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My Barcelona Dream Part 19

My Barcelona Dream Part 19



By the time you lovely readers get this the article and can scan through it the race will be over an I will be preparing the next article with my celebration or commiseration depending on the result of the race from Poitiers on the 9/06/2018 with the BICC. So here goes hope you enjoy it.


“I’m finally there”. Today is marking for the 1 race I have been building to since last year. It is not the end of the story though as we all know the end game is the Barcelona International. At present I’m sitting on the ferry at 8:15am leaving Dublin Port heading for Holyhead to meet Alan Shinton from the 650 Eclipse Club to take my birds to marking. It has been an interesting time over the last few months preparing the 8 birds I have decided to send. With the decision made to send regardless it was about putting my best foot forward in the hope that the birds can be successful and make their way home. I have been thinking on what I have done and what it will mean if this first step is successful. I have kept pigeons all my life. In that time I have never attempted to prepare pigeons solely for one race.



This is the first time ever to do this and I have learned quite a bit in doing so. With the one race in mind all others are of no importance only for training and preparation reasons for these candidates. Watching them develop and having to make changes to chosen candidates due to circumstances was par for the course. This happened through happenstance. I had selected 24 birds to choose 10 from these for Poitiers after preparation was done. I had in this selection birds from all lines in the loft except the Donaldson birds. Through the little training and prep races up to pairing up with the birds I lost I ended with 24 cocks. This meant that I could then have 12 cocks to each section. Having lost some  of my selected cocks in the Poitiers section as I called it I moved in 3 cocks to replace them. These were not going to be sent to the races but was just for convenience to fill the 12 boxes and not over crown the other section. I let the birds free pair and noted which was with which and at 10 days later I removed all the hens again. Once the cocks had settled I then repaired at the required time. Having a plan and destination in place must not rule out being flexible and being able to change decisions as you go to use the tools to hand. For me this happened because I had lost more than I wanted in the training tosses especially the 3 hens from 70miles.  


For my long term plan I want to have a mature team of 3 and 4yr olds for the bigger internationals. This then means that I have to hold numbers back and race on the land for experience only and not to actually compete. This suits me perfectly. So in my race team I have added 2 that were not initially selected. One of these is of the Jim Donaldson line I have and was picked because he was shining and showing off as well as being in such good condition I could not hold him back. Incidentally he had a night out only 2 weeks before  the Poitiers race and had therefore been flying throughout the first day giving him good wing time in my eyes. That was when my final decision to send him was made. The second bird not in the initial selection is one that another fancier kept in for 6months and then released maybe in the hope of breaking her to a new loft. She duly returned home with 2 washer rubbers on her leg.



This is how I know someone had kept her in. I left her in the loft for 2 days and released her again to see would she stay or go. Obviously she stayed and has been through the program preparations with the other birds. Again on handling her 10 days ago my decision was made. Hopefully not the wrong decision. To these birds I have selected birds from all lines in the loft. 1 from Padfield’s Invincible, 2 from the Harvey line, 1 from the Louella Line, 1 from the line from Frank Kay and the last being the Gay cock I talk about who came from my dad’s loft. This last cock nominated himself last year when he flew the young bird Talbeny and was 10 hours on the wing. Having all the other birds on babies going to marking it was a difficult decision thinking what I could do with him. He is paired to I think his brother also from my dad’s lofts. I decided to leave these 2 together and at 14 days prior to basketing I slipped in the first dummy egg. Then once sitting tight for the last week I was giving another egg giving him on Monday before basketing 4 eggs in the nest and removing the other cock to keep him sitting. Hopefully this also gives him this extra little push.

For me this process has been a real learning curve to not be bothering with the club or fed racing and focusing on the big picture. The real learning happened in the last 10 days or so when through the feeding system and the added peanuts these birds blew out goodo I can tell you. I have been keeping pigeons all my life and in that time,  I have never tried to do what I am doing now.



The aim has always been to keep the birds fit and healthy and compete through the program. This is a completely different animal. I have never in my life had birds in the “blown up” condition I have gotten these candidates in and have learned quite a bit from it that will be continued on my journey forward. Also the aim was to have the first young in the nest for these candidates which was timed right with no mess ups and lastly I was hoping that all would have dropped their first flight for basketing. This last one having to time the flight throwing can be unpredictable but I have checked all and am lucky enough to say I have timed it well and all have thrown their first flight. I could not have asked for things in the run up to go better. I only hope now that the work put in pays off and, as mentioned many times already, at least 1 if not more of these athletes get home to Dublin in race time. A quick run through of preparation up to now i.e. races and distances and are as follows as well as the feeding system followed.

