Archive for April 2013

MAC III   1 comment

FERGUS ELLEY QUESTIONS LONG DISTANCE ACE MAC ARMSTRONG.

You said to me while chatting over the phone last year that there is so much to be learned from the pigeon’s eye and how the pigeon looks at you and I expect that this is one reason why you study your pigeons for many hours without handling them. What do you look out for in the pigeon’s eye?

The eye should be sharp and clear. The pupil should be very tight and small in normal light.

The better racers have a very inquisitive eye, which follows my movements around the loft.

As an aside, the better racers especially the cocks also walk sharper i.e. they don’t dawdle.

What are the 3 most important things an existing or new flier must first concentrate on to do well at around the 800 mile event?

Number one: start with the right type of pigeons from a long distance flier(s).

Number two: selective breeding from the successful race birds, especially from those doing well from 5 to 800 miles.

Number three: learn how to condition the race birds through the combination of feeding and work, including the racing. Not over training or under training.

How many stock pairs do you use each year, how many youngsters do you breed and when do your first youngsters hatch?

18 pairs of breeders. Included in this are selected race birds about two months after they fly the Invercargill. I let all Invercargill racers breed as a rule, which encourages both the bond to the loft and rewards the pigeons for homing from the distance. Some of these pigeons are used as feeders also.

I generally breed 20 to 30 youngsters per season, starting from January to February, through until April. So from late January hatch.

Being mainly Summer bred, they grow real well!

Do you fly Young Birds?

It doesn’t suit my system to fly Young Birds. By not doing so, they learn less bad habits of overflying and so on. As a consequence, they are pretty well trained before they go up with other pigeons and are more likely to break from the right spot.

How do you train your babies?

When the eye changes colour from eight to ten weeks of age.

Two tosses from 10 miles.

Two tosses from 20 miles.

Then the pigeons are jumped to 50 miles (Huntly where the big Power Station chimneys are and can be seen for miles). Six times from there.

Then 3km west of Whatawhata three times, around 80 miles.

The tosses aren’t strictly on the line of flight but that doesn’t seem to matter.

From what age do you start singling up your pigeons?

From six to eight months and after they’ve raced a bit. I start with three ups, progressing to single ups.

I let three hens go, then three cocks once they’ve cleared, then three hens e.t.c.

Single ups, three cocks in a row, then three hens in a row e.t.c.

The sexes might be separated by that stage if the pigeons start being precocious.

How would you describe your loft and road training in the three months preceding the Invercargill race from September to early December? How does it change as the key race i.e. Invercargill approaches?

Firstly the pigeons are open lofted from dawn till late in the afternoon. Cocks one day and hens the next. So as the days get longer the pigeons get naturally fitter.

The pigeons go out in all sorts of weather and there are plenty of places to shelter if the weather deteriorates. This helps them harden up more, like wild birds. I must stress that the pigeons are locked up for several months to finish the flight moult and rest up after breeding finishes in April. This means that when the pigeons start training in late September/early October that they are very well rested and there are never problems with the early primary flights moulting in December, which is when my key race Invercargill is i.e. in the first month of our Summer.

Usually I don’t actually start racing until well into the season due to other commitments, say by October. But when I do, I start tossing the pigeons and from then keep going regularly, at least once or twice a week.

The pigeons have the hoppers in front of them every day so if they are hungry during the morning of the toss day they can eat some tic beans or peas (nz maple or blue peas).

In the month leading up to the Invercargill race the pigeons are trained two to three times each week from Huntly i.e. 50 miles.

Three cocks are singled up in a row, then three hens e.t.c. By this stage they simply head off without circling in a NNW direction. They normally still get out the next day if it is that sexes turn. The fresh air does them the world of good I think.

Do you try and rank the order your birds might come from Invercargill and how often are you right?

Last year i.e. 2012 I didn’t expect the first two pigeons.

In 2011, the hardest year of the last four years, I picked the winning BBC which returned near the end of the second day. He was often first or second to the loft in the longer build up races in both 2010 and 2011.

Also the cocks that won in 2008 and 2009 I thought they would be up there.

However it can be really difficult. That is why, so long as I can’t fault them in condition/form /health, that I send a fair sized team.

In the last five years from Invercargill, have you ever thought the pigeon you clocked first would be either first or with the first pigeons to your loft?

Yes, in 2008, 2009 and 2011.

If they were the favourite, what made them so? Have they won at shorter distances or are they simply bred for Invercargill i.e. 800 miles or so?

The 2011 cock was simply a very consistent pigeon both as a yearling and two year old. That year he won Invercargill by around an hour and a half.

Does every pigeon entered go through the same buildup or is each pigeon assessed to where it’s at and sent to the races that suit it in an attempt to get it right?

Yes, they all have the same build up unless there is a health problem or injury.

Do you ever get some surprises with birds excelling ahead of most of the others unexpectedly?

Yes, but you don’t know which pigeons got going earlier during the morning of the next day. For instance they may’ve been woken up very early by a scary noise, such as a dairy cowshed starting up in the dark or they were scared off a tree or building by a loud noise or predator.

You also don’t know if a favoured pigeon was predated by a raptor or cat e.t.c. or came to grief on a wire or met their end by a gun.

What is the latest in the morning that you would consider was a fair liberation time for the pigeons from Invercargill, considering that it might have just been a matter of waiting for the conditions to improve at liberation and their release when conditions up the road were fair for the majority of pigeons normally sent to Invercargill by most fliers?

7am, the earlier the better if conditions including visibility are reasonable. I always like to think that they might just make it home on the day and sometimes they do, even from 780 miles.

What do we need to do to promote the sport of long distance flying here in NZ? Should we combine our Invercargill race liberation with Federations to the south of the ARPF boundaries to make it more challenging?

Sponsorship!  One or two big companies. Fonterra might be a good one as they sell milk products to China and there are over a million racing pigeon fanciers there. You never know, it just might be good for Fonterra’s NZ’s image in China. Someone should look into it.

