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The Joe Murphy Column 02-08-18

The Joe Murphy Column

I start this week’s column by highlighting ‘Good SNFC Birds’ that have excelled in this year’s racing starting with J & J Hunt of Dundee Joe informed me that his blue bar cock SU14DF 1256 named ‘Cool Hand Luke’ that won from the Ypres national has now won his SNFC Silver Award for winning a section prize 3 times from the channel. His performances are as follows. As a yearling he won 8th section C 29th open from Eastbourne; then in 2016 he won 105th section C 428th open Littlehampton he was then sent to Ypres and won 21st section C 54th open. Last year he won 49th section C 167th open from Bedhampton and again sent to Ypres and he won 21st section 57th open. This year he has the same routine and won 68th section C 357th open from Buckingham before going to Ypres where he won 2nd section C 5th open and now wins his SNFC Silver Award. He also wins The Cher Ami Trophy for the first nominated pigeon in the race. The blue cock also requires ONE more inland section prize to gain a Meritorious Inland Bronze Award whether he goes for it or is retired; we wish Joe and ‘Cool Hand Luke’ all the best for the future. Another outstanding pigeon flying into the Tayside area is ‘Angel’ bred and raced by Gerald Macpherson of Brought Ferry. This chequer hen won the Dewar Trophy last year for the best channel performance in 2017; she also won the Kardale Trophy for the 1st yearling flying over 500 miles in the Gold Cup race. She also won the SHU Friendship Cup for the outstanding yearling performances in 2017. Angel won 2nd section C 27th open Alencon flying 569 miles she then won 3rd section C 17th open from Falaise flying 539 miles. This year 2018 she won 26th section 59th open SNFC Maidstone 390 miles she then 18th section C 85th open Liege flying 529 miles and this past week she won 10th section C 30th open Roye flying 522 miles. She is without doubt a wonderful pigeon to achieve so much at such a young age so congratulations to Gerald and his ‘Angel’. I have attached a photograph of her to go with this article.

Angel bred and raced by Gerald MacPherson

Walter Boswell of Hamilton is another fancier who caught my eye while looking at the SNFC results, I highlighted his good chequer hen ‘Louella Wee Jenna’ last week who won a SNFC Silver Award and included a photograph of her in my column he had previously won a SNFC Silver Award in 2015. Walter now wins his 2nd SNFC Silver Award in 2018 with his chequer hen SU16L12650 who won 3rd section E 10th open from Liege Gold Cup race flying 533 miles; she then won 49th section E from Ypres flying 446 miles and then 5 days later won 2nd section E 33rd open from Roye flying 508 miles. I also noticed another of Walter’s pigeons a chequer hen SU15L14370 who won 11th section E 143rd open Ypres and 3rd section E 37th open Roye (well done on a wonderful season Walter Joe M). John Leggate of Ferniegair blue chequer hen GB16S06111 is another pigeon that had a very good season winning twice in the national being 1st & 2nd section which takes some doing as there are some excellent fanciers and birds competing into this west section area. John’s hen won 2nd section E 9th open from Liege flying 530 miles and then won 1st section E 19th open from Roye flying 505 miles (outstanding well done John). Wilf Flockhart of Tranent dark chequer hen SU16A1346 known as the ‘Tame Hen’ as she lands on Wilf’s hand looking for a peanut. She has previously won 114th section B 434th open Bedhampton flying 361 miles. She then won 43rd section B 125th open from Ypres a distance of 426 miles in 2017. This year she won 6th section 24th open from Liege flying 506 miles and I noticed she just missed out on the Roye open result but won pools. Knowing Wilf he will just be glad to see his ‘Tame Hen’ home. This hen was bred by John Davidson of Ayrshire and contains Wilf’s family of birds crossed with Kerr Stainthorpe of Lesmahagow.  Morris Brothers of Johnstone David & Robert’s blue bar cock SU15 1310 is another good pigeon to do well this year as he won 3rd section H from Liege flying 549 miles and then won 2nd section H from Roye flying 521 miles. Their chequer hen SU15 1344 won 1st section H 34th open from Reims flying 581 miles to add to her 1st region F 13th open Falaise win in 2017 flying 519 miles. My last but not least pigeon in this short feature is a blue white flight hen SU15DF1725 raced by Billy Bilsland of Ayton. From the longest national from Reims she won 72nd open but no section prize flying 526 miles, however she was up with the leaders from the Roye national winning 5th section B 17th open flying 471 miles. My congratulations to ALL the ABOVE pigeons and fanciers, on their outstanding achievements in this year SNFC races, there may well be more fanciers and birds that I have missed out. Therefore I ask these fanciers to supply me with their bird’s details and I will willingly give them some publicity. I don’t have a great memory that can remember every bird or position that each individual bird has won. However their owners do as it is THEIR pigeon so can I please ask them to drop me an email or give me a phone and I will have great pleasure in highlighting them in my column.   

