Ray Hammond of Albury.   Leave a comment

Ray Hammond of Albury.

Ray Hammond of Albury.

Ray is a normal working man, now retired, living on a working man’s estate with his loft on a tiny postage stamp backyard, but this is a loft with extraordinary results at the distance, especially on hard days. Ray’s loft is 35 plus years old and is showing its age, but Ray says ‘it is question now of who lasts the longest, him or the loft!’ However, the pigeons are perfectly happy and contented in their environment which is not over crowded. The main loft is one larger compartment containing the nest boxes, with a smaller section at the end that currently contains a round of 2012 late breds off his best pigeons. These have only had a couple of short inland races in 2013 but will be important for the future of the loft both as racers and breeders, I will explain why later. There is a small separate shed that Ray purchased for one pound that houses his young birds. The wall of Ray’s lounge and conservatory are lined with diplomas, photos and trophies of the successes of his pigeons over many years. As mentioned at the beginning, Ray’s birds excel at the distance on hard days, if it is one of the days when there are few pigeons home you can put money on it that Ray will get something through. His blue cock in the photos is a classic example, winning Bergerac by 40 minutes on a sticky hot day when there were only six birds home on the day from over 1000 pigeons entered. We all remember his chequer cock “Simply the best” that won the L&SE Classic PAU 580 miles on another tough day when again there were only a handful of pigeons that made it home on the day. Incidentally a daughter of this cock won the same event for Darren McFadden a year or so later and is named “Razors Girl” such is the quality of this family of pigeons that Ray has developed over the years.  In 2012 Ray sent four birds to Barcelona with the BICC and got all four home winning the two bird average, one of the team only had three 30 mile tosses before being sent.

How does he do it? Well everything is kept simple, the lofts although ancient are dry and airy and are cleaned out two or three times a week which Ray maintains is more for his benefit rather than the pigeons, a squirt or two of Jeyes fluid keeps any nasties away. As for medication, the old birds are treated with a 4 in 1 treatment for worms, canker and cocci for four days prior to pairing and the young birds get the same treatment before racing and that’s it, his pigeons are naturally healthy and don’t need anything else. All the pigeons I handled were of similar type, small to medium with good feather quality and strong backs. Feed is a standard Irish Mix and Ray prefers the Gem supplied mix; the race team get some additional peanuts. Electrolytes and a few drops of iodine are added to the drinker on race day. Cod liver oil is added to the feed once a week. The system raced is natural to the nest sitting eggs. Training is minimal as he says when he was working he did not have time to train much so he has developed a family that don’t need too much road work to perform. His young birds get about six tosses prior to the first race and his old birds get two or three tosses. Mid week a good friend who works nearby but lives at Worthing on the south coast about 30 miles away will sometimes take Ray’s birds home and toss them after work which gives them a 45 minute fly. Around home the birds are just up and down sometimes landing on the local church roof, the most flying they do around home is when a hawk appears which is all too frequent these days and one did just that while I was there. Like most of us these days a percentage are lost around the loft to raptors and he also has the odd cat trouble. However, many of his best pigeons have been those that do the least amount of flying around home, these are pigeons that are very attached to their mates and nest boxes, which is what gives them that extra incentive to push on when the rest of the field have packed it in on a difficult day. I have attached a copy of a notice that Ray has pinned to the loft which says it all about this extraordinary fancier with extraordinary pigeons.

The First Commandment of Pigeon Racing.

The First Commandment of Ray’s Pigeon Racing!

Regarding the late breds mentioned earlier, 2013 has been a difficult season with head winds most weeks and although Ray has timed in on virtually every race and achieved some good results, some of his top pigeons never made it home, so Ray says ‘he is glad he took these late breds off his very best as these will be his main stay for the future!’

Brian Batchelor

Posted September 4, 2013 by ferguselley in Brian's Brit Blog, U.k. news items

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