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North West Combine - Tom Hayes Loft Report by Daniel Pearson - 18-01-23

North West Combine - Tom Hayes Loft Report

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Tom Hayes 

18 x 1st Club

4 x 1st North Wirral Federation

3 x 1st West Cheshire Amal

5 x 1st North Wirral & West Cheshire Amal 

Plus 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 11th plus other positions Northwest Combine 2022

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Before Christmas myself and John Pearson had the privilege of attending the brilliant racing loft of Tom Hayes to conduct a loft report on behalf of the North West Combine so have a read and enjoy. 

1) Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you become involved in the sport?

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I was born into pigeon racing but the only one of four siblings to take an interest in the birds, my dad was glad of my help as he worked hard for the family, in those days the pigeons went to training & races by rail and I used to take the pigeons on the way to school and pick up the basket on the way home from school, I remember going on loft visits to successful fanciers of the day, I mostly always went on my own and my dad would give me the train fare, when I think back I was still only very young and at school, I visited the Liverpool loft of William Kilshaw who was the father of the legendary Les Kilshaw, Dick Newton from Scarisbrook, Fred Pryce of Burscough and later on to Tom Horton of Southport, I remember on my first visit to William Kilshaw I was greeted by an Alsatian on a chain and a shotgun! He kept his winning pigeons in baskets in the house for fear of them being stolen, successes for myself and my dad was few and far between and it was only when I persuaded my dad to introduce the widowhood system that club members had already adapted to, unfortunately club members wouldn’t share the information with us so I had to research it myself, this was when we started to win and compete weekly, around that time dad started to be ill with cancer so he personally couldn’t manage the day to day duties and it was then I brought the pigeons up to my house and dad would come race days, sadly my dad lost his battle with cancer in 1987, it was difficult to manage the birds whilst working shift work and overtime without any help but still managed to be quite successful and must admit since retiring it has been much easier to get into a manageable routine and much less stressful resulting in being more enjoyable, early success with the widowhood system was with the Laffy Daffys from Louella Pigeon Stud,  unfortunately the Paramyxo virus caused me to lose all my birds so I had to start from scratch, I met Gordon Parker when he had a stand at Blackpool and was impressed by his family of Herbot pigeons which I then introduced which were quite successful for me and won land & channel races from the off, on my retirement I invested in the Herman Cuesters from Premier Stud and these are the pigeons winning for me today. 

Widowhood Cock Section 1 18 01 23    Widowhood Hens Section 18 01 23    Widowhood Section 2 18 01 23

Widowhood Cocks, Widowhood Hens and the Widowhood Section
2) What was your first club and what club/s are you member of now?

My first club was the Bebington H.S of which I am still a member and also the longest serving member, I am currently also in the Willaston H.S and Chester 2 Bird, Beeston Castle 2 Bird and the Midlands National Flying Club.

3) Who were your mentors in your early years of the sport?

As I mentioned in the first question my mentor will always be my dad which I will go into further on the next question.

4)  Have they taught you anything which you still practice today?

In the early days we just flew the natural system and methods however in the late 1970s I managed to persuade my dad to fly the widowhood system, I read into the system and studied videos about the system and this is really when our performances improved more or less overnight, as mentioned previously the top flyers at the time didn’t really share their secrets so I had to do my own research and kicked on from there.

5) Can you tell me what goes into your preparation prior to pairing up?

In November after the moult the birds are all vaccinated for Paratyphoid and PMV and are treated for all the usual ailments in December ready for pairing early to mid-January 

6) What method do you fly your pigeons on?

Old birds are all flown on the roundabout system, Young birds are flown on the darkness system, I don’t split young birds but have thought about it but never got round to it.

Old Bird Racing Loft 18 01 23

Old Bird Racing Loft

7) Can you outline your system from the time you pair up to the time racing commences?

All birds Stock & Racers are paired up the same time in which the first round from stock are floated under the racers to rear and stock will go down again in another 10 days, race hens ‘arnt parted until there sitting on their 2nd round after about a week, that’s when all the race birds are split and preparation begins for racing, both sexes are trained up to 30 miles and also let out for fly morning & night, once racing starts training stops and birds will then loft fly twice daily for the remainder of the season unless I feel like they need it.

8) Do you believe you must stick rigidly to your management routine once your racing season is in full swing or do you adapt it as situations arise?

I mainly stick to a manageable routine however as previous question I might train should I feel its required 

9) Describe in as much detail your Friday preparations from feeding and at what time through to basketing for the club?

On marking day the birds are fed in the morning as usual and any corn left over is removed after a while, the birds are left to be quiet and rest up until it’s time to basket when hens are shown to the cocks and then both cocks and hens are then sent to the race.

10) Do you prefer sprint racing or channel or prefer all distances?

I prefer races up to middle distance 

11) What is your criteria for getting another season at your lofts ?

To stay healthy and motivated myself and enjoy the pigeons as much as I can.

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12) Do you stock your best racers and at what point would you do his? When they reach a certain age? Win a big race or there producing good pigeons in widowloft lofts? 

