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WINNING A CLASSIC RACE TO THE FAR WEST.

The following article came about as a result of Bryan and Anthony


Williams winning of the 2011 Falaise 1 race organised by the British
International Championship Club. It has been a long time in gestation
as I initially asked Anthony to write down his thoughts and methods
some eight months ago. He eventually relented when cornered at the
recent BICC presentation evening! Anthonys father Bryan Williams
Senior, started racing pigeons while in secondary school in 1962.
Anthony came along 10 years later and has been brought up with the
pigeons ever since. The partners raced the north route for many years
before finally turning south with constant falcon attacks being the
main reason for this change of route.

Bryan & Anthony Williams


In his early years in the sport Bryan used to help the late Tommy
Davies who lived next door to him in the small village of Ynyswen
situated high in the Swansea valley. There were 8 fanciers flying in the
village in the late 50s and early 60s and the first loft was a 10ft self
built structure which contained 2 x 5ft sections .Another two lofts were
soon added to make it 3 lofts, 2 for racing and 1 for stock. The stock
loft had an aviary and the racing lofts had box traps on the front to get
extra air into them. They were very basic with perches and a few boxes
inside.

Widowhood Loft
Bryan and Anthony have raced to their present location since 2000
and before that in a small village of Ynyswen 5 miles further up the
valley. The present loft set up has been extended considerably and the
partners now have 4 racing lofts and 3 small stock lofts. There is a 24 ft
young bird loft, 12ft widowhood loft and 2 x 10ft natural lofts, the
racing lofts face different direction due to the garden layout. The
widowhood loft faces east, the natural lofts face north and east and the
young bird loft faces north.

Young bird Loft


The young bird loft is the only loft that has been purchased as all the
others were hand made by Bryan and Anthony and are set on block
pillars to ensure a good flow of air below the loft. The natural and
young bird lofts have box traps to the front so the birds have an option
to get out in to the open air whenever they want to. The widowhood loft
has a double sliding door front, one door can be opened on warm days
as an interior wire door allows air to enter. All the lofts have a sloping
roof from front to back.

The Natural Loft


The widowhood and young birds have the floors cleaned daily but the
naturals have a deep litter put down every 2 years. The deep litter varies
from granules to easybed a form of coarse sawdust. The type of litter
used depends on what is available at the time. The deep litter is used to
promote natural immunity and is not touched once down for the 2 years
it is in use. It is essential that the litter is always kept dry and it would
not be used if there was a problem with dampness. The birds in the
natural lofts can nest in the nest boxes provided or as some do, on the
loft floor in the deep litter. The young birds bred in the natural loft are
always very strong and healthy. These are only trained as young birds,
as the partners feel the distance lines need time to mature. They are
then raced inland as yearlings and go over the channel for the first
time as 2 year olds.
At the height of the season the lofts house around 25 pairs of stock
birds and 50 to 70 racers made up of 21 widowhood cocks, 12
widowhood hens and the rest are natural distance birds. Around 100
young birds are reared each year and of these, generally speaking, 30
or 40 remain for the partners own use after the season as some are sold
or given to good causes or friends.
The widowers are geared for inland racing and races up to 400 miles.
The naturals are used for 400 miles and further. The natural lofts were
established just 3 years ago with a plan to get birds ready for Tarbes in

2012.
Bryan and Anthony compete with approximately 21 widowhood cocks
and 12 widowhood hens, with both sexes returning to non racing stock
birds. They also have 45 natural distance birds, these fly natural and
every effort is made to have them at different stages of the nesting cycle
i.e. sitting eggs, young, driving cocks, Most of the major wins have
been up to 350 miles achieved with widowhood cocks. However it is
hoped that the natural birds will come good in 2012 from the longer
races.
The intention is that in 2012 the Widowhood cocks will race inland with
some selected for BICC or NFC races up to 350 miles. The widowhood
hens will be targeted for the short channel races with the BICC, NFC
and WSRNFC. They will be nursed inland for around 4 races then
jumped into the channel races. They will then race every other week in
classic races. The naturals will get 3 or 4 inland races to get them fit
and they will then get two short channel races before being held back
for specific long distance races. Bryan and Anthony hope to have 3 at
Tarbes and 10 at Bergerac in 2012.
Stock birds are mated mid January and racers between mid January
and early February.
The widowhood birds are paired for the first race and they try to keep
them going inland and in 2 or 3 early channel races. The Naturals are
not paired at any set date as they are always left together and are not
separated during the winter months. It has been found that they start to
pair when the weather gets warmer and this year they started to go
together in late January but some do not pair until later its all down
to the pigeons personal preference. The hope is that the pairs that go
together later will be fine for the longer races in June and July.
Pre season preparation of the race birds usually follows the following
routine.
The first old bird race is mid April and all the widowhood cocks will be
ready for this. They will be exercised around the loft and then trained
to 10 miles only before the first race. They will normally only get
around 5 x 10 mile training tosses beforehand race and they are not
trained after the first race, just exercised twice a day around the loft.
The naturals will be trained to 30 miles and raced inland to get them
ready for the channel. West Wales has a preponderance of birds of prey
so training is kept to a minimum but they usually have one training toss
at 30 miles between races.
The widowhood cocks have to be forced to fly as they have a strong
bond to their nest box and always want to come back to the loft. To
encourage them to fly at home a long pole with a Welsh flag at the top
is used. This forced exercise takes place twice a day. The naturals on

