BIGGER SUCCESS FOR CAMPBELL: The high flying D & J Campbell & Bigger
The Glengormley based father and son partnership of Jack and David Campbell have been a force to be reckoned with ever since first sending pigeons to their very first race from Enniskillen in 1974. The Campbell name was renowned around the area in the farming community and it wasn't long before they were equally as well known within pigeon circles, more so over the last few seasons with excellent levels of continuous success which has gained them a winning and respected reputation from fanciers around Ireland.
The farm once owned by Jack has now been demolished and new properties have been established in its place, son Davy along with his own family have a very spacious Bungalow sited on the Fernlea Lane area of Glengormley which not only overlooks were the old farm used to be, but to the front of the property you have glorious views over looking Belfast Lough, the coastline of Scotland is clearly visible on a sunny day sitting in the Campbell’s spacious Conservatory.
One of the most significant aspects of the farm somewhat retained by Davy is a line now running into his property direct from a Well that was regularly used by the locals in the area all those years ago, the quality of the water is as clear to see and this is what the pigeons get each day and as Davy quoted it seems far healthier than that from the mains plumbed water tap.
Hugh Bigger a significant racer and fellow Club member and like Davy an NIPA Committee man joined forces last year and together in partnership (D & J Campbell & Bigger) they continue to race and dominate in the strong Glengormley & District HPS which in turn is part of the largest Section competing within the NIPA with weekly birdages ranging from between 5,000 to 8,000 pigeons. The crown of Top Prize Winner within the Club has been enjoyed no less than 25 times since the Campbell loft first began to race pigeons back in 1974.
Up until the Mid 1990’s David had finished runner-up in the NIPA Section C Result no less than 15 times before actually topping the Section and since that has enjoyed winning now over 20 x 1st Sections. On top of that has topped the NIPA Open twice and collated many top ten positions, I had a count of all the Section C Diploma’s in a file and not surprisingly the loft has accumulated a staggering 500 positions in Section C of the NIPA during the course of the last eight years, remembering against thousand’s of pigeons each week, that in itself is an awesome achievement. The level of success has continued and progressed over the years with prestigious success both in winning the NIPA O/B of the Year and NIPA Y/Bird of the Year awards, that is not easy done against the racing greats that this small country of ours beholds. RPRA awards have also be won in recent times including, winning the Massarella Trophy in 2004.
The 2006 NIPA O/B of the Year is a super pigeon and I had the joy of having him in my hands what a racer, in 2006 to win the crown he had NIPA Open positions including 2nd Open Tullamore, 8th Open Talbenny, 10th Open Pilmore Beach, 52nd Open Rosscarbery National 57th Open Pilmore Beach. In 2007 he finished 1st Section Pilmore Beach and was beat by decimals from Pilmore Beach in the Section the second time round, although he did finish 8th Open that day in the NIPA Open. He is down from a hen purchased at a sale held by Cosworth Stud of the Jim Smith Wildemeersch lines when mated to a cock from local fancier and excellent stock man Dickie Smyth of Belfast, this being from the great Roman Kint pigeons. I was at Dickie’s house recently setting up his Bricon ETS system and had the chance to handle most of the birds in his loft (have been promised a pair of late breds for the stock loft), over the years Dickie has supplied countless class pigeons that have produced the out and out winners in the big occasions, I recall doing a sale for FVW in Blackpool last year, a sale which Dickie took his time handling every single pigeon, he is known to handle every pigeon at a sale and cares little for what the pedigree says, a true judge and one certainly to call upon when selecting stock. The Campbell & Bigger loft certainly know all about stock and have sourced it from many of the leading names in the field of pigeon racing, once again excellent judges of a pigeon and this being very evident with the small amount of golden pairs housed in a stock loft shared by neighbour and fellow fancier Tommy Grattan racing as Grattan Brothers in the local Eastway Club. The rather large loft and aviary was once owned and used by the great racer Rab Mills of Larne, Rab gifted this substantial loft 24ft x 15ft and aviary 24ft x 20ft to Davy and Tommy some years ago.