I am happy with Auckland fliers against Auckland fliers. Most of the fliers who send pigeons to Invercargill are within about a 30 mile range of each other.

What is the actual origin of your base birds? When were they imported and from whom? I notice reference to Janssen’s but of course Janssen pigeons are not noted for their extreme distance capabilities into the UK.

Blenhaven Janssen and Busschaert Imports from John Hansen’s Australian Blenhaven Stud. I went over there and picked them out myself on two separate occasions in 1993 and 1994. I also purchased them from the first NZ Blenhaven Stud Auction sale around the same time.

 

The Busschaerts are Blockbuster and Redrum lines. I am also trialling other pigeons, none of which have been tried at Invercargill so far. These are the late Norm Cokers pigeons and recently from Laurie Hills. I keep these pigeons separate to see how they go bred straight. If they respond to my method then I will try crossing them to my Janssen’s and Busschaerts.

 

However it is mainly with the straight Janssen’s of the vos lines which I have had the most success with viz 2008, 2010 and 2012 winners.

 

The 2009 and 2011 winners are off a hen 243 from Fergus Elley. 243 was a very good racer for Fergus and was 1/4 Vandie and the rest Janssen. 243 was about half Blenhaven Janssen bloodlines and the remainder 1/4 other Janssen bloodlines e.g. a granddaughter of the U.K. Janssen top race cock ‘Hardluck’.

 

It seems I have proved wrong the myth that “Janssen pigeons aren’t capable of winning these marathon races”.

 

Any weather conditions, head, tail, side winds, showers….

 

Has the type changed through exposure to racing in NZ?

No, not really, the size and the shape and the wing have remained very similar.

 

Tic bean feeding has gone out of fashion in the UK (for the most part – but some of the really good extreme distance men still adopt that method), and is not applied in Belgium and Holland. Why does Mac persist with this method, and what changes does he note in the handling qualities once the feed has been changed in the final build up to Invers?

It works!!

 

Around six weeks out from the Invercargill race the richer mix is started and in conjunction with racing/training the pigeons bodies gradually start to build up a lot more and they aren’t so heavy in general. The pigeons can still eat tic beans if they want, but they consume a lot less of them.

 

Does Mac think that his success is down to the ‘speed’ at which the birds return from Invers, or is it the ability of individual pigeons to keep to the shortest line between a and b? I ask this because I believe that there is a misconception regarding success from long distance nationals and internationals into the UK; it is not ‘speed’ as such which wins top prizes but the ability or will of individual birds to fly solo, avoiding drag etc, and this is the rarest of all qualities in pigeons nowadays.

I don’t know.

What other continental lines have been imported into NZ and which have met with most success? Has anyone over in the UK ever imported birds from NZ?

Houben, Dordin, Delbar, Jan Arden, de Klak, Verheye and perhaps others.

 

The Janssens have been the most successful at the 700 to 800 mile distance.

 

I don’t know if anyone in the UK has ever imported birds from NZ.

 

Do you have a breeding formula for the production of your 800 mile winners?

I keep breeding off the bloodlines which produce the performance birds i.e. I concentrate on these lines in the stock loft. I even practice some close breeding e.g. brother to sister, father to daughter, mother to son, uncle to niece, aunty to nephew and still clock some of them from Invercargill. I’m keen to preserve the best genes of the Janssen lines which are performing and at a later date I can always cross the performing inbreds.

I also breed off my performance pigeons from Invercargill in January which is the month following the race. These Summer bred and the odd early Autumn bred youngsters fly two to three South Island races in the year of their birth viz either or both Blenheim or Ward which are around 330 and 360 miles to my loft respectively. In addition unless they have really excelled, the bulk go on to fly from Christchurch, 480 miles to my loft. This programme gives them a solid education I think, but I don’t lose many as in general they handle it very well. The following year they are considered for Invercargill and go through my build up programme which may include two races from Christchurch. I find that to do well from Invercargill that the pigeons need a considerable amount of distance into them. You won’t win or get the returns I get otherwise, since I don’t lose many, even from 780 miles.

So the formula is to test the pigeons and then breed off them.

Has any of your 800 mile winning birds that you then may have bred from, gone on to become successful breeders in their own right?

Not the winners themselves yet, but it is early days for some of those. However my cock which was 3rd in 2007 from Invercargill bred last year’s Invercargill winner i.e. 2012. Also the RCC which was very consistent in three Invercargill races has bred good Invercargill pigeons e.g. 2nd in 2012.

You weren’t confident of your birds leading up to the 2012 Invercargill, were they not exactly how you like them or was it that you thought the opposition were more prepared?

It is never good to count your chickens before they hatch. The last couple of years I have told Fergus that I wasn’t confident leading up to the Invercargill race. This is the only race on our programme I really want to win. I don’t hold back for it. After four wins in a row and the fact that other fliers are trying hard to knock you off your perch, you really wonder when your luck is going to run out.

 

This last year in particular we had even more interest in the race and I was thinking of three or four chaps that might manage to do it.

 

At basketing last year I knew that I have done all that I could and then it’s up to the pigeons to do their job. I get really excited by the whole event but it never pays to be over confident, hopeful is a different kettle of fish. If someone else has prepared a pigeon better than me and it wins the race then I will be truly delighted for them!

 

Do you think psychology has any role in racing pigeons like other sports? i.e. for us as fanciers? I guess it probably would in terms of how they are handled, a confident fancier would stick to his methods that work for his birds and get them right, but an uncertain fancier is likely to be chopping and changing so can’t get the birds in form.

Yes, it is right that it pays to stick to ones methods of feeding, loft training and race preparation. Buildup races differ from year to year and I always send to the races I’ve marked for the pigeons unless one is not right e.g. had a bump or obviously off colour. I trust the liberators to do their job and hold the pigeons over where necessary. In the last year I can honestly say that you couldn’t fault them one iota.