Morris Brothers of Johnstone


Angus Federation

From the Roye race flown in conjunction with the SNFC the convoy were liberated on Thursday 19th July at 07-00 hours into a light west wind. Topping the federation and also 4th & 5th fed as well as being 1st 5th & 70th open SNFC is Ian Scott from Forfar. Charlie & Glen Cameron of Arbroath club are 2nd & 6th fed with their winner being 3rd & 71st open SNFC. G Campbell of Montrose is 3rd federation with the Macaulay Ferguson & Curran partnership in 7th spot with Willie McKnight of Forfar in is in 8th & 13th places. Kenny Droog & son of Forfar are 9th with Kevin J Murphy from Arbroath in 10th 11th & 14th places. Eric Galloway of Forfar is 12th with Less McKay of Arbroath club in 15th & 17th open M Wallace of Montrose club is 18th  with David J Liddle of Forfar taking the last position.  

Arbroath RPC

From the Roye race 4 members sent 26 birds liberated at 07-00 hours into a light west wind the only pigeon on the day was to Charlie & Glen Cameron. They timed in their 2nd pigeon early next morning just after 6am. 3rd 4th & 5th is Kevin J Murphy with Les McKay in 6th & 7th positions.  Charlie & Glen’s club winner is 2nd section C 3rd open SNFC Roye he is a 2 year dark chequer widowhood cock called ‘Branch’. He scored at the SNFC Bedhampton race in 2017 as a yearling and flew out to Buckingham with the national this year only just missing the prizes list. Unfortunately he returned with his foot badly injured as a result ‘Branch’ was stopped for the year. Over the next 6 weeks of inactivity he recovered and in the last 2 weeks he took a shine to flying round the loft and was sent to a 100 mile comeback race. The night before basketting he flew himself into selection for the Roye race by exercising 1 hour longer then the rest of the team. As a result he took over the other candidates and was sent as the partnership’s nominated pigeon.
Sire is a direct Leon Messiaen from Leon's pigeon the ‘Perpignan’ a great racer and potentially a better breeder. Leon is renowned for his results with a small team from Barcelona. The dam is direct from the family Malfait. The 2nd club winner is  a 2 year old hen from Keith Bush crossed Leon Messiaen bloodlines. We were especially glad to see her as she's is the dam of our 2nd open SNRPC Arras winner.

Grampian Combine

The Ypres result had 33 members sending 333 birds, these were liberated at 06-45am into a North West wind. Billy McEwan had a great race being 1st 7th 8th & 15th with J & J Hunt in 2nd place Mark Young was 3rd 5th 24th & 25th with Charlie & Glen Cameron in 4th place. Brice McKenzie is 6th 13th & 22nd with Forfar’s Davie Glen in 9th & 23rd spot. Kevin J Murphy is 10th 11th & 28th with John Wiseman in 12th 16th & 30th. Ian Scott is 13th & 18th with John Duthie in 17th & 20th place. Jim Lawrence is 19th & 26th with David J Liddle in 21st & 27th and Davie Nicoll is in 29th position.  

