Hay – NSW
By Barry Trewin
I met Neil on one of my visits to Wagga Wagga a couple of years ago. He fly's with the Hay pigeon club, which now has 6 members. In times past they used to have 30 members. Neil has been club secretary for 30 years and also served as President and Treasurer. Although the club had folded for awhile they are still enthusiastic. Hay has dry and arid conditions and is very open and flat country in Country NSW.
Neil started in pigeons when Adam was a boy back in the 1950's. Some strays landed in with the chooks and he has had pigeons ever since. Les Parsons started the club off, with Les and 6 juniors and an old pushbike.
He has Goodgers (mainly), Harrisons, Jan Aardens, Busshaerts and 1 pair of Janssens (02 Line), but the youngsters haven't raced yet. He keeps 20 pair of stock of which 3/4 are Goodgers. He starts with around 100 - 120 YB's and 5 OB's each year. Neil pairs the "best to the best" and pairs up in August - September each year. He feeds the same mix all year round to his race and stock birds. This consists of corn, peas, wheat, safflower and a bit of rice. He feeds twice a day and feeds his birds until they start to go to water and then remove it. His birds will exercise 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon.
Neil weans his birds at 28 - 30 days of age and uses a basket in the middle of the yard to help loft break the youngsters. He likes to start his YB's from 3kms and build them up to 10 kms. He will start training the youngsters about 6 weeks before the first race and will send them on the club toss (30 kms) twice a week. Once racing starts the club tosses are all they get, until the long races (400 kms) of which he will give the birds some single up tosses to get them to think for themselves. He likes his hen birds and looks for bright eyes, clean wattles, legs red and clean and their body to be nice and tight - firm. Neil has a fly-in for his trapping section and doesn't separate the sexes.
In 2003 he won the Short series, Long series, Flyer of the Year, Breeders Plate and Ring Race. 2 Years ago he had a bird which he considers as the best bird in his loft. The club has a single bird race (1 bird from each Loft), called the "Shearers Sprint", 100 km and a 500 km event, his bird won both races! This has been the only bird to ever do this!
He worms his birds before the season starts, uses multivitamins. The garlic oil, polyseed oil are used on the feed 2 times a week, "It brighten's them up"! He will only individually treat for canker in need.
Tips for the Novice:
Go to a senior flyer and get ideas. Watch what is happening and make sure you get good birds from the start. Most of all be Observant! The sport is currently going backwards, so we all need to encourage juniors as much as possible to keep the sport going.
Neil was a very pleasant guy and I thank him for his time and thoughts.