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Les J Parkinson Talking to a Group of Fanciers For a Paper Panel. Part 2.

Les J Parkinson talking to a group of fanciers for a Paper Panel. Part 2.

 

We had an excellent response from the first Paper Panel this is the second part. I have now started to send out a different set of questions for the Part 3, unfortunately not a lot of response which is a shame after the first article was well received.  

Q. When you bring in that new family do you think that they need time to acclimatise, if so how long.

 

John Halstead.

Sprint pigeons should be performing straight away as young birds and yearlings, but long distance (which is what I am most interested in) will take 3 or 4 seasons to gain the age and experience needed to attempt the longer events. The 2019 young bird season was the first time I raced youngsters from recently acquired Jellema stock and surprisingly I had club and Fed winners immediately.

Carl Turner

In my opinion if it’s a Sprint family which is all I’m now interested in and they’re winning from the fancier I bought from they should no doubt win for me from day one and I’d hoped they’d be beating my already established winners, if not, out they’d go!

Crowley & Green (Portugal/Belgium)

No, I do not think that they need time to acclimatise. From the go they are treated the same as my own family and have to compete against them on equal terms before I would consider crossing them into my own family. This process would normally take at least two or three years but obviously with the extreme long-distance birds it would take a lot longer.

Joe Glover winning for over 70yrs.

If I bring a new family it is normally 1/2 pairs and, in my experience, I have had success from the first year of breeding. When I bring in that new family I keep then together and don’t put them into my own until they are proven, as with any loft some make it some don’t but percentage wise I think have done a lot better than average.

Curtis-Wall-Lunt-Green from the past

When bringing in new stock we feel the most important thing is that the loft we buy from is very consistent at winning top prizes. We do our homework, find out how the loft is situated, weigh up the competition they compete against and only then if we are satisfied, we then learn about the family of birds from the owners. We scour the result and breeding books to find out which are the best lines. If the pigeons are nice round bodied with good feather quality and have what we are looking for we try to buy as many of the top racers as possible. Also, their parents because we like to try them as a family, this obviously must be within a certain cost figure. We then pick the best from them over the next two seasons and cull all the others this way we believe we maintain the winning genes and this will create a highly competitive winning loft. This new family will be tried during the 2000 season with the few yearlings that we already have in the race loft. Some fanciers go out and purchase good quality winning pigeons but never appear to make the grade. The answer to this is varied because there can be many reasons, it can be as we discussed earlier, they may not have good circumstances in which to manage his team. But then again it might be that they think because they have bought good stock, success will automatically follow," huh if only it were that easy eh". Many are guilty of this but as good fanciers know it takes hard work and considerable dedication to get to the very top, it is true that you will get there sooner or later and the path will be made easier with quality stock. But it is never easy you must work hard for it and then all of a sudden there is the answer. Then again there is the distinct possibility that they may just not be good enough because winning with pigeons is a skill many cannot master, because it simply is not within their capabilities. To become a top flyer, you must have a natural flair and affinity with your pigeons this we are sure of and if you have not got it we don't think you will ever become a successful fancier

Parkinson & Wilkinson from the past

With being asked so many questions I suppose I was going to be asked about the questions in this series myself so this is me when I raced pigeons, still have some but not here. The photo was taken many years ago when were racing mostly in the local club but still with the National etc. Our pigeons were mainly Dordin’s, which we have had more or less ever since I started racing at the start of the 70s as with all families they come and go and only the odd ones stayed in smaller numbers. That is the big problem with many modern-day lofts where they see a new family come into favour and bring them straight in with bulk and destroy their own winning team. If you already have a winning family you should keep a good team of them while you try a new fancied strain of the day because once they are gone, they take some getting back. We made the mistake with the Dordin’s and it has been hard work finding the right ones. The Dordin’s are Elizabeth's favourites and at the start of the 80's we went to "Regency Lofts" and had several powder Blues from there. We also went to Denis Follows and purchased from his team of stock and they blended well together, we have been back to Denis and have a good team of his pigeons at stock to go with those already established. We also have a couple of good Dordin’s from our friend Rodney Muspratt and in 1999 were 1st club 2nd fed 2nd Championship 9th Three Counties Combine Nantes over 7,000 birds with one that Rodney bred. These present day Dordin’s also come down from "Elimar Duke" who was 45th and 175th Open NFC Pau and these are the lines that produce the feathered legs, the sire was from Denis and the Dam from Regency Lofts. We also have a few Janssen’s that are based on the “Champion 50 Cock” of John Woodward’s and are proven successful racers and breeders over the years, we also had a very good Janssen cock from Rodney but it was lost after topping the fed from a 25ml training toss. What I must say is that nearly every year we do bring in youngsters to try against our own which has been very successful over the years. If you are to maintain a standard within your loft you must always look to improve and not stand still. Our most recent introductions were brought in two years ago from Taveirne-Rigole of “Dream Breed Lofts” in Belgium, this is the first loft that we have been to in Belgium that we are happy with. When I say happy with, I am referring to bringing in a near full team for breeding purposes. We now have at stock pigeons off the very best right through to International winners. They are all bred around National and International winners and with the intention being for channel racing we feel that this family coupled with the Dordin’s and a further introduction of DNA tested and guaranteed children off National winners are the way forward. We now have nearly 30 direct children of National winners at stock from a total of 30prs. If I was looking at pigeons to bring in now, I would go to people whose pigeons I personally know. I would think I would have a better chance of getting a few good pigeons.  

Q. Which of the two sexes do you consider is the most important when it comes to breeding?

 

John Halstead.

I am just that little more selective with cocks because they need a nest box, and to give them a fair chance the will need to be in that same box for 2 or 3 seasons. The hens can be moved around and different mating’s experimented with but I always try to start with perfect specimens whether they a cocks or hens. Like will breed like so start with perfection.

 

Carl Turner

It has to be the hen that is most important as she id the one as in human lives that dose all the work up to laying, she must be conditioned superbly and looked after carefully with regards to numbers of eggs she is allowed to lay in order to have longevity of the family.

Crowley & Green (Portugal/Belgium)

I think that both sexes are of equal importance. Once I have identified a good breeder of either sex then I try to breed as many youngsters from them, with different partners and race the youngsters hard. However, I also try to put several children back into the stock loft.

Joe Glover winning for over 70yrs.

Both pigeons are important without one you cannot breed. They both have their bit to add to the breeding and when you get them right, they are worth breeding off. Like everything ales for breeding both parties need to be compatible otherwise it does not work.

Curtis-Wall-Lunt-Green from the past

To us both sexes are equally important when it comes to breeding, the better matches the pair are in terms of racing ability the more likely you are to breed quality racing stock from them you must possess both quality hens and quality cocks. Many say that hens are the backbone of a successful stock loft. Maybe this is true, but they themselves must be bred from quality cock in the first place.