Almond Valley Federation

News from Lynne Stewart of the Stobs Camp race held on 21st July with 734 youngsters being liberated at 11:30 hours. Taking the first 2 in the race is Dougie Bald of Balerno with Wells & Scott of Forth & Clyde in 3rd & 13th positions. Jimmy Young of East Calder is 4th with Vic Couper of Forth & Clyde in 5th place. His club mate Geordie Harris takes the next 7 positions plus 16th & 17th open. Mr & Mrs J C Angus Beaton of Armadale are 14th open with club mate D McBeath in 15th 18th 19th & 20th positions.

Club Winners as follows;

Armadale 478 birds; 1st Mr Mrs J C Angus Beaton 865.375, D McBeath 863.828, 853.657, 853.271

Balerno 47 birds; 1st D Bald 899.756, 897.381, C Bain 849.740, 659.546

Carnwath 22 birds;

East Calder 62 birds; 1st J M Young 886.716, 792.029, 778.786, J Burnside 738.800

Forth & Clyde 134 birds; 1st Wells & Scott 891.789, V Couper 886.315, G Harris 885.880, 885.056

Ayrshire Federation

News from Archie McIntyre of the federation final old bird race in their calendar this was once again another joint convoying venture with the SNFC from Ypres; with Ayrshire having a good turnout for this race with 182 birds. Once again there was a not enough SNFC baskets at the marking station, and again, Ayrshire federation creates had to be used to get the birds basketed and across to their collection point. Taking 1st fed this week on 1220.8 and for the 2nd year running from Ypres is Hugh Wallace of Darvel HS. Hugh timed his yearling chequer cock to record 1st fed, 1st section H 1st region. He was sent to race growing his 3rd flight and feeding a 32 day old young bird on the floor. Sire is Jan Aarden bred by Peter Virtue while the dam is one of Hughie’s original Etienne Meirlaen stock birds bought at Brian Jones of Crewe reduction sale. He had 2 races as a young bird, 4 races up to 200 miles this year and then trained with Ypres in mind. Taking 2nd & 3rd fed Ypres is Robert Reid of Beith, a man who needs no introduction to being there or thereabouts when it comes to the distances racing into Ayrshire. Robert had a fantastic race from Ypres timing 4 pigeons on the night and another three pigeon the next morning. 2nd fed, 2nd section H and 231st open for Robert is a light chequer hen SU14A7739 bred down from Robert’s old stock pair. Her sire was bred in year 2004 and had at least first federation prizes and diplomas with the SNRPC.  ‘He was one of those pigeons when stuck for something to pool the money always went on him’. This cock was bred down from Robert’s old McEwen pigeons which he introduced last century. The dam of “7739” was a pigeon bred by Ken Buchannan. SU07L20225 while mated with the 2004 cock they produced several good pigeons for Robert. Last Year “7739" lost out on a possible 1st section from the Gold Cup race being timed just yards outside of race time in a race very few pigeons overall were timed in. This year the target race for “7739” was again the Gold Cup. She had several races then returned from Buckingham on the 2nd day with an injury to her back. She took 12 days to lay so Robert decided it would be unfair to send her to the Gold Cup and she was prepared for Ypres. 3rd fed is a chequer cock SU15A2596. He was lost in his first race as a youngster but returned a few weeks late. He has been lightly raced since but had both Buckingham and Maidstone before going to Ypres this year. He was sent to Ypres with his hen having just laid her first egg on the day before basketting. His sire is a pigeon Robert purchased from Robert Anderson of Kirkintilloch whose dam won the section from the Gold cup (year and race point unknown). Dam of 2596 is a chequer stock hen bred on the lines of the 2004 sire of “7739”.  When I was up catching a photo of Robert’s 2nd fed Ypres pigeon I took the opportunity to also take a photo of Robert’s timer the day before my visit from SNFC Roye. Once again Robert’s pigeons have put up a fantastic performance to record 1st section H, 69th open Roye flying 520 miles timing her a 06:02 the following morning. Robert was telling me this his is related to his 2nd fed, 2nd section H, 231st open Ypres pigeon “7739”.  Fantastic pigeon over here into the west of Scotland well done Robert.

