Ken Brown

THE ONLY WAY

About the cheapest commodity that one can obtain in our sport especially in this day and age is good genuine advice. Recently I was talking to some fanciers who came on a loft visit and I found it incredible when they told me of their high loss of youngsters. This had sadly ruined their pleasure and their success. On this basis I make no apology for repeating a foolproof method of settling youngsters.

After parting your macs at one month old and before they can fly put them out on top of your cote or pen together with your droppers. When they are out stay with them and guard them against cats. (i.e. sit and watch them). Do this for half hour or so each day and then when you want them in use a long cane and gently drive them into your trap. This teaches them not to be afraid of you or of the driving cane. They will get used to seeing what goes on outside the cote such as large kits of racing homers flying about. By having them out on top before they can fly will help them to overcome such fears.

The old method of waiting for the eye to change colour or waiting for them to drop their first flight is very `old hat’ and out of date. With this method you are then told to starve your youngsters for three days and let out one at a time. This way is nonsense and the reason is this: you buy the best corn, grit, minerals etc. so as to rear strong robust youngsters; after this you part them from their parents and ruin all your rearing and body building by subjecting them to this useless act of cruelty. The young macs will still go up into the air regardless of the starving and if away from home for a day or two will be ruined for life. You will never fly youngsters into the teens of hours if you have broken their spirit. A young mac must be handled very carefully from the word go: you must see that it gets a good ration of grain every night for it is feeding its body and its feathering. You must never check its progress or you will never get your kit of youngsters to endure when it really counts. That being when they have flown all day and have reached the 18 honr mark, this is when every minute seems like an hour and you are waiting for your kit to finish their gallant task of trying to break the elusive world record. You have wondered all day what your kit think about as they go on like trojans. By the end of the day the old nerves are like celery tops – i n shreds. You then wonder if you will miss them and go home talking to yourself as I have done twice before – or will it go as planned. You mutter a little prayer to the Great Mac Flyer in the sky to let this be your day. Then with help from my pals, one watching the kit are intact when they go out over the car park lights, the referee assuring me that they are still flying sensible and my time keeper telling me the time every minute, which seems like forever. You finally reach your time and inform the referee that you are going for them. The light is on, the cumulets are up in the dark and surprise, they are all in the pen in eight minutes. My prayers are answered. The kit have done their job and all your care and attention over the months of seeing to your youngsters every need leaves you feeling tired but happy. Now remember that when your kit have flown into the teens of hours do not make the mistake of going daft and eeding them as a reward. Much better to just give them a drink of glucose and leave them alone until the morning. Then only give them one teaspoonful of canary seed each. Soak this canary seed in water for two days before using. After a long fly your kit must not be overfed or they could be put in agony trying to digest their seed. Feed them a spoonful of soaked canary seed every five hours : do this for one week then let them go through the moult for they have deserved a good long rest.

After you have put your kit away for a deserved rest you must then set about trying to get another kit going. Don’t go comparing a new fresh kit with those that have just flown 18 plus hours. This you must not do as the first kit were going on for five months old and these new youngsters are only about two months old. So off you go again seeing to their every need, making sure the barley is malted and not farm rubbish. Test your barley by crushing some and tasting it, make sure it is not mangy or sour.

Keeping tipplers on the allotment, as I do, requires a lot of patience for between the hours of five o’clock and nine o’clock in the evening the sky is full of homers. Some of the packs are made to fly an hour or so and go round just like circus ponies. This goes on till about two hundred homers are airborne and if you were silly enough to let your youngsters into the air it would only lead to them being split from the rest of the kit and learning bad habits such as flying low or raking away with the homers. The only answer is to wait while the homers are in and the homer