Brian’s Brit Blog March 2013   2 comments

It is quite some time since I last tapped the keyboard with my latest news and thoughts on our feathered friends. Well, here in the UK the winter is slowly releasing its grasp and the days are getting longer. Today was bright and sunny with a high of 13 degrees celsius which cheered everyone up that came into my Post Office. My birds are down on their first round of eggs. I have 14 pairs and only one mishap where it seems one of the cocks has got into one of the nests and caused a fight whereby both eggs were smashed. Not that this was a disaster, as this pair were only ever going to be feeders anyway, so I popped a pot egg under them and they have continued sitting without any further problems. I have also floated a good egg under them from one of the stock pairs. I will again be sending a team to the Somerset one loft race. Late last year when visiting my good friend Keith Mott I was looking over his new arrivals, two pair of Vandenabeeles from D&M Evans Myrtle Lofts which are direct from their best “Shadow and Lord of the rings” bloodlines. I happened to comment that I could do with one of these in my Somerset team next year and Keith immediately offered to breed me one. So I agreed with him that if it won any money in the race we would share it. These Vandenabeeles are not the most attractive pigeons to look at or handle but they have an awesome reputation at winning big races, so it will be interesting to see how this youngster goes.

Keiths Vandenabe.ele

Keith’s Vandenabeele squeaker we’re sharing in the Somerset One Loft Race.

Over the winter we had our usual shows and I was lucky enough to win best old hen with my BCh Pied Supercrack hen. I also picked up a couple of cards with my young birds which was nice. This week we do our clock testing which is a big job for me as only two of us know how to set some of the older conventional clocks and with around 60 clocks to do it takes a few hours and we have to run the clocks over three days to test them. If you are wondering why there are so many old clocks when the majority of members use electronic clocks, the reason is that those fanciers without ETS belong to anything up to six clubs when you take into account local club, FED, Classic, National, International and mid week clubs. Also each club requires its members to use a separate clock and with International races, every pigeon clocked must have two rubbers timed in a conventional clock within 5 minutes of being timed on an electronic clock.

Supercrack hen.

The ‘Supercrack hen’.

Moving on, there is growing controversy both here in UK and on the Continent about the dominance of the elite professional lofts with their big teams taking the lion’s share of the prizes on race days. Although they will say they fear the small loft that specialises on one or two major events such as the national or International races where winning performances have been put up by individual ace pigeons from small lofts e.g.  “Isla’s Rainy Day Boy” that won the PAU International against the odds in 2011.

This leads me to an old debate, ‘is it the pigeon or the Manager that wins the race’?. Over the years many have commented on this subject with varying degrees being attributed to the Pigeon or the Manager. A good many years ago when I was just a nipper, in an age when juniors kept their mouth shut and their ears open, this subject was being debated by the adults in the club I belonged to at the time and the words of the club Secretary a gentleman named Frank Dyer have stuck with me ever since. He said something along the lines that a good pigeon from a rough old loft where the shxxit was a foot high would still be able to win. In other words he supported the theory that it was the individual pigeon that was the most important factor. In many respects I believe he was right if you consider these days the feeding, training, health management etc is quite similar in most lofts so the birds are approximately even in terms of general management so that when the strings are cut it is every bird for itself. Admittedly the different motivational systems such as widowhood, natural or round-about can make a difference, however in every loft there are a few birds that are consistently better racers than the rest of the flock. What about the elite fanciers mentioned above who enter big teams in each race, are the odds stacked in their favour? In some cases they may dominate the drag but the point to remember with these fanciers is that no expense has been spared to purchase the best stock available so again their pigeons are of the very best genetic material available and therefore should on average provide a higher percentage of winners than the average fancier.

Getting back to my own loft I have always been interested to try the widowhood system. Even though my loft facilities are not ideal I have decided I will give it a go and will treat it as a learning curve this year with the view to re-developing my loft facilities to suit the system better in future. Accordingly I contacted an old friend in New Zealand for advice, namely Alister Cooper who has raced the widowhood system very successfully for many years. Alister kindly provided me several pages of information outlining his system with various tips on how to go about it, so I am looking forward to seeing how my cocks respond this year. The racing season starts here in early April but I will be holding my team back until mid May when the fickle British weather is a bit more settled. Alister warns me it will knock the widowers off form very quickly and ruin their race season if they hit a bad weather day early in the season.

Race birds widowhood boxes.

Brian’s race birds in their widowhood boxes.

All the best in the sport

Brian Batchelor

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Posted March 7, 2013 by ferguselley in Brian's Brit Blog, U.k. news items

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2 responses to “Brian’s Brit Blog March 2013

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  1. Brian, I’d tend to agree with Frank Dyer’s comment from the past when you were a boy, the gist of which, is that the feather (bird) is at the top of the list when one considers ‘is it the pigeon or the Manager that wins the race’?

    One could write a whole series of blogs on the subject!!

    Breeding is definitely the way ahead i.e. improving ones genetics and I agree with what you write about the elite fliers having pigeons of the very best genetic material available.

    Is every flier prepared to forgo a few extra luxuries in the quest for a pigeon that hopefully will improve their results further down the track??

    One must track down the pigeons that suit ones management and breeding goals. Cross them immediately with the best one has. Assuming that the current stock is on the whole pretty good and perhaps just needs an infusion of new genetic material. Then one needs to breed the cross in. The real cream may not be enjoyed until one does this and in addition has just an ounce of luck. Even though I bought the Houbens in the late 1990’s to go with my Janssens in particular, the first cross in general wasn’t as spectacular as I had hoped. 219 bred off the grandson of Houbie was probably the best one and now she’s the cornerstone of the loft in her twelfth year.

    It wasn’t until 2005 when I put her to Houbie i.e. her great grandsire that 577 was bred. A gun young bird racer. I had a break in the sport 2007 and 2008 and bred again in 2008 having fortuitously retained enough of the right pigeons to start breeding a much higher number of multiple winners from 230 miles onwards. When you get a mix of pigeons some of which perform very well up to 560 miles then you know that you are onto something. It is the start of something special and I also have the vandie base pigeons to extend the distance, improve long distance returns and toughen them up i.e. they cross with the houben/Janssen hybrids. Those of you that have followed this blog will remember that Mac Armstrong’s 2009 and 2011 Invercargill winners were directly off pigeons from myself of mainly Jansen extract and both winners being off a very good race hen of mine, 243 which was 1/4 vandie.

    You have to keep looking for the good combinations and be patient after the first cross. They don’t have to be great racers to be excellent breeders, you just have to be meticulous and have strategy and perhaps some intuitive forsight in your breeding and only pair up pairs you think/hope will work.

    On top of all this you need an ounce of luck. The elite fliers and specialists around the world have great plans and make less mistakes! They recognise their mistakes and eliminate them from their game, similar to any good sportsperson. If you look at getting results in pigeon racing like a chemical reaction which has ‘rate limiting steps’ then the elite fliers adjust the things that hinder the speed of the ‘chemical reaction’.

    They have a great strategy and they load things so that they ‘create their own luck’.

    For the record, I don’t see myself as an elite flier, however I do well given the extent of my disability. I probably take more joy out of others doing well especially new fliers.

    It was nice to get the Brit news Brian. Good luck for the season, hope it all goes well and I agree with your later start plans, it helps delay the ‘form’ in any pigeons and it gives a bit more care and respect to the pigeons i.e. the better weather.

    Cheers, fergie.

  2. There’s a pigeon called “Lord of the Rings”?

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