North Section 115 birds; 1st & 2nd Robert Reid (Dalry H S) 1093.2 and 1041.0

3rd Tom Smith (Dalry HS) 1006.4

Central Section 40 birds; 1st Hugh Wallace (Darvel HS) 1220.8 2nd Harvey Pollock (Irvine HS) 1036.4 3rd Welsh & Holland (Darvel HS) 874.5

South Section 27 birds; 1st, 2nd and 3rd Cree & Cuthbert (Whitletts & Dist) 1024.4, 721.9 and 678.0                      

Fife Federation

Members sent 133 birds with the SNFC to Roye for their last old bird of the season; these were liberated at 07-00 hours into a light west wind. Topping the west section and federation is Jim Doig of Lochgelly club with Willie Pratt of Crossgates in 2nd & 6th west section 2nd & 11th open. Davie Jack of Tayport is 1st east section 3rd open with S Donaldson of Perth 4th open 3rd west section. Turpie & McCord of Glenrothes club are 1st 2nd & 4th centre section 5th 24th & 33rd open with Ronnie Stevenson of Leven 2nd east section 6th open. A Whittaker is 3rd east section 7th open with Alastair McCudden of Crossgates club 4th & 10th west section 8th & 16th open Brian Chalmers of Kennoway is 4th east section 9th open followed by R Cook in 10th & 13th open 5th & 8th west section 3rd centre section 28th open is Sean Diamond of Kennoway with Jocky King of Novar in 5th section 35th open. My thanks to Geordie Todd for the federation result.

North of Scotland Federation

For the first young bird race of the season we had 39 members sending 1147 birds at Brechin; With the east section having 21 members sending 725 birds; and the west section with 18 members sending 422 birds these were liberated into a west to south west wind into a blue sky. Taking the first 3 places in the east section and open is A W Buchan of Fraserburgh & District club with the 2 of them doing 1446 velocity. G & M Williams of Peterhead & District are 4th & 10th section and open. R H Whyte of the same club is 5th & 6th section and open with club mate George P Taylor taking the next 2 places in section and open. J Abel of Devern Valley is 1st 2nd 3rd west section 11th 18th & 19th open with Fulton & Ritchie of the same club in 4th 5th & 8th west section 20th 21st & 28th open. Their club mate G Wilson is 6th west section 22nd open with A Wilson of the same club in 9th & 10th section 29th & 30th open.

Club First Birds as follows; 

A W Buchan of Fraserburgh & District; G & M Williams of Peterhead & District; J Abel of Devern Valley; A Robb of Inverurie; A Higgins of Fraserburgh West End; A Cruickshank of Keith; D Andrews of Elgin & District.

Well done to Alex Buchan on winning the federation and to J Abel on winning the west section. That’s it for this week Joe wishing you all the best George.’