 

Parkinson & Wilkinson pages from the past

Yes, fair enough you always need two to tango but I have always been of the impression that a good hen will put it into the young birds. You will still need to have a good match to breed winners, as long as try are sound and in good health you will breed a good young bird. We are all looking for the ultimate “Golden Pair” but they are few and far between and a blessing when you do drop on them. For this reason, you need to breed at least 6 young birds off any one pair to test them.

 

 

Q. When it comes to breeding do you line-breed or use a first cross or just pair winners to winners. What method do you use to select your breeders. Did you find your best breeding pigeon by luck or judgment? When do you pair your pigeons and why then.

John Halstead.

Obtaining top quality birds is the most important factor, and this usually means National, Classic or multiple Fed winning bloodlines at your chosen distance. Nearness to the originals is vital and being able to breed around my own family of National long-distance winning lines is advantageous. I would line breed with half-brother/half-sister mating a favourite choice. I am happy to cross families but then want to race and test the offspring before breeding too many. Performances of the children indicate good breeders. I do not pair up any of my main stack before February each year. I would tend to use all of the above methods tbh and would ultimately end up breeding winners to winners mostly as then you would have a family of champions to champions and not just trying to breed by guess work. All the successful lofts especially in Belgium pair winner to winner once they have them to keep the winning genes close. My pigeons are paired at Christmas simply to suit my work holidays.

Crowley & Green (Portugal/Belgium)

For me, it’s a case of top performers paired to top performers, and sons / daughters of top performers paired together. Never considered myself to be a lucky person, I`ve purchased more bad pigeons than good pigeons. Cannot say that my judgement is good either or I wouldn’t have done so. I´m a great believer in letting the basket sort them out. Race them hard, be strict at the end of the season when you sort them out, only keep the best, and of equal importance only breed from the best.

Joe Glover winning for over 70yrs.

I like to line breed to keep a family together. Over the years I might have made a mistake in not crossing. Even so I have won 1st prizes in the last 7 decades so I have probably not gone far wrong. When it comes to breeding, I like to put type to type, if you put two different types of pigeons together, they don’t always breed a good type. You have to have some luck when putting two pigeons together. Nearly every pair I have brought in from different sources have nearly always bred me winners. I like to pair around valentine’s day 14th Feb which was the time most used to pair at one time.

 

Curtis-Wall-Lunt-Green from the past

When breeding we use line breeding for anything, we want to take future possible stock birds from and for racing we like to use a first cross of our 2 inbred families. We will also inbreed our best lines with future stock birds in mind. The widowhood lofts we like to pair 2 first class fed winners together.

Parkinson & Wilkinson from the past

For some reason we never have a set time to pair the birds, it just happens when we feel like it as long as the youngsters are away for the races that we want them for it does not matter. Many years ago, we would pair up in early December and some of the locals would laugh, now many are doing it and we do not really bother. We have paired up a few on special mating's in late December but the racers are still not paired until we have a good reason, no two seasons are the same and variety makes the pigeons think a bit more. Because the preference is for channel racing the racers are usually left until much later, having said that they were paired up at the end of January in 1999 to rear two rounds off the racers for other people and still had a great channel season. The most important thing is that the pigeons are healthy and if they are, they will not be bother by rearing a nest of young.

Q. How many stock birds do you keep and do you breed off your race team also how many pigeons do you think that you need to breed off any individual stock pair each year to see if they are quality producers.

 

John Halstead.

Having recently acquired the Jellemas I am currently carrying 26 pairs of stock birds which is more than I want but performances and quality of their children should allow me to be more selective next year. It would be nice to get 4 youngsters from a pair into the YB team but I know quality when I see it and racing usually serves to confirm this. I do breed from the best race cocks usually mated with a stock hen which I would use as a widowhood hen.

 

Carl Turner

At the moment I have 16 pairs of stock birds as I only intend to race YB’s each year. I have no OB racers. I would want I would want 4 YB’s from each pair and would hope for a winner amongst these.

Crowley & Green (Portugal/Belgium)

I have about 30 pair of stock birds, but half of these are only used as feeders. I have my four-best pair in single breeding pens and then another 12 pair in normal nest boxes. These are the only pigeons that I intend to breed from, I allow them all to lay and then move the first round of eggs under the feeders. The second round I allow them to rear themselves. Once these are all reared then I will change the pairs around and repeat the process. I think that you need to breed at least four young birds from each pair and preferably eight or even more from your best.

Joe Glover winning for over 70yrs.

I keep 8prs of stock birds but seldom breed off the race time, however I have tried a few over the years but not many. Possible 3 or 4 youngsters off each pair I don’t like to breed too heavy from them, that can ruin them for the future and good breeding pairs are worth looking after.

Curtis-Wall-Lunt-Green from the past

Our stock team used to consist of about 30prs but we have recently cut them to about 12 pairs and we breed about 90 young birds for ourselves each year. But you must remember that most weeks our race team is split between two feds .We feel you should breed about 6 youngsters off each pair for racing to be able to truly judge their true worth. When we had too many stock birds it made it almost possible for us and it will take longer to assess which are the best pairs. Once you know you have a good breeding pair you should obviously take as much from them as much as you can without doing any damage to the hens reproductive system

 

Parkinson & Wilkinson from the past

To get the best out of any stock pair you should breed and race at least 6 young birds each year otherwise you will never get the best out of them it is a very rare occasion where you will find all from a pair will prize. As I say unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of being able to do that because of the limited space for the race loft. Plus I have always been of the opinion that you should bring in at least 10 young birds each year to try, this year we bought in 20 young birds from Taverine-Rigole in Belgium to race, from the 20 there are 14 left, I must point out that we only competed in three young bird races. As far as the racers go we have 24 boxes in the race loft but they are not very often full. We are quite happy with our present set up to be able to have about 40 pigeons to race with both cocks and hens. Stock birds are a different matter because as pointed out the stock loft is down the side of the house and because the room is there, we have always had more stock than we should have in the first place and at the moment there are 30prs. We keep approximately 36 young birds for our own race team. If we were to compete in all the races that are available, we would need at least twice as many as we have at the present moment, to compete competitively you need the pigeons. It's no good saying quality not quantity; you need the quantity to find the quality in the first place, which is why the big team fanciers are better off, the more you breed and the more you can race in the early years the better the chance of finding a champion. We don’t generally breed off the racers for ourselves with having a good team of stock birds they do most of the breeding. We do breed a few late breds from the pigeons that race well, these are usually sold unless we require an odd one for breeding purposes for whatever reason.

 

 

Q. Please explain the method used from pairing up until the first race. What is the farthest distance that you would train your old birds or young birds? Do you breed off the top widowhood cocks after the racing has finished, do you breed late bred youngsters and what do you think of those later bred youngsters.

John Halstead.

Race and stock birds are paired in the first or second week of February. The racers rear 1 or 2 babies usually fostering eggs from the stock birds. I allow the racers to lay the second round of eggs and take their hens and eggs away before the first to lay has been sitting 10 days. The cocks are then on widowhood.  I believe the use of Harkers Hormoform is essential to rear top quality young birds. When old birds are exercising well at home, they will get 2 or 3 training tosses between 10 and 25 miles. Young birds starting at 4 miles, then at least 10 tosses up to 25 miles. I rarely train beyond 35 miles. I usually allow the best widowhood cocks to rear at the end of the racing season. I may keep a few late breds for stock but don’t usually have the intention of racing them because I feel late breds need training in their year of birth to make anything.

