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Brian’s Brit Blog Summer 2013   Leave a comment

As summer starts to fade away, it is time to reflect on how the 2013 season has been for me personally. It has, as I said previously, been a learning curve this year trying the widowhood system of racing for the first time. While it did not quite go according to plan, a lot has been learned, particularly in regard to the feeding regime for the distance races where it was necessary to go back to the tried and tested system that sees the pigeons being sent with enough fuel (stored energy) on board for the flight ahead, no matter what conditions are thrown at them!

Regarding young birds, only a few were bred this year due to lack of loft space and the hawks and peregrines had five of those before I started training, another four were lost in one bad race when the pigeons including my racing old hens returned scattered, one old hen taking over six hours to cover the 65 miles! The remaining few young birds have had five races, which is all I expect from them and they are now moulting out and will live to race another day when they will have a bit of maturity on them.

One of the big problems that continues to cause considerable concern and losses particularly with young birds all over the UK has been the increase in raptor attacks, especially from Peregrine falcons that now seem to be everywhere! I do not know of any loft that has not been affected to some extent and there seems to be no end to it or a solution. The main issue is not the number of pigeons they actually kill but the number that are scattered to the four winds when they attack, since young birds are particularly vulnerable and easily lost when attacked.

Weather wise, after a slow start to the racing season with the coldest spring on record, it has been the best summer we have had for several years, so this has produced generally good racing conditions with fewer hold overs. Some very good results have been recorded by some lofts and looking through the press reports we see many familiar names at the top of the result lists, so they must be doing something right, particularly Mark Gilbert who is considered by many to be the top fancier in England these days. Whether these fanciers have had their fair share of losses is not known but at least they are getting some winners through in good time, so we can say well done to them.

A few of the highlights are as follows: –

PAU International; (Winning the British section and the top four in the International)

1st G & C Cooper, Peasdown

2nd D& D McFadden, Cranleigh

3rd M Gilbert, Windsor

4th C Draper, Yalding

Barcelona International (British section)

1st M, C & J Norman, Southampton

2nd N Lane, Romford

3rd M Mitchell, Dover

4th D Hales, Hockley

5th M Gilbert, Windsor

6th G & C Cooper

The Jim Emerton Trophy for the longest flying pigeon goes to Trevor Robinson of Hull with two pigeons timed from a distance of 854 miles.

NFC Tarbes Grand National

1st B & P Winter, Howden

2nd M Gilbert, Windsor

3rd Mr & Mrs Moody, Windsor

4th R Spiers, Hailsham

An outstanding performance from the winner flying 728 miles, also Brian Denny of YORK finishing in 6th Open position flying 748 miles.

The Bergerac Race.

Mic Tucker and his Bergerac winner.

Mic Tuck and his Bergerac winner.

The Central Southern lorry transported around 2500 pigeons for a joint liberation combining, the CSCC, L&SECC, SMT Combine, Welsh NRFC, Dorset FED, Wiltshire FED, BB&O FED and South Coast Combine pigeons.

The race turned out to be a very hard one. After a one day hold over, the pigeons were liberated into a very hot stiff north east wind. Our local clock station sent around 100 pigeons from 16 members and on the night only four local pigeons were timed in, all to the loft of my good friend Mick Tuck who won the South Coast FED and Combine and his winning pigeon being 11th from the total convoy of 2500 birds. A tremendous effort considering the prevailing weather conditions, no other pigeons flew further that day against the head wind! Mick’s colony is descended from original pigeons which he obtained from the late Eric Cannon of Wormley.

The late Eric Cannon.

The late Eric Cannon.

What a legacy Eric Cannon has left the sport, there are many successful fanciers that can attribute much of their success to the Cannon pigeons, and even the great Mark Gilbert’s pigeons include two National winners, “NightFight and International Dax winner” which contain the blood of Cannon’s famous hen “Culmer Bess”. In his day, Cannon had won more National Flying Club awards than any other fancier, this award is presented to a pigeon that scores three times in the top 100 in a National race and this was when the birdage entered was greater than what we see today. My own family of pigeons is founded on three Cannon pigeons viz “ Old Cannon cock” his niece “Grunty” and a Blue hen “1153”. Unfortunately 1153 was killed by a hawk the first year I had her but her blood still flows through my loft today. I was very fortunate when I first started up here in UK that my good friend Keith Mott, who I had visited a few times before I moved over from N.Z. gifted these top pigeons to me. Keith organised the clearance sale of the Cannon loft when Eric passed away and in appreciation Mrs cannon gifted Keith four pairs of late breds from the best pigeons and what wonderful pigeons these have been for many fanciers who have been able to obtain these blood lines from Keith.  A full brother to my Old Cannon cock went the same year to Fred Dickson in the north east of England and has bred a dynasty of winners for Fred flying 581 miles from Bourges. Fred has recently returned this RED cock back to Keith who has named him “Foxwarren Fred” where he continues to churn out winners and is undoubtedly one of the top Cannon breeders in existence today.

