Lanarkshire Social Circle Gold Cup Winner 2019 Jim Meikle.
Jim receiving the Gold Cup at the LSC presentation night from good friend Gordon Orr(L)
I took the time on a bright but cold November morning to visit the loft of Jim Meikle of Jackton, South Lanarkshire.Jim initially was reluctant to undertake a loft report but with some persuasion from his good friend Gordon Orr he agreed.
Old bird Racing lofts
Jim is a farmer of beef cattle and sheep, who lives and works in a rural environment of Jackton near East Kilbride. Like all farmers his time is precious, and the birds have to work around the farm timetable.
Jim has always been involved in the pigeons since a lad under the guidance of his father, who was born and bred into pigeons Jim Snr was the close friend of legendary fancier Wullie Wilson of Larkhall,being best man at Wullies wedding. This area of Scotland dominated distant racing for many a decade, with villages like Larkall,Douglas Water/Rigside and Symington providing the fancy with household names of their time. These fanciers set the standards and their bloodlines survive with fanciers who continue to show a serious interest in Scottish distance racing. Jim is a very modest person and keeps pigeons for the thrill of timing from the distance, he has had his disappointments like everyone but has found a winning formula that has put his name to the fore in his distance field. He laughs when asked about his performance in his clubs short to middle distance events, saying I am the laughingstock at the club. I’m usually 10-20 minutes behind the winners every week. His club has no prize money or pool money, which Jim feels is a good thing as he feels the harmony is better. On basketing night, club members all sit down and have a fish supper and some good banter. Great stuff! Jim doesn't set a clock in young bird racing, if he gets two or three federation races with the youngsters, he is happy.
View of countryside at Jim's lofts
The winning of this prestigious gold cup has had some of the best west section fanciers competing for in many a decade. It’s the" Holy Grail" of a cup ,the ultimate challenge that takes some winning. Big Jim Meikle is an excellent fancier who has maintained a top team of distance pigeons to win this fine cup. This is on the back of runner up spot the previous year. The gold cup programme includes five Scottish National Flying Club from 350 miles out to the longest race around 600 miles. This is around 2,300 in mileage in each race you can only nominate 4 birds and you have to time in race time. In today's helter skelter racing it’s very difficult to time a nominated bird in the longest races on the Scottish fanciers race programme.
Jim's birds are steeped in old west of Scotland distance lines, the birds go back to his father’s time in the pigeons with birds breeding of over fifty years from names like ,Norman Orr of Larkhall(4 Times Gold Cup winner)Wullie Wilson of Larkhall, Dave Donaldson of Glassford, Jim & Jean Harrison of Lesmahagow & Gordon Orr of Eaglesham.
Young bird and stock lofts
For those that fly distance racing into the west section of Scotland there isn’t any better blood lines. Jim has the best has bred these pigeons around each other and has moulded a fantastic team of stock and racers. These birds always come to the fore when the going gets tough, its bred into them through years of these top fanciers testing them at the extreme distance into the west section. Jim is aware if you don’t have the right tools, you are wasting your time. He is a member of East Kilbride club in the Lanarkshire federation, Scottish National Flying Club & Lanarkshire Social Circle.Larkhall club, South Lanarkshire independent club I asked some pertinent questions to Jim about the management of his pigeons.
Hen section two section loft
What’s your goals for the season? Go with the flow he replied, to try and compete in the LSC & SNFC distance races. Getting a pigeon in these races makes the difference for him. He races 50 cocks and hens in the old bird programme, because he is usually left with a fair team of yearlings as he doesn't race them to the end. The old birds race on the roundabout system up till the Scottish National Flying Club prominent races. They are out separately, hens in the morning ,cocks in afternoon. In the off season the cocks/hens out alternative days. Raptors are a big issue and he gets his fair share of losses. The cocks during racing are flagged but hens fly freely for the hour. He will train when needed but really hates this as usually every other flight he gets hit by a falcon. He hopes to develop a programme that doesn't need these flights as Jim says the birds get "scarred mentally" and stop performing due to" FEAR "factor. Some of his older pigeons have to be forced out of loft due to this fear factor.