I take a round of young birds from my best racers and if they produce winners they may be put in the stock shed after a few years but not all my best racing birds make it into the stock shed. 

Inside one of Young Bird Sections 18 01 23    View from YB loft 18 01 23

Inside one of the young bird sections and a view of the young birds

13) What do you prefer a good racing cock or hen? 
In fairness both as my results are more or less equal with cocks & hens 

Tom Hayes holding a winner from 20220 18 01 23

Tom holding a winner from 2022
14) Can you outline your health schedule during the race season?

All the race birds are treated for respiratory, canker & cocci before racing commences if needed

15) Do you use supplements that are for pigeons or natural products? Or both? 

All birds here are given Ropa B 3 times a week to maintain a healthy digestive system.

16) What corn do you use and when? From racing and winter ?

Racing- both cocks and hens are fed with Versa Laga widowhood mixture then after season go on a moulting mixture before going onto Barley & Beans for the winter.

Tempory Aviery for Winter months 18 01 23

17) Do you feed ad lib or believe in feeding measured amounts ? 
Race birds are fed to appetite and no measured amounts.
18) Is there any difference in the way you feed old and young birds when racing? 
Young birds start out on a high protein diet reducing to a lighter mixture as they begin to fly then as racing commences fed same as the old birds on a racing mix.
19) Do you feed your cocks the same as the hens or if not what is the difference and why? 
Both cocks and hens are fed exactly the same.

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20) what are the essentials in terms of nutrition ?
I trust that the essential nutrients are provided by the brands that I buy.
21) How much time do you devote to your pigeons ?
During the racing season most of my time is devoted to the pigeons and as I said earlier it’s much easier being retired.
22) Do you believe spending a lot of time with your pigeons is essential and if so why?

I think the fact that I have been so much more successful since retiring from work speaks for itself, shift work made it difficult to maintain any sort of routine before retirement.

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23) Do you visit other fanciers and observe their methods/share their ideas?

No not anymore, I concentrate on my own birds and methods.

 24) What are your aims for the future as a partnership ?

To continue from this year’s successes and to top the North West Combine again.

 25) What do you look for when introducing new stock?

Winning bloodlines right through the line of pigeon

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Narrow Stock section, holding 18 boxes and a view of the stock cocks

 26) How many old birds and young birds do you race and how many stock birds do you house ?

30 Pair of Old Birds, 80 Young Birds and 18 pair of Stock

YB Shed 18 01 23    Young Bird Shed with the Aviery on wheels 18 01 23    View from inside YB section 18 01 23

Young Bird Shed, with aviary on wheels and inside young bird section

 27) How do you train your young birds and how often once racing starts? 

Young birds are trained as often as possible leading up to racing up to 30 mile then once racing they are trained twice a week 

 28) What has been your best achievement to date ?

Topping the North West Combine from Yeovil in 2016 with Steve's Wonder a young Blue Cock bred from stock obtained from Premier Stud, this cock won when 324 members sent 6728 birds doing a velocity of 1367.633, brilliant performance on the day by this game young cock.

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 29) Can you tell me about your best pigeon/s you have raced and same with stock birds? 

The family of pigeons which is doing it for me last few seasons are the Herman Cuester family obtained from Premier Stud when I retired.

 30) What advice would you give that could help improve the management/results for novice/new starter?

Gain as much knowledge from reading and watching You Tube and always take advice from fanciers that are winning.

31) Who do you admire in the pigeon sport? 

The officials whose hard work runs the Federation which is a thankless task in itself. 

32) What is it that you love about the sport that keeps you involved ?

Each season all the fresh challenges that come along and seeing the pigeons come home from the race for their love of their home, another reason which motivates me comes from difficult times I have had over my time with racing pigeons, losing my dad was tough but drives me on to try my best each day and no my dad will be looking down on me proud of what I’ve achieved over the years and the hard work and dedication that has come with it, also more recently losing my best friend Kevin Fitzpatrick who I met many years ago through pigeon racing, we used to both go the club with our dads as young boys and later on in life we would go to the annual shows & presentations with our wives, the last few years Kevin would come and watch me clock on race days and would phone daily until he sadly passed away, Kevins wife still visits on race days and also feed the birds when were away which I’m really thankful for. 

 33) What drives you mad about the pigeon game? 
Clashing with the pigeons from other federations on race days which needs to be sorted out by the governing body and more communication between race controllers, also the BOP problem which is getting worse each year, they are being introduced into towns and cities and being protected but whilst this is happening our beloved pigeons are being slaughtered on a daily basis causing lots of valuable members to call it a day and leave the sport. 
34) What is it like racing in your club? 

I enjoy the banter but not the arguments 

I would like to thank Tom and his lovely wife for taking the time to put this well-deserved loft report together, myself and John thoroughly enjoyed the visit and the tea and cookies was a nice touch too.

John Pearson getting some tips from Tom 18 01 23

John Pearson getting some tips from Tom

On behalf of myself and the North West Combine thanks for reading and hope you have enjoyed it.


Daniel Pearson