See below for shots of the Old Cannon Cock, Grunty and Foxwarren Fred.

Old Cannon Cock

Old Cannon Cock.



Foxwarren Fred.

Foxwarren Fred.

Other Cannon bloodline pigeons of interest, please view below viz, Rocket Queen, Culmer Fantasy and Culmer Gold.

Rocket Queen.

Rocket Queen.

Culmer Fantasy.

Culmer Fantasy.

Culmer Gold.

Culmer Gold.

With autumn beginning to show its colours the pigeons are now in a heavy moult with the first few starting to come through it and as the winter approaches we have the show season to look forwards to, so we want them to come through the moult with their new coat looking spick and span for the show season and in good order for the next seasons racing.

Yours in sport,

Brian Batchelor

Elstead UK

Editors note-many thanks to Brian Batchelor for providing some good pigeon news and photos and also to Keith Mott for his recnt ‘touch up’ on photos of Culmer Fantasy, Foxwarren Fred and Culmer Gold.

I am busy racing and coping with my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and my input to family life! This week the ARPF holds its first over the water race from Ward, South Island. It is our second Federation race this Old Bird Season.




Posted October 14, 2013 by ferguselley in Brian's Brit Blog, U.k. news items

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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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Peter Fyfield of Bordon, 2nd sect, 8th Open NFC Tarbes National 2013.   Leave a comment

Peter Fyfield of Bordon, 2nd sect, 8th Open NFC Tarbes National 2013.

Peter Fyfield of Bordon, 2nd sect, 8th Open NFC Tarbes National 2013.

This year, 2013 has been a land mark year for Peter when his Blue Cheque cock “71” scored 2nd section, 8th open National Flying club Tarbes Grand National 546 miles. On handling this fine cock two days after the race, you would not think he had been away and considering this was a difficult race, where many good pigeons failed, he is a credit to Peter’s preparation. This all started about three years ago when Peter decided to switch from sprint racing to distance racing. Peter is a member of the Godalming and Districts Flying club and at the annual prize presentation evening at that time, he was disappointed in that although he won most of the averages and a stack of diplomas, the greater accolades and trophies went to the distance fanciers, so he decided there and then to go after these. This would pit him up against some very good fanciers with top national and classic results to their credit. Accordingly, Peter was able to obtain some excellent blood lines from some of these local fanciers and in fact Peters “71” was from a pair of pigeons from the successful loft of Mick Tuck of Whitley. However, as we all know, it is one thing to have the right blood lines and another to be able to fly them successfully and in this respect, Peter has proved he can do it! Peter’s “71” was flown on the widowhood system but was put down with his hen and sitting 7 day eggs for the Tarbes event. Prior to this, his preparation included seven inland races and two shorter channel races, Messac 230 miles and Fougeres 192 miles with the South Coast FED and he had Exeter about 125 miles two weeks before Tarbes.

Peter's winning cock together with his mate.

Peter’s winning cock BCC ’71’ together with his BBH mate.

Peter races his pigeons from a tiny back yard in a typical housing estate, so there is no room for a big fancy loft. Everything has to be carefully planned and managed with such a small set up to get the best from the pigeons, something Peter does with great skill and dedication. The widowhood loft is 16 ft x 8 ft and contains 20 boxes split into two sections of 10. The other loft is 12 ft x 4 ft 6 ins and the widower hens are kept in widowhood hen boxes in one half and the 40 odd youngsters are housed in the other half with young bird perches stacked floor to ceiling. A few spare old hens are also kept in the young bird section and these are raced alongside the widowhood cocks. Peter’s birds are exercised twice daily and apart from two or three pre season tosses, no other road training is given. Young birds are given about eight to ten tosses prior to racing and once or twice a week out to about 25 miles during racing. Like most fanciers these days in Britain, he finds tossing young birds a risky business due to the number attacks from Peregrine falcons and they are often returning well split up and stressed, but those that survive have learned from the experience and can go on to race well later in life. For feeding, this year he has been feeding Verselaga mixes and is pleased with the results, the cocks get a standard widowhood mix. I asked Peter if he fed any peanuts for the longer distance events and he said his pigeons won’t eat them, but he does force feed a few down their throat anyway from a couple days prior to basketing. The lofts are cleaned out twice a day, every day including Christmas day, the old birds are treated with a 3 in 1 tablet for worms, cocci and canker just the once before pairing up and the young birds get the same treatment before racing starts.

There you have it, a top result from a top fancier who has shown what can be achieved from a small loft set up and with good pigeons!