 

As far as psychology goes in pigeon racing, firstly it is quite important that the pigeons develop a very solid bond with both loft and the flier. My pigeons are raced celibate, therefore it is just the love of the loft and its surroundings and our bond which draws them home.

 

You’ve got to try to get under the pigeons skin and know when they are ready to go to these marathon events.

 

I do not worry about the opposition too much; I give them the respect warranted and get on with my job. There may be the odd bit of flak here and there but I just ignore it.

 

How do you stop your race hens from laying? Do you let them sit with their girlfriend(s) or do you remove the eggs straight away? Whichever one you do, why and the option that you don’t do, why not?

Some hens in particular lay more readily than others. I just remove the eggs as soon as they’re laid, as I don’t want them sitting since it may interfere with loft training and even the amount of food a hen will eat. They may also use up more of their strength flying home to the races I’m not bothered about winning. The Invercargill race is the one and only for me!!

Do you make a point of not breeding off lesbian hens so your hen pigeons in the future will be more likely to fit into your separate sex regime and not want to mate up?

Not really, the main criteria are that they can navigate the distance well and hopefully win! But it is also a very natural thing for hens to lay as the weather gets warmer and with the heavy feeding; it does also makes it more of a challenge.

When do you pair your race birds up? If it is before the Old bird season or after the Old bird season, which one do you do? Why that way and why not the other way?

January at the latest February. It is a month or so after Old Birds finish. It is their reward for their efforts in the previous season.

After breeding they are separated from the opposite sex and locked up for several months from May sometimes till July. This helps them finish the wing moult and is a period of enforced rest and I believe this is a key factor towards attaining good results in these marathons.

They aren’t paired up again until early the next year as I race celibate.

You have stated that you do not flock medicate apart from to treat internal parasite i.e. worms. What natural products do you use throughout the year? Do you prefer to give them in the food or the water?

The only product I use other than deworming is an electrolyte product which my son David’s company in Australia produces.

I do give Polyboost oil two to three times a month during the moult.

That’s it really. I do watch water hygiene carefully and I let the tap water sit in a bucket overnight for the chlorine/fluoride to settle out down to the bottom. I change the drinker when 1/4 is drunk. I watch nest hygiene too during breeding.

If I thought things like cider vinegar, garlic, brewers yeast e.t.c. e.t.c. would improve the pigeons performances I would use them, but I haven’t found that to be the case.

Would you be interested in promoting a Stewart Island race which is about another 30 miles further than Invercargill and involves the crossing of the Foveaux Strait?

I am happy just with the Invercargill as the Stewart Island race would only be about another 30 miles further. Yes, it involves another short ocean crossing but I don’t think it is that much harder a challenge for the pigeons.

Of course if the Auckland Federation put it on the Old Bird Race Programme, naturally I’ll consider sending some well prepared pigeons for it.

Thanks to Mac for supplying the answers to these questions. Also thanks to Cameron Stansfield, Jim Emerton and Brian Batchelor, all from the U.K. for theirs and the kiwi fanciers for their questions. Keep them coming everyone. We ain’t finished yet!!

Questions for Mac Armstrong to ferguselley@gmail.com

One step closer to the grave for PETA part II-‘If PETA ruled the world!’   Leave a comment

Imagine a world without pets or companion animals as Ingrid Newkirk insists on calling them. A core of people in the PETA organisation are aiming for this. Their desire is that animals never be chained, caged, eaten, experimented on, worn or used for entertainment. They are hard at work campaigning for the outlawing of zoos and circuses too.

An example of this is their campaigning with some success in some states of America to ban pitbull terriers. It is just the start of PETA’s efforts to systematically destroy the rights of American citizens to eat meat and animal products, own pets, hunt, fish, breed animals and view them at zoos and wildlife reserves. One day America, in the future, the world!

Peta at times like to quote Adolf Hitler as a man who was a champion for animal rights. In doing so, are they implying that their view of animal rights and humans is similar to the Nazis, since we know what the Nazis did to the Jews? Six million of them were brutally euthanised in Hitler’s concentration camps. Funny how PETA used those holocaust concentration images to highlight their total revulsion with factory farming. PETA in the end were forced to apologise to current day Jews, but used the lame excuse that Jewish people in PETA instigated and dreamed up the comparison of the Holocaust murdering of Jews with current day factory farming!

Don’t get me wrong, I am in favour of better conditions for the likes of chickens and pigs. Progress is being made around the world. I would like to see it happen faster. For instance, I’d prefer to see free range chicken farming for both eggs and meat. Perhaps governments need to take these issues even more seriously and subsidise both free range eggs, pig and poultry meat.

So what are the figures for PETA’s Norfolk Virginia headquarters with respect to animals adopted out? In 2012 only 10.8 percent of the pets taken in by PETA at their headquarters in Norfolk Virginia escaped the syringe and hypodermic needle; 94.1 percent of the cats and 82.1 percent of the dogs ended up in Ingrid’s walk-in freezer!

A total of 1,675 cats, dogs, and “other companion animals” are listed in the column headed “Euthanised.” Plus 72 unlucky wild animals.

Now Ingrid recently placed her ‘spin’ on these figures, saying that they only take in really bad cases and others go on to other animal shelters set up for adoption. I realise that some animals are suffering in a major way with bad facial cancers that may’ve eaten a good chunk of a dog or cats face away, but surely not all these animals euthanised needed to be, surely not!

I have written in a couple of previous articles on PETA that perhaps they could help adopt out surplus racing pigeons around the world. In the back of my mind and maybe yours too if you love animals, would be the thought, “Are they still alive”. Nathan Winograd whom PETA don’t particularly like has written about this type of situation in-depth. Google his name and you’ll find quite easily what I am talking about.

If PETA ruled the world there’d be laws forbidding the eating of animal products. Animal breeds once used for humankind’s nutrition would be phased out. How they would do this the mind boggles, but I have a brief vision of many ‘vans of death’, sorry, ‘trucks of death’ to cart off the animals which PETA wouldn’t be able to find a home that they deemed suitable for, regardless of the health and age of the animal.

