Burnbank Premier Prize Winner, Lanarkshire Federation
by Tom Corrie Jnr
A proud Walter Boswell
On a cold December morning I took the time to travel over to Hamilton to meet up with Walter for his well deserved loft profile. Walter is in the prime of his life; he is enjoying life even though his health hasn't been the best this season. With help from his family and friends he went to the top of the premier league lofts in the Lanarkshire Federation. His season is very much based around the Lanarkshire Federation but the distance is his main aim.
Firstly week took the time to attend the lofts which are situated in his back garden. It’s not the biggest of gardens but Walter has utilized the space well to incorporate his feathered friends. He has developed a great friendship with Michael Massarella who has advised him in the purchase of distance performance pigeons. And what a team of pigeons that is housed here, with absolutely outstanding specimens in the stock section and every bit as good a specimen in the race team.
You know how you look at the photos of Louella champions and say they can’t look like that. Well, take it from me they do. Adonis was the Greek god of beauty. I think Walter should call this ‘Adonis Lofts’ as I have never seen such a team of specimen pigeons that look like the original champions. Wax lyrical are the words for my thoughts on this loft. It really gives you a buzz to see a team of pigeons that have performed at the top level especially at the races between 350 miles to over 500 miles.
Walter takes the time to tell you the pedigree of each individual bird and how it has bred or raced. This tells you of a man that has a confidence of his knowledge of his pigeons.
He has been building up a team of birds that I think will continue to hit the top of the section and open prizes at the distance races,
Walter tells me these Louella pigeons are based around only the best extreme distance performers, the Barcelona performance birds. They handle small to medium in size, bold headed cocks with world class feathering. The body structure sits narrow at the shoulder area with length of body which includes lovely pectoral muscles that sit perfectly on each side of a keel, making up a team of birds that sit perfectly in your hand. The eye colour is outstanding the kind that draws your eye and you can’t stop looking at.
The vigour is looking out of them; the type that look intelligent. They are not apple bodied like you find in most middle distance families these are the real McCoy for the distance. Eighteen National diplomas in four races from 350-500 miles in 2013 - enough said. Some may say one swallow doesn't make a summer but I feel I have been around pigeons long enough to know these are the real deal and I speak with confidence and pride that Walter is flying in Lanarkshire and with that wee bit of luck everyone needs, he is going right to the top.
National racing has always been at the heart of Walter’s pigeon career and like most of us he has dabbled in the odd race but with these birds he has a team of birds that hopefully enable him to fulfil his dreams.
I don't feel I am putting pressure on Walter by speaking like this. He is battle hardened and his own ambition will see him through those races at the business end.
The Lanarkshire area has become the hot bed of racing into Scotland, the biggest federation in Britain and it takes some winning and this loft has won 100 odd fed diplomas over the years, club averages, numerous section wins, with multiple prize winners at federation and National level.
Sit back and read about Walter’s background and how he manages these fabulous birds.
At the beginning
Walter has been in and out of pigeons since he was 9 years of age keeping pigeons in small boxes and greyhound cages with the support of his dad. He grew up in the Burnbank area of Hamilton. Pigeons weren't his first sport he was a very talented distance runner.
After discussion with Jim Hannah he joined Burnbank HC at 13 years of age receiving birds from club members. He later worked in the steelwork industry and met many top pigeon fanciers who fuelled his ambition in the game. One memory: in the early 1970s he took the trip down to Symington to visit the legendary Dave Angus to purchase pigeons. He went down with £50 in his pocket and after seeing these wonderful pigeons that have held a legendary status in the West Section of Scotland winning the blue riband race from Rennes in the years they sent 6,000 birds. Walter got his eye on this year old black splash mealy cock that was absolute quality. Something that always stuck in his mind was Jim Hannah saying you only get what you pay for. Walter said Dave tried to steer him away from him showing him others but he remained resolute and eventually came away with him and a grand daughter that he picked himself for nothing. Dave commented he had picked well.
Club members thought he had made a poor investment in the mealy cock. The first season he bred 16 youngsters for racing, two from the mealy cock. He sent them for their first toss Moffatt due south about 40 miles. Well it was a disaster with only 5 home, two of which were the two off the mealy. These two birds went on to win 4 races and £150 in prize money, three times the cost of the sire. Walter said every time he met fellow club member big George Rankin, he always spoke about that season with these performances as Big George won everything else that year.
The Louella base distance pigeons have proved very successful in the extensive Lanarkshire programme providing multiple National diplomas, showing their great versatility. He has always raced the birds to the natural nest cycle as he feels he gets the best out of both sexes.
Stock and racing lofts
Lofts set up
There is a large selection of self built and manufactured structures to meet the needs of stock pigeons, racers and late-breds with standard back to front ventilation at front and out back. They face North East which is not ideal. Easybed is on the floor of all the lofts. The main stock pairs are in separate sections with access to an aviary to guarantee parentage.
The lofts are protected by cat deterrents and also cameras and sensor lights. ETS is the choice of timing and Walter thinks it’s one of the best things to come into the sport. He had to go into hospital in an emergency and the system was activated for the birds’ return.