Brian Batchelor

Posted August 21, 2013 by ferguselley in Brian's Brit Blog, U.k. news items

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Brian’s Brit Blog July 2013.   Leave a comment

My seven year old 'Hardluck cock' showing damage from a peregrine falcon strike.

My seven year old ‘Hardluck cock’ showing damage from a peregrine falcon strike.

Well, another old bird season has been and gone and it has been a difficult one weather wise especially on the channel racing, with head winds most weeks, cold and wet in the early part of the season and extreme heat at the back end. My two target races the NFC Tarbes National and Combine Bergerac turned out badly. With the Tarbes race, the pigeons were held over for three days and and they had an afternoon liberation on the fourth day. The first pigeons arrived on the south coast of England about 2pm on the 2nd day, but arrivals were sparse. My first and only bird home to date from four sent, arrived in the afternoon of the third day, it was my seven year old blue cock named “Hardluck” and he lived up to his name, homing for a third time minus half his tail and some wing coverts from a peregrine falcon attack somewhere along the way. I accept some of the blame for the loss of the other three, as I sent them much too light weight for the prevailing  race conditions, having kept them on the light depurative diet too long, plus not giving them enough shorter channel racing prior to the event.

The Bergerac was a similar story, the build up race was from Saintes the same weekend as the Tarbes National and this turned out a tough race. I only got three on the day from eight, although the other five turned up the next day, but it had taken the sting out of them and they were not ready for the Bergerac race. I did however send one cock back, even though he was not quite right, but again it was a stinker of a race with only four birds timed on the day in our area, all to my friend Mick Tuck (I will report on this at a later date). Returns were few and far between on the second day and the majority of fanciers never got a bird home in race time. My single entry arrived at 6 am on the 3rd morning, which wasn’t a bad effort considering his preparation.

Sometimes a pigeon can do something against all the odds and accumulated wisdom of pigeon lore on how pigeons should be raced, such a case occurred a couple years ago with one of Mick Tucks pigeons. He was basketing his team for the Tarbes National, when checking each pigeon, one had broken a couple of flights and could not be sent. As the entry fee had been paid in advance as per the NFC rules, he looked through the rest of his race team for a replacement, but nothing was ready to go, then glanced in his young bird section and spotted an old stock hen that had been loaned to Darran McFadden for two years and had been locked up in Darran’s stock loft for all that time. She had been back in Mick’s loft for about four weeks and had been flying out each day with the young birds and had paired up with a young cock and laid eggs in the corner. Anyway, Mick picked her up and she felt o.k. so in the basket she went. Well, you guessed it, it was a very hard day, only two birds made it home on the day in our section and this old hen being sent without any training, was 1st clock station and 9th open National!!

We start our young bird programme next week and from the original 17 young birds I had, one was killed by a sparrow hawk, a peregrine had another three, one hit a wire and one has been lost training, leaving eleven for the start of racing. From all accounts, this is a better average than most, one of our club members is down to 22 from 110 having lost 45 in one toss when peregrine falcons hit them!

One loft that has done well this year is that of D & D McFadden and a loft report on their performances can be viewed below in ferg’s blog here.

Editors note-reading of the tremendous result of Mick Tuckers excellent hen, which had only been out for four weeks, flying daily I might add, having been locked up for two years, illustrates the point that a fresh, experienced pigeon, may be the better option than a tired, past its peak pigeon for a race like Tarbes, which incidentally is well into France. In fact, Tarbes is about 30 miles north of the Spanish border and about 15 miles north of the Pyrenees Mountains. Tarbes is about 15 miles due east of Pau. Perpignan and Barcelona are the only two longer British long distance race points. So Tarbes, Perpignan and Barcelona are similar ‘ballpark’ airline distances to an Invercargill to Auckland, airline pigeon race.

The above example goes against the grain of the argument ‘that we need to have a middle distance race liberation from such and such a race point this weekend to set the birds up for the longer distances’. What I illustrate here, is that pigeons can be bought back to a shorter race point that will suit the bulk of the pigeons in any given liberation, that is, if only two days are being considered for a liberation i.e. the pigeons don’t need to be bashed to build them up for the long distance events. Of course, I’m not talking about Auckland’s release protocol here. Holding the pigeons over till the worst of the ‘shit’ weather is through, is what we here in Auckland do thanks to Jim Cater, our liberation coordinator! Good on you Jim! However, the option of driving the pigeons back a bit towards home, to be fair to the pigeons liberated, also happens here in Auckland when required.

Auckland Federation are pigeon liberators of the ‘new millenium’ and have a release protocol to match this statement which is second to none, believe me!

Brian informs me also that the NFC transporter is state of the art with air conditioning, automatic drinkers and feeding troughs that insert into the crates which have wire bottoms to keep the birds off the floor. Sounds like the NFC has excellent transportation facilities, which certainly make a big difference if the pigeons need to be held over to give them a fairer run!

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

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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.

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

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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

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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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