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Here we present Past Pigeon Kings J & J Hulse - two of the many legends of the racing pigeon world
"Through my weekly column I have reported on the results of the partnership of J Hulse & Son, week in week out they seem to win a lot more than their fair share in their designated Clubs and Federations. I heard on the local grape vine that this partnership was calling it a day at the end on the season. They are both regular visitors to my corn shop and on one of these visited I asked Jason if it was true that they had made the decision to call it a day. He informed me it was true but before the season was complete he was going to prove a point. Over the next few weeks I realised what Jason has said he really meant and prove a point they did. The results for their last few races have shocked the West Midlands. These were results that most would say could not be achieved against what must be classed as some of the strongest competition in the country. In their final few races we have seen them take the first 4 positions against 6800 birds and the first 13 positions against 3728 pigeons in a federation of 50 clubs and over 500 competing lofts. The final race broke all of the known records of this federation, with this in mind I thought a loft visit was well overdue.
John & Jason Hulse, of Wolverhampton.
Reproduced by kind permission. Published on PigeonChat and in The Racing Pigeon and British Homing World
The J Hulse & Son partnership is acutely made up of 3 elements John Hulse wife Ann and son Jason As a boy John grew up in Piercy Street in the town of Wednesbury in the West Midlands. His grandfather lived in the same street who was the farther to 7 sons and 2 daughters his release from a house full of children was a shed at the bottom of the garden where a select number of racing pigeons were kept. John’s father spent the first 4 years of his life in the army and John spent endless hours with his 7 uncles at his grandfather. This is where John’s knowledge of fighting dogs, British birds, canaries, rat catching terriers, pig keeping and racing pigeons set deep seeds for latter life.
In the mid sixties John got married to Ann and purchased their own house in the town of Willenhall, were they had 3 children. They lived there for 11 years then move to the village of Shifnal in Shropshire. All the 3 kids had got there own interests but youngest son Jason took an interest in catching rabbits, rats, hares and foxes. First came a couple of ferrets then a terrier then a Lurcher. John got more and more interested in the training and working of the lurchers. He soon purchased larger dogs for himself to tackle the large population of hares on the Shropshire plains.
At the end of the 1980’s with all members of the Hulse family now grown up and working in the West Midlands each was having to travel over ¾ hour to work, so they decided to move back in to the West Midlands to cut down the travelling and move to a larger property to house the a large kennel for the selection of working dogs. They moved to their present address in Wolverhampton.
After a 3 or 4 years of living there John was offered a job as Night Shift Manager in a large car parts manufactures next door to the West Bromwich Albion football ground and Jason was working full time and had discovered the charms of woman. The two remaining lurches were gifted to a family friend and the kennels were sold.
After a few years of normal family life going on holidays and actually having money in their pockets John visited a poultry market where he took a fancy and purchased some fantail pigeons after keeping these for a time a stray racing pigeon joined them, This really re-kindled John memories of the past and his grandfather keeping racing pigeons . He visited a few local sales and purchased a few stock pigeons and joined a local club At this point in time Jason returned home after one too many running’s with the law and split up with a girlfriend he was looking for a new interest in life. John was in the process of building a new loft and Jason was just the right man to hold the box of screws why John screwed the loft together.
So in 1992 the partnership of J Hulse & Son was formed. As with most fanciers a few different breeds where housed Busschaerts, Soontjens, Wildermersh and a few Van Den Bocsh. They managed to win a few miner cards with the Van Den Bocsh so they started looking to improve that family in the stock loft so a visit was arranged to Mr & Mrs Gorge Litherland where they purchased a number of new stock pigeons. These produced a number of
winners and gave the partnership a good chance to learn a lot about keeping and racing pigeons.
