With the above saying ringing in my ears, I paid a visit to the WHPU Queen’s Cup winners of 2012, Brown, Jones and Garland, who had an outstanding racing season in 2012.
The partnership consists of Ron Brown, Tony Jones and Philip Garland. The partnership was born in 2009 when, with Ron and Tony having an already established partnership together, they were joined by Philip to not only share the workload of the day-to-day management but to develop a team of pigeons capable of regularly competing at the top of the national result sheets. As this report unfolds, it will become clear to the reader that this target has been more than achieved.
The partners’ loft is cited above the town of Porth in the Rhondda Valley. The main racing loft which houses the team of thirty widowhood cocks, the young birds and the widowhood hens is 18 metres in length by 2.5 metres in depth. In some respects, it contradicts many of the current theories of loft design. Many so called experts suggest a well-insulated loft with temperature, humidity and airflow control. The Brown, Jones and Garland loft has stood for some seventy-five years, long before such theories were even dreamt of. In addition to the racing loft, the partners have two stock lofts to house the twenty pairs of breeders.
Racing and breeding lofts of Brown, Jones and Garland
A Family of Pigeons
The main line of the loft is the outstanding ‘Blue Boy’ dynasty. This blue cock, now in his thirteenth year but still resembling a yearling, was a racing machine. He won no less than 12 x 1st clubs and topped the Rhondda Valley Pigeon Federation twice from 8,000 pigeons. He has since become a phenomenal producer being sire, grandsire and great-grandsire to a plethora of ace birds for the partnership. The other successful line in the loft is that of their 2012 Queen’s Cup winner ‘Champion Treherbert’. The breeding of these two special birds can be traced back to a combination of Janssen, Leen Boer and Van Loon bloodlines. Like all successful lofts, the partners have looked to strengthen their team further with recent introductions from Tumley Lofts and from some successful Scottish lofts such as that of Tom Drummond. The birds that are introduced are preferably raced to test their racing ability as young birds or if they are to be put straight into their breeding loft, they are mated to a descendant of the ‘Blue Boy’ or ‘Champion Treherbert’ line so as to ensure that some of their original family is in the make-up of future offspring.
Old Bird Racing
The partnership begins the season with a team of about thirty widowhood cocks; no hens are raced at the loft after the young bird racing stage. The cocks are separated from their hens five weeks before the first race, which is usually around the 20th April. The feeding is changed to a widowhood style mix at this point. The cocks are initially released for exercise for two hours each morning with the windows open so that the cocks can come and go as they please. As racing gets nearer this is stepped up to twice daily exercise periods where the cocks will begin to increase their fitness by winding their way through the valley below. Once a good level of fitness has been achieved, the cocks will receive three training flights from thirty kilometres. The partners aim to complete the entire programme with their team out to 800 kilometres with only selected birds being entered into the longer races.
Young Bird Racing
The young bird team is treated very similarly to their old bird team. A team of about fifty youngsters is weaned in the hope of having a team of thirty to forty for the first race at the end of July. The youngsters are flown on a ‘semi-darkness’ system where the lofts are only darkened slightly when the youngsters are weaned. With one eye on the future, the partners stop promising cock birds early into the season with the hens being relied upon to compete up to Lillers, 400 km.
Brown, Jones and Garland at the Rhondda Valley Pigeon Federation presentation evening
Feeding and Supplements
Like all aspects of the management at this loft, the feeding regime is simple but effective. The birds are fed on the Countrywide range of mixes at present. Their team of widowhood cocks are fed in their boxes with the young birds fed via hoppers on the floor. Quite often, the partners will add some barley to each mix so that when they start to leave this then they have had their fill for that meal. Pro Vit, grit and minerals are available to the birds at all times. The partners chop up a garlic clove into the birds’ water once a week, normally on a Monday or a Tuesday. A commercial brand of electrolyte is given on return from a race so as to replenish body salts used during flight.
Results 2011 and 2012 in the Rhondda Valley Pigeon Federation
The following is a brief summary of the results achieved by the partnership in the previous two seasons: 1st, 4th and 22nd Aachen (700km), 1st and 8th Maidstone (280 km), 2nd and 5th Bonn (760 km), 19th Pont-à-Mousson (760 km), 9th and 25th Lillers (400 km), 25th, 25th and 27th Folkstone (300 km), 5th, 15th, 24th and 24th Newbury (160 km) and 14th Hullavington (100 km). These performances were achieved against entries of up to 4200 pigeons and emphasise the racing ability of the team of Brown, Jones and Garland from the first to the last race.
A Season to Remember
At the beginning of every season each competitor, no matter what his or her chosen sport, dreams of achieving the pinnacle showpiece trophy. For cyclists it is the Tour de France, for athletes it is the Olympic Games and in football and rugby it is the World Cup. For each aspiring pigeon champion in Wales, the ambition is to win the Queen’s Cup trophy for the best performance bird flying into Wales. In 2012, this honour was bestowed onto the partnership of Brown, Jones and Garland and their fantastic pigeon ‘Champion Treherbert’. His dual performance from Brussels (500 km) and Aachen (700 km), where he was 1st Welsh South East National Flying Club, 1st Welsh South East Combine won him and his owners this prestigious award. To follow this up, from the young bird national from Maidstone, the partners clocked their chequer hen ‘Tony’s Mistake’ to record yet another 1st Combine victory.
It will be clear for the reader to see why, with the sound breeding base the partners have at their disposal, a family of birds that has been successful at winning races into the Rhondda Valley generation after generation, the Brown, Jones and Garland partnership have been so successful in 2012. As Queen’s Cup winners the Welsh pigeon racing fraternity toasts the partners' success. However, we will all be out to steal your trophy in 2013!