As we all know the above is rife at this time of the year and after receiving this from Philip Cooper I thought I would use it to help fanciers out. Philip wrote; ‘Hope all is well, I recently read this article and found it very interesting but I bet you have seen it before; What is it and what to do about it? by Dr. Colin Walker B.Sc. B.V.Sc. M.A.C.V.S (avian health) The term ‘Young Bird Disease’ refers to a condition where young pigeons, usually in the first few weeks after weaning become quiet, fluffed, lose weight, develop a green mucoid diarrhoea and die. The cause is a virus called Circo virus. The term ‘Young Bird Disease’ is in my mind a poor one and one that I think should be abandoned. The problem is that it groups a whole lot of diseases that cause similar symptoms into a single category. As the way these diseases are caught, transmitted and indeed treated are different they need to be differentiated. Fanciers run the risk of seeing any young pigeon with these symptoms and simply putting them down to ‘Young Bird Disease’ when in fact all he is acknowledging is that the young pigeon is sick with wasting and diarrhoea. Coccidiosis, Adeno-coli syndrome, Chlamydia, Salmonella, E.coli, Herpes virus, thrush, hair worm infection, internal canker, Aspergillus and many other diseases can all cause similar symptoms. A much better term which actually states the true nature of the infection would be Pigeon Circo Virus Disease, so that instead of a fancier saying his pigeon had ‘Young Bird Disease’, the fancier would say, after an accurate diagnosis that his pigeons had Pigeon Circo Virus Disease. Circo virus is an infectious transmittable virus that spreads from one bird to another. The virus is shed in droppings, tears, saliva and possibly also feather debris. Once in the loft it can be assumed that every pigeon will be exposed to the virus and that the vast majority will actually become infected. Typically however only about 5% actually show symptoms, while the other 95% although infected with the virus do not develop clinical symptoms i.e. do not become sick. If tested at this time, they will return a positive result and are infected, but look completely normal sitting on the perch. Birds that do become sick develop the typical symptoms of weight loss, lethargy, diarrhoea and some will develop yellow scum in the mouth. These birds almost invariably die. The ones that do not become sick after a period of time clear the virus from their system. We do not currently know how long this takes but it is thought that the majority will clear the virus from their system in about 4 to 6 months. There is the possibility however, that some birds will fail to clear the virus and remain as persistent carriers. The significance of Circo virus infection is that while the virus is active in the bird it interferes with the functioning of the immune system. Specifically it targets a particular type of white blood cell called the T lymphocyte. This means that the pigeons ability to resist other infections is compromised while the virus is active. For this reason in some parts of the world Pigeon Circo Virus is called pigeon AIDS. Often what alerts us to a Circo virus infection is an increased incidence of these secondary diseases. If your birds are experiencing a higher level of canker or eye colds than normal or if the problem quickly comes back after treatment it may be that Circo virus is the underlying cause. When disease proves difficult to control or behaves in an unpredictable manner it’s always worthwhile asking your vet to check for a concurrent Circo virus infection.

Two Waves of Loss

Typically when Circo virus gets into a loft there are two waves of loss. The first of these occurs when the virus first enters and works its way through the loft. As mentioned earlier, about 5% of the birds will be lost. As the weeks role by after the last death it is easy for the fancier, who has not been to a vet, to think that the problem is now past. In fact all of the surviving birds in his loft, which may look completely normal are now infected with the virus and until they throw the virus off in a couple of months, have an impaired immune system and increased vulnerability to secondary disease. Typically these secondary diseases are wet canker and Chlamydia (respiratory infection) although they can be any disease. Pigeons rely on exposure to a whole range of potential disease causing organisms during growth including these two to develop a good natural immunity. If Circo virus is active this immunity comes, but takes much longer. This is where the second wave of loss occurs. Fanciers who fail to identify and manage these problems tend to lose a lot of pigeons tossing and in the early races. It’s not that the pigeons are not any good, it’s just that too much is being asked of them. If they were ‘nursed’ along until a bit older and any secondary diseases monitored and treated as required many of these lost young birds would go on a make good race birds.

How Does the Disease Get Into the Loft?

Often the virus enters with a young bird deliberately entered from another loft where Circo virus is active. Remember that 95% of young birds in an infected loft do not show any symptoms, and so this introduced youngster does not have to look sick or in fact ever get sick. It will however shed the virus and infect other birds for several months until it, like the majority of birds, clears the virus from its system.

How is the Disease Diagnosed?

It is very easy. The disease can be diagnosed from a single drop of blood. In Australia test kits are mailed to fanciers. All the fancier does is prick the birds toe, just above the claw. When a drop of blood oozes onto the skin it is wiped off with a thin strip of supplied blotting-type paper and placed into a small clip lock plastic test tube. This is then mailed to the vet for testing. Once collected the sample is good for weeks, and so there is no problem if it takes a couple of days for the sample to reach its destination. The test is called a PCR and checks for Circo virus DNA in the birds’ blood. It is very accurate and in Australia costs the equivalent of 25 pounds or US$50. Of interest, Chlamydia infection can also be checked from the same sample.

The disease can also be diagnosed through microscopic examination of tissues collected during an autopsy. Here, the tissues are stained so that the virus can actually be seen. In other birds including parrots a HI/HA blood test is also available that tests for viral protein and also the amount of immunity already formed by that bird.

What to do if Your Birds have ‘Young Bird Disease’ i.e. Circo virus infection?