All birds are paired Mid February. Stock eggs are switched under the racers that are used as feeders. The pigeons are fed Gibbs of Galston all round mixture, similar in make up to other all round mixtures, which has a good mix of protein and carbohydrates with also a percentage of barley in the mixture. There is no skimping on rations. He feels the birds exercise well when there is a good percentage of barley in the mixture for racing.
For the distance races last year he added Gerry Plus to the mixture with good effect.
When feeding Young birds in nest there is always a pot of food available.
He likes to condition the birds by loft exercise twice daily, first light and two hours before last light. Everything in the racing sections are out and forced to fly with flag if needed.
He said they fly for 1 hour easily and otherwise they are trained from 25 miles Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday due south and on these days only loft exercised on the evenings.
Walter states he traps the birds using Gibbs’ own conditioning mix every training and loft session.
The birds he uses for the first four races are late-breds that he has bred of his best racers and stock pigeons. These birds are managed in their own section and trained to twenty miles in their year of birth, also given open flight to keep them fit. Around March they are trained again up to the first race and if they go to nest then so be it. After these four races they are stopped.
The main racers, a team of over seventy, are programmed for Lanarkshire and the SNFC races. After two or three races out to 260 miles they are treated for canker with Flagyl tableta and have 3 days of Tylan for preventing respiratory.
On return from any mixing with other pigeons they receive Walter’s own recipe of disinfectant and herb mixture which is added to the water to help prevent cross infection.
Walter is very positive about this formula and has found this invaluable in the prevention of secondary infection with YB syndrome. (Three days on this will eradicate any symptoms of this dreaded virus and the birds are back on the road to recovery.) Walter has provided this to many fanciers with very positive feedback. As stated, it is used with all the pigeons and since using it it has significantly improved his performances and returns.
I myself have been the victim every year of this deadly young bird virus and will try the formula this coming year and will provide honest feedback to the fancy on Walter’s formula.
He has also got his own opinion on vaccination stating everything in the loft should be vaccinated together before the first old bird race, this also includes the full team of young birds, and kept separate from any other birds for two weeks. He has no real preference to the type of paramyxo vaccine.
Eighty young birds are bred and race the Lanarkshire programme on the natural system to the perch.
Yearlings race to the coast 360 miles and everything else goes across the water to France/Belgium.
Late bred section
Daily routine - Racing season
Monday morning train from 25 miles, evening two hours before dark, 1 hour loft exercise/flag if necessary
Thursday loft exercise first light and evening
Friday morning day of basketing - first light exercise and feed up to 12 o’clock
On return from race - above stated disinfectant/herb mix in water for that day.
Bath once per week on Sunday
Birds are dipped with Clorcarb regularly to prevent lice but he feels its not as good as it used to be. He has recently been using the natural product Diatomaceous Earth but the jury is still out on its use.
This system is working for Walter and he is more than happy to share his success with others. His birds are in great health and on occasions throughout the close season he will provide this mixture in the water to keep them right when he feels necessary.
His bloodlines are based around De Barcelona, De Vale Barcelona, Kuyper Brothers, Docher Barcelona, De Smaragd 1 &11, Lady Wegen, Marijn Van Geel.
One little pied hen he call the "Spin" hen has bred 11x 1st prize winners and this year’s 11th Open Clermont with the SNFC 520 miles.
With many more breeding the goods including his check w/f cock that has bred 14 x 1st prize winners.
Racing section for old birds
1st club Otterburn
1st club Otterburn
1st club Newark
1st Yearling Leicester
1st club Maidstone race
Best average 4 longest races
1st club Ypres
Best average Maidstone & Ypres
Old bird average all Lanarkshire Federation races
Best average Newbury old bird and Charnock Richard young bird
Best average longest old bird and longest young bird races
Most points old birds and young birds
SNFC diplomas 2013
Newbury (324 miles) - 27th sect, 223rd Open, 51st sect, 313th Open, 76th sect, 77th sect 86th sect, 100th sect.
Maidstone (370miles) - 30th, 38th, 42nd, 56th, 84th, 85th, 101 sect.
Ypres (446 miles) - 8th sect 111th Open, 55th sect.
Clermont (521 miles) - 5th sect, 11th Open. 8th Sect, 35th Open. 13th sect, 94th Open.
Walter has many ambitions but no more than to win a National from across the channel.
He has admired many fanciers with the GWP Macaloney partnership top of the list for Federation flying and Dave Elliot, Jock Allison, Jim Hannah and Dave Donaldson are among the best distance lofts in the Lanarkshire area in his opinion.
Walter would like to thank Michael Massarella of Louella Lofts for his advice and expertise in making the right choices of bloodlines that have took him to the present day performances.
Walter said Louella lofts have the best racing and breeding champions, the bench mark in quality.
I would like to thank Walter for a great day out. I am sure I will be back for an update within the next few seasons.
Tom Corrie jnr
Lanarkshire press officer