Thoughts on pairing up by Les J Parkinson
I was talking to Geoff Bebbington yesterday and he was saying that he is looking at pigeons differently for this fast approaching season. So, I asked what his plans were, he went on to tell me that he is planning on pairing his stock birds up much earlier than he has done before. My next question was “When is that going to be” the answer surprised me because he was telling me that he intends to get them paired by the end of October.
I knew the rings were being issued far earlier to come in line with the continental’s who get their rings by early December, but so early. I have mentioned it before, when I first started, I was struggling to get rings by the 12th January because I had paired up on or around the 6th December. You need to remember the winters were far colder and harder in those days than they are today. I worked on 12 days to seeing a pair of eggs in the nest, 19 days to hatch and about 8 days (which could be stretched) to ringing them.
Do I think this is a step forward, definitely not, why do we want young birds hatching out in late November? There are a lot of big race winners just coming out of the nest in mid-March onwards, so why breed so early. One thing is for certain and that is you have to be keen, and I know all about that.
What I do understand for the local fanciers is, there are too many races from the likes of Worcester and Cheltenham (below 100mls) for the Mid Cheshire area fanciers. If the young birds have had a few training tosses, then 100mls should be no problem to them. This also hurts the transport people because many leave their birds at home until the second Cheltenham, you can see this by the number of birds entered. I know there are some who say there is only the odd fancier who looks at it like that. To those I say, “You need to wake up and look at the fanciers who miss the first 2/3 races” Looking at it in this area, you can see fanciers swapping their birds from one fed to another because they can get an extra 20/30mls into their birds, which to me doesn’t mean a thing, a few miles like that won’t bother a team of young birds.
Anyway, going back to what I started with, breeding early. We have seen fanciers breeding early and fanciers pairing up in mid to late February and still win more than their share as long as they put the work into their birds. The old established fanciers in my early days, paired up on or around Valentines day and still got their birds into the young bird National. Yes, some were heavy in moult, but they still did the programme, nowadays if they have a feather out of place fanciers would rather leave them at home.
In my early days, fanciers became household names in the sport as they do today. Would they win today, of course they would, for one simple reason, they were dedicated to their pigeons in the garden. Also, in those days there were far more fanciers and birds being entered than there are today. Competition was strong 40/50yrs ago as it is today even with far fewer fanciers and birds competing.
The darkness system has also changed the way fanciers breed and race their pigeons, the problem is with that young birds are suffering with more health problems than ever before.
Going back to what Geoff was saying and the reason's why he is changing the way he races. His plans are always to have a go at the Nationals and for next season he wants to have a go at the lines of the BICC and BBC. Never one for local club racing is Geoff..