The alternative, which is releasing all the farmed chickens, pigs, sheep, cows and goats e.t.c. into the wild, is a somewhat daunting one and hence the need perhaps for those ‘trucks of death’ which come to mind when I contemplate, if PETA did rule the world! Would this really happen if PETA ruled the world, well it’s certainly on the cards!

There is nothing wrong with PETA being a champion for animals and their rights, but sometimes I have another vision of what they might be really up to and it reminds me of ancient cultures such as the Babylonians, the Egyptians and in parts of the world today, where animals are still adored, worshiped and deified, even rats! Animal worship!

PETA seemed to have rejected their own species, humans, the alpha species in today’s natural world and usurped humans with animals, even fish, which they’ve suggested we call sea kittens! Yes, a hook would hurt in the fish’s mouth, but humankind has been catching fish with hooks for eons. A simple bang on the fishes head is a very humane way to kill the fish once landed.

How does all this relate to racing pigeons, since that is what you’ve come to this site to read up on and be stimulated by? If you haven’t read the previous two articles on PETA then please do so, they are below. The more recent condensed version is the one available for public publishing in newspapers, pigeon magazines and the like, if you’d like to request it from me.

In brief, PETA have declared war on pigeon racing worldwide. Although they’re seen as a ‘bunch of crackpots’ by most in this world, we shouldn’t take them lightly. Hitler comes to mind here, how Chamberlain tried to appease him and we all know what happened there. Therefore we must all unite under the common umbrella of this great hobby and past time which humankind has practiced for centuries. Many civilisations have benefited from the pigeons’ homing skills for eons e.g. the Romans and Genghis Khans use of carrier pigeons as winged messengers. In fact the Greeks used them to proclaim the winner of the Olympics and further back still, they were used as messengers between outposts in ancient Egypt.

What do I see as the future for the organisation PETA? Well one thing’s for sure, they’re not going to meet their demise in the near future. I guess I could see them lasting perhaps another couple of decades. Hopefully other animal rights groups will rise up and become a stronger and more credible voice than PETA’s. Hopefully they will attain a balance that is lacking in PETA!

There already exists around the world a whole myriad of animal welfare organisations which provide checks and balances for PETA currently. These are the ones that we should support financially and by our voluntary time.

Don’t get me wrong, PETA has achieved some great things such as reducing the experimentation on animals is one area that comes to mind, whether it be cosmetics or human drugs. In fact PETA, founded in 1980 by Newkirk and Pacheco was clearly established as an internationally known organisation in 1981 when they exposed some nasty experiments in a Maryland facility involving Silver Spring monkeys. Although the State investigation took ten years, it resulted in prosecutions, the facility was closed down and an amendment in 1985 to America’s Animal Welfare Act was made.

Another great achievement by PETA was exposing the cruel and degrading practices in the Thai elephant industry e.g. the use of iron rods and hooks on the elephants to break their spirit. The caging of bears for the milking of their bile salts is another issue which PETA has campaigned hard against with some success. The Pentagon stopping shooting pigs and goats in wounds tests, another achievement I rate highly.

These are just four examples of the good things which PETA have done, really good things. However PETA uses controversial protest techniques and billboard campaigns, at times to their detriment. Using the female body to get its message across, including the use of porn stars is hardly a gratifying way to win the support of women in this world, especially given that in some countries women are still second class citizens. Sex sells PETA says, a pity though, that they don’t use more images of animals in their campaigns rather than us humans.

If things are really so bad in farming around the world then surely just providing the clear, cold facts graphically is as convincing as anything. Otherwise PETA are simply seen as exploiting and degrading women. However if PETA are right and animals are superior to us, then in their minds the abuse of women in their ads is justified! So too I’d assume in PETA’s minds were their posters of a child eating meat with the slogan ‘feeding kids meat is child abuse’. Given the rampant child abuse around the world I’m sure there’d be many that would find that offensive!

I also wonder how much PETA pay people like Sir Paul McCartney and a whole raft of women celebrities to do ads for them. It has been said that PETA have made the mistake of confusing attention for approval, and controversy with actually being right. Sometimes I just can’t help seeing PETA as the spoilt little child who’s craving for everyone’s attention. The media surely will give it freely and Ingrid has said in the past re the media, that “PETA have a duty to be press sluts” and admit openly on their website that they use provocative imagery to get attention. In their eyes, the gain for animals is worth the pain for women, abused children, and holocaust victims’ e.t.c. Incredible isn’t it? I guess one might surmise that their perceived reality differs from many of us.

PETA seem to concentrate a lot on getting the vegan message out there. If they want to be vegan and not enjoy the nutritional benefits of animal products i.e. meat, eggs, milk and other dairy products and fish, then that’s their choice. Humans are the alpha species and traditionally we are ‘hunter gatherers’, our bodies have actually evolved to eat these products, perhaps not in the amounts that some people eat, but for most people eating these things are normal, totally moral and totally health benefiting! So I’m afraid that PETA are just a little wrong on this one! Oh well, you can’t win them all PETA! Besides, humans are not the only species which eat meat in this world!

Finally, we ask the question, “How could PETA affect pigeon racing worldwide?” From my research the organisation including Ingrid are quite happy to attempt to slowly but surely change the face of factory farming in America by actually working with some of the big companies. In other words they are prepared to lower their temporal expectations in exchange for gradual change. This has earned them staunch criticism from those outside of PETA who label PETA ‘The new Welfarists’ and they see them as copping out and not being true ‘Animal Rights Activists’.