In the summer of 1993 a race rubbered Dutch rung stray hen was found in the garden. This was reported to the RPRA and was informed that it was no registered to a loft in the UK but it had been reported to a loft in Holland. John’s cousin lived in Holland and was married to a Dutch woman he asked her if she would contact the man and ask if he wanted the hen back as they would be travelling to Belgium and Holland latter that year. The reply came back that the owner had sold all of his stock birds to a stud in the UK and he told them they could keep the hen. This odiously raised the interest and latter that year the stud started to advises this man’s pigeons Bert Brasspenning. On the original advertisement it was noticed that the main pigeon wasn’t breed by Brasspenning but by a man called Piet Rietvink. John got in touch with his cousins wife and asked if she could try to get in touch with Rietvink and she did. A visit was arranged for January 1994 with 2 other local fanciers 6 young birds where ordered from the main stock pigeons and where collected in August. First of all they crossed them with the VDB with very little success not satisfied they decided to start looking for better pigeons. They had clicked up with a local fancier Les Whittaker and they became close family friends and travelling companions they started visiting Belgium and Holland 3 and 4 times a year in the pursuit of better pigeons.
On one of their visits to Belgium they made arrangements to visit the lofts of Flor Engels & Sons these pigeons were as good as they had ever seen and so where the results and a decision was made there and then to purchase a few pairs.
In 1997 the Rietvink where all paired together and the Flor Engels were paired together and that young birds season was completely different, both breeds started to win and really won well. Over the next few years the performances just kept getting better
With the work load of both and shift patterns for John and Jason they started crossing over each other with the daily tasks and this started to cause a lot of arguments and they started talking about jacking it all in. One afternoon Les Whittaker came round right in the middle of one of these arguments he couldn’t believe how bad these arguments were becoming and how close they were to coming to blows. The two of them calmed down and they all sat down with Les as mediator they went through what each one wanted to do in the partnership. It was decided that John would concentrate on the stock pigeons per-pairing them in the winter, pairing them and producing that year’s young bird’s team and Jason with the backing of silent partner Ann would take charge of the race teams. This was the best decision this partnership made and it worked perfectly. I must state they both have a large input in all aspects in the loft but the tasks are carried out but the designated partner.
Over the next few years they decided to purchase approximately 10/20 young birds a season to race against their own established family. This may have been 10 or so from 2 different fanciers or the lot from one. These fanciers were followed on the internet on the Belgium Super duif web site the results were studied though out the whole season and then a lot of loft visits were made before a purchase was made. They had followed the results of a partnership Frans De Meyer & Son from the village of Kessel not far from the City of Lier. They were flying in a club that had 250 / 300 members and had won approximately 21 x 1st prizes. John Jason and Les had become very good friends with the man known as the Red Hat man (Swa) Francois Van der Weehe and his wife Lizzie. They contacted Swa with a list of lofts that they required to visit this list included the lofts of De Meyer.
On their arrival in Belgium they were informed that Frans was very ill and they couldn’t visit on that occasion. They were due to return to Belgium February 2002 so they contacted Swa again and asked if we could visit. Unfortunately Frans had died and his son Jurgen had no interest in visitors to their loft. In September 2002 Jurgen contacted Swa and told him if they were visiting Belgium that year they would be more than welcome to visit his loft. John had arranged a mini bus trip for a few local fanciers and a few lads from Manchester and the De Meyer loft was one of the lofts to be visited. Jason and fancier friend Kevin Head went up-stairs and viewed all of the stock pigeons, they both were very impressed and they
decided to order a complete round and split them between them; they were collected in April 2003 and raced that season. These proved to be outstanding for both lofts. John and Jason won 7 first prizes with them and topping the Worcester Federation and Kevin dominating the Bird in Hand F.C. and also acquired a host of Federation cards.
In September 2003 John and Jason returned to De Meyers and purchased some of the parents to some of the young birds they had won with, also a few more were select for their stock loft. These were breed from and raced and produced top class pigeons. The back bones of the De Meyer loft were based around 3 pigeons a Dark cock that Jurgen Purchased at a bond sale and raced him. He proved to be a fantastic racing machine and an even better breeder this cock was called the Kamiel. The next one was a stunning Pencil Pied Hen from one of his school friends Carl and Jurgen also works with his farther Cyriel Lambrechts this hen was called Rita and a Pied hen from again a school friend and now work colleague Gert Heylen, Jason described this hen has one of the best balanced and eye sign hens he has ever seen this hen was called Snow White. Gert still has the nest mate to this hen
and it turned out to be one of his best breeders.