Carl Turner

It is not my intention to race OB’s and so I would race my YB’s through the whole programme including Nationals and Specialist races.

Crowley & Green (Portugal/Belgium)

I never breed from my race team, since 2009 they have been raced on the “Chaos” system which I copied from the Belgian partnership “Verreckt – Arien” when I purchased a round of young birds from them in 2009. Several top fanciers use this system, including John and David Stadden. If interested in this system then I suggest that you google the system or go to their recent new website. My old birds are normally only given a couple of 20-mile training tosses before racing commences and then exercised around the loft twice a day, flying for a minimum of one hour each time, sometimes longer. They are encouraged to fly, not by flagging but by staggering the release of each section by letting one section out, 15 minutes another section and so on. Vary which section you let out first each day and before long you can let them out all together and they will fly for pleasure. In the past if I wish to extend the flying period then I would let my young bird cocks out with them towards the end of their normal exercise period. As previously said, I do not breed off my race team, and often think am I missing a trick by not doing so. For the last six years I have been racing my pigeons in the Algarve, Portugal, what an experience, racing is totally different out here. The biggest differences are that they commence racing the back end of January and finish the end of June and they do not race young birds. If you ask them why they do not race young birds they say because it`s too hot but this does not stop them or the Spanish from running several one loft races in August / September. Out here the majority of fanciers just race hens, and it didn’t take long to realise why. The fact is that the hens race and exercise better, my opinion is that the cocks do not really come into form until the end of June, which coincides with the end of the season. Most of the Portuguese fanciers pair up after the end of the season and then breed a round of youngsters which they race as yearlings in January the next year. Myself I breed at the normal time and give my youngsters as many training tosses as possible from 25 miles when they are 3 or 4-month-old. My reasoning is that if I was restarting in pigeon racing then I would want an experienced team of young birds to race as yearlings next year, I would not want to restart with a team of late breds.  It has been my intention for the last two years to race pigeons in Belgium, last year we were very close to the completion on a house , but it fell through at the last moment. This year we have managed to purchase a house in Lauwe, and were about to drive there with dogs and pigeons on the 22nd March when the borders closed due to Covid 19. At this time, we had bred 82 young birds which were 28 day old, these are now (2 May) flying around as a team in Portugal and training of these will commence in about one month.

Joe Glover winning for over 70yrs.

The yearling racers are allowed to rear one youngster from the stock birds. The old pigeons 3/4-year olds selected for the channel are paired on the first March and they sit out a pair of eggs until they leave them and the same procedure is done again. The farthest they go in training is 30mls for both old and young. No pigeons are bred off the race team even after they have finished but sometimes, they rear a young bird from the stock loft after old bird racing is finished.

Curtis-Wall-Lunt-Green from the past

The criteria for us when racing has finished is to shut up shop until after Christmas. We watch all the birds very carefully through the moult and any that struggle are quickly sorted out. Once they are finished moulting, we then asses them and any that don't conform to our type have to go. We generally keep the best performers from the previous year’s young birds and we generally pair few winner to fed winner. Things are made easier when all your pigeons are the same type as you don't have any problems with pairing big pigeons together and so on. So long as everything goes alright with the moult and no problems arise with individuals throughout the winter and spring, we are happy to race all the best performers from previous seasons. If, however a pigeon hasn't come to top the fed by the end of it's second season's racing then it has to go. The standard of our loft demands that they prove themselves early on in life. We usually pair all our birds on the same day which can be any day between Christmas and the new year. Everything in the widowhood loft rears youngsters whether it be 1 or 2 depending obviously if both eggs hatch or not. We will look to wean them at about 24 days old and when they are in the nest, we always have a full gallipot of peas in each box. Every morning we give the birds a good supply of Hormoform mixed with seed and replenish all the grit and mineral pots. In the evening we will give each pair a handful of mixed corn which is a standard breeding mixture. We remove all the hens from the widowhood cocks when the young are about 15 days old, the hens are put in an 8ft section of the Y.B loft and the cocks are left to finish the YB's alone. By this time the cocks should be flying freely when let out for their exercise. We re-pair them about a month before the first race and that week when they are driving, we will train the cocks every day weather permitting from 8mls and they will be coming to the hen that is locked in the box. Once the hens lay, we don't train them because there is no incentive to race back to the loft as they are no longer driving. We just let them out morning and night and they should fly for about an hour in the mornings and about 45mins in the evening. We breed off all our widowhood that have topped the fed and there youngster are treasured within our lofts. In the early years we only used to breed from the stock birds but after a few seasons you need to start breeding from your best flyers this is how you become established. Late youngsters are bread every year some are sold and it is from these we will always pick ourselves a couple of potential stock birds for the future. We train according to the distance we want to win at our sprinters are kept short and our distance birds are trained from up to 80 miles we know people who train their young birds and old birds from 40 miles per day and achieve great results. We know others who train from 20 miles and achieve the same success, what works for one family of birds does not mean it will work for another you must find that out for yourselves simply by trial and error.

Parkinson & Wilkinson from the past

This was partly answered in the previous question, even so the main point is that you will not get the race team right until you have taken the youngsters out of the nest, they may appear to be right but they are net ready for racing. If you look around your club members early in the season the winners are generally those who have had the youngsters away and done some work when the pigeons are having nothing else taken out of them. We do like to have all the youngsters away at least two weeks before the first race so that the pigeons can be trained properly and given a fair chance. What you must remember is that you cannot expect pigeons to race and breed through a complete programme; they can only do one thing at a time and do it properly. We did in 2003 by request but one fancier decided not to have any when the time had come for them to go which is something that does happen from time to time. This has turned out to be to our advantage because they are making into a good sample that could well be part of our future stock team. They are from the Dordin’s all others were collected as arranged. Would we always breed off them, I don’t know because if the pigeons have flown well and they are bred right you should not require any for your own lofts.

Q. Do you compete in the National events, if not why not? Or are you happy to race in the club. Do you race your pigeons every week or do you prefer to condition them for a specific race. In your view do you think that a loft needs different pigeons for different distances. Is there any specific condition that your pigeons perform best at, or any particular time of the year?

John Halstead.

37 widowhood cocks and 14 hens race sometimes widowhood or to eggs and babies. I target certain races with the older reliable birds and only send birds when they are fit. The sprint pigeons go to the sprint races and selection is fluid all the time.

Carl Turner

I will be practicing widowhood with my YB’s and will race them the same throughout the season.