Unfortunately for PETA, with respect to racing pigeons both in America and the U.K., PETA has taken an ‘in your face’ approach and personally I’d be surprised if any organisation anywhere in the world connected to racing pigeons would be willing to work with PETA given for example the lies and deceit in the PETA Graveyard Races U.K. video. Further, their attempts to catch the media wave and stir up anti pigeon racing sentiment for example with the recent Chinese bird flu outbreak. In this case they’re appealing to U.K. authorities to postpone Channel racing. This is viewed by many in the public arena and us pigeon fanciers as being another opportunistic move by PETA. Remember, China is many thousands of miles away from the U.K. It will have to spread to closer countries and anyway, don’t a truckload of wild birds cross the Channel on a regular basis? There’s that word ‘truck’ again!

This smacks to me of pride and our role as fellow fanciers is to get informed about them. Expose their soft underbelly e.g. their high kill rates in their Virginia shelter and the terrible way they twist things. Also be very wary that whatever you might say to fellow fliers might be taped and filmed by probably a well meaning person attempting a sting on pigeon racing, but the problem here is, like the devil himself, PETA mixes a little bit of fact, with a big dose of beguiling lies. Perhaps the devil has infiltrated PETA big time? That would make sense, as I do kinda see them as a quasi-religious group, even if I agree with some of their policies and applaud some of their victories!

But then not everyone believes in the Lord, let alone the devil.

Posted April 19, 2013 by ferguselley in Food for thought, U.k. news items

Tagged with

U.K. PETA cook their own goose in attempt to make racing pigeon pie!   Leave a comment

Tasty Roast Goose.    Too many lies by PETA UK has certainly cooked their anti pigeon racing arguments!

Tasty Roast Goose. Too many lies by PETA UK has certainly cooked their anti pigeon racing arguments!

Fergus Elley, a racing pigeon enthusiast, former Veterinarian and long term Chronic Fatigue sufferer replies to the PETA’s U.K. video allegations of the fancy.

Have PETA gone totally “rabid” in their attempt to “liberate all the worlds animals”, free suffering pets from this earthly existence and totally undermine societies’ rights to own animals? Fergus wonders.

It is public knowledge that PETA wishes to shutdown pigeon racing worldwide. However, all Fergus thinks they will achieve is to be made to look rather stupid again. People around the world are becoming increasingly fed up with PETA and their controversial, sometimes quite bizarre media promotions.

PETA probably started out with good intentions 33 years ago but now there are just so many hidden agendas! Banning pigeon racing worldwide is just one of them, but what’s next, banning recreational fishing or guide dogs! Banning all dog breeds created by humans is another known agenda.

PETA started the ball rolling against racing pigeons some time ago and their futile attempts so far include protesting outside Mike Tyson’s Las Vegas home in 2008 prior to the screening of the great series, ‘Taking on Tyson’ by Animal Planet. The six part series showed Mike Tyson in a completely different light. No longer the ‘bad boy’ he’s portrayed as an excellent ambassador for pigeon racing and has a great love for his pigeons.

Fergus thinks that attacking the Queen is just another of PETA’s attention seeking media gimmicks. The Queen has Royal Lofts on Sandringham Estate containing around 250 racing pigeons. Her Majesty is also the patron of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association (RPRA) in England. Her birds regularly take part in UK races, and she has had racing pigeons since she was a child which she inherited from her grandfather.

The video starts with release footage of the Fougeres Young Bird National race on September 1st 2012 from France to English lofts. PETA incorrectly assert that 90% of the pigeons were lost including the Queen’s four birds which may’ve homed in after the race closed. Fergus says that PETA is misguided and the figures PETA is using simply don’t contain the full result of all the pigeons returning in race time.

Furthermore, in any pigeon race from anywhere, pigeons often return home after the race is closed. Fergus had one hen turn up almost a year later from a long distance race. A friend had one turn up three years later from the same racepoint and many turn up in the weeks following the race. Fergus says it is simply a fallacy that most pigeons can’t find some food in the wild of some description.

PETA says that ‘particularly for young birds crossing the Channel for the first time is extremely daunting’. This is partly true, if not misconstrued. The fact is that pigeons, like wild migratory birds need to learn to cross water and some birds are more innately gifted to do this than others. Pigeons do not only orientate by sight, they feel their way home by instinct, including over bodies of water. Some pigeons simply aren’t as gifted and, to coin a PETA type of cliche, they ‘fly to freedom’ by, in this case, perhaps staying in France.

Additionally, to assert that pigeons always fly close to the water’s surface Fergus says is not true. This happens mainly in headwinds, particularly strong ones and if the person looking after the pigeons has done their job right the pigeons will still be in the shelter of the pigeon transporter!

Fergus says, for example, in the case of a tail wind that the pigeons circle high and then when the flock has enough confidence they cross high and at great speeds.

Fergus also refutes the statement “that flying over water is more of a risk than flying over land”. There are no power lines, TV aerials or chimneys over water for one. There are also no birds of prey i.e. raptors! On land there are many peregrine. These raptors have devastating effects on pigeon racing in the UK. It is not so much the number that they kill, but that they cause the racing flocks to split up and scatter all over the place. Many become disoriented and lost as a result, especially young inexperienced racing pigeons.

Fergus says that for most fanciers around the world, pigeons are extensions of the family, just like your cat or dog. Orientating back home to their respective lofts in a race is what pigeons do naturally. They grow to love it. They are very well cared for. They have a much better life than the ‘street pigeons’ that have to scavenge for food daily and find shelter sometimes in very bitter winters.

Fergus says that pigeons winning medals in World War II is all the more reason to preserve the keeping of racing pigeons in honour of all the gutsy pigeons that came back to their lofts shot up.

Fergus says that the assertion that ‘the punters just having a flutter’ is incorrect, too, as in many parts of the world today there is very little money in pigeon racing. Fergus for one, as a person with a major health disability, enjoys the challenge of conditioning his birds for racing and breeding, just like many livestock breeders do.

