Dave Rust with Gregg Johnson
Hi everyone, I hope you are all ok and safe in these difficult times where we all hope and pray it will be over as quick as it started. I would by now be writing reports on the breeder buyer sales held by some organisations to report on or getting ready to publish the first set of 2020 old bird results round up articles. But due to the corona virus outbreak we cannot race or socialise so I thought I would do an article on a friend I know who is even more crazy and barmy and addicted on pigeons and ways than myself. I call him a pigeon junkie as he is fully addicted to these feather birds and craves more or better coloured ones so here, we go this is on Dave Rust of Gloucester in his peak.
Dave kept well over 1,300 pigeons on his back garden, so this hooked me on Dave thinking crikey what is the obsession so here we go. Dave first set up with pigeons at the age of 15 after he and his friends would hang out down the Gloucester railway station watching trains and climbing over an old bridge which linked the two platforms. Dave said this has now gone it was an iron structure with an enclosed wooden tunnelled top for persons to walk through. Dave and his friends would climb on the wooden structure roof or steel structure of the Bridge as all boys climbed around at that age. There were baby pigeons or coloured pigeons sitting eggs Dave always liked to see them and on one day took a few fledglings out a nest and took them back home where he lived with his mum and stepfather. There were some old brick chicken houses in the garden that were empty, so he placed the birds inside. Even though he had never kept or been around pigeons Dave soon picked things up and the foundation’s for Dave’s new obsession began. As time went by Dave went back to the railway bridge to get more birds until the ones he had were breeding and flying out. Dave finally found some tumblers for sale and also set up with a few of those which were also going to be another lifelong love and obsession. In time Dave became friends with a local Gloucester racing fancier in the area of Harry Abbey who flew in the South End Flying Club and gifted Dave a few surplus racers and some knowledgeable tips for pigeons. In time Dave just kept and bred from the racers and the tumblers and became good friends with old Harry.
When Dave was in his early twenties, he met his first wife and purchased their first house and started a family and Dave also started up his own building and maintenance company. Dave also purchased some pigeon lofts for his new house’s garden and obtained some more racing pigeons from old Harry that were of the old Winfield strain and mostly blood reds with black splashes or very dark chequers in colour. Dave later joined the South End flying club Dave still really being a novice but really enjoying his birds in his first year of racing. He tells me of one happy but foolish story with his racers he took them for a 12 mile training flight to Dursley were he can always remember that a big dark cock did not come back from this flight for a week and when he finally returned. After a few days back in the loft he sent him to Lambelle in France for a race in the South End Flying Club. On the race day this cock came back were Dave clocked him in, he finished only mid table in the result, but Dave was the happiest man in Gloucestershire. Dave continued to race for a period of time in the local club then as his business took off, he was getting busier and also starting a family. Dave then moved to a new house with much larger premises for his young family.
As time was limited with the business and his now young family of four children Dave did not continue to race and had a small period of a break from the racing pigeons. Instead he erected some new lofts in his new garden and set up with tumblers Dave not being too far from the West Midlands, an area that is famous in the world for its tumblers. He obtained some stock birds from around the area’s flyers along also with the Mags which are similar in a way to tumblers. Many different coloured birds were bred and purchased over the years. After a hard day’s building Dave would love to sit in the garden with a cold beer watching all his different coloured birds fly around the garden. It became an obsession for Dave as he would breed and gift friends baby mags or tumblers. He would breed several sections of kits of 100 mags or tumblers and fly these out with now his new 100ft plus lofts full of Mags and tumblers. Dave now having four children required to move again so moved to Down Hatherly Gloucester taking all the birds and adding more lofts. Dave in time had a passion for mostly the self-white tumblers and ended up having many hundreds of these were he had bred or purchased to make a complete self-white massive flock. As well as his Mags and other tumblers sourcing and breeding unusual coloured birds so the flocks were growing even more. Dave loved the self-whites so he wanted to create his own family of these but Dave wanted the self-whites to have a more rounded head with a very small beak yet keep the flying abilities so he would pair up and breed his selected looking birds to create this along with purchasing some self-white English long face tumblers these were purchased from a very well-known show man in the fancy pigeon world of John Surridge. Dave crossed these in and then crossed them back out and within 5years of breeding in and out, bred what he wanted with them even flying well but just as not as good as the originals. Dave was impressed and happy in his achievement in creating the appearance he wanted. In time more lofts were purchased and added to the garden. With at 200ft of lofts in place Dave could expand his love of having every coloured Mag and tumbler you could imagine and also trying to create new colours was fun with the mags and tumblers flying out.
