My Barcelona Dream - Part 11
Well it’s been a while since I’ve done an article in the Barcelona Dream series. It has not gone away and is still going with a lot of enthusiasm for some results this year. I have been busy doing article for the Gran Canarias OLR over the last few months and I have to say it was a very exciting series. Especially for me as one of my birds did very well indeed. More on this later.
So it’s now the end of April. I’m sure most of you out there have a team of youngsters starting to range and are and are also racing your old birds. For me the team of youngsters are just eggs and are due to hatch the end of April. No rush for me here. Since my last article a lot has happened. The birds I have here that I brought home from the Dublin Show have matured so well that 10 are now in the stock loft paired to aunties and uncles. These birds will be allowed to breed until July at which time they will be taken from the stock lofts and be trained a little for some experience before the end of the young bird season. These will then be included in the team of 2 year olds left from the racing season this year. The birds in the race loft at present are 30 in number. All but 1 of these is a yearling. My plans this year is to race all these birds as far as France. They will be in the South Road Fed program all the way and I am looking forward to it. With a bit of luck I will have some left at the end of the season. This weekend 15/04 was the first race of the season from Thurles. I sent the 18 cocks I have and 17 returned. This weekend coming is Tramore and all hens, only 12 I have, and cocks will be going and will be kept on to build race fitness. Training completed and racing started the birds will only be flown around the loft for fitness and sent weekly then stopped for 2 weeks before Talbenny. Then at 2 week intervals to Penzance and the France with the Miller Gold Cup. The worst case scenario is that I will have an empty old bird loft from racing at the end of the season. Fingers crossed it actually will not turn out like that and I will have some left to bring on to the 2yr old stage. This is a far cry from what I did last year with absolutely no racing for the birds before the national races just training to 50 miles. For me I feel this is now not going to work out. I am no longer on open hole and birds have been given 5 times to 40 miles approx. for training. From here on the fed racing inland will be used to bring on the birds fitness. These should then be ready to compete from Talbenny, Penance and France. Like I said fingers crossed some of these will be left after the racing season has finished. As always I will keep you all posted about this. Birds that do make the program this year and return from France will be allowed to rear a round of youngsters. There is also the chance that I will have no returns from France. We all know how difficult it can be to get birds to fly from France to Ireland on the best of days so I am hoping for a lot and not a washout. I have to move forward and the empty loft mentality is foremost in my mind. Given to me from Nic Harvey it is simply that all birds must go to the races. All returnees are a step closer to Barcelona. To have this mentality you also have to be prepared to have an empty loft at the end of the season. This I one thing I have considered long and hard. It’s not for the faint hearted and is something I am willing to follow through on.
The racing system I am following this year is a bit more prescribed than last year. Last year on predominantly open hole the birds did fly and exercise well but the down fall was that the neighbours were not happy. Something I can fully understand. Also this year the deep litter is gone and the scraper is out. Although daily I might add that this is not a hard and fast rule. As long as the droppings are good I do not mind leaving for a 2 or 3 day period depending on my own personal time constraints. Also as mentioned the birds had 5 tosses before the first race and 18 cocks were sent with 17 returning. I had also earmarked the hens to go as well but felt they were not right. So they were locked in for 3 days and had a little forced recuperation. Something I would not normally do but something I felt necessary this time round. I am playing a long game here and France is the ultimate aim. I am not willing to throw birds away unnecessarily. I will look after the birds as best I can and also adopt a saying of John Halstead from one of his videos “if in doubt don’t send them”. And so the hens stayed home for the first race and to be honest they are in much better condition as well. The feeding is as follows. I am giving 2 feeds daily. A mix of 5 parts Gerry Plus, 5 parts Supreme racing and 2 parts Beans. This is not an exact measure but is how I count using the feed containers I have. To this oils are added. At present its garlic and wheat germ oils. To dry out the feeds vitaminor powder is used and then 1 part homoform is added to finish the mix. The birds are fed as I mentioned 2 times daily, this means the hopper is out the door. They are fed to appetite and when the leave some of the grains I stop feeding. The first feed is after exercise and is firstly 1 heaped tablespoon of sunflower hearts per 2 birds and then the feed mentioned above. I am hoping that with this regime and they heavy feeding the birds will hold their body weight for the distances in mind and will become more race fit with weekly racing. This feed system is not designed to get the home and win sprint races. It is set out in mind for the longer harder races and the channel crossings from France. Like I said I think I will be very lucky to not have an empty loft at the end of the season but this is something I am prepared for.