Fergus emphasises that he might not be alive without the pigeons. He lived in the back of a lady’s garage for seven years from 1990 in Auckland, New Zealand. The pigeons gave him both solace and enjoyment as a very sick, single man. He eventually married and has two girls now aged 11 and 13. His wife says if he’d chucked the towel in, as many do with chronic illnesses, the girls wouldn’t have the enjoyment of their lives and the world would be a poorer place!

Fergus believes we need to promote the sport more around the world amongst those with infirmities. He says caring for animals or birds is better than anything else to keep one’s head above water when one has a chronic health problem.

So he has much reason to defend the sport. He knows the situation over in England and with regard to race liberations it is a very good one. They try very hard to get it right!

Fergus says that he loses very few pigeons in a year, racing up to 750 miles. In the natural world a lot more animals and birds over the course of a year become statistics e.g. the Mara River Wildebeest crossing and the migration of birds e.g. the Bar-tailed Godwit from the Arctic to New Zealand and back again within the year. Some flying to New Zealand as young as three months old with one female called “E7” setting a nonstop flight record of 11,680 kilometres from Alaska to New Zealand.

Fergus wonders if rehoming racing pigeons whose racing careers are over could become a policy which PETA could adopt in the future to show how much they care for pigeons.

Fergus says that PETA also had a swipe at the Barcelona International race which U.K. pigeons can participate in. Pigeons from Europe and the U.K. are very carefully prepared for these races. No stone is ‘left unturned’ in racing pigeon preparation for these long distance race events. Most fanciers will only send pigeons to these races that they think have a high chance of navigating the distance, usually just a handful at the most.

Of course there are hazards, just like there are for wild birds and for the pigeon it is the natural thing to fly home. Fergus says he personally doesn’t think there is a great risk of the pigeons perishing at sea if the flight is a very long one, e.g. Barcelona. Pigeons are highly intelligent and the UK pigeon is more likely to find some shelter e.g. in France and move on in the early hours the next day. Good liberators wait for forecasts of good settled weather for enough days for all the different countries pigeons entered in the International Barcelona race.

Fergus says that to say that pigeon racing is a blood sport is ridiculous. Fergus’s pigeons aren’t culled nowadays and he has many old ones that he doesn’t breed off due to their old age. These are the real trophies Fergus says!

Fergus therefore thinks that pigeon racing is capable of regulating itself without PETA’s interference. He can see clearly that PETA has a concern for animals and suggests that PETA look at working together with the respected racing pigeon organisations throughout the world to jointly make life better for racing pigeons. That is what he would do if he was a ‘mover or shaker’ in the PETA organisation!

 

 

Posted April 13, 2013 by ferguselley in Food for thought, U.k. news items

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One step closer to the grave for PETA or ‘just another brick in the wall’!   2 comments

Peta or pigeon racing. I know which one I would send to the cemetery.

Peta or pigeon racing. I know which one I would send to the cemetery!!

Yesterday, I was viewing Peta’s YouTube video ‘Graveyard Races’ and I happened to ask my young daughters about it. They answered me that “it sounded like a young Queen’s voice”. I can’t help wondering if that is intentional by PETA and I find it quite distasteful. What do you think readers?

It is public knowledge that PETA wish to shutdown pigeon racing worldwide. However, all I think they will achieve is to be made to look stupid again. There are many online commentaries about PETA, (if you have time to view them then I suggest you try YouTube). It seems many in PETA’s country of origin, i.e. America, have something to say about PETA.

There is even what some describe as a parody PETA site both in website form and on Facebook viz P.E.T.A. which they say stands for ‘people eating tasty animals’. I guess some might say that’s in your face, but isn’t that what PETA appears to be doing at times in their campaigns? PETA’s FAQ’s informs us that they do this since PETA’s advertising budget is limited?

Free speech is a great thing but it is important to do your best to get the facts right!

PETA started the ball rolling against racing pigeons some time ago and their futile attempts so far include protesting outside Mike Tyson’s Las Vegas home in 2008 prior to the screening of the great series, ‘Taking on Tyson’ by Animal Planet. They achieved nothing there apart from giving the appearance of being stupid in my opinion. I thought that the six part show was great. Mike and the boys were excellent ambassadors for pigeon racing and gave us something to aim for i.e. the comradery and love between the fanciers and the love for their pigeons, which we all know as pigeon fanciers are extensions of our family.

Did you watch the ‘Taking on Tyson’ series by Animal Planet and what did you think of it? Please take some time to comment below.

Moving on now to the Graveyard video and PETA’s upfront challenge to the Queen:  For those of you who didn’t know, the Queen of England i.e. her majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second has Royal Lofts on Sandringham Estate containing around 250 racing pigeons. Her Majesty is also the patron of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association (RPRA) in England. Her birds regularly take part in UK races, and she has had racing pigeons since she was a child.

The video starts with what we are told is release footage of the Fougeres Young Bird National race on September 1st 2012 from France to English lofts. Its title is Graveyard Races-A Peta Undercover Investigation.

5560 birds were released and PETA assert that only 622 returned and thus allege that 90% of the birds were lost including all of the Queen’s birds. Incidentally her Royal Lofts only sent four racing pigeons and some may’ve homed in after the race closed. PETA’s assertion of course is rubbish and misguided and the figures PETA is using simply don’t contain the full result of all the pigeons returning in race time, as the official result didn’t contain all the pigeons timed in. Additionally, most fanciers using the non electronic system don’t clock all their returning birds. Electronic clocks may also be disconnected from their power source and pigeons returning thereafter, even though in race time, have not been recorded.

Furthermore, in any pigeon race from anywhere, pigeons often return home after the race is closed. I had one hen turn up almost a year later from a long distance race. A friend had one turn up three years later from the same racepoint and usually, many turn up in the weeks following the race. It is a fallacy that most pigeons can’t find some food in the wild of some description.

Moving on now to a point PETA makes in this video i.e. ‘particularly for young birds crossing the Channel for the first time is extremely daunting’. This is partly true, if not misconstrued. The fact is that pigeons need to learn to cross the water and some birds are more innately gifted to do this than others. Pigeons do not only orientate by sight, they feel their way home including over bodies of water. Some pigeons simply aren’t as gifted and, to coin a PETA type of cliche, they ‘fly to freedom’ by, in this case, perhaps staying in France.

