical of the 50s era with opened dowelled fronts and aviaries and the birds were raced exclusively on the Natural system.

The present loft is stone built and incorporates a pan tiled roof measuring approximately 45ft in length and facing east so that it enjoys the early morning sun on the loft front. It has three sections for  widowhood cocks with nine birds in each. There's also one racing widowhood hen section with 20 birds. The 70 or so youngsters reared each year are housed  in two sections making a total of  five sections in the racing loft plus a separate L-shaped stock loft which houses 15 pairs of stock birds. The floors of all sections are covered in grills and all nest boxes and perches are cleaned daily.

Lofts of Brooks Brothers


The old bird race team are raced on widowhood and all birds i.e. racers and stock birds are mated at the same time in February.

Once they have reared their first round young birds the old bird race team is exercised twice daily for one hour during which time they are locked out and will be forced to fly if they don't do so voluntarily. However, they must fly for at least 50 minutes on each occasion.

The race team get just two short training spins from 6 miles prior to the start of the season and rarely, if ever, get any further training by road for the rest of the season.

The young birds however do get a few more tosses up to 10 miles before racing but no more than 10 tosses and no further than 10 miles.

They are put on the darkness system until mid summer and then raced throughout the programme.

A 12 year old Rob with father Trosky and uncle Harry


All birds are hopper fed and feeding stops when they start leaving barley. Old bird racers are fed Versele Laga Super Star Plus but obviously with the addition of a percentage of barley.  This is maintained until the 300 mile stage is reached when they get high fat grains plus oils and hemp added to the mixture in the last three days leading up to basketting for a long distance National/International race.


The original bloodlines housed by Rob's father and uncle originated from top local lofts such as Reg and Myrtle Venner of Street. The brothers insisted that they obtain late breds from the top performers within those lofts. I give as an example the introduction of pigeons from the legendary Fear Brothers when Rob  was twelve years old. The Brooks brothers went along to the Fears and  bought one from  Clandown the winner of 1st Pau NFC and Clandown Princess 1st Pau CSCFC when they were paired together.  Rob also had a great pair of eggs off Terry Preddy and these hatched out to produce 8th open Tarbes CSCFC on the day and went on to breed the pigeon that was 5th Open Tarbes NFC.

More recently a lot of Geoff and Catherine Cooper's pigeons have been successfully added to the gene pool and Rob has had great success line breeding within these bloodlines.

A young Rob Brooks with father Trotsky and uncle at the original loft


By using the above methods of management and breeding policy Rob has produced pigeons of the following quality:-

"Knocker" 1st Open Pau CSCFC (14hrs 15mins on the day).

Blue Cock 8th Open Pau NFC raced on the natural system some years ago. 5th Open Tarbes NFC and won the F G Wilson trophy for best pigeon Nantes and Pau and won the Oliver Dix Trophy.

Also two of Rob's favourites the "Chuckle Brothers", which were a nest pair of mealy cocks that both flew Tarbes on the day and were grand sons of Knocker with a bit of Keith Nethercott's blood in them.

When I asked Rob what he thought about the handling qualities of a pigeon his reply was straight and to the point: "I like this question. The biggest load of rubbish in my opinion is how they handle. However I like them to look bright and full of vigour."

One of the widowhood sections


This is kept to an absolute minimum but Rob does have the birds tested at the beginning of the season and then just follows his own instincts if the birds are going well they are left alone.

As far as supplements are concerned he uses various oils in the build up to the long distance races and feels that the Versele Laga Superstar Plus racing mixture has everything the birds need in the pellets that are incorporated in the mixture. He has however used some of the Brockamp range of products in the past. Oh, and he also sets great store by hemp seed.

When asked what he thought about the future of the sport Rob was adamant that costs should be kept to a minimum and as he said :-  "Let’s be honest, what chance has a bloke in his twenties with a mortgage and two kids got? It's all just got out of hand and it's too expensive. I've been in pigeons all of my life and have some great friends in the sport. I know wherever we go, people moan and groan a lot, but I always try to fill my time up with positive people and work hard to achieve results. People say the pigeon sport is dying but when I hear some of them, I think we could do with 25% less!! One of the best sporting quotes I've heard was from Steve Davis who had just won the snooker world championship. He said ‘The harder I practice the luckier I get’ and this applies to pigeons, the harder you work the more success you will gain."

Not a man to mince his words our Rob!

Rob and his dad Trosky Brooks of the Brooks Bros partnership pictured with the Oliver Dix Trophy won with the NFC

That then is a brief pen portrait of one of the leading West Country fanciers who is steeped in the history of the sport of pigeon racing and who is maintaining the tradition of top class performances that originated with his father Trotsky and uncle Harry more than 60 years ago.