The lofts of Lambrechts, Heylen and De Meyer are regarded some of the best sprint fanciers in the whole of Belgium. The loft of Lambrechts were visited in September 2004 and 20 young birds were ordered from their very best stock pigeons for the 2005 season these were raced against the current families housed and blended right in with one topping the Wolverhampton
Fed. John and Jason returned to the Lambrechts loft but were too late the pigeons had been selected for an auction The Heart of England Auction were going to be offering them to the UK pigeon fancy by public auction. They asked Jurgen if it would be possible to visit the other elements of Jurgen’s loft the lofts of Gert Heylen
The next morning they meet up with Jurgen and made their way to Gert’s Loft, Jason had followed the results of Gert on the Super Duif web site now for a few seasons and was more than imprested. Before their arrival they both expected large loft set-up because of the performances put up are usually associated with large professional set ups, they were completely wrong. The lofts were very old fashioned traditional Belgium set up and they were located at the bottom of his father’s garden. The back bone of this loft are a few pigeons from Gert’s uncle and a few top class pigeons from Cyriel Lambrechts again Gert was a school friend of Carl Lambrechts and a work colleague to Cyriel Lambrechts. A full round from Gert’s main stock pigeons were ordered for the 2007 and were again put to the test yet again they proved there worth. With a few of the old lines still in the Stock loft it is mainly made up of the supper sprinters of Franz De Mayer & Son, Gert Heylen and Cyriel Lambrechts.
All the lofts, nest boxes and perches were built by John with Ann as number one labour and Jason as number 2 labour and anyone calling in may get a job as well. The widowhood lofts are made up of three sections with 12 up and over style boxes in each section. The majority of the floor is fitted with floor grills except about 18 inches under the nest boxes to collect most of the droppings. Under the grills is a 3 inch layer of wood chip the type that looks like broken pallets. This is used to insulate the floor and has been found that it keeps down any dampness in the loft. The wood chip is changed twice a year. The Hens are housed in a section at the back of the widowhood loft and again this section has floor grills fitted and the
perches are of the slopping back type. The stock loft has 25 boxes in the breeding section and 30 sloping back perches in the other section where the hens are parted of into. The stock loft has a large off the floor aviary fitted to the whole of the front where all the pigeons can receive regular baths. The young birds loft is made up of three sections, two sections are fitted with a variety of box perches mainly the type to encourage the young birds to pair up and the middle section is used for a trapping and feeding section.
There season starts in on the first weekend of November when all the Stock and Widowhood pigeons are paired yes the beginning of November. This will be the first time that the yearlings are given a place in the Widowhood loft. They will be given a hen and a box and locked in for a few days and watched very carefully. Once they can see that individual pairs are well paired together they start letting them out just the odd pairs and keeping others locked in. Over the next week all are let out together there is always fighting and eggs smashed there’s are always replaced with pot eggs just to get everything settled in to the boxes and new surroundings. After most have been sitting for about 10 days all the hens, eggs and bowls are taken away.
On the 5th of December all of the Stock hens and Widowhood hens are paired back to their cocks but are not locked in to their boxes. They have found running this system has no adverse affect on the yearlings dropping there last flights, if fact they consider when the cocks are sitting the condition that they come in to, finishes the moult off nicely. Also this
system makes the lofts very calm and they hardly loss any eggs or young birds through fighting. All of the stock and widowhoods are fed on 100% Versele-laga Prestige this will be fed until the young birds are approximately 10 days old then they are given a breeding mix this is made up of 3 leading brands mixed together.
