DEREK FLOWERS Of PONTYPOOL
A RISING STAR IN THE EAST
by Gareth Watkins
Derek Flowers, left, with brother Clive holding two of their successful race team
The fancier featured in this loft report has only recently returned to the sport and yet in three short years he has amassed 32 x 1sts and 24 x 2nds plus scores of other top three positions in strong club competition, plus 5 x 1sts Federation in the Welsh North Road Federation with up to 400 competing lofts. Not bad eh? Derek had pigeons with his father some years ago but left the sport for quite a time in order to concentrate on his business. In 2006, with the help of his brother Clive, Derek started up again with young birds and immediately set about the opposition in the strong Torfaen S.E.F.C. winning 9 x 1sts and 6 x 2nds plus two firsts Fed Open and three section firsts. The young bird season ended with Derek’s babies winning 32 positions at club level and 15 Federation prizes.
The success story continued in 2007 with yearlings and young birds winning 11 x 1sts; 9 x 2nds and a total of 49 positions at club level plus 2x 1st Fed and 2 x 1st section and a further 29 Federation prizes and 22 National and Combine prizes, to round off another excellent season’s racing. One of the highlights of the 2007 season was the winning of 1st, 3rd, 9th & 12th Fed Maidstone. Derek also clocked two yearlings on the day from Bonn at 450 miles, these being the only two birds on the day in the club, both birds containing the best of Scammell & Peploe’s multi National winning bloodlines.
So we come to the 2008 season and once again the Flowers’ race team were on top form from the word go. A total of 12 x 1sts; 9 x 2nds were included in an incredible 60 club prizes. Once again the team excelled at Federation level with a total of 34 Fed cards finding their way into the Flowers portfolio. These Federation prizes included a 1st, 2nd& 4th Open won in one race, and this remember, competing against many thousands of birds. Another highlight of the season was the winning of the longest race from Giessen at 540 miles with the only bird in race time. The Giessen winner proved to be a two year old blue hen of Janssen x De Klak bloodlines originating from pigeons purchased from the Lancashire partnership when Derek re started in the sport in 2006. Yet again the team continued to show its class at National and Combine level winning 28 prizes at the very top level. To add a little cream to the cake, a nice little earner of £1500 was won in a breeder/ buyer race from Ramsgate, this with a bird of Scammell & Peploe bloodlines.
On a recent visit to Derek’s lofts in Pontypool I was greatly impressed with both the loft set up and the quality of stock housed therein. The main racing loft is a custom built 34ft x 9ft structure containing five sections with a 3ft wide corridor fronting the internal sections. Two sections for cocks contain the very popular up and over style nest boxes with grid floors incorporated to reduce the work load. Next to these sections is a small section that houses the hens plus a further two sections to house the 50 strong young bird team. Sliding doors on the outside of the loft are covered with a fine green mesh which allows air and light into the loft but stops any rain driving into the interior. These are in place throughout daylight hours as the loft doors are only closed at night so there is no lack of ventilation here.
The old bird team of 25 pairs is raced on the ever popular round about system. Both cocks and hens are raced throughout the season. The racers are mated at the end of January and allowed to rear a young bird before the hens are taken away once the babies are ready for weaning. Cocks and hens are exercised twice daily for one hour on each occasion and also receive two twenty mile training tosses per week. All birds are fed communally in a hopper with a light breakdown feed on race return and in the early part of the week. A stronger racing mix containing a fair proportion of maize is then fed in the final days before basketting.
The twelve pairs of stock birds are also mated in the last week of January. The stock birds are housed in a converted summer house with a large aviary attached. The main bloodlines responsible for the Flower’s success are a combination of Wall, Lunt and Green Janssens and De Klaks and Scammell and Peploe bloodlines. Derek has found that the WLG Janssens excel up to 300 miles at which stage the Janssen x deKlak crosses seem to come into their own through to 550 miles. The Scammell & Peploe birds thrive at any distance but are exceptional on dirty days when the wind is on the nose and most of the convoy is struggling. Recent introductions have been made with the purchase at the clearance sale of the National winning stock birds of Jenkins & Newton. With an eye for the growing interest in long distance classic racing, Derek has also brought in birds of Jan Aarden and Vander Wegen bloodlines from Raymond Moleveld. However these are yet to be tested at the distance. The Janssens and De Klaks were particularly impressive specimens a little above medium sized, the cocks were light framed with magnificent bold heads and rich silky feathering. The hens too came into the hand well and were more apple bodied with excellent pectoral muscles.
All in all a very impressive set up and one which should go from strength to strength in the coming seasons.
Racing loft of Derek Flowers
Stock loft aviary
Interior of racing loft