Dave would have a lot of lost racers call in so he would feed and water these and try to get them home to their owners with this occurring quite frequently Dave’s love of racing pigeons rekindled. So, Dave reset up with racing pigeons, so you guessed it, a new extra loft was erected for his racing pigeons. Dave joined the Long Ford flying club and the Gloucester and District flying club were Dave raced his pigeons and he had some great success in the RPRA one loft race with winning Ace pigeon one year. The year the RPRA held the one loft race yearling programme Dave won the last hot spot race winning £1,000 both these birds were bred from pigeons from the Queens lofts as the parents were ER rung Dave informs me their strain were Fabrey and Van Bruane paired together. These were gifted to Dave by local fancier at the time of Wayne Newcombe of Gloucester. Dave’s marriage ended and Dave with his children moved again to their now current location which Dave laughs saying it’s the biggest garden for my pigeons so now Dave has well over 300ft of nice lofts on his Back garden which are well established. With all the hassle of divorce and his own business Dave kept all his mags tumblers and reluctantly gave up the more time consuming part of racing pigeons but still loved racing pigeons so decided to go into the rare unusual part of breeding and creating very pretty different coloured racing pigeons. He then became close friends with a genetic colour feather breeding expert of Robert Bennion of Scotland were Dave has obtained a large amount of knowledge from on the background. I must say Dave now has a vast amount of every different colours of racing pigeons I have ever seen. When you think of it he has it he has every colour combination of yellows reds blacks barless blues tiger grizzles, every form of grizzle you can think of. Almonds Andolutions pinks indigos opals and Rhubellors, saddle backs mosaics, the list goes on with colours in racing pigeons plus all the other colours you get you have to see it to believe it of these beautiful colours Dave has a large family of pure yellow Kirkpatricks and Sion’s pure white Rapido Busschaerts and pure black Van De Meyers and black Dutch Hornstra’s and pure chocolate Mueleiman’s were these are kept pure and are also crossed. They are also added into the rare coloured pigeons to add colour and breeding purposes.
A few questions now I asked Dave.
Q1. Dave what is your aim with all these pigeons? I love pigeons so much and love the different colours and happiness they bring when watching and being around them. I have a wonderful selection and family of Mags and tumblers of colours which I’ve had since my early man days and are proud of I want to create this with the racing pigeons and at present like with the self-white tumblers my love is of the Almond racing pigeon colours and my aim is to create a more dark back ground colour in the Almond colouring.
Q2. Dave how do you maintain and care for this vast amount of pigeons? I try my best with a good clean regular feed of a decent breeding mix with added small seeds and small peas when breeding and always when the birds are moulting a decent moulting mix as the new feather growth is most important with richness of quality feed and over winter a resting mix which has wheat and Barley added. All my birds every week receive two baths which I find is a must for keeping the birds happy clean and stress free I try and have as many birds as possible that fly out to help maintain health but with as many birds and sections I have I cannot have the sections out every day so I try to let out each section twice a week to exercise and bath the mags and tumblers are never let out the same time as the racers as this affects each other’s flying abilities. All my birds receive Vercon S disinfectant in their drinking water for 5 days once a month which I strongly believe in and all the birds probably receive a 3 in 1 treatment in the drinking water 5 times a year with also the birds being vaccinated once a year when separated and resting in winter. All my birds receive a regular supply of grits and minerals.
Q3. Dave how do you clean and maintain over 300ft of lofts full of birds? Dryness is the key the lofts must be kept dry at all times or problems in health will occur all my birds sections floors are dry and are kept on the deep litter of a lot of sand mixed with a few wood chips which is raked over and cleaned out probably twice a year. I have a lorry load of sand delivered to my house so I’ve always a supply of fresh clean sand and the perches and breeding boxes are cleaned out once a week.
Q4. Dave how many birds to you breed each year? I will breed around the 350 Mark this year previous years this has been more or less depending on the colours I have bred.
Q5. Dave will you ever race pigeons again or take up showing pigeons? I probably won’t race or take up showing as I try and keep away from the political side of keeping pigeons and having this amount of birds which I now have I am most happy in my breeding programmes. Now also being a grandfather and on running the business for my sons my time spare I want to enjoy the pleasure my pigeons already give me. I did show a few birds at one point and won some prizes and enjoyed it but I will never say never though.
Q6. Dave what do you do with all your surplus birds? I every year have a stall at the Blackpool show which I’ve now done for 15 years where I sell what I need to move on to make space as you do. I really enjoy this annual event where I sell birds and meet new friends in the pigeon world and enjoy a wonder around the show myself and my girlfriend and my children have also a break stay over at Blackpool at the same and have a family night out and a few days around the seaside town. I also sell a few birds online or to regular friends and maybe swap a few as well I will not become a millionaire in this the money I make just goes back on my every growing corn bill that feeds my obsession I so much enjoy.
Q7. Dave do you have problems with birds of prey with letting all these wonderfully coloured birds out? Yes I do like I think now days everybody dose who keeps pigeons but I must let my birds out to get the best out of them and to maintain their well-being you just learn to live with it and try to avoid different times best you can it’s hard but you have not much choice I do loose quite a few birds from kills or fly always after attacks but all my kept birds have telephone rings on their legs so if any get lost and hopefully reported I will always collect them to come back home.
Q8. Dave how do you pair up and maintain all your stock birds? Believe it or not every paired is matched paired and locked inside my breeding boxes of standard widowhood boxes and German hook over boxes and once they are paired I let them out once the babies are ready to leave their parents I like to if I can leave them in the same section so I add pole perches into the sections so the young birds can perch out the way we’re they are then let out with their parents throughout the paired up season though I do separate some young birds to individual flying out sections I pair up in February and March and I finish and separate everything in July into same sex sections and allow them to rest mature and malt out before selecting the best.
Q9. Dave do you believe in the method of inbreeding.? Yes and no you have to experiment with breeding which I really enjoy doing inbreeding is great and can create some great birds but in time these can become weaker in colour so I have to find the right bird and colour to cross in to the colours I want to improve on so plenty of breeding and trying is carried out. I have attached just a few pictures of some of Dave’s many birds Well that’s a brief report on a absolutely addicted pigeon man on pigeons which has the most pigeons I know of anyone other than a professional racing stud so thanks for your time Dave for this article many thanks.
The rat man