The first thing to do is accurately establish the diagnosis. This means contacting the vet. If you have several young birds become sick, don’t assume a diagnosis. The problem may be Circo virus or it may be one of the other problems mentioned earlier. Don’t rely on the old guy down at the club or your neighbour who also races pigeons. They don’t have the diagnostic testing available and this simply wastes time. Similarly don’t go to the local dog and cat vet. If he doesn’t do a lot of bird work, he can’t be expected to know and it is therefore unfair to be critical of him. Go to a qualified avian vet or a vet with a lot of bird experience. It’s worth mentioning here that avian birds can be thin on the ground, but you don’t have to be near one. Phone to have a test kit mailed out to you or organize to send a live bird to them via courier. 50% of the thousands of fanciers who use my clinic as their veterinary provider live more that 50 miles from the clinic.

Do bear in mind that antibiotics kill bacteria but not viruses. There is no medication that can be routinely prescribed that directly kills viruses. This means the infection needs to be brought under control by other means. In some areas of the world a vaccine for pigeon Circo virus is available. Where it’s available routine vaccination of 6 week old youngsters is recommended.

What to do if the problem is diagnosed in your loft

In the face of an outbreak, where available, all youngsters should be vaccinated. After this the following 4 point plan is adopted: separate sick birds; treat them with a broad spectrum antibiotic e.g. Baytril 2.5% four drops once daily orally and an anti-canker drug e.g. Spartix 1 tablet daily. And place an electrolyte/glucose preparation e.g. Electrolyte P180 in the water. If the birds fail to respond in a few days, they are often best eliminated. to minimize viral build up in the loft ensure the loft is regularly cleaned and kept clean and dry. care for the birds as well as you possibly can so that the majority can mount a good immune response to the virus i.e. ‘fight’ the disease. This means, no over-crowding, a good diet, good parasite control and treating any secondary diseases identified through testing.

give probiotics, giving probiotics e.g. ‘Probac’ will decrease the impact of the disease. This is not a treatment for sick birds but if a bird is exposed to Circo virus while it is on probiotics it is that much harder for the virus, or at least an overwhelming dose of the virus, to infect that bird. I usually recommend ‘Probac’ be placed in the food or water for 2 weeks initially and then for 2 to 3 days each week until the virus has worked its way through the birds i.e. it has been several weeks since a bird has got sick. After this do nothing except provide good care until the start of tossing. Then have the birds checked i.e. crop flush, fecal smear and Chlamydia test by a bird vet. Any disease that the bird has not developed a good immunity against i.e. still detectable should be treated and controlled so that the second wave of loss is avoided. Do note that killing sick birds is not a way of eliminating the disease from the loft because the majority of infected birds show no symptoms. Although it can be frustrating to lose 5% of the youngsters, the important thing to remember is that 90% of the birds in a typical out break do not die. The team is therefore essentially intact and with correct management can still go on and win if the birds are good enough. A good thing is that it appears that recovered birds do develop a good immunity to the disease. This has been shown to occur with Circo virus (a different but related virus) in parrots. It also appears that this immunity can be passed through the crop milk and indeed the egg (the yolk which is sucked into the abdomen during development, contains lots of antibodies and hatching chicks also gulp and swallow some of the egg white (which also contains immunoglobins) which coats the lining of the bowel). Because of these and other factors the effect of the virus dramatically reduces each year.

Joe’s Joke

A new teacher was trying to make use of her psychology courses. She started her class by saying; ‘Everyone who thinks they’re stupid, stand up!’ After a few seconds little Jamie stood up. The teacher said, ‘Do you think you are stupid, Jamie?’ ‘No Miss, but I hate to see you standing there all by yourself’.


Please continue to keep the news flowing; to Joe Murphy Mystical Rose Cottage 2 Flutorum Avenue Thornton by Kirkcaldy KY1 4BD or phone 01592 770331 or Email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. REMEMBER THE J IN THE MIDDLE or log onto and - Pigeon Racing the Basics! Who wish my weekly contribution portfolio on pigeon topics from Scotland

© Compiled by Joe Murphy