Darran Mcfadden of Cranleigh, by Brian Batchelor of Elstead.   Leave a comment

Darren with his 2nd BICC 2nd Pau International outside his lovely new loft. the background.

Darran with his 2nd BICC, 2nd Pau International outside his loft.

I said to Darran last year that he had joined the elite after a successful 2012 season, this year he proved it by winning 2nd Pau International, against 8,527 pigeons.

This year Darran invested in a new Tranter loft, erected just in time for the start of the old bird season and some detractors said he would not do any good in the first year in a new loft, but he  proved them well wrong! The loft is 48 ft long and 8 ft deep, with a corridor running along the entire front, which can be closed off in sections, the loft has an apex tile roof. Ventilation is through the top under the overhang, both front and rear and I have to say I was always a skeptic of this system, but the air was sweet and clean in the loft, with no smell or dust. This year he raced 48 widowhood cocks and 36 widowhood hens, a few more hens are kept than he has partners for, so that a degree of jealousy was involved. Both his cocks and hens performed well right through the season.

Darran has developed a family of pigeons through hard testing on the road, one of the key pigeons is a white hen of Kirkpatrick origins that won him a London & SE Classic merit award. The Pau International winner is a Blue chequer hen off Van Berkel blood pigeons which were obtained at a clearance sale. Although Darran has little information on the ancestry line, her sire was also a top performer for Darran’s Cranleigh loft.

The parents of the Pau hen were thus obtained at a clearance sale by Darran’s Dad, Darran raced the parents and as just mentioned the sire was one of his best cocks, but he died in the winter and Darran was of two minds whether to keep racing the Pau hen or put her to stock, but he decided she still had a good race in her which proved to be the right decision. However, having won 2nd Pau International, she now is deservedly in the stock loft!
Three of his best performing cocks are grizzles out of the white Kirkpatrick line hen. His 2008 grizzle cock which was 11th BIIC Pau International and 234th International is out of the white hen and a Mick Tuck Cannon cock. His two half brothers (nestmates), also grizzles, were 3rd sect 14th open NFC Tarbes and 1st sect 4th open NFC Tarbes. Darran says his best pigeons are coming down from those early pigeons that were successful for him when he first started. Although he has introduced some new blood lines from a couple of other top lofts to try, but it is early days for these, as it can take time for these to acclimatise.
Darren with 11th BIIC Pau International and 234th International

Darran with 11th BIIC Pau International and 234th International.

Darran rears around 70 young birds and like most of us already has suffered a few losses training and most of these are from the new lines. One big mistake he made was not showing his young birds the outside of the loft before releasing them for the first time and when a hawk went over on their first outing, they went everywhere and were drifting back over the next two to three days and 12 were lost.

With the old bird race team, both sexes have two to three tosses prior to the first race, but after that, the cocks are not trained at all, unless they need a freshener before marking for a big race. Then they will get a toss from the coast about 30 miles. On the other hand the hens are tossed twice a week from the coast. Darran says, ‘rest is rust’ for the hens and they need to be worked! Young birds get as many tosses as possible before their first race and again twice a week during the season, young bird racing is not taken seriously, it is just a matter of sending them and counting what’s made it home.

With feeding the widowhood race team, both cocks and hens are fed the same Gem widowhood mixed with Versele-Laga super star plus and energy plus depending on what races are coming up and peanuts are added in the last few days before marking for a major event. On race day they get Gem G10 pellets with light corn to restore their body, the birds are never broken down with depurative, as Darran says ‘they are already broken down from racing without depriving them further’ and he believes hungry pigeons won’t fly. So his have as much to eat as they want and his cocks will fly around home for up to two and half hours without any problems. On this feeding regime, his Pau International hen arrived home in the same condition as she went, with no noticeable body muscle loss.

Regarding medication, his pigeons only get their annual PMV vaccination and once a year a drop of Harka-Mectin on the back of the neck for lice and worms, no other treatments are given. However, Darran is great believer in natural supplements to enhance the pigeons natural immunity. Cider vinegar and garlic are added to the drinker, four days a week, probiotics from Dr Brockamp are given twice a week on the corn mixed with a little garlic oil, gemthepax is also added twice a week to the corn and naturaline is also given.

Darran races in partnership with his Dad Des, who was instrumental in getting Darran started, but unfortunately has not been in the best of health lately and at the time of my visit was back in hospital.

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Posted July 30, 2013 by ferguselley in Brian's Brit Blog, U.k. news items

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