Mick & Wendy Mellor “Millys Lofts” from Crewe.
The One Loft Race specialists.
When I first started racing there was a lot of good competition about, and Crewe was a hive of activity when pigeon events came around. In the late 50’s I lived in Crewe, and you didn’t have to go far to find a pigeon fancier. Where I lived, there were probably 10 within close range, the nearest being George and Mush Walton the father and son pigeon fanciers who both raced to their own lofts. There were a few of us at school who had pigeons but none of us raced in those days, but this was the start of my time in pigeons. I used to spend a lot of time at the gates to the field where the Walton’s had their lofts. I do remember Mush talking about fanciers, but I must be honest most of them I cannot remember but some were still racing when I started in Middlewich. It was that interest that started me racing and when I look back at Crewe fanciers in general there were some top fanciers about who made good competitive racing which is what it is all about. The Mellor family were over the other side of Crewe, so at that time I did not know much about them but looking back I think I missed out not knowing more fanciers from the town, mind you it was my school days so did not get about as much as I probably should have done, learning all the time. Competition is what makes good fanciers and I have known a few good ones from Crewe over the years. Mick has learnt his trade in this tough competition which is why he is good at what he does.
Now let us get onto our subjects for this report on Mick & Wendy Mellor, the mother and son partnership who have been racing pigeons for many years. First, we need to go back even further to when Corky Mellor was the main pigeon fancier in the family, a man who knew how to race and look after pigeons. Corky was Wendy’s husband and Mick’s father which is where he got the appetite from to race pigeons in the first place. Corky had pigeons from a young boy and Wendy did say she was 14yrs old when she met her future husband, and he was fanatical about the pigeons in those days. Corky raced until 1977 when he had a 3yr break but was back in 1980 at the age of 40yrs. He raced for 10yrs before he unfortunately passed away at the young age of 50yrs. Wendy did say the one thing he wanted to do was walk their daughter down the aisle before he died and that is what he did.
So, this was the start of Mick & Wendy racing pigeons themselves but before that Mick did show his dad that he was not going to be told what to do, he did make his own decisions, but he also learned a great deal from his dad. Mick was telling me when he was 14yrs he saved up £5 and went to a sale and bought a pigeon, his dad was not amused. His dad would not let him put the pigeon in the loft, so he made a box for it, and he did get round to racing it. He sent it to a big race, and they were liberated on a day that saw many not making it home. They sat at the loft waiting for the three pigeons that Corky had sent and Mick’s “Lone Ranger”. It was so bad in late afternoon that Corky decided none would be home so went in the house out of the rain. Mick stayed out and was dripping wet through waiting for his pigeon to come home. The hours passed by until the “Lone Ranger” dropped into the loft, so Mick clocked him and did all the booking in this National race. He went in the house wet through to show his dad that his single entry had arrived. Mick cannot remember exactly where it finished but it was somewhere in the 300’s. In those days, the National had many times more members and were sending twice as many birds as they are today so the competition was tough, what a day for Mick. The sad part about it was some lads pinched the pigeon and fed it to their ferrets, what happened next is better left behind. In those days there were a lot of teenagers who had their own small loft but kept them as pets, some were lucky like Mick because his dad had pigeons and did guide him as much as he could. I remember those days well because I was one of those schoolboy teenagers who had a loft of some description, wish I had photos of them.
Mick Mellor race loft
We could write a lot about the past but let us get up to date and tell you about these lofts with a difference. When I first saw the old bird race loft I thought, “Racing to nest boxes” but that was not the case the nest boxes are on the front of the lofts and not the traditional way of being on the back wall. If you look at the photo of the lofts you can see the panels at floor level that open for the birds to enter the lofts. The stock loft is 36ft where 17prs are housed and they normally breed a small team for racing purposes.
Main Stock loft
Normally there are just the 17prs of stock but more have been added recently because Mick is always looking for top breeders for the OLR’s that he is always entering. The stock loft was set up for 17prs in individual pens so that he knows and is certain what every pigeon is bred off. These pens are not excessively big, but the pigeons manage them very well and have different shelves so that there are places where they can go down on their next nest of eggs away from the youngsters in the nest. Mick was saying that most have reared 5 nests of young this year and they still look as if they are on their first nest of the season, they must have a strong constitution.