The feeding system throughout the process as mentioned in previous articles a quick run through though. Birds have been fed to appetite on a mix of 20% Layers Pellets, 80% Gerry Plus. To this I added oils, these would differ depending on what was available at the time I was in the corn shop. To dry this I have used Vitimanor powder and to this dried mix about 5 kg at a  time mixed I added Homoform. Simple enough and once fed to appetite I found the birds exercised well around home and gave little training. Initially the birds were flown roundabout with the only time seeing each other was on return from the races they were sent to. Birds were always separated on the day of race evening time. Then to roundabout daily around home for up to 2 hours to do what they please for the time allowed. This was done daily once for hens and once for cocks simply because that is what my life style allowed for. The times were not fixed at morning or evening but were given to suit what I had to do. The birds flew well and then in the 2 weeks before my planned first race trainer I sent the cocks to 60miles twice then to the race at about 85 miles. All went the following week to 130ish and then to 150ish and finally to 185 before I stopped racing. The birds were trained mid-week for the first 2 races and then no further training down the road was given.


Wanting the birds on young babies for basketing I paired the birds for the race 33 days before 6th June. With the usual differences between individuals all hens had laid within 4 days of each other. So all was set for the nest condition I wanted. After the hens had all laid and were sitting for about 8 to 10 days or so having no racing or training for 2 weeks it was now 3 weeks before the Poitiers race I was aiming for. I was working from home that worked out 70miles as the crow flies. I brought the 16 hens and released them before I started my return journey. Getting home I expected to find all home and settled but this was not what happened. I got home to an empty loft and was gutted. I know the birds were in good condition and capable of this hop. What had happened? The birds started arriving after 6 hours on the wing. I was happy to see them. 5 at first at 9:30pm was what I got on the day then over the next 2 days my number was to 13 from the 16.



A little gutted to lose 3 but it happens. I was examining a bird that arrived Sunday morning and was limping, she had a hole behind her leg from BOP attack. On inspection 4 from the 13 home were injured. Most luckily only missing cover flights but all the same finished for the season. These hens were then left open hole with their cocks from 7am to 6pm daily from here on out. The following week I was a distance 90 miles as the crow flies. I decided to bring the cocks which had not been out of the loft racing or road training for 2 weeks now. These were released in 2’s and 3’s to get home. From the 16 cocks I brought that day on arrival I home I had only 10 in the loft and those missing were mostly candidates for Poitiers. Again a shocker.. anyway by Saturday after release on Thursday I had 15 from 16 home. With 1 candidate missing still and 1 with missing cover feathers telling of another BOP attack. Now it was time to decide which birds were going to the race as training was finished and now the focus is on getting enough reserves built in to last the required journey home. To help with this I have added peanut to the feeding system about 3 weeks before basketing. At first I only gave enough for them to get a few each to get the appetite for the nuts. I don’t regularly feed peanuts so the birds would not be used to them. Once they got the taste for them though it was easy enough. At evening feed after the nuts were demolished they were given a top up from the mix mentioned earlier. Birds were then left on open hole all day in the 12 days before basketing. The last change was that at 7 days before basketing the birds evening feed was as much peanuts as they each wanted and then the mentioned regular mix.

The Monday before basketing I then removed all the partners that were not going to the race. I left the one partner with the babies for 36 hours then this morning at 5:45 I let the birds together again for 30 mins before putting them to the boxes. So that was the prep and all I can do for them finished. It’s now up to them to do the job I have bred them for and with a bit of luck things will work out and I will get one or hopefully more home.



If birds are released early on the planned day 9th June, there is a good chance of possibly getting a day bird at the distance. The big issue is the last leg of water for Irish birds after already flying, for this one, about 400 plus miles. I’m hopeful that this is what happens but more likely is that birds will come on the second day if at all. so fingers crossed and toes too that I am lucky enough to get them home. The next instalment will be interesting?.

If I am lucky enough I would be the first in Ireland to do it in race time but I have competition. I am not the only fancier sending from Ireland and I have the birds of another fancier, Tony Gafney of New Ross Wexford. He has given me 2 birds to also compete in the Poitiers race and I have them here with me bringing them across the sea. We should be called the Pioneers lol, but that is a joke for another day. So birds in tow its D-day for us in having a first attempt at such distances for us into Ireland. So here goes.

The photos inserted this week are of my little adventure heading on the ferry  and meeting Alan Shinton and then birds being marked for Poitiers by the `Chirk gentlemen . I would like to finish this article by offering a big THANK YOU to Alan Shinton and his lads in the 650 Eclipse Club for facilitating us two in sending with the BICC. I have to say Alan contacted me about 4 months ago offering this facility to any person in Ireland who wants to send to these longer races. At the time I was going to go myself to marking but costs were still quite high. With this arrangement it is now a nominal cost to get the birds to Alan & Co. who then marks at Chirk and brings the birds to the BICC transporter for shipping to the race point. So again Alan and Co. THANK YOU and hopefully I’ll have called you with good news by the time you read this


 Until next time


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