Jim holding one of his top racing hens 8th sect SNFC 2018
The birds are fed on farm beans, barley and wheat which he obtains at a very reasonable price from the east coast. Marimans mix and conditioning mix are added to provide birds with a strong mixture. All they wish to eat from the hopper all of the time. He adds cider vinegar to the food on occasions and Kevin Winters conditioning oil twice per week in the racing. Canker treatment flock twice per year and Chlorcrab dip for the feathers. The youngsters are wormed before racing and all birds are vaccinated with the double vaccine before racing. He blows torches the loft and thinks this is essential part of his management. The lofts are old and new in type, mostly old with good ventilation and ETS trapping. He likes the ETS but misses the thrill of taking of the rubber ring from a pigeon that has given their all from the distance. He likes his birds to get 8 to 10 hours on wing before their main race of the season, but also mentioned the need for a good period of rest from racing before main race, this can be up to three weeks rest. They are loft exercised thereafter to build the right muscle for the right race. Jim said they should feel strong and buoyant.
Top distance hen,3rd sect ,8th Open Reims SNFC
He expects all 2yr and older to fly the channel and some yearlings will be sent to Ypres. But Jim states this isn’t a sprint it’s a long-term plan building pigeon for the future. Jim said many a good loft has been wasted chasing averages. The birds are generally of small to medium size with rich silky feathers, something that you can’t help noticing. They are not broad shouldered, but longer cast and slightly deeper than the apple body type pigeon. Rich in eye, flighty in loft but calm in hand. Jim said they don’t get handled much. He likes to breed some later bred pigeons of what he feels are his best, to maintain the original bloodlines.
Jim showing one of his top stock cocks,brother to section winner in Burgess SNFC 2010
Being a farmer, the birds sometimes have to wait for the daily routine. Pairing is the same sometime in February or March .Youngsters are total natural and are kept on their dry droppings on floor till they are raced. Jim doesn't like catching them in loft when droppings are on floor as its detrimental to his health, with the dust that can be produced. So, when time is spent with birds the lofts are cleaned daily. The lofts were nice and clean on my arrival with Jim son saying you better have that looking good when that fellow comes to visit On the subject of Young bird sickness, he hasn't yet suffered this . Black Minerals and Mixed grit are provided regularly but not left to go stale. Drinkers are up of floor to help prevent dust. He prefers the Lanarkshire present race programme, as the racing on the west side was brutal with Jim making the decision, he wouldn't race that line again. One of his best breeding hens he calls the “Blackpool hen”.
Look at some stock cocks in aviary
This hen was purchased at the Blackpool charity sale and was bred by Norman Orr of Larkhall.She is containing Gold award winning blood line and has left a significant mark on his loft. He laughed saying he has asked Norman if she has a warranty as she has stopped laying eggs. You never know Jim. Jim said Norman ha sa remarkable record at the distance, as good as any. Introductions from Dave Donaldson have been significant, a fancier Jim rates the best of the best, for the small team of pigeons and his big results over the decades. Jim said you get all your best birds through friendship! He has great friendship with Gordon Orr of Eaglesham and thanks him for this over the years. A good friendship with his club members has also developed, enjoying the banter at club level. He enjoys the LSC presentation nights ,but generally said he prefers the big chair and the TV at the weekends.
Chw/f cock that timed in Roye 55th Open SNFC
I wish to thank Jim for his time and enjoyed my time at Jim's farm, seeing top class distance pigeons and talking pigeons.
.I wish Jim continued success.
SNFC Race results
1995 -22nd ,84th Open Gold cup race 3656 birds
1999-1st sect,5th Open only beaten by four birds in south.
2000-6th sect,32nd Open Gold cup race
2001-22nd sect,102 Open Gold Cup race
2002-9th Sect,57th Open Gold Cup race
2006-16th Sect,101 Open Gold Cup race
2007-15th Sect,75th Open Gold Cup race
2009-9th Sect 43rd Open Gold Cup race
2009-31st sect, 125th Open Gold Cup race
2009-9th sect,89th Open Falaise
2009 -43rd Open Andrezel
2010-24th Sect,98th Open Gold Cup race
2010-1st sect 6th Open Bourges with Su07L 18180 that was 125th Open 2009 &41st Open 2011
Won section E averages plus west section averages
2011-41st Open Tours
2013-18th sect,100th Open Gold Cup race &33rd Sect Gold cup race
2015-10th Sect,54th Open Gold Cup race
2015-2nd sect,16th Open Ancenis,9th sect35th Open Ancenis
2016-4th sect,54th Open Ancensis ,7th sect,74th Open Ancenis
2016-14th sect,99th Open Roye
2018-8th sect ,27th Open Gold Cup race
2018-4th sect 33rd Open Reims 12th sect 75th Open Reims
2018-4th sect,43rd Open Roye
2019-3rd sect,8th Open Reims
2019-7th sect,55th Open Roye
Tom Corrie jnr
Lanarkshire Press Officer