Archive for the ‘Eric Cannon’ Tag

“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT” Brian Batchelor of Elstead.   1 comment

Brian Batchelor.

Brian Batchelor.

Brian Batchelor has told me recently, he is suffering with a bad pigeon fanciers lung problem and after 50 years in the sport, sadly has to pack up his pigeons at the end of this season. His pending retirement from the sport has spurred him on to have one big final fling with his birds and he has enjoyed a brilliant 2014 old bird season. The highlight of the season was sending three cocks to the NFC Tarbes Grand National and clocking all three on the winning day, recording, 15th, 31st, 40th section A, 90th, 233rd, 308th open. A brilliant performance in such a hard race! The first bird on the ETS from Tarbes was Brian’s good blue Cannon / Van Bremen widowhood cock, ‘The Tarbes Cock’, and he also won 36th section A, NFC Carentan (495 birds) this season. This handsome cock is a direct son of Brian’s foundation stock bird ‘The Old Cannon Cock’, when mated to his good racing hen, ‘Baby’, who was clocked on the winning day from Tarbes and Pau. Brian’s small racing team have won a list of prizes this season, the highlights being: 1st club Yelverton (254 birds), 3rd club, 4th Federation, 5th Amalgamation Bergerac (1,213 birds), 4th club, 11th Federation Messac (1,042 birds), 5th, 12th club, 19th, 37th Federation Nort sur Erdre (632 birds), 74th, 294th open BICC Poitiers (1,934 birds), 36th section A, NFC Carentan (495 birds), 15th, 31st, 40th section A, 90th, 233rd, 308th open NFC Tarbes (2769 birds).

The Tarbes Cock.

The Tarbes Cock.

Brian Batchelor is a ‘hard-core’ long distance enthusiast and in recent seasons has been very successful in the National and Classic races from 550 miles. He races in the very strong Godalming club and the 2012 season has seen him win the longest old bird race from Bergerac (450 miles), and record 3rd SMT Combine. When I recently asked Brian about his family of pigeons he told me, ‘my main family of long distance racers are the late Eric Cannon of Wormley bloodlines, with the sire of the loft being ‘The Old Cannon Cock’, which must be described as a champion breeder having produced a long list of premier racers from 550 miles. This handsome blue cock was bred by Keith and Betty Mott in 2004 from their Number Three Eric Cannon stock pair and he is a grandson of Champion ‘Culmer Sam’ and Champion ‘Culmer Bess’, the NFC Pau Merit Award winner. ‘The Old Cannon Cock’ is a full brother to the Eric Cannon stock cock, ‘Foxwarren Fred’, who is the sire of many premier long distance champions including: 1st Federation Bourges (581 miles), 2nd Federation Bourges, 2nd Federation Bourges, 2nd Federation Bourges, 3rd Federation Bourges, 5th Federation Bourges, 8th Federation Bourges and is grand sire of 1st Amalgamation Bourges (581 miles) in the 2012 and 2013 seasons. He is the sire of the champion cock, ‘The Five Times Bourges Cock’, winner of 3rd, 5th, 8th Federation Bourges and sire of 1st Amalgamation Bourges (twice)’.

Brian owns the Post Office in the village of Elstead in Surrey and his very smart little loft is in the garden of the premises. He is only a small team man, about 50 pigeons in all, including old bird racers, young birds and his stock team. The old birds are raced most seasons on a celibate system and the racers only see their mates on race day or returning home from training tosses. Brian says his system is very similar to widowhood, but he races both the hens and cocks. The 2014 season has been raced on widowhood with a couple of spare hens also being raced. Working where his pigeons are kept he can keep to a tight routine, with the cocks getting out for one hour twice a day, the hens getting one to two hours in the middle of the day and young bird team have their fly in the evening. They are fed on Countrywide Super widowhood mix. They also get, G10 Pellets, minerals and Osmonds purifier is added to the drinking water once a week. Brian tells me no medication is used in the off season, but during the racing season he has a medication regime. The team is raced every week up to the second channel race then bi-weekly. In the week between races the birds get one or two training tosses from about 30 miles, if possible into the wind regardless of direction. His young birds receive ten tosses and then three or four races, before being stopped to finish their very important moult.

Prior to starting up with pigeons at Elstead in 2004 Brian had racing pigeon in New Zealand where he had lived most of his life before returning to England permanently, the country of his birth. In New Zealand he had pigeons off and on since he was eleven years old and tells me he had some good success at times. Two memorable races in New Zealand were in 1994 when he was 2nd, 3rd Young Birds National and 1st Section, 2nd overall Auckland Federation Timaru (560 miles), with the same pigeon recording 5th Section, 5th overall in the same race the following year, which was flown on the day in 13 hours 26 minutes. He also still holds the record in one club he belonged to, when his pigeon flew 453 miles in 8 hours 27 minutes. In the later years of his New Zealand pigeon racing he flew in partnership with Digby Reiman, under the flying name of Royal Oak Lofts and scored numerous positions including 3rd, 4th, 6th Auckland Futurity, 3rd Young Bird National on a hard day and 2nd section, 2nd Federation overall Timaru (560 miles).

