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Mick Stocktonwith Les Parkinson 19-11-18

Mick Stockton of Sandbach with Les J Parkinson.

 

Every now and again a fancier moves into another area and leaves fancier wondering, where did he come from. That was the case when Mick Stockton moved to Sandbach where he was soon hitting the high spots with his team of racing pigeons. When you see some pigeon fanciers with their birds you can tell whether they are a natural and Mick is one of those, a natural with racing pigeons. It is the attitude that fanciers adopt that makes them into how they are going to develop in the future with racing pigeons. I am sure many fanciers have looked at others in the same way, let’s be honest, how many when looking at someone around racing pigeons either say or think to themselves, they will never make a pigeon fancier, but a few years down the road they do. In Mick’s case you could see from day one that he was going to make it in the sport. There will be a lot about but what I do think is fanciers like Mick have that bit extra when they are with their racing pigeons, yes, a natural. I suppose it is the upbringing with the sport that makes you or breaks you, in Mick’s case he has been around then since he was a young boy and that is what has made him into the excellent fancier that he is today.

Les J Parkinson & Mick Stockton

I had heard that Mick lived right next to the M6 but I didn’t realise just how close that was until we went to visit him. If you put the house on rollers you would roll it under the M6 bridge at the side of the house and if they were on the same level there is little more than the hard shoulder plus another, that’s how close they are. Mick did say that he has had pigeons hit by wagons when they are flying low. I said doesn’t the noise bother you, the answer was no, you get used to it and don’t hear it after a while.

Mick’s racing is done with the Mid Cheshire fed, South West Cheshire Fed, North West Classic Club and the Cheshire 2B. There is a good selection of races available there for Mick to have a good go at up to 500mls. He also does his bit with the clubs being chairman in his two local clubs and does whatever is needed when they are marking the birds for the races. There are not enough good workers in pigeon racing and the sport needs members like Mick who are prepared to get stuck in and help where required, and not be on the side-lines.

Lofts of Mick Stockton with the stock loft on the right

What about the lofts that Mick races his pigeons to, they consist of one at 18ft and one at 10ft with aviaries the full length at the rear. Mick was saying that he is not bothered so much about the roof as long as the loft has good ventilation. The one thing he doesn’t like on the roof are bare tin sheets because they cause condensation that drips onto the floor which, should always be kept dry, if not you are asking for trouble. There is not even any heating in the lofts, as Mick pointed out there is no advantage unless you are early breeding and you get a hard-cold spell. The loft ventilation is more important and that is done through sliding doors. The lofts are not what you call spacious because Mick does not like them having too much room because he thinks it makes them too wild, he always wants them under control especially when he is in the loft. The young bird loft is set up for the darkness system which, if used they are on for about 12 weeks. However always looking to improve Mick tried the light system this year because he doesn’t think this affects them as much later in life as the darkness system does. I pointed out that when I first started racing pigeons, I was pairing up the first week in December when hardly anyone did it, so Mick pointed out that I was on darkness and didn’t know it. He is right because by the time we got to April those young birds had gone through a full body moult and looking a picture of health. What the continentals dis was to modify the darkness system to get them through a body moult, but I have always thought this is where a lot of the health problems in pigeons have come from. The young birds are put under a lot of stress before the season even starts.   If any go bad during this period, they have to go, it is no use hanging on to sick pigeons that can pass it on to the rest of the inmates. This is where some fanciers make mistakes, they don’t observe the pigeons enough and fail to pick up when they are off colour, when they do it is too late, and they are all affected. Getting back to the lofts, in the widowhood sections there was a bob fitted under the nest boxes which is where Mick put the hens to go through to the aviary at the back of the loft instead of basketing them and taking them round the hard way.

Widowhood cocks and notice the box under the nest boxes where the hens are sent through to the aviary at the back.

Let’s move onto what the birds that have done so well for Mick and for a change we visit a loft with no specific breed in mind. They are good pigeons paired together and they do have to perform. He has stuck to the same pigeons for a long time and doesn’t normally bring in new pigeons. However. he recently decided to extend his racing by bringing in a few new Denny pigeons for the longer races. When Mick has brought in new stock, they have been the odd ones from fanciers who are doing well at the time. but he doesn’t go overboard on any particular family. Putting winners to winners has been what Mick has done but when top pigeons are getting old, he does like to line breed to keep the blood line going. To get into the stock loft they are generally good racers who have done what is asked of them, plus the odd ones who may have bred a good pigeon or two while in the race team.