Crowley & Green (Portugal/Belgium)

I loved my National and International racing, and really miss it, hence my reason for purchasing a house in Belgium, out here virtually every week you are just competing in club and federation racing. Our plan is to live and race pigeons in Belgium from March to August, and live and breed our pigeons in Portugal from September onwards. They do have National races out here, often they plan to have three races from 450 miles, but it`s not unusual for some of these to be cancelled. The races are organised by the Portuguese equivalent of the RPRA, and the races are included in the race programme of all of the federations. Therefore, if you wish to compete in your federations distance championship then you have no choice but to send. It`s true to say that the majority of pigeon fanciers in Portugal are not in favour of these National races, when you have a mass liberation of 50,000 birds then obviously the losses can be quite high. Personally, I loved them, but some person in our federation decided last year that our birds were going to be held and liberated separately 45 seconds later, no consultation, he just did it off his own back. To say that I was furious is an understatement, but they do some strange things out here, without any consultation with their members, this year in the close season they decided to modify the transporters at a cost of 52,000 euros. With regard to racing I am very much a team man; my old bird team will go every week up to 250 miles and thereafter the plan is that they will go by section every other week up to 450 miles. But it`s true to say that some birds are only good at the middle distance and it’s pointless to send these any further than 350 miles. For the longer races I do believe that you need a specific family of birds that can fly 500 miles on the day, these are difficult to find. Even harder to find are the birds that can compete from Barcelona to be homing from lunchtime on the second day. Therefore, I tend to have four different sections of cocks, and also hens, each section containing birds that can compete best at a specific distance. The management of each section being tailored for the race distance.

Joe Glover winning for over 70yrs.

When I first started racing in the 50’s and 60’s there was so much competition and more to be won in the strong competition in Cheshire. If I had my time again, I would have a go at the Nationals but at the time I preferred to race locally against such fanciers as Denis Gleave, George Stubbs, Jack Bates Etc, all top fanciers in those days. There was a good all round quality of fanciers to compete against.

Curtis-Wall-Lunt-Green from the past

For many years we have raced mostly on land with a few up to 350mls winning all along the line. We have had pigeons in the past who have flown and won in the longer races on the widowhood system.

Parkinson & Wilkinson from the past

I enjoy racing in the National races etc, this is a way to test your pigeons because they are not all just racing to one area. In National competition the pigeons have to think a bit more and need a bit more up top. Some pigeons will race forever at club level but when you move them into a different type of competition that fall down, not all pigeons will achieve good results when moved up a step from the club. Going back a few years to 2000 and prior the club arcing in Middlewich was good with birdage figures 350 to 450 but then the federation delegates voted for a 9am liberation and the club fell apart, fact not fiction. The change in time is not the only reason but it was a major influence on the fanciers in the club that has never picked up since.

 

 

Q. How do you feed the cocks and what do you feed them on, a branded mix or do you buy separate corns and mix your own.  Do you measure the amount that you give to each pigeon, or are they fed according to the individual pigeon. Do you attach any importance to grits and minerals or can the pigeons get what they want they are out of the loft.

John Halstead.

Long distance cocks are fed morning and evening from the troughs on the floor when they come in from exercise. I use the contents of 3 bags, all Versele Laga; depurative, Gerry Plus and Champion Plus. The sprint team are fed with a spoon on the front of their boxes. Fresh grit is provided at least every other day on the clean floor.

Carl Turner

I mix my own corn from variations of branded corn and increase certain items as the distance increases or dependant on conditions. Grit and minerals are always given withing the loft as my birds are never allowed to stay out. They are either flying or in the loft including for baths.

Crowley & Green (Portugal/Belgium)

All of my birds, cocks or hens, when being prepared for a race, are fed with the same corn, in recent years I have fed Gerry Plus early in the preparation, a mix of 50% Gerry Plus and 50% Race Mix in the middle of the preparation and 100% Race Mix at the end of the preparation. The race mix is normally 50% Versele Laga Champion Plus and 50% Vanrobaeys Bordeaux No 8. They are not kept short of food but eat as much as they want with extra maize, peanuts and maple peas given as the distance increases. I find that the birds prefer Beyers grit, with a fresh supply added to the feeder at breakfast every morning.

Joe Glover winning for over 70yrs.

My main feed Tillsberg mixes all through for both old and young. The widowhood cocks are all fed in their boxes with the measure being a silver egg cup, I did smile because I used an egg cup for feed purposes. I used to use a lot of minerals at one time so now I put them before them 3 days each week and what they don’t each day is taken out. The maim minerals are Matrex and Versele Laga. 

Curtis-Wall-Lunt-Green from the past

Once they are on widowed, they are fed on a standard widowhood mixture every evening and after the morning exercise they get depurative and seed mixed together 50/50. This is kept the same every day up to Friday when they are fed the widowhood mix in the mornings and they may get a little seed in the afternoons about one hour before going into the basket.

Parkinson & Wilkinson from the past

For many years we used Versele-Lage super widowhood all the year round and the only addition for the breeders will be a few additional peas with a touch of pellets. All our birds are given supplements because we believe that they all need to be healthy. Over the years we have tried most of the supplements on the market and are always trying something new that may appear, that is the only way that you will keep abreast of what is happening on the health front. In 1999 we used Comed and nothing else, then in 2000 we moved over to the new products on the scene from Interlabo. Where there is anything to do with pigeons you must keep an open mind if you are going to take your pigeons forward. However, since we went on the Comed range our pigeons have never ailed and always appear to be in the best of health and that also applies to when we changed to the Interlabo range. Do not be fooled by winning fanciers who say they use nothing; we have met such fanciers but they prefer to keep what they are doing to themselves. To be honest there really are no secrets to winning with pigeons, it’s just common sense and hard work; anyone can win with pigeons if they try hard enough. We have previously stated that we use one brand and this season we are on the Interlabo range and are very pleased with them. We now use the full range as recommended by the Interlabo Company. If you are to keep your pigeons in perfect health then you must keep them on a regular system and not use any other at all. When a company produces a range of products they are perfected to work together and bringing in any other defeats the object of getting the best out of the pigeons. There are several good ranges about, you choose the one that you prefer and stick to it for that year, and you may find another product for another year so you must keep an open mind. The above was what I always worked on with products but then I found the Bifs products and for the first time I stuck to these for 12yrs and didn’t have a problem. I have to say Vior is an outstanding product that I used all the year round. The corn also changed for the 2003 season and we used the Gaby Vandenabeele mix plus the Breed and Wean of Bamfords and in fact we are getting them though the moult on the later. We also use Red Band every morning during the racing but mix it in with the corn out of season. We do not break them down at any time of the year, we always give the best of everything. They need feeding just as well in winter as summer; pigeons need looking after 365 days of the year. It's surprising how many fanciers will have a good season and for no apparent reason will not be seen again on the prize list for a few years and they wonder why, it is generally down to the way they are being looked after. Any loft can have a good season but when it comes to keeping it up the birds need looking after all year round and they will respond year after year. What you will find is that when the birds are in good condition they will eat less and that is why they the old bird racers are fed in their own box. We also take care with certain pigeons because some will require that little bit more than others, not because they are greedy but because their body make up needs it. Another point is that Seed Company’s make mixtures for a reason and that is not so that a particular pigeon can eat maize alone, a balanced diet makes a difference.