There you have it, a small team fanciers scoring big in the very hard 2014 NFC Tarbes Grand National. That’s our article for this week! I can be contacted with any pigeon ‘banter’ on telephone number: 01372 463480 or email: keithmott1@virginmedia.com

TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com)

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BRIANS BRIT BLOG Christmas 2013, LATE BREDS, SURVIVABILITY FACTOR, SHOWTIME.   Leave a comment

2013 Christmas is one that everyone around the south of England will remember for the rest of their lives. On December the 23rd a severe storm rolled in from the Atlantic bringing gale force winds and torrential rain resulting in wide spread flooding, trees down, roofs blown off and power cuts to over 90,000 homes. One of the worst hit areas was our county of Surrey, our local market town of Godalming was flooded with many having to vacate their homes and two of the access roads into our village of Elstead were also flooded and the roads closed for a few days. At home we got off lightly with only a couple of fence panels blown out, but we did suffer the power cut for 61 hours and lost all our refrigerated stock in our shop and domestic freezer. Luckily we had recently decided to book a three day Christmas stay in a country hotel at the Goodwood estate near Chichester in West Sussex and fortunately, although they had no power either, they had hired a massive generator, so everything was running as normal. It was a bit tricky travelling down to Goodwood on Christmas eve since the main road had been closed due to flooding and we had to make a deviation in the dark which added an hour or so to the journey, so we were relieved when we eventually arrived safely at our destination.

How did my pigeons fare through all this, very well actually, the lofts were undamaged and as I have automatic drinkers it was only a matter of filling the feed troughs with enough corn for the three days we were away and leave them to it until we returned.

LATE BRED SUMMER YOUNGSTERS.

When I raced pigeons back in New Zealand I often bred a few late youngsters i.e. hatched after the summer solstice and generally found they could be raced very well in that years old bird season at eight to ten months of age. In fact they were no different to their earlier bred siblings that had raced as young birds, some were top pigeons and others not so good, as you would expect from the general population. The only problem I had, was in my earlier years pushing them too far too soon and I well remember losing a couple of very good ones that had won previously. However, that was my mistake and no fault of the pigeons. Here in the U.K. it is a totally different story and very few fanciers bother with them except to breed some to keep a blood line for breeding purposes and not racing them. My good friend Tony Dann calls them heartbreakers! As an example last year he kept one late bred and when it came time to train his new year’s young bird team he took his 30 something young birds and the one late bred for their first training toss of eight miles. The young birds all arrived home more or less together in a short time minus the late bred. The late bred was reported having strayed into a loft about 50 miles away in the opposite direction from home. It did not have a clue how to find its way home even from this very short distance, this is typical late bred behaviour and I have experienced the same phenomena myself many times.

Last year I only reared two late breds, nest mates, they weren’t trained identically, but both had a night out from their first eight mile toss, one is still with me having completed training and had one inland FED race. The other went west at its first club transporter toss from 25 miles.

For some reason their homing faculty does not develop as normal, I have an idea why this may be so which I will relate further on. Nevertheless, most years I have persevered and reared a small team of late ones and although the attrition rate is certainly high with many failing on the first training toss or first time on the FED transporter, the few that come though to their third season are as good as any other pigeons in the loft. Looking over my current old bird team around 15% started life as a late bred. Some flyers say they must be trained in the year of their birth to have any chance of surviving, however, I have tried this and it did not make one bit of difference. Getting back to the reasons for the high failure rate with late breds, while I don’t have any scientific answer, I considered that the main factor may be something to do with daylight and in particular sunlight. The young birds bred in the spring develop when the days are long and the sunlight strong, whereas the late bred birds develop when the days are short and the sunshine weak, with many days the sky being dull with heavy overcast conditions. Admittedly, many fanciers darken their early bred youngsters to stimulate their body moult while retarding the moulting of the wing flights without too many problems, but in the hours these birds are exposed to the daylight it is midsummer when the sun is at its strongest. It might be something as simple as a lack of vitamin D which is also a problem for the human population in British Isles and supplements are recommended especially for children during the winter or it might be an hormonal issue. As I said, I do not profess to have any substantive evidence to support this theory other than my own observations. This year I have again got a small team of late ones and I have been getting them out as much as possible, particularly on sunny days and I have also fed them a richer corn mix with a vitamin/mineral supplement being added once a week. I have noticed a few have continued to moult their flight feathers which is unusual, so I am hoping this lot will turn out O.k. with a higher percentage surviving, time will tell. One interesting point I have noticed is that two were hatched 16 days later than the others on the 7th of August (equivalent to about the 1st week of the southern hemisphere’s month of February). One of this nest pair disappeared the second time out, probably taken by a hawk. The other one is still here but its development has been retarded, so it is well behind the others hatched 16 days earlier. I nearly culled this one but it is now catching up and being a cock bird, in the last week or so he has started to show an interest in the hens and has been moved into the cocks section. Anyway, it seems there may be a certain cut off point when it is probably not productive to continue breeding latebreds, say late July in the northern hemisphere. It may be the end of February to early March in the southern hemisphere, depending on the latitude.