Davy and Hugh race the main O/Bird team on Widowhood with a mixture of cocks and hens retained for the Roundabout System with the longer races in mind. The O/Birds are flew around the house normally twice per day, but this would be very dependant on weather conditions recalling a statement he heard some years ago, if the weather outside makes the human uncomfortable don’t expect the birds to enjoy it any better. As for tossing work rate around the loft would determine how much they get if they race every week they would be left to train around home, if for instance they hadn’t had a race for a week or two they would see the hamper. Maximum amount of tosses before the season starts is four, this also is very relevant to the Y/Bird training as well with the partners proving by experience that if you horse the youngsters on up the road daily it has proved to them to make them worse as yearlings and with some this continues even in later years, so they opt to train them up to the first race and should they be tracking well around the house the would be satisfied with that only when racing goes beyond the 200 mile mark is the hamper deemed necessary. Feeding of the O/Birds is a combination of different widowhood mixtures with predominantly Versa Laga used as the base unit. They are individually fed twice per day but getting as much as they require with all that’s left being removed after 30 minutes this would then be added either to the Y/Birds who at this stage are still on the darkness or the stock pigeons, with very little going to waste, great emphasis is also put on the use of barley in the diet, again based on work rate and weather conditions. The partnership have a belief that with the quality of corn now available on the market and the purchasing of the three market leaders and combining them that the requirement for further enhancement of form and feather through the drinkers is not that necessary. They opt for the usual electrolytes in the water on return from racing with a standard multivitamin added a couple of times per week, they would also try to add tea at least once per week to the drinkers which are changed twice per day. Pink minerals, grit and pick stones are always available in the lofts. The widowers like so many other fanciers are mated up on the return from the BHW Show of the Year, they will rear a round and then sit for approximately 10 days on the second round of eggs this 10 day period is based upon when the first hen lays up. The hens are then removed along with the youngsters and the cocks will continue to sit until they give up the ghost so to speak, this then signals the start of the widowhood season.
The Y/Bird team are raced on the Darkness system are will number around the 80 mark spread out over two sections, I must point out at this stage that all the sections have individual aviaries running along the lower part of the frontage of the loft. The lofts are all wooden structured with tiled roofs. The main Y/Bird and Roundabout Loft measures an impressive 48 ft x 7 ft with the Widowhood 2 x sectional loft measuring around 20 ft x 7 ft also. On the right hand side of the Widowhood loft you a smaller section comprising of nine boxes with then a feed store splitting the next section which boasts 16 widowhood boxes, like so many fanciers now more options than pigeons. Back to the Y/Birds as mentioned these are all on the darkness system, they will be opened at 8.00am in the morning and will be closed at 4.30pm each day, they will come off the system on the 10th of June normally about the time of the Yearling National but again this is a gradual thing with an extended half hour of light each day on the lead up to the 10th rather than just reverting from a day darkness to full lightness, this the partners feel eliminates one element of stress, as does the over generous amounts of feeding available twice per day, once again very similar to the O/Birds this is removed after 30 minutes, feeding well will stand the youngsters in good stead for the seasons that lie a head of them.
Vaccination happens when the youngsters are weaned from the nest this again the partners feel is better for the youngsters as they seem to have enough in the barrel at this time of their early life to handle the injection with very few ever going back upon injection. They will be fed Versa Laga Y/B mixed with one of the traditional Irish mixtures right up to the end of June, when training starts which is normally about 3 miles they will move onto a mixture of Irish Mix and Widowhood. Tossing as just mentioned starts at 3 miles moving up steadily to around the 25 mile mark, they will be trained up to about 20 miles with the partners before they are trained in a transporter with the assistance of Norman Armstrong. Supplements in the water are the same as for the O/Birds and again grit and minerals are available at all times, the partners had a super year racing in partnership last year with the youngsters and no doubt will prove a major threat this year once again racing within Section C of the NIPA, I recall last years NIPA Inland Y/B National which seen the partnership with nine very good arrivals in the result. Scullions Practice is used twice per year for the testing of droppings as a precaution and Davy and Hugh are very thankful that they have always been well in front of any potential problems.
Davy’s biggest delight so far in pigeons is winning both the O/Bird of the Year and Y/B of the Year in the NIPA. Now in partnership with Hugh they hope to concentrate more on National racing and the ultimate aim is to one day lift a 1st National, this being the only thing missing in an extraordinary racing CV, that boosts just about everything. I will pen off by wishing the D & J Campbell & Bigger loft more success in 2008, and I look forward to penning a further update at the close of this years racing campaign.
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