Additionally, to assert that pigeons always fly close to the water’s surface is a load of crock. This happens mainly in headwinds, particularly strong ones and if the liberator has done their job right the pigeons will still be being looked after in the shelter of the pigeon transporter!

Just to clear that up for the inexperienced flier or non pigeon fancier reading this. For example, in the case of a tail wind i.e. one assisting the pigeons across the body of water, the pigeons circle high and then when enough of them have orientated to give the flock confidence they cross and they can cross very high and at great speeds. Please get your facts right PETA, you are being made to look ignorant here!

Next, they move onto a clip from a National Geographic programme which Taiwanese TV makers filmed after a release of pigeons at sea in Taiwan over a decade ago. These pigeons have just come off the boat after it lurched. Many thousands of pigeons were let go from the boat at that time and some subsequently landed in the sea.

This is a snippet of a video on YouTube. It isn’t U.K. pigeons and it appears that PETA is trying to make out that these are ‘flown out’ or ‘tied up’ pigeons that can’t fly anymore. To me it’s deceitful and as soon as I saw this segment I knew straight away where it was from. Good try PETA, be a bit more honest next time!

Pigeon racing in Taiwan is completely different than other parts of the world; we don’t let pigeons go at sea in the western world. In Taiwan they do it to help stop cheating. Look at YouTube and search ‘Racing Pigeon in Taiwan by English version’ for more of a picture of Taiwanese pigeon racing. I’ve also been to Taiwan several times so I know the full situation.

Personally, I would refute the statement that flying over water is more of a risk than flying over land. There are no power lines, TV aerials or chimneys over water for one. There are also no birds of prey i.e. raptors!

Perhaps racing pigeons flying over the English Channel are  a lot safer than PETA would have any persons gullible enough in the public to believe! There are no raptors out to sea such as the peregrine whereas there are many on land. These raptors have been having devastating effects on pigeon racing in the UK in recent years. It is not so much the number that they kill, but that they cause the racing flocks to split up and scatter all over the place. Many become disoriented and lost as a result, especially young inexperienced racing pigeons.

The main thing, whether it be races with or without a water crossing, is that the liberators do their job right and if in doubt wait until conditions are right for a good race, i.e. delaying the release until the following day or days if necessary.

However, I am confident that the racing pigeon organisations particularly in the western world have protocols in place to protect the welfare of all the racing pigeons they both transport and liberate.

PETA’s next line of attack in this video is to degrade pigeon racers even more by implying we are sending pigeons away to races just for a bit of fun and a flutter. I do not agree with this.

Our pigeons are extensions of our families. There is a strong bond between the fancier and their pigeons. Orientating back home to their respective lofts in a race is what the pigeons do naturally. They grow to love it. They are very well cared for. They have a much better life than the ‘street pigeons’ that have to scavenge for food daily and find shelter sometimes in very bitter winters.

The fact that pigeons won medals in World War II last century e.g. pigeons won the Dickens medal for bravery (a Victoria cross pigeon equivalent), is all the more reason to preserve the keeping of racing pigeons in honour of all the gutsy pigeons that came back to their lofts shot up. Cher Ami comes to mind and I clearly remember being amazed to hear the account of this pigeon as a young boy.

Cher Ami delivered 12 important messages during WWI. Cher Ami was shot through the breast and returned with a message capsule dangling from the ligaments of one of his legs. The message was from the “Lost Battalion” that had been isolated from other American forces. Just a few hours after the message was received, 194 survivors out of the 550 were again safe because of Cher Ami’s heroism.

While I think of it, if the world does experience widespread telecommunication and internet breakdown in the future, who knows, we might just need the humble pigeon again to carry messages. Don’t count on always being able to communicate so freely in this age of internet hackers and military use of cyberspace. Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 comes to mind here, they downed Georgia’s internal and external communication as they launched the offensive.

Re the assertion that ‘the punters just having a flutter’. In many parts of the world today there is very little money in pigeon racing. I for one, as a person with a major health disability, enjoy the challenge of conditioning my birds for racing and the breeding side I enjoy even more i.e. the attempt to breed better pigeons just as many livestock breeders enjoy such past times.

For myself personally to be totally frank, I might not be alive without the pigeons. I lived in the back of a lady’s garage for seven years from 1990 and the pigeons gave me both solace and enjoyment as a very sick, single man. I am married and have two girls now, 11 and 12 about to turn 13. If I’d chucked the towel in, as many do with chronic illnesses, then they wouldn’t have the enjoyment of their lives and the world would be a poorer place.

We need to promote the sport more amongst those with infirmities around the world as I believe caring for animals or birds is better than anything else to keep one’s head above water when one has a chronic health problem.

So I have much reason to defend the sport. I know the situation over in England in regard to liberations is a very good one. They try very hard to get it right!

There are articles on U.K. liberations on this ferguspigeonman.wordpress.com site for those who wish to read them under the archive category of  U.k. news items. These are articles by Keith Mott and Terry Williams.

PETA have got themselves into this fight starting with a dispute against their own USA pigeon racers and are currently really stirring it up. PETA are against some aspects of keeping companion animals and racing pigeons are classed as companion animals which we farm in my opinion.

PETA are against a lot of things including eating meat. I have clear memories of teenage girls not looking after themselves when I was a teenager by abstaining from meat products. PETA are free to promote veganism and the rest of us that eat meat can enjoy it and be thankful that the world is changing in its animal husbandry methods e.g. the trend towards organic free range chickens and eggs.

I’ll admit that by eating a nice roast chicken that I may deprive it of a full and long life. Will vegetarian PETA members admit that they deprive many vegetables of a full and reproductive life e.g. baby corn in the can and baby carrots come to mind here!