SURVIVABILITY FACTOR.

As some readers will know, my base family contain mainly Eric Cannon and Jim Biss bloodlines and recently I was reading an article on the late great Jim Biss penned by Cameron Stansfield wherein he made an interesting comment following his loft visit to Biss in the late 1990’s. To quote Cameron; “He (Jim) went to Scotland where he bought some Palamos pigeons all flying circa 1000 miles, one or two of these left a lasting impression. Now these Palamos pigeons took a good while to get home so I asked him what was it that made him value them and he said something I have never forgotten, that is they had the most elusive quality of all SURVIVABILITY.” These were Henry Mair’s “Lion Heart” family and I notice a daughter of Lion Heart appears back in my Biss pedigrees.

Now this got me thinking about my own pigeons and sure enough all the four pairs of stock in the base family, which are retired racers, have, with the exception of one bird, all displayed this characteristic by surviving a difficult or smash race in their career on the road, some of them more than once. An example being the BICC Saran smash a couple of years ago when from a convoy of around 3800 pigeons only about 300 were clocked in race time and very few returned in the days and weeks that followed. I sent six to this race and had five home within a couple of weeks and four are still with me today having gone on to succeed in that and later seasons. These survivors have on occasions returned home in a bedraggled and dirty condition and some carrying injuries that had partially healed and sporting frets on their flights and tail feathers. But they all had that elusive survivability factor that Jim talks about in that they never quit! In contrast when I started out in 2004 I also introduced a couple of Van Breemen hens from my friend Tony Dann which were crossed with the Biss and Cannon pigeons and these crosses flew very well for me gaining some of my best results but they were found out at the long distance on a hard day. They seemed to be a type of pigeon that give their all on the day of release and if they are not home by early the 2nd morning you never see them again, ideal middle distance pigeons and Tony has won some top National positions with them up to around 300 miles, but they do not have that survivability factor suitable for the long distance that I am after and now I only have a couple of these crosses left so they have phased themselves out and this line will eventually die out in my loft.

The Biss line that survived are from a cock line bred to Biss’s TURBAN 2nd Pau Grand National 645 miles and 5th National Perpignan 689 miles, TURBAN is also G.Sire of J.Halsteads “ASHLEY” 2nd Open Barcelona 696 miles. The dominant pigeons in the Cannon line were obtained from my good friend Keith Mott and are the CULMER SAM and CULMER BESS (Merit winner) lines.

SHOWTIME.

A.Austin 1st Old Bird Hens.

A.Austin 1st Old Bird Hens.

One thing that I believe is lacking in the calendar in New Zealand, I don’t know if it is the same in Australia is the absence of activity in the off season after racing has ceased. In the U.K. we are blessed with the show season where there are numerous shows open during the winter and culminating in the BHW show of the year at Blackpool in January. This gives the fancy an opportunity to get together and keep everyone’s interest going through what otherwise would be a barren period. Our local club holds three shows each winter, this time there was an all age through the wires, followed by the old bird show and finally the young bird show. All three events were well attended although I missed the first through the wire show I did manage to enter the later two shows. The winners of these were as follows:-

OLD BIRDS.

1st OB cocks B.Batchelor.

1st OB hens  A.Austin (I was 2nd in this with the hen that won last year).

Brian Batchelor with 1st Old Bird Cocks.

Brian Batchelor with 1st Old Bird Cocks.

YOUNG BIRDS.

1st YB cocks D.Robinson.

2nd YB hens M.Tuck.

Brian's winning mealy cock again, this time in the loft.

Brian’s winning mealy cock again, this time in the loft.

BHW Show of the year at Blackpool, Tony Dann and myself are again heading up the motorway for the five hour journey up to Blackpool on Friday the 18th of January. We enjoy catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. As a scribe for the BHW we have an invitation to the BHW staff rooms where a welcome cup of tea is always waiting and the chance to sit down and have a chat with the other scribes and BHW staff. During the day we troll around the dozens of trade stands picking various items for the loft and birds and having a look at the pigeons in the show and those offered for sale by the well known stud lofts. There are also a few auctions staged in various hotels around the city and one in particular featuring pigeons from the top long distance lofts in the U.K. will attract my interest, but I suspect these will sell well above my price range, still it’s nice to be a looker! The evenings will be spent around the bars enjoying the banter and talking pigeons until late in the evening.

Good racing to all.

Brian Batchelor Elstead UK