There were some feeding young birds to go to another One Loft Race. I have included a photo of a small team of young birds in a wire pen at floor level.
Young birds entered into One loft races ready to be despatched
Mick was saying that he likes to select his type to go to the races and if he let’s them grow on a few weeks longer he can make a better judgement on what he is sending out. You can see that Mick spends time with the pigeons because they do respond to him, they know his calling sound to them. There is a long narrow section at the back of the lofts where the additional stock birds are housed but they are not in individual pens, they are communal. If they are selected to go on to breed pigeons to be entered into the OLR’s then they are moved to the individual pens so that Mick is certain what they are off. As he pointed out, when he gets a good one, he needs to be sure of the breeding which is probably why he does so well in such races. There are some older birds in the single pen stock loft so their replacements will be chosen from the stock birds in the back loft.
Widowhood cocks section
We then went into the widowhood hens’ section who are kept in individual boxes. As Mick walked into their section, he called to them and they all responded, the hens are also raced. The hens are housed in individual boxes right next to the cock’s sections they were also responsive dragging their tails at Mick. The pigeons all appeared to be happy in the loft, you would think Mick spent all day with them, but he does not, what time is spent in the lofts is prime time and the pigeons like that. What I did like were the grills in the back loft where the spare stock birds are housed. In the middle of this narrow section which runs the length of the lofts there is a section of grills in the floor where the birds can have a bath, through closing doors other birds can also have a bath in this area.
Single pens for stock birds Spare breeders section
One Loft Racing & birds housed.
Mick’s passion is with the OLR’s where they have successfully bred many winners. “Millys Loft” is well known for success in these races and to date have won in the region of £181,400. There are 17prs of stock, but they are carefully selected, and Mick is no fool, they have a set time to breed winners, if not then they go. Mick did say that he does not usually keep so many stock birds, but an opportunity came along to purchase some good stock and he took it. As well as winning in the OLR’s they also win in the local races and as I type these notes Mick tells me that they took the first three the day before and was also 3rd in the Victoria Falls Hot Spot race on the same weekend. As we know breeding young birds is an art if you are going to produce winners at the highest level. It is not just a case of buying the best and putting them in a loft to breed, they also need to be matched and that is something not everyone can do. Mick has a knack of pairing pigeons to produce birds to race in the races he is after most of all, One Loft Races. He has sent birds to the best of these races and does have a good record racing under “Millys Loft”. When you look at the lofts and the number of birds housed it becomes obvious that they are far from overcrowded. It is the space that helps to make a good environment and happy and content pigeons to breed and win races. OLR’s are where all birds are treated the same and therefore the cream will rise to the top. These are the races where the small back garden loft can shine, quality pigeons paired right are just what we need, finding them is another matter. Even the best pigeons in the world do not always produce winners, as we know there are many top producers who are a few generations from a winning line, but they can come good. When Mick first started sending to the OLR’s it was with a team of 15 to the SCMDR, he wanted to have a real good go. Out of those 15 there were 7 that shone through with the best being “Red Dundee”. So, I asked Mick if the reds were from Scotland, apparently not and a question that many have asked. They flew so well for the team he based his OLR birds on them. However, not wanting to stand still with the stock birds he continued to look for birds to improve his already winning team he brought in a few more stock birds. The new ones were bred off such pigeons as, Hillcroft Bomber Boy” “Queen” “Golden Balls” and some of the best from the Crammond & Langstaff clearance sale. The Leakens pigeons were also brought in to cross with the “Red Dundee” lines and they have worked well together. I was talking to Paul Smith about the birds of Mick & Wendy, and he was saying that Mick bought his team of pigeons that he had put together to breed his OLR Pigeons. Rather than pick out of this I am going to include it all because you can then see the pigeons themselves and what they are responsible for. Mick was saying that he bought a team of pigeons that Paul