PETA are against many things and I encourage you to read up on them on the net and if you feel strongly enough about the things they say, then perhaps you could write your opinion on the net, even if it is just commenting on this site. There are a lot of YouTube videos mainly by young people against PETA’s ideas and activities. Place a comment on the site and I’ll email you the links if you like without posting your comment.

We should also tell you about the alleged very high percentage of animals that PETA have euthanized in the past at its animal shelters in Virginia. Shouldn’t they be relocating many of those animals that they put down to other places in America to give them the long and full life they deserve?

Returning to the Graveyard video: The clip of the guy holding three dead pigeons is likely from an International Barcelona liberation involving tens of thousands of pigeons during which some pigeons have been unlucky and flown into something and been traumatised leading to death.

I cannot comment on how many pigeons are left at the seasons end in the U.K. but I can comment on my own lofts losses. Young birds 2012 I lost 8% of the team during racing and the same amount in the Old Bird season. Our longest race for me is Invercargill (750 miles) through a lower North Island breaking point. We also fly Timaru (560 miles) and Christchurch (450 miles) and Ward (330 miles) to my loft. So an 8% loss is quite acceptable and in the natural world a lot more animals and birds over the course of a year become statistics e.g. the Mara River Wildebeest crossing and the migration of birds e.g. the Bar-tailed Godwit from the Arctic to New Zealand and back again within the year, some flying to New Zealand as young as three months old and some flying direct, perhaps non-stop!!

One female called “E7” on 29 August 2007 flew non-stop from Western Alaska to New Zealand, setting a new known flight record of 11,680 kilometres.

I will add that if any of the pigeons lost last year in Old Birds return then I will keep them. The pigeon mentioned earlier which returned from a 450 mile race a year later with a damaged wing I still have! However, for those fliers that cull pigeons, that is their choice. I suffer much and the sicker I have become the softer I get because the pigeons didn’t ask to be born. I know many fanciers personally who are on the ‘same page’ as myself pigeon welfare wise.

On that note, would any of the worldwide PETA branches be willing to find homes for fanciers’ cull pigeons around the world, as it is difficult to find loving homes for these pigeons. The average fancier shouldn’t be ‘bagged’ by PETA because they farm racing pigeons and want the best possible performers, whether for racing or breeding! Perhaps rehoming racing pigeons whose racing careers are over to loving homes is a policy which PETA could in the future adopt to show how much they care for pigeons.

Following the video again, we do need to be careful with our liberations especially with the global warming phenomena affecting the world’s weather. As I mentioned earlier, the U.K. set up for liberations is up with the times. They are very well organised and Stewart Wardrop of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association has written a very sincere letter as a public statement and press release to address PETA’s allegations.

Now back to PETA’s video: PETA has a swipe at the Barcelona International race which U.K. pigeons can participate in. Pigeons from Europe and the U.K. are very carefully prepared for these races. No stone is ‘left unturned’ in the preparation of racing pigeons for these long distance race events. Most fliers will only send pigeons to these races that they think have a high chance of navigating the distance.

Of course there are hazards, just like there are for wild birds and for the pigeon it is the natural thing to fly home. Hazards for any birds may include power lines, TV aerials, chimneys, birds of prey, people who indiscriminately shoot birds, predators such as cats e.t.c. at night if the pigeon doesn’t home on the day.

I personally don’t think there is a great risk of the pigeons perishing at sea if the flight is a very long one, e.g. Barcelona. Pigeons are highly intelligent and the UK pigeon is more likely to find some shelter e.g. in France and move on in the early hours the next day. Good liberators wait for forecasts of good settled weather for a number of days for all the pigeons entered from the different countries, such as for the International Barcelona race. A lot of thought and weather observation and ringing along the line of flight is done for pigeon racing all around the world.

Back to the video: Only some pigeon fanciers refer to pigeons that haven’t featured in their racing as ‘rubbish’, That is a pigeon fancier slang term used by some. However, if pigeon fanciers wish to cull a high percentage of their racers at the season’s end i.e. as yearlings or two year olds, then that is their choice; but they need to cull them within the laws of their own country. The clip in the video of the chap pulling the head off a pigeon in a bag is not the typical way that fanciers cull their pigeons. This guy did a messy job, I’d agree with that!

Looking at things logically, how does a fancier culling pigeons and perhaps making a tasty dish with them differ from a vegan growing or buying baby carrots for their consumption. Both the pigeon and vegetable have been robbed of a long life! If I had a choice between being a baby carrot or a baby sweet corn cob, the later in a can, or a racing pigeon, I’d choose to be a racing pigeon!

PETA, you’re definitely barking up the wrong tree with the racing pigeon fraternity in America and the U.K. Tidy up your own backyard and re-home more of those animals that you’ve been euthanizing, they can’t all be suffering or behaving so badly that they need to be put down!

There’s a saying that ‘you need to choose your battles wisely’. Pick the ones you can win PETA. Pigeon racing is capable of regulating itself without PETA’s interference.

Finally, I can see clearly that PETA has a concern for animals. But I think once again you are using very ‘controversial media tactics’ and you clearly state this in your site’s FAQ category. Is the public really supposed to assume that this is one of your preferred ‘modus operandi’s’ and just to save advertising money?? I think that’s a bit lame and the other reason could be to provoke.

PETA, don’t you think that working together with both the respected racing pigeon organisations throughout the world and other perhaps even more successful animal welfare agencies (maybe not in the number of members PETA has but perhaps in animal rehoming figures) is a much wiser path for PETA to take. That is what I would do if I was a ‘mover or shaker’ in the PETA organisation.

Any questions or right of reply from you PETA can be emailed to me directly at ferguselley@gmail.com or through my site ferguspigeonman.wordpress.com. I’d love to hear from you!

A very similar article to this one is available to be used for free on any internet site or any other public forum on request to myself.

Posted April 7, 2013 by ferguselley in Food for thought, U.k. news items

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