The first rounds of Stock eggs are placed under the Widowhood cocks and then the Stock are split for a week then re-paired. This gives two rounds of young birds off the stock pigeons fairly quickly. When the young birds in the widowhood lofts are approximately 14 days old or they can see a cock start running its hens the hen is taken away and the young birds are left for the cock to finish off rearing. When the young birds are well covered under their wings they are taken away and placed in the young bird lofts. The cocks are then let out once a day in the evening for one hour. When the cocks are flying well and the days are long enough they are let out twice a day. Approximately 5 weeks before the first race the Hens are repaired to the cocks. For the first week the cocks are let out morning and night and are forced to fly with the use of a flag. Then for the next 2 weeks the cocks are trained from approximately 20 miles as often as weather permits this could be 10 times or just twice. They don’t hold that much importance in the training of old birds for sprinting the birds must be flying well around the loft where they can watched and judged as to how well they are flying.
For the first race of the season the bowls are placed in each nest box for about 10 minutes and then the hens are run in and locked in the nest boxes with the cocks for about 15 minutes. As there are 3 sections the first cocks will see their hens for the 15 minutes but the cocks will see their hens for up to 30 minutes why all the cocks are basketed. The second race is the same process but the cocks and hens will be free in the loft. The third race the bowls will be placed in the boxes for ½ hour before the hens are driven in and the hens will be with the cock for a minimum of 30 minutes. The fourth race is the same as the third but the hens are driven in for a minimum of 45 minutes. The fifth race this is from the coast 138
miles Straw and tobacco stalks are put on the floor, bowls are put in the boxes for about 1 hour before the hens are run in for approximately 1 hour. For the rest of the season the wind direction will determine how long the cocks will have the bowl and hen; the harder the race is going to be the longer the hen and bowl will be given to the cocks. On the return from a race the cocks are left with the hens for a minimum of 1 hour. But this will depend on when the majority of the cocks have returned. If they have sent to two different federations there could be up to an hour between liberations. So the cocks may see their hens on return for 2 to 3 hours. Once or twice during the week with no fixed day or times when the cocks are out exercising the hens are run in and are left in with the cocks for about 10 minutes. They have found the cocks and hens seeing so much of each other makes for a lot better trap on a Saturday and keeps the cocks under much better control during the daily exercise and stops the hens pairing up when they are parted in their own section.
The water system for the cock’s starts on their return from a race and this is electrolyte and is given until 5pm when it is changed to a product for the treatment of the young bird sickness this is called Adeno-Coil Mix. This is a mixture of antibiotics suspended in electrolytes. This is given Saturday evening and all day Sunday but is mixed fresh for each feed, this suppress any nasty’s picked up in the basket. Monday Tuesday the cocks are
given Entrodex, Wednesday and Thursday they are given Vior a product very similar to cider Vinegar. It is used to lower the ph in the system and keeps them in a very good condition. On Friday they are given Belgasol mixed with a probiotic.
The feed system for the cocks again starts on their return from a race they will return to approximately ½ oz a mixture of 50% Gerry Plus and 50% Beyers Basic Yellow. At 5:00pm the hoppers are filled with 25% Gerry Plus 25% Beyers Basic Yellow 25% Vanrobaeys small Maize 25% Widowhood mix. Sunday the same mixture feed morning and evening. Monday and Tuesday they are fed Versele-laga Junior UK. Wednesday and Thursday they are given a
widowhood corn this is made up of three different leading brands mixed together. Friday morning they are given 30% Gerry Plus 30% Beyers Basic Yellow 30% Versele-Laga energy mix 10% Beyers seed mix. After each evening feed a teaspoon of Beyers Seed mix is given to each cock in to the nest box and left there until the next morning then it will be scraped out with that mornings droppings. On each feed the cocks are given approximately twice as
much as they would require after 10 minutes all the corn is removed and is feed to the widowhood hens. The hen’s water system is Adeno-Coil Mix Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday and the rest of the week it will be plain water. At the end of the season the hens will be re-paired to the cocks and they will be allowed to rear 2 young birds and another round of
eggs and they will be split in to their own section. Both cocks and hens are only let out once a week to take a bath.