Smith put together for OLR so rather than me just add a few names from those pigeons I asked Paul to send me the information because he knew the pigeons and what they have bred or won. Through having details on the pigeons, you can also see why they are breeding winners. This is Paul’s view on the pigeons. “Early in 2021, I decided to sell the 18 pigeons that I had put together to breed some pigeons for the One Loft Races around the world. I had six pigeons that I owned and the other twelve were owned by myself and Paul Stacey from Rayleigh. These pigeons as you can see were specially selected with One Loft Racing in mind and were bred from pigeons that had performed well in One Loft Races were brothers, sisters to top One Loft Prize winners. As I knew Michael Mellor was extremely interested in One Loft Racing, I decided to offer these to Michael as I knew he would breed pigeons from these and enter the offspring into top One Loft Races around the World. My top pair were named “African Perfection and “African Princess” and had already bred One Loft Race position winners in the UK, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tenerife. The first youngster I ever bred from this pair was named “Queen Victoria” GB16N66199 and was sent to the Victoria Falls World Challenge pigeon race, she won 1st UK (Activated pigeon), 13th Open Victoria Falls world challenge pigeon race Hwandge 86KM (53 miles) In Hot Spot 1, against 882 pigeons and she won a cool US $6000 (approx. £5000) prize money, she was the 2nd Activated Pigeon clocked in this race. Another one from this pair was named Essex Triumph GB17N059275 and this hen was sent out to compete in the 22nd South African Million Dollar Pigeon Race, she flew the whole race programme very consistently, I then purchased back at auction after the Final Race, and she is now back at stock in the UK. This lovely hen was also purchased by Mick Mellor. In 2018, I sent two youngsters from this pair to the Royal Pigeon Racing Association One Loft Race, they were Paul's dream GB18N32361 this pigeon flew exceptionally well and was lying 9th Ace Pigeon after the 4th Hot Spot Race and “Paul's Star” GB18N32362 which completed the full race programme and was purchased after the final race by Gerry Francis, the past England football captain for his stock loft. Also in 2018, I bred “Paul's Delight” GB18N32374, “Paul's Lass” GB 18N32375, “Paul's Super Star” GB18N32379 and “Paul's Dream” GB18N32380 and all were sent out to compete in the Derby Arona Race Series and won some minor prizes between them. Another fantastic pair are known as "The Dream Pair" are "Fontwell Foxtrot Romeo” (Same way bred as “African Princess”) x “Lucky Countess” (same way bred as “African Perfection”). “Fontwell Foxtrot Romeo” (won USA $8505) and “Lucky Countess” (won over US $24000) are known as "The Dream Pair" and were both big winners in the 19th South African Million Dollar Pigeon Race, then I purchased them both back after the final race in 2016 and left them in South Africa to breed from. Nearly every pigeon I bred from them has won top positions in the SAMDPR series over the past few years, including any 1st UK spots. Hotspot prizes, lots of good SAMDPR open positions, also leaders of the United Kingdom overall Averages and winners of the 2- Bird and 3-Bird Averages during the testing SAMDPR Hotspot Races. “Zandys Choice” Zandys Memory” Zandys Hope” “Zandys Perfection” Zandys Glory” “Zandys Expectation” plus a few more were all direct children of "The Dream Pair" and have been outstanding racers during the SAMDPR Series over the past few years. I also know of two direct children from the "Dream Pair'' They have bred outstanding winners for other fanciers in South Africa and Poland. Fouche Lofts from South Africa purchased a hen direct from "The Dream Pair" named “Zandy’s Pride” GB16N23397 after the 2016/17 race series, this pigeon was 16 times in the top 1,000 pigeons in 22 races in the race series. She has now bred this Fouche Lofts some outstanding pigeons and is the dam of "Broke Smith" ZA19TRPF17484 that won 83rd Hot spot 4 Victoria Falls World Challenge Pigeon Race 405KM against 2,252 pigeons, then won 81st Open Victoria Falls World Challenge Pigeon Race Final Race 2020, 544 KM against 859 pigeons. This same pigeon also won the 48th Open in the Super Ace Pigeon Averages against 3,374 pigeons. “Zandy’s Pride also bred this loft another fantastic pigeon that was classed as a super racer with 8 positions in the top ten in the 2018 Carnival City One Loft Races Series. Tomasz Wiczling from Poland purchased a hen direct from "The Dream Pair" named “Zandy’s Memory” GB15N94682 after the 2015/16 Ace Series, this pigeon had already won 58th TR4 2,408 pigeons,26th TR6 2,694 pigeons, 71st TR10 2,408 pigeons and then 35th Open Hotspot 2 against 2,644 pigeons. She has now bred Tomasz some outstanding pigeons for him including one that won 25th Open Pattaya final race 