The birds are paired in January which gives Mick time to take two rounds of eggs of the pigeons who are breeding a good type. There are 10prs stock birds and two rounds are taken off them each year and if they have produced nothing after two years, they are removed from the breeding loft. The racers are also bred from which is where Mick gets a few breeders for future years. There are also a few later youngsters reared but none are kept for Mick as by that time of the year he needs no more going into his own team.

For racing Mick has been concentrating on the widowhood hens and does utilise both local feds by sending the cocks to one fed and the hens to the other, with having 25prs this gives him chance to test them all. As part of their preparation the training is from 9mls only, but if Mick thinks they are not as he wants them, he then reconsiders, and they go to 25mls. With them being raced every week they don’t really need too much training but as mick said, “Condition does not come through sitting on a perch, and that is the reason why they get those extra tosses from 25mls”

Some of the 2018 results include; 1st club 1st Fed Frome. 2nd 3rd 5th 6th club 5th 6th fed Portland. 1st club 1st Fed Bath. 1st 2nd 3rd 4th club & Fed Cheltenham. 1st 2nd 3rd 4th club 1st 2nd 3rd Fed Bath. 1st 2nd club 2nd 3rd Fed Yeovil. 1st club 8th Fed Frome. 2nd 3rd club 2nd 6th Fed Frome.1st 2nd club 4th Fed Frome. 1st 2nd 4th club 1st 2nd 5th Fed Bath. 1st 3rd section 3rd 5th Open North West Classic Carentan. I only got these results after I had done the other text so have added them in the appropriate place. I then started to think about the conversation I had with Mick about being wound up for the racing. Having now seen these results I can fully understand him when he said he put everything into the birds and the channel results were affected. What will he do in 2019, I don’t think he will be wound up in the same way and will revert back to his own style of racing and compete in the channel events. All that road work paid off for the land races but took too much out of them to be properly competitive when they go across that stretch of water which a lot of pigeons don’t like anyway.

To help get and keep them right Mick likes to treat them on a weekly basis for ailments and the system he uses does keep them healthy, which is shown in their results. On the feeding front Mick buys 4 different corns and mixes them on the basis of how they performed in the last race. The old birds are all on one measure but does realise that some need more than others if they are to be in the best condition. The young birds are treated differently and are fed via the hopper, but he does keep an eye on what they have. They have grit and minerals in front of them all the time. There are no secrets in feeding racing pigeons because there are so many mixes about, it’s a case of getting the one that suits you and your methods. They need to be in good health if they are to make their mark in the race team and if a pigeon doesn’t look right you need to take it out of the loft and don’t race it until it is OK.  We can all have an off day, so Mick does give them one chance and if they go off form let the old birds run together for a few days and then start again, this usually does the trick. The yearlings are sent to the full club programme if they are in the right condition. The young birds are also raced every week, which Mick thinks is far better preparing them for the longer races as they have more time on the wing.

Young bird loft

When it comes to racing an interesting thought from fanciers is, “Do you think a pigeon has the capabilities to race both short and long-distance races” Mick’s view is, “Yes to a point, it’s all about the feeding and the motivation. It also depends on the conditions on the day, saying that there are two types of birds which is why I have brought in the Denny pigeons” Within pigeon racing we all look at other fanciers when we are younger and in Mick’s case it is Sylvester Bros from Stoke, a well-known winning team in the Potteries. The Stoke on Trent area used to be a real hotbed with many fanciers in the mighty North Staffs Fed where most of today’s fanciers learnt their trade in how to look after and race pigeons. Even though there are not so many fanciers in the area there are still fanciers who are continuing to make their mark in the pigeon world.

What Mick likes is the social side which he get’s during the winter shows and he was saying that his daughter liked showing them. This all started after she went to the Blackpool show and she has never lost interest since then.

I kept hearing that sound pigeon fanciers don’t like, Mick showed is his BOP that he uses as a pest controller. They looked good sitting on their perches tethered to the posts and their noise doesn’t appear to bother the pigeons. A strange combination for a pigeon fancier but as long as it suits then there’s no harm.

Anyway, thanks to Mick for his time and no doubt he will be amongst the prize winners again in 2019. What I will add, and this is a bit of good advice, don’t wind him up because someone did it during 2018 and he set them straight with his excellent performances. He was saying that he trained twice as much as normal and had an improved season. However, the down side was he believes he took the best out of them when he came to the races, he wanted to compete in most from across the channel. It was certainly interesting to see the livestock on the same piece of ground as the racing pigeons. Thanks again for your time Mick.