Q. Do the pigeons need any special treatment on their return from the race to help them relax? Is any such treatment needed for the short or long-distance races or the hard races compared to the easy races?

 

John Halstead.

All race birds return every time to Prolyte in the water which is recovery salts. Sometimes this is used again early in the week.

 

Carl Turner

With only racing YB’s they especially need Electrolytes upon return from racing as it’s generally hotter at the time of year they fly in the UK. They then have a relaxing bath on the day following their race but still only in their aviary, never outside on the grass, as I said before they are either IN RESTING or OUT FLYING!!

Crowley & Green (Portugal/Belgium)

I think that racing pigeons need special treatment throughout the racing cycle, not only on their return but also in preparation for their next race. This treatment will vary dependent on the hardness of their last race, the distance of their next race whilst also considering the weather forecast for the next race. I am a great believer in supplementing their food and can honestly say that almost every day I will add supplements to their food and water. For the last two seasons I have been using Rhonfried products, such as Mumm, Entrobac, Carni Speed and Hexenbier and would recommend them to anyone.

Joe Glover winning for over 70yrs.

It all depends on the race as to what they get, I use Electrolytes and honey, plus Trixonox for canker and Gemthrepax with 11 in one Aviform tonic. The only other thing I use throughout the season is Enviraboost of Osmands and also their Respiratory product.

Curtis-Wall-Lunt-Green from the past

When our birds have stopped racing, we lock them up until the following year we give plenty of natural yoghurt through the moulting months and good corn until the main body moult has finished. We don't mind them getting a little podgy at this time of year but obviously not grossly overweight. We bath them regularly and our aviary is our big asset, at this time of year basically we let the birds rest and re charge their batteries before the onslaught of the new season.

Parkinson & Wilkinson from the past

The old birds have electrolytes on their return from the race and then the following 3 days they had Vior in the water. They had their hens until Sunday morning and had a bath.

 

 

Q. How many weeks do you think a pigeon can maintain its form on the widowhood system for both cocks and hens? Does this include channel races or are the specified number of weeks for sprint races and do you think that a pigeon can be prepared at fortnightly intervals for the channel races.

 

John Halstead.

I am careful to make sure the widowhood cocks do not see too much of the widowhood hens as this is a major factor when birds do not maintain form. The long-distance birds usually race fortnightly but a programme is planned so that the arrive at the target race fully prepared and primed.

 

Carl Turner

Again, this is not relevant particularly with YB’s as they go every race if fit to do so.

Crowley & Green (Portugal/Belgium)

With both cocks and hens, once they hit form and perform well then, I think that they can perform for several weeks, at least three or four for the cocks and even longer for the hens. To me I never refer to sprint or channel races, when I lived in Wiltshire it was only 60 miles to the coast so my birds crossed the channel every week. More important is the distance raced, cocks normally can cope with a 250 mile race every week and the hens 350 miles every week. It`s only when you get to 400 miles plus that I revert to racing on a fortnightly system and every year some of the birds would do Bergerac 450 miles and Bordeaux 450 miles two weeks later. All my yearlings would race NFC Saintes, 400 miles and some would follow this with a 450-mile race two weeks later. The important thing is to keep the best birds going, if they came well from Bergerac then two weeks later the best birds would also come well from Bordeaux. I can remember when I won 1st, 2nd, 3rd Open BBC Bordeaux that the same three birds had previously won 3rd, 5th, 8th Open CSCFC Bergerac two weeks previously.

Joe Glover winning for over 70yrs.

I think they can go 8 to 10 weeks, but it does depend on how hard you press the pigeons. If they are right when you start, they should hold that form until mid-June. All the birds are treated the same from the first to the last race. When it comes to the channel, they go every two weeks.

Curtis-Wall-Lunt-Green from the past

The first thing that you must have is contentment, your pigeons must be happy within their own environment if they are, they will race longer. They need to be happy in their loft, happy to have you in and around them or they will never race home in front of the rest. If you have these things then you are already half-way to motivating your team every week. So, the most important thing to motivate your widowers in our opinion is contentment. Yes, we believe that it does not matter what the distance is you are flying, the principle remains the same. Pigeons maintain that "Super Fitness" for only a short time, so when you have it you must "Strike while the iron is hot" as it definitely does not last. But generally speaking, sending channel candidates once per fortnight can only help them as it gives plenty of time to recuperate between races. This is especially advantages when the races are from over 450mlsand have been hard testing races. Pigeons can win both short and long-distance races but on the whole it's not advisable in today's cut and thrust racing. You cannot expect them to be at their best from a 10 to 14-hour fly when they have been raced on an inland system for the past 6 to 8 weeks. We say that because these days many top fanciers specialise in one or the other. Generally. they compete at the longer races with good pigeons and they are fresh. Overall, we believe they will come out on top of a pigeon that is tired. By trying to do it all you seem to spread yourself a little thin which is fine for club racing. But when it comes to Classics and Nationals etc then you really must be more specialised.

Parkinson & Wilkinson from the past

This all depends on the fancier and how observant they are, if they are looked after and kept for sprinting then they should last up to the first channel race which is about six races, if they cannot take that then their constitution does not sound too good. They then get a break and can by boosted up for a few more weeks to finish the season off; a widowhood cock racing into our area in Cheshire should be able to compete in all the club land races without a problem. You are always going to find it different and harder with natural pigeon because they are at different stages of sitting, driving or feeding where needed. With this in mind you can appreciate that you cannot keep them going for so long, there is always going to be some sort of interruption

 

 

Q. What happens when you are racing either widowhood or the roundabout when you have a bad race and lose a few from one sex, how do you continue with those pigeons who have lost their mate. If your race team went off form during the season what action would you take to restore their condition?

 

John Halstead.

My racing hens have non racing cocks to return to so they are at home to welcome the hen. All widowhood cocks have their own widowhoods hens. If off form, rest and light feed for several days, and if disappointing results it is back to basics.

 

Carl Turner

As YB’s aren’t that developed they don’t need specific partners as per OB’s. If they went off the boil then I’d suggest with YB’s it could only be their health and with my health regime being continuous they should not encounter problems but if they did I’d post off tests to PIGEON TESTING CENTRE for their analysis and treat accordingly.

Crowley & Green (Portugal/Belgium)

As previously mentioned, I fly my pigeons on the “Chaos” system so the number of birds from each sex doesn’t really matter. However, if it became obvious that I was short of a particular sex then I would not hesitate to put a few stock birds in the section on the day of marking. A new partner often gives the extra motivation. With regard to a team going off form, this is often an indication that there is a health problem and therefore veterinary advice would be sought followed by an appropriate treatment.

Joe Glover winning for over 70yrs.

Those pigeons who lose their mate are rested until they settle with a new mate. If they went off form I would want to know why. I would rest them and treat them for canker, a rest is as good a tonic as anything.