2019, another pigeon PL.063.20.10094 won first Poland ,8th Open Golden Algarve final race Braganca-Sortes 496km, against 3,036 pigeons in 2020, being in the first drop. Another pigeon won him 15th Open Derby Arona final race 2020, also being in the first drop. I am positive that this outstanding pair will breed Mick many top pigeons in the future. Mick also purchased two Dutch rung direct children of the world famous "Che", these were names "Platinum Che" and "Schallie Hen” both were full of top class winning One Loft Race winning bloodlines. he also purchased two other pairs "Nev's Choice" “Dream Girl” “Never Frett” and "Just About Perfect”. I had purchased these from Neville Flett in Cumbria. These four pigeons were responsible for numerous top One Loft Race Winners and over £40.000 in prize money for a few different fanciers. Pigeons such as these were very rarely come on to the market and I am sure they will produce many winners for Mick. Mick also purchased 7 pigeons named "The 101" “The176” “The322” “The 539” “The 156” “The 719” “The 016” that we had purchased from Crammond & Langstaff clearance auction sale. All these pigeons were specially selected because of the winning bloodlines in their pedigrees, with quite a few of them having the famous "Spartacus" 1st section, 1st Open, Messac National FC 2011 against 5,796 pigeons in their pedigrees. In this National FC race, they won 1st,2nd,3rd ,4th Section and Open. Bloodlines of this great pigeon run through many of my top performing pigeons in One Loft Races over the past few years, including “Fontwell Foxtrot Romeo” and “Africa Princess” both being direct children of “Spartacus”, and both had already proved to be outstanding breeders of winners all over the world. I am sure that these 7 pigeons will also produce Mick many winners in the future. I sold these pigeons to Mick because I knew he was extremely interested in One Loft Racing and that I would be able to follow any success that the offspring had in One Loft Races around the world. Mick has had a lot of success in OLR’s with many top results all over the world and I am positive that the success will continue. I am sure that with the bloodlines Mick Mellor has will hit the "Jackpot" in the near future” Thanks for that Paul, it gives a better idea of why Mick enters his birds in such races, and they race so well. On my visit to “Millys Loft” I did not handle many but there were pigeons that stood out. One that I handled was just like the best pigeon I ever raced, “Joe 90” who was referred to as a young bird as “The Hollow Backed Cock” by a member of the club and said he would not win anything, how wrong can anyone be, he was a top racer with 32 prize cards. Anyway, Mick had one that handled the same way and that one was a super pigeon. As Mick pointed out people have their own thoughts on what a pigeon can be like, but they can all be wrong at one time or another. Mick does train his young birds before they are sent to the races and that includes getting them used to the traps. If you look at the young birds in the wire pen, they have access to come and go into the loft, so they get used to the ETS system before they leave these lofts. Mick also pointed out that he finds out what call the birds have when they are fed at the loft they are being sent to. So, to help them learn he calls them from the pen for feeding in the same way that they are going to have when they are sent to the OLR. If they are called then that is what he does, if they are fed through the blowing of a whistle, that is what he does. Mick tries to cover every eventuality before the young birds leave his lofts. The birds are a good age when they are sent to the OLR’s, but they are with so many other birds they soon settle down. When Mick talks about OLR’s you can see where he is going because he is a regular at or near the top. Just before finishing on this section here are the positions gained in the early stages of the excellent Victoria Falls 2021 one loft race results up to hotspot 3. Training race one 5743 birds 90th open 4th UK. Training race two 5441 bird’s 76th Open 2nd UK. Training race ten 4610 bird’s. 25th Open 4th UK. Hotspot one 5071 bird’s 3rd Open 1st UK. Hotspot two 4598 bird’s 43rd Open 2nd UK. Hotspot three 4224 bird’s 19th Open 1st UK. Hotspot four 1st UK 47th Open 3,900 bird’s. So, to date they have won 3 x 1sts 1 x 2nd UK Hotspot races and all in the first 50 of the open up to 5,441 birds plus. As far as their local fed which is the South West we are in the early stages and not competing in a programme of choice. So far in the fed, they have won, Cheltenham 1st 2nd 3rd 6th Club, 2nd 3rd 6th 9th. Cheltenham (2) 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th club and fed. Weymouth 1st 2nd 3rd club 6th 7th 8th. Newton Abbott 2nd 3rd 4th club 5th fed. Frome 2nd 3rd 4th club 4th Fed. I have not covered them all for this year but there are also other prizes won this year.