They take 2 full rounds from the stock a few from the best breeders and approximately half of the 3rd round from the stock loft and the other half is sold or given to club sales, charity sales and breeder/buyers. The young birds are taken from the cocks and before they are entered into the young bird loft they are sprayed with Ardap spray and are fitted with an
address ring. The sections are prepared by a board being placed across half of the section, cardboard put down then a 2 inch layer of saw dust and then a thick layer of straw. The straw will be turned on an evening then changed next morning. At that time of year the lofts are cold and moving young birds from a warm bowl to a cold floor can really knock the young birds back, so insulating the floor is a real benefit.
All of the young birds are darkened from the first day they enter the young bird loft. This is because the amount of artificial lights from surrounding houses, street lights and from their own property. If the young birds were not darkened in this way the amount of artificial light defiantly has an adverse affect and they have found that some young birds will drop the
first 2 flights. They are taken off the system on the June the 1st and they consider each pigeon must have a minimum of 8 weeks on the system to have the full benefit. So every young bird must be in the loft 8 weeks before the 1st June.
For this partnership this is the most important time to build the bond between pigeon and fancier. The young birds are always moved in the morning so they have all day to get use to the surrounding on the first evenings the Regime will start. The first feed will be with a whistle a white loft coat and a white bucket to hold the corn. Jason will sit calling the young
birds to come away from the straw and feed in a tray. They spend a long time trying but rarely find any young birds will come to feed, next morning again a whistle, white coat and white bucket is used and you usually find one or two will come to the tray and feed on the evening you usually find all of the young birds will come to the tray no food is ever left in the
loft between feeds but the top will be left of the drinker for the first 2 days. If there is ever a young bird that will not come and feed after the 4th time of trying it will be killed regardless of origin.
The young birds are weaned with 100% maple peas for approximately 7 days then they start adding the young bird mixture that will be fed first then the maple peas. During the next 7 day the peas will be reduced and the young bird mixture will be increased until they are on just the young bird mixture. For the first 14 days the young birds will be feed as much as they
can eat at both feeds after the this time they will be let out through the trap then the system changes again. The young birds will start to moult. The morning feed is changed to Beyers seed mixture approximately 1/8 of a ounce per bird but this may be less if they don’t eat it all. The night feed will be as much as the birds can eat of the young bird mixture, they will be fed with a whistle and only small amounts until they have all had enough this could take ½ an hour. At this time of year the evening feed is never measured it is considered that cocks eat more than Hens and big cocks eat more that small cocks but the next morning they find they don’t really want the seed they have had enough the night be for but by the time they call the birds in for the evening feed they act as if they are starving if they don’t they consider something is wrong and dealt with immediately.
The young birds are flow through a trap and are let out through this trap. The bob wires are lifted up and held with a rod and the young bird can go in and out of the trap as they please, they are not allowed through the doors at this stage. They are let out at 1pm each day and left out with the traps open and just left alone to find out where they live. Jason returns
from work at approximately 5:00pm and he gets the young birds in and feeds them and then shuts the blinds of at approximately 5:30pm. At 9:00am Ann opens the blinds cleans them out then feeds them the seed mixture. The same white coat whistles and white bucket are use for every feed. At this stage the young birds are never forced to fly they are just left alone. 2 weeks before the 1st of June the shutters are taken down a small amount of time
each day until the shutters are left down on the 1st of June and the young birds will have access to full day light.
On the 1st of June the young birds will only be feed about ½ oz of the young bird mixture and then the following morning the young birds will be let out for the 1st time and left out for one hour with the traps closed they will be called in the bob wires will be the down position they will be feed about 3/4oz of the young bird mixture, then on the evening they will be let out at 4:30pm and left out for 1 hour again with the traps closed again they will be called in with another 3/4oz of the young birds mixture. After a few days the young birds will be let out and made to fly for a minimum of 15 minutes with the use of a flag. This will be increased each day until they are flying for an hour in the morning and an hour at night.
When the team is flying well they will be road trained. They will be taken 2 miles and liberated in one batch they will be held there until they are returning within a few minutes, then they are taken to 5 miles again held there until there returning within a few minutes then they will go to 15miles then 25 miles they will remain at 25 miles until the first race
then no other training is given. This stage training is not to teach the young birds the direction home but it is fitness and basket training. The young birds will be taken morning and afternoon as long as weather permits. They totally consider it is better to fly them at home than chance a bad toss, as a bad toss can end your season.