Curtis-Wall-Lunt-Green from the past

We would assess the situation and if it was a simple as just a loss of form in the team and not anything more sinister like viruses etc then we would rest them. We would feed them a light mix canker them that week and start to exercise them gradually the following week and form would be sure to return. We cannot remember any of our main race birds ever getting ill or sick but with youngsters this is a different matter. Because you have asked the question about sick birds as individuals and have not mentioned YB sickness we will answer the question as if directed at our older birds. We have had one or two stock birds go sick over the years and we have identified the problem and isolated the bird concerned, treated it with anti-biotics and put it back in the loft when it was well again. They have gone on to breed fed winners after that but if we had a pigeon that repeatedly got sick then we would dispose of it for sure.

 

Parkinson & Wilkinson from the past

We don’t have this problem racing the natural but we may in 2004 because we are thinking of racing on the widowhood. If the occasion arises, we would have to look at using one of the stock hens or cocks, depending on which one is lost. There have been many races won with pigeons not having a mate at all so the circumstances at any given time will dictate what you do.

 

 

 

Q. Do you treat pigeons differently with their preparation if they are to go to the bigger races whether National, Classic, Specialist club or open. Do you think a pigeon has the capabilities of racing both short and long-distance races? Also, what distance can a pigeon actually still “RACE” as opposed to homing from any race point?

 

John Halstead.

My pigeons are treated pretty much the same but I send the best birds to the best races, one good one will beat 10 bad ones. I try to keep the best birds for the best National races and have sprint bloodlines for the short races. Having won Barcelona I know that speed is important even at 700 miles, just timing in is no longer what I want.

 

Carl Turner

I do prepare a few YB’s for these races via either full Widowhood or sent sitting eggs/babies etc and they’ll go right through the programme.

Crowley & Green (Portugal/Belgium)

When racing in England, we did not compete in club or federation racing, every week we had a big race either in the CSCFC, BBC, BICC, NFC. Our intention when we race in Belgium is to just compete in the National and International races. I think some families of pigeons are capable of competing at different distances. However, I prefer to have particular lines from different strains that perform exceptionally well at different distances and the management of each strain has to be different depending on the distance you are racing them. It oversimplifies things just to refer to sprint and distance pigeons. Mainly because there are very good pigeons that perform at the top level between 5 and 600 miles but are never seen if you send them further. Likewise, there are pigeons that excel at 700 miles plus that cannot fly 500 miles on the day. In my opinion if you want to compete at all distances then you need different families, easier said than done because my bogey distance is 500 miles on the day birds, but that could be just my bad management. Mind you I got it right one day, with “BRIMSTONE” – 2nd Dax International 19,400 birds, he sadly passed away six weeks ago, 21 years old, he enjoyed his last six years in the Algarve. Over the years my opinion on “racing” or “homing” has changed. For many years I would not compete in the races from Barcelona, 725 miles to me, as I always considered that the birds were just homing. It was only when I became the secretary of the British Barcelona Club that I felt obliged to send. The first year I sent I timed two good birds, about lunchtime on the second day to be 3rd and 5th Open and win the two-bird average. These birds were obviously well motivated and had definitely raced to the loft. The next year I sent the same two birds back and they homed to the loft after spending two weeks out. I was worried that I had turned them into homing pigeons but when I sent them back the following year with the BICC, by god, did they race 1st and 3rd Open, a pair of excellent extreme long distance pigeons bred from “Young Boris”. I have recently re-introduced his bloodlines in preparation for racing Barcelona again, but this time into Belgium.

Joe Glover winning for over 70yrs.

A pigeon should be able to race from 60 to 400mls quite easily. When it comes to the 600ml plus races it is hard to decide what they are going to do. When a pigeon comes out of the basket, they are racing but with the 600ml races they are a bit different and with not competing in those races I cannot really say.

 

Curtis-Wall-Lunt-Green from the past

We have only competed in the NWG National across the water winning it 4 times and also won in this club on land, 9 in total over the years

 

Parkinson & Wilkinson from the past

If we are preparing pigeons for the specialist type of races, they will get plenty of private training and the odd race with the club and that will be that. They will not be flogged in race after race because that will take the edge off them again, it is a case of preparation and an end result of satisfaction. Pigeon racing is going more to specialist racing because of the decline in numbers at club level and this includes channel racing. Clubs would be far better not competing in the local clubs from channel events into the North West and staying on the land. This would help both parties buy giving more credit to the channel winners and less stress for the pigeons. I say stress because some fanciers will send pigeon’s week in week out to both land and channel races with the club and effectively make them sick of the basket. I was talking to a local fancier down at the local club about this and I pointed out that you win nothing in the channel races for a lot of effort. A few years ago, he was one of the best channel racers in the area and the one to look for but due to circumstances the results have been more on the land in recent years. As long as we are covering ourselves in the bigger races that are all that matter, I pool to cover what I am doing and enjoy the results more than the winnings on the cheque. I have seen fanciers advertising that they have won so many thousand pounds in a season but it has cost them that much to send their big teams pooled all the way.

 

 

 

Q. If you could pass on one piece of advice or tip, at this point to fanciers old and young, what would it be?

John Halstead.

Do not overcrowd your loft, particularly young birds. This is my shortest answer but the most important one.

Carl Turner

To study various top fancier’s methods/lofts/feeding etc before you start as there’s lots on information etc now open to you with the internet now prevalent in our lives and adapt parts of each to suit your budget and lifestyle but most importantly learn how to keep pigeons healthy and fit, without this even the most expensive birds WILL NOT COMPETE!!

Crowley & Green (Portugal/Belgium)

Become friendly with a successful fancier not racing in your area and ask him for his help and advice. Make sure that he competes at the same distance as you, follow his advice and ignore all the tips given to you by other fanciers. Speak to him on a weekly basis and become his friend.

Joe Glover winning for over 70yrs.

My advice would be to go to the top man in your area wo are consistently winning week in week out being in the fed. Go and purchase some ;late breds in August September. Breed off those pigeons and then you have the parents and their young.

Parkinson & Wilkinson from the past

Find a good winning fancier who is easy to talk to and spend as much time as they will allow you to spend in them. You don’t have to go to one of the big names in the sport because there are some really knowledgeable fanciers about who are always willing to talk to new starters or the younger members of the sport. Don’t have too many pigeons, a few good ones are easier to look after than a loft full of misfits.

Q. What problems do you think are most detrimental to race condition in modern day racing, both Old Bird and Young Bird? What races do you send your long distance candidates to before their chosen race. Can you tell the readers your routine for preparing pigeons for the longer races? Do you look forward to the channel racing.

 

John Halstead.

Having fresh birds i.e. Not overworked, certainly helps and good health is essential. The BICC have an excellent programme with a few middle-distance races and I prefer my long-distance candidates to get time on the wing at these events. Sometimes I send with no realistic chance of winning the race but it is essential preparation and there is a bigger picture. Every pigeon is different so I decide on a weekly basis the plan for my best birds and there is always a target.

 

Carl Turner

Race condition can be affected by various things like, the previous race (tough or easy), your loft environment (air flow/ overcrowding etc), your routine and your ability and experience as a fancier. Not every week will be the same so you must condition as the week dictates.