the other hand, are left to do as they please once their lofts are opened
up.
Training is only done for the natural birds, they will generally get just
one training toss per week once they have their first race. However,
before the first race they will get as many training tosses as can be
fitted in as long as they are left alone by the falcon. If they get hit often
then training is stopped.
Feeding:
The race birds are fed a good quality widowhood mixture and this is
made up from 3 different mixes which are then mixed to the partners
own requirements. Other grains with fats are added to this mixture for
the longer distance races. The 2012 season will see a new feeding
method put into operation for the distance birds.
The food is never measured in these lofts as the widowers have access
to food for a certain length of time, so they are self regulating. The
partners have found that the harder the birds work the more they will
eat and the less work done the less they eat in the specific time allowed.
The naturals have food in front of them all the time. This feed will
differ depending on the races being flown and the time of year.
Different mixtures are purchased from different firms and in the past
Beyers and Marimans feeds have been used. These base mixes are then
mixed together and the resultant mix is then the base of the feeding for
most of the birds. The naturals will be fed Gem mixtures throughout
the year and they will have specific grains added to their base mix in
the days just prior to basketting.
Bloodlines.
The partners keep many different strains but the cornerstone of the loft
are the Van Reets. Over the past twelve years they have brought in
many Van Reets and by applying a severe selection policy have now
developed a very strong Van Reet stock loft. These birds do very well
from 60 to 350 miles and are always prepared to give of their best. The
three main sources of this family originated from, Mr & Mrs Stanway
from Manchester (2000); Ritchie Ryder (2003); Langstaff (2006) These
three lines have been mixed and blended together to form the Williams
family of Van Reets. A number of other strains are also housed e.g.
Maris ( Mick Lennon); Janssen ( A Maull, F Dixon); Hereman
Ceusters (Premier Lofts); Herman ( J Brocklehurst). The partners have
also brought in Distance lines:- Jan Aarden , Van Bruaene, Van Geel,
Jos Thone and Distance Blacks. These have been blended to produce
the newly formed Distance family.
Bryan and Anthony have practiced line breeding in the past but find for
racing a cross is always best. There are birds at stock bred from closely

related pairings but they have not had much success racing these
inbred birds.

Main stock hen

Young Whiskey

Performances.
There have been many successes in the 40 years since racing began.
However, here are a couple that have produced lasting memories:- 1st
Federation Thurso 1999 winning the very last Scottish race flown on
the north route. 1st ,2nd ,3rd ,4th &5th Federation young birds from Epsom
with over 1,500 birds competing. 1st,2nd,3rd,4th ,5th ,6th ,7th ,8th ,9th ,10th ,
11th ,12th , 13th Fed young birds 2011 with 820 birds sent in the
Federation.
The above performances not withstanding , the best so far must be the
winning of 1st BICC Falaise 2011 beating 1,800 birds entered from all
over England and Wales, with some of these birds racing to lofts over
100 miles shorter than the Williams entry flying to the far West of
Wales. The winner, a lovely silver mealy cock named Young Whiskey
will be remembered for a long time.
Bryan and Anthony have been fortunate to race many top class
pigeons over the years and the following is a small cross section of
these:-Young Whiskey 1st BICC; Red cock 74 - 9 x 1sts; The Big
Boy 8 x 1sts, The Denduiver 6 x 1sts; The Wildy Hen 6 x 1sts. As
mentioned earlier, the main winning bloodlines now are Van Reets as
the partners have tended to specialise at short to middle racing.
In the past five seasons the loft has recorded the following:2007: 17x 1sts; 2008: 13 x 1sts; 2009: 19 x 1sts; 2010:19 x 1sts; 2011:
24 x 1sts including 1st , 4th &7th Open BICC plus 14 x 1st section in the
Federation.

Red cock 9x 1st

Main stock cock

Medication.
The stock birds are treated before pairing every year and then cankered
when on eggs, but no other treatments are used.
The racers are also treated before pairing and then cankered when on
eggs. The birds are closely observed every week and tests are carried
out if they go off form or are not looking quite as they should do.
Appropriate treatment is then given if the tests prove positive for any
specific ailment.
Cider vinegar is used in the drinking water at regular intervals with
garlic used every Sunday the day after race return. Vitamins are also
added the birds always have access to a range of grits and minerals.
Both Bryan and Anthony firmly believe that winners come in all
shapes and sizes, with the bigger birds being more successful in the
shorter races. However, they will send any bird to any race if fit and
bred for the job. Nevertheless their personal preference is for a medium
build bird with a very bright clear eye. Eye colour is not important.
They like calm birds and yet their family of Van Reets is renowned for
being a little wild when pure bred.

Bryan & grandson Morgan

Bryan with 2011 Fed Trophies

In conclusion.
I will let Anthony Williams describe in his own words the partners
innovative test loft.
I would like to mention our young bird test loft. Each year we
introduce around 50 young birds, from breeders from all over the
UK and Ireland. We then race these birds and if any win we give the
breeders the credit. Many of the breeders do not have the
opportunity to fly in classic races so by sending their birds to us they
can be part of something special. Every test loft bird is sent to
every race if fit as a young bird and then raced on as yearlings and
older birds. Updates are given every week to the breeders. We get
great pleasure from fanciers who live in an awful position whose
bird wins a very high Federation position at our test loft. The banter
and feed back is first class.
Our natural distance plan started in 2009, every year we breed distance
lines and these are not raced in their year of birth, they are only trained
to 30 miles, training takes place in the winter months. They then get up
to 10 inland races as yearlings from 96 to 150 miles. We then test them
as 2 year olds. We will have 25 2 year olds ready for the channel in
2012.
There you have it then, the thoughts of a young fancier of the highest
calibre who has learned his trade from his father Bryan and from
meeting and listening to some of the top fanciers in the UK. This
resulted in the partners great win in the first race of the BICCs old
bird programme in 2011 from Falaise, a distance of more than 250
miles to the Williams loft, situated at the top end of the Swansea Valley
in West Wales.
Gareth Watkins

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