Bowls are placed in the young bird loft as soon as the cocks start showing to the hens and are actively encouraged to pair up and sit eggs and raise their own young birds. This is done until the 4th race then all of the eggs babies and bowls are removed and the two sexes are split in to two different section. They will be flown separately and brought together at
2:30pm on a Friday for a 4:30pm basketing. On a Friday at about 1pm bowls straw and tobacco stalks are put around the lofts. When they return from a race they will be left together until Sunday morning when they will be separated back in to their own section.
The water system for the young birds when they are first parted from their parents is one day clean water, next day Biochol then a day clean water then Sedochol. This is continued until all the young birds are completely through the body moult, then they are given plain water until the 1st of June then they will be given Monday, Wednesday Friday Probiotic and the rest of the week plain water. During the race season the water system for the young birds is the same as the Widowhood cocks.
The young bird mixture is made up 35% Versele-Laga Liege, 35% Versele-Laga Junior UK, 10% Vanrobaeys small maize, 10% red skin peanuts and 10% Beyers Seed mix.
At the end of the season the young birds are selected totally on their performances they always consider a good consistent cock is better than a cock that won a 1st prize but never showed again they think you can motivate a consistence cock into winning. They are then split in to their own young bird section and will only be let out once a week at the weekend
to take a bath. They will be feed on a strong moulting mix once a day and the water will be one day Biochol one day plain water one day Sedochol one day plain water. This will continue right though the moult.
Both Young bird and old bird feed system are given as a general guide, as the weather will play a massive part to how they are fed. The internet wind and weather sites are used and if it’s thought the race will be hard the corn will be strengthened and the stronger corn is given earlier on in the week but if it will be a fast race the corn will be lighter for longer.
Approximately 4 times a year the droppings and swabs will be taken and sent off to Libby Harrison at Retford Poultry Services and the advice from Libby is followed to the letter. They have used this service for a number of years and have built up a good relationship with Libby and the staff at Retford. They find Libby a real character but extremely knowledgeable on
diseases and treatments found in racing pigeons and her advice is taken very seriously. During the race season if any problems are spotted the dropping and swabs are sent off immediately. They firmly believe that the old fashion way of blind treatments are a big mistake made by so many lofts but they firmly believe in the use of the Adeno-Coil as a preventative on the return from each race.
There have only been a few influences in the performances achieved by this partnership the majority has been achieved by trial and error, but a few people have had an input that they would like to thank; in 1993 George Litherland gave them an inland feed system. This gave them a good starting point this system has been altered as time as moved on but they will always thank George for pointing them in the right direction. The friendship they made with the late Les Whittaker was infectious; he accompanied this partnership on their hundreds of loft when travelling around Europe. Jason’s methods and stock selections were very different to those of Les’s but they both had a massive respect for each other’s opinions. A comment
was made by Mr Tommy Lawley whilst on one of the trips to Belgium it was lodged in Jason’s brain and is firmly believed. Tommy Said with all the methods of racing, feed and water systems and pigeon selection that are quoted always remember at your own loft there are “No Rules” you should always do what you want to do, then the only person to blame if it all goes wrong is you, but you don’t have to give anyone credit when it all works.
There are endless list’s results but to save boring everyone they just gave me a quick rundown. 23 x 1ST Saturday Federations ranging from 1085 birds up to 6800 birds, this includes taking the first three position in the Worcester Fed on two different occasions. Taking the first four positions in the Wolverhampton Fed on two different occasions and that phenomenal result where they took the 1st 13 positions in the Wolverhampton Fed. They both stated that it was harder to top the smaller birdage Feds as to the position of the lofts
within those Federations. They topped two of the biggest Federations in the West Midland on the day, there name is carved in to the Wolverhampton trophy for winning the most diplomas in one season and is carved in the RPRA West Midland 0-250 Miles rose bowl. I was shocked at the amount of cocks that have topped the fed more than once and that have gone on to bred top class racers themselves."