Crowley & Green (Portugal/Belgium)

Become friendly with a successful fancier not racing in your area and ask him for his help and advice. Make sure that he competes at the same distance as you, follow his advice and ignore all the tips given to you by other fanciers. Speak to him on a weekly basis and become his friend.

Joe Glover winning for over 70yrs.

If I go back through the years and think about them I don’t think the pigeons are any better today than they were then. I used to bike to the station and send them to Gloucester once a week. Today things are different because transport is available for everyone. Today is about numbers, modern day racing has taken a step backwards. They do have better transporters than they used to but the problem is the crates are not deep enough, they need 14 inches which most transporters don’t have. I certainly look forward to channel racing where I have been so successful winning many 1sts. One thing about channel racing in the modern days is that the 500mls race has been knocked off the programme, a big disappointment not only to me but many others.

Curtis-Wall-Lunt-Green from the past

We don’t take part in the long-distance races, we have settled on racing up to 300mls, we have won the NWGN from across the water. In the early 90’s we did race from Niort 500mls and won it two years in succession but they were the last races when we raced as Curtiss-Wall-Lunt the first time.  

Parkinson & Wilkinson from the past

No matter what happens you will get fanciers sending their birds when they have a problem, it is a fact and can be heard during many conversations with fanciers from different areas. The major problem being that many fanciers do not know that they have a problem with their pigeons. There are also fanciers who send when they knowingly have a problem in the loft, I had a phone call some time ago and the fancier was telling me that a member of his club admitted to having pigeon pox but still sent the birds and other fanciers ended up with the same problem. In the case of young bird racing the present problem being young bird sickness, again many do not know that they have it and send all the same. The health of the racing pigeon is always going to be a continuing problem because no matter what some fanciers will send to the races and you will not change them. The season we first clocked in from Pau to be 45th open our lofts were on the widowhood and the pigeons went more or less every week. But the following year they were on natural and we were 175th open but the pigeons were selectively raced and trained. The old pied cock was sent off the loft one year but was still on the result. If the pigeons are right, they will do the job asked of them but everything must be considered including the wing because if there are gaps in the wing, they will lose part of the force that sends them along. Most of all the pigeons for the likes of Pau 684mls to us need to be bred for the job. We have partly answered this question because we do look forward to the channel races but we can add to that because if you look after your pigeons all the year round and feed them well they will not need any preferential treatment for the longer races. We obviously do not send them week in week out but they still go to the races with the only exception in our loft being "Elimar True Grit" who did not have many races in his lifetime on land because it was a waste of his energy and our time. I was talking to Eric Limbourg on this subject of feeding for long distance races early in 1999 and he said, "You English feed too much big stuff in your corn, beans are no good". That caused one of our changes when we went on Versele-Laga Super Widowhood. No matter how far the race is the pigeon must be physically and mentally fit if they are to win. The only thing we can add to that is there will always be the exception to the rule when the oddball pigeon that has not been prepared but just sent comes along and wins a race, which is more often than not because there has been something along the route that has helped it along. Even winners do not stay here unless they have everything else to offer and I remember one young bird winner that we had in 1999 who won in a blow home but his body was all out of shape and that was the only time he was anywhere near the front of the queue and subsequently had to go.

Q. Do you race your young birds, if so, how many races, if not why, do you think they are better off in the longer events if they are only raced lightly.

 

John Halstead.

I have always been a very successful young bird flyer both before and after the arrival of the Darkness System. All the youngsters I breed to race go on the Darkness System and are given plenty of training and all are raced on average 3 times. Each year I send to 3 or more young bird Channel races, usually I retain 60% of my team. The best young birds rarely make the best old birds.

 

Carl Turner

I will only be racing YB’s now and they will go every week IF fit and on form and whether my knowledge and experience allows me to send them. They’ll all be treated the same throughout the season.

Crowley & Green (Portugal/Belgium)

As previously stated, they do not race young birds in Portugal but I did for 30 years in England. All my young birds would be well trained with probably 30 training tosses out to 40 miles before racing commenced. Once racing commenced then training stopped and the birds would be exercised around the loft twice a day. I liked them all to have at least 4 or 5 races and would select the most promising to put to one side for future seasons. However at least half of them would race the whole programme including the classic and National races. As these races were later in the season it was important to have darkened the loft.

Joe Glover winning for over 70yrs.

I raced young birds on both dark and natural, both systems have been good, the darkness young birds do fair better in bad weather or the race is hard. Most lofts on the darkness system get young bird sickness and it makes me wonder WHY.

Curtis-Wall-Lunt-Green from the past

You need young birds that have had sufficient experience but it’s the yearlings that matter most. For our type of racing our yearlings are very important to us. We think there is nothing better than a young team , our yearlings are almost always our best performers throughout the year. For instance, last season we topped the fed 11 times with old birds, 10 of these were with yearlings and the pigeon that won 1st NWGN from Vire was also a yearling. But when you get difficult races in North East winds then we find that the more experienced 2 & 3yr olds come to the fore. But over a few seasons your loft should become stronger and the yearlings within your team should be more than holding their own or there could be trouble for you in the future. Because after all your yearlings are for the future and so should be winning from the start.

 

Parkinson & Wilkinson from the past

Depending on the pigeons because if they are bred right for the distance a couple of races at around 100mls is sufficient but if they are being tested, they will usually go to the coast 176mls. As we have previously stated young bird racing is not important because racing the old birds is a preference. Too many pigeons are ruined in the early stages of their life because fanciers push them that bit too far as babies and they never recover, then they blame the pigeons for what is their own fault. It is easier to race young birds by heavy training and keeping them on the corn tin but they lose part of their spirit and again do not very often perform as well later in life. The darkness system is another problem because there are not many youngsters flown on the systems that go on as yearlings to win. There will always be the exception to the rule and there are also those who race the system with a few and keep the best for later in life and keep it to themselves. However, if the darkness young birds are cared for at the yearling stage, they can come good again as 2yo's. Think of the future when racing young birds which is for one season only, the pigeons have many more years ahead of them. In the modern day of racing young birds, they have fared better with the darkness system. However, it is a sore subject here because we used the darkness only once then the following year, we lost all the yearlings across the channel and that has never happened before. I must admit that if we had the room to keep a team on one side for the darkness and leave them to a few light races the following year then it would be ideal because they do look good when the longer races come along. There are a few who see the darkness as a way forward and have had no problems with it but I am hearing far more who are experiencing heavy losses the following year and are not going to use it as much in future years.

 

 

Q. Do you use any preventative medication? If a pigeon goes ill do you try to put it right or does the bird have to go. If you could only give your pigeons one natural treatment, what would it be. Do you give any special treatments when the pigeons return from the race as a precaution against anything that they may have picked up in the basket?

 

John Halstead.

For the last 5 seasons I have not dosed my pigeons for anything at all. They are all routinely vaccinated as per regulations and anything that becomes ill, has to go. I swear by a product called Enviroboost from Osmonds and this goes in the young bird’s water most days of the week and is designed to kill any bugs spreading in the water. I use it for all young birds and late breds and would not want to be without it. I occasionally use it the day after races for my old birds also.