The race team is rather small with just 15prs to race, they have not been a big team loft for the local racing. They have certainly won more than their share over the years when they have competed, but with work commitments they have never entered as many races as they would like to have done over the years. Having said that when they are competing, they are often a loft to beat. For 4yrs they did not race young birds but in 2020 they bred a small team of 12 to race locally. This small young bird team were raced, and they ended up with 9 that are now in the old bird race team which they have raced in the 2021 season. The rest of the young birds bred are sent to One loft Race’s around the world, where they shine. Their local club is the Crewe West End which is still one of the bigger and more competitive clubs in the area. For as long as I can remember Crewe has been a competitive area to race pigeons. They have also produced their fair share of fanciers who have gone out and competed to specialist and National level. At one time Mick was into sprint racing and in a 3yr spell won over 30 x 1st Feds. They have had a go at Nationals and classic racing but only briefly but still competing. Mick was saying that he entered the NWCC channel race and did not know the format so pooled one pigeon all the way and won £450. Except for 6 all those sprinters went, and Mick brought in other pigeons including a Red Cock of Raymond Moleveld for £350. He was saying that a fancier tried to buy it off him, but he recognised that this was a good pigeon and what a good pigeon he turned out to be producing winner after winner. This Red Cock and the 6 he kept back were the foundation for his future team to compete in the OLR’s that he so wanted to win.
When I asked about the feeding system, I was surprised at the detail Mick went into, most will only tell you a limited system and not what in this case appears to be it all. We start with the race team who get a mix of 3 different mixtures that are, Depurative, Super widowhood and a diet 1000 Fat Mix. This is fed from 4 weeks before the first race and continue feeding this same mix for a further 4 weeks of the racing season. This is when there is a change and from Tuesday Mick introduces a mix of Geri-Plus and the Gaby Vandenabeele mix. During the racing season when they return from the races on Saturday plus Sunday and Monday they are back on the Depurative, Super widowhood and a diet 1000 Fat Mix. The stock birds have the Beyers Super breeding mix plus a handful of G10 Pellets, this is only a handful each day and they are not on them all the time. The young birds are put on a good Breed and wean until they are bunched up and flying as a team. Then they go onto the same Depurative, Super widowhood and a diet 1000 Fat Mix that the old birds are fed on. Mick said they are growing all the time so want the best of what they can be given. The water is a place where you can help build and strengthen the pigeons as part of the preparation for the season ahead. The old birds have a product called Reload in the water on Saturday and Sunday, there is nothing on Monday but on Tuesday all birds they have a good multivitamin. Sedatol is added to the water on a Wednesday with Thursday and Friday seeing the addition of Pro-Pel-Plus tonic. A product that they do like using is Toliman 40 Gold in the water when required, this is a good product that Mick likes. He did add that he adds a water purifier to the water.
Training is something that we all need to do but most seldom do enough of, me included, too much like hard work. However, we do train our pigeons and in the case of this loft they go to 14mls at about 6am and then again at 12.30pm, this is only for a week prior to the first race and then no training at all. They are exercised around home twice each day for 45mis each time. Mick was saying he sees the two exercise periods as a 90ml fly each day, never seen it put that way but is probably right. I often wonder when writing about fanciers how much more they could win if they trained more often when the races are in progress. I suppose scribes see both sides of what fanciers do, and winners all have their own system’s and stick to it.
Les J Parkinson. 11 Rushton Drive, Middlewich, Cheshire, CW10 0NJ.
Tel: 01606836036 Mobile: 07871701585.
Just been talking to Mick Mellor who was telling me how they have gone on in the mighty Victoria Falls One Loft Race to date. Hotspot one 5,071 bird’s 3rd Open 1st UK. Hotspot two 4,598 bird’s 43rd Open 2nd UK. Hotspot three 4,224 bird’s 19th Open 1st UK. Hotspot four 1st UK 47th Open 3,900 birds. Let us hope the trend continues into the final races. Mick has won big in these races and has entered many races around the world where his birds have more than held their own.