Looking at how the breeding is going I have to say I am pleased. In the first round I produced 45 youngsters or so. 10 pair of these stock are yearlings paired to their aunties and uncles which for me is true line breeding. The young produced from here will be grandchildren on one side of the Ped and great grandchild on the opposite side of the Ped of the desired cock or hen in the pedigree I am linebreeding to. I’m looking forward to seeing the product of what these mating produce. To date all of the youngsters produced so far, except 5, have been sent out to friends. So presently in my young bird lofts I have 7 in total. 5 of my own and 2 from a breeder buyer I am involved in. Some would feel that it’s late breeding a team for yourself but with my objective in mind and the 4 year plan this will suit down to the ground. For the youngsters this year I will be planning 1 race and no training. The birds as long as fit and healthy will be lifted from the loft to a race of 120 miles approx. The aim here is to get them fit healthy and send to this distance. At present this is the plan. It may change as the season moves on. It is also an experiment to see if the birds are capable of being lifted. This may sort the wheat from the chaff early on. Like I said though it will be an experiment and I am hoping to see how the birds independence will develop. This is a practice I know is done by Fran Kay of Yorkshire who is also quite successful at the Barcelona races. This will not happen until the second half of the young bird season, the birds will have to be fit and healthy. By fit I mean they have to be ranging up to 2 hours daily which will also help the fitness level. If I can achieve this I feel that lifting them from the lofts will not be a problem. Hopefully it will not be a the case but have to bear in mind about the dreaded sickness that are around and that affect the youngsters . I am really looking forward to seeing if it works out or not. Whatever gets back will then be left to mature over the winter and will be here for the yearling stage in 2018. Another reason for trying something like this is simply that space is also an issue I simply cannot house more than 60 racers for the old bird season and this would be the absolute limit, this is yearlings and older. As mentioned earlier I have 10 yearlings in the stock loft. These will be back out and on the road when finished breeding. Therefore that alone is 10 2yr olds to start next season. And hopefully some of the racing yearlings will be there as well. So with space at a premium some sort of experiment will have to happen to give me a little help and this is where lifting the birds from 0 to 120 miles will come to the fore. Hopefully this will not be a complete disaster. Time will tell I suppose.
I mentioned some good news regarding the Gran Canarias OLR I was writing for recently. It came as quite a shock when I got a phone call on the day of the final to find out one of my birds had turned in 2nd. I have to say that I was over the moon that this had actually happened. After this on the Monday morning following the race I also then found out that my bird, Sinead, had also won the Ace International Pigeon for the series of races. So this turned into a double celebration for me. Again bringing this bit of success to the fore. It came about because last year I sent 8 birds to this brilliant race. From the original 8, I had 2 for the final still there. One of these was a grandchild of Padfields Invincible, home bred from direct children I have in the loft. Unfortunately he did not make it home. The other that achieved this is another home bred bird. The parents are from Louella Pigeon World. These birds were sent courtesy of my one time partner. The parents are down through the Louella Jan Aardens including Unbreakable and Rainbeau Warrior. Incidentally Rainbeau Warrior is on the peds. of both parents meaning that the successful young is line bred to him.
Apart from this fantastic success and the parents being in the lofts I have also 3 others the same way bred for racing this year. With a bit of luck one or more of these will also shine through. The parents are also paired together again and for this season and had been before this result came out. So a stroke of luck there as well. Again time will tell how this pans out and if they produce more worthwhile birds.
I have enclosed some photos with the article. The first 2 of which are the parents of the OLR hen. The second is of the remaining youngsters in the lofts at present and the 3rd is of the last 4 that are heading to Scotland. These are down from the Polish Birds in the loft.
Until next time