 

Carl Turner

Yes, my birds are preventatively treated throughout the season and on return from races as I think YB’s are more susceptible to catching ailments but I alternate medications to prevent them becoming immune to them. If I was to give only one Natural treatment, I’d say it would have to be garlic to assist with their immunity, blood and its ability to fight infection.

Crowley & Green (Portugal/Belgium)

I regularly give preventative treatments for canker, before racing and during the race season and currently prefer to use Tollisan TKK powder. Early in the week if not treating for canker I also use Aviform Mycoform –T plus Naturaline in the water for a couple of days which I find helps to keep the respiratory system clear. With regard to natural treatments, you cannot beat propolys and spirulina on the food. I think that it`s important to keep an eye on the pigeon droppings on a daily basis, which is why I do not use grids, and why I scrape out every day. I always note any unexpected change in the consistency of the droppings and take immediate action to identify and treat any problem at the earliest opportunity.

Joe Glover winning for over 70yrs.

I have mention treatments earlier in these notes, all birds are also vaccinated. If a pigeon goes ill I like to give it a second chance but they only have a few days to show that they are getting fit again. It’s hard to say just one but I do like the 11 in one that makes pigeons better. When they return from a race, they get nothing, I do treat for canker 3 times a year.

Curtis-Wall-Lunt-Green from the past

The things we do when our birds return from racing is to give them electrolytes in the water probably the same as most fanciers. But after a holdover we always canker the pigeons for 3 days. We have also given Gambakoxoid and Nifuramycin to the birds on return from racing but this was only for youngsters. We no longer do this as we believe now, that if they go down with anything Dusty Bin is the best cure. You can get carried away with too many products, natural immunity and natural fitness gives rise to better racing results, we are sure of this.

 

 

Parkinson & Wilkinson from the past

I mentioned something about this in an earlier question so, a pigeon goes ill do you try to put it right or does the bird have to go. These are points that we have talked about no end and have heard many fanciers discussing them. On medication we spent a few hours with Dr Vandersanden in Belgium going through all the points concerning medication and what you should give them. We were advised on what types of medication to use for each disease and we were both very impressed with what he had to say. It does not matter how clean you keep your lofts the problems arise when the birds go into the baskets and can quite easily pick up a problem. Many years ago, we had an evening with Geert De Clerqe and Gijs Peters from Belgium, which was based on the Comed range of products. It was interesting to learn what and how differently they treated their birds. After that evening, we again sat down and discussed what they had to say and compared that with the notes made from our trip to Dr Vandersanden. What we decided to do was treat them just before the racing season with Endo Ecto for body parasites and worms when they were receiving their yearly para jab. We then treat the pigeons in preparation for the races that they are required for as individuals, it does take time and does work and you are not overdosing all the pigeons all the time. However, they are all treated for the usual problems after the season has finished to make sure that they were all healthy and not carrying anything from other pigeons in the baskets. A good product that we do use is FAM30 a farm disinfectant which was advised by a MAFF vet and also by the late Denis Gleave, not only do we fine spray the lofts but also wash down all paths as many as three times per week but also water the lawn and borders with it. Regarding the water we do change it twice each day during the summer months and even more if necessary. With regards to the addition products that we use the 1999 season saw a drastic change in the way we used these pigeon products and we went on to the complete Comed range. Through talking to fanciers who are already winning with Comed we came up with our own method, which we have supplied, to many fanciers who have successfully stuck to it. For personal reasons we then went onto the Interlabo range of products and found them easier to use and got better results in the longer races. How many athletes do you see winning without at least taking some kind of tonics/oils etc. you do not win at the highest levels of competition on everyday food and water. By the way I am not referring to banned substances but natural products, which do the pigeons no harm at all. Most companies make good products; it is always going to be a case of finding what suits you and sticking to it. The problem then arose that I was having trouble getting hold of the Interlabo products when I needed them so I looked around and moved onto the Bifs products that I find all right. Times change and you have to move on, who knows what we may use next year or the year after, we don’t stand still like so many do in the sport.

 

Q. Are there any feeding methods for the young birds i.e. do you break them down, do you keep them hungry for control purposes, do you give them a trapping seed mix. Why is feeding the pigeon’s sop complicated or is that the way we make it.

John Halstead.

My youngsters are never kept short of food but are brought into a regular routine and things happen at the same time week in week out. They are fed with 3 different bags of food. A standard YB mixture – peas, dari, tares etc. Versele Laga Gerry Plus  and Versele Laga depurative along with grit. They are fed twice each day after morning exercise and between 6 and 7 pm in the evening. Food is placed in the trough on the floor, a little at a time and when 2 or 3 birds have gone to the drinker, no more is added.

Carl Turner

My YB’s are broken down for the first few races and the corn percentage increased as the race distance increases, or the potential training/race conditions dictate. They are fed well and not fed to be hungry as they will be exercising well enough to necessitate the amount of feed they need to sustain their condition, the fanciers eye to enable attention to detail is the difference amongst us.

Crowley & Green (Portugal/Belgium)

I used to break my pigeons down, but no longer, and certainly do not keep them hungry. As soon as I open the traps after the exercise period has finished the birds, old or young, drop out of the sky like bullets. They know that a mixture of Sneaky mix and peanuts await them, not a lot, just a small amount which they demolish before they are fed the main meal. I have always been wary of feeding peanuts and prefer purchasing the small red ones from Morrisons supermarket.

Joe Glover winning for over 70yrs.

I do use a trapping seed mix when they start racing, young birds must be kept on a diet. The young birds must be kept tight to get the best out of them. Today pigeon fanciers are blinded they think they can get results out of a bottle. If pigeons are good enough, they will win. What I will ad dis that where there is a partnership it does help. Until I lost my wife, I was winning 30 or so first but after she died the number of first won has gone down. Even though she did not work with the pigeons with me I do miss her and through our relationship where she encourages me I worked more with the birds. I have enjoyed pigeon racing for the last 70yrs and never failed to win a first each year. I would like to thank all those people in the sport who I have been racing against, it has all been worthwhile. I am still looking forward to racing but how many will I win; we shall have to wait and see.

Curtis-Wall-Lunt-Green from the past

We feed our youngsters as much as they want, they are never starved and we feed them twice per day. Every day of their lives they get a young bird mix at every evening feed and the morning feed is mixed seed and depurative every day.

Parkinson & Wilkinson from the past

We don’t break any of the pigeons down at all, they are fed on good corn all the year round, keeping them hungry is not an option because that is no good at all for the races that we are looking to win at. I have handled pigeons that have been very thing an under nourished and unless they have a wind up their rear. they win nothing and when it comes to the channel they go down. On the subject of trapping seed, yes, we use it all the year round for the morning feed in the summer and with their mix in winter

Les. J. Parkinson, Elimar, 11 Rushton Drive, Middlewich, Cheshire, CW10 ONJ. Tel/Fax; 01606 836036. e-mail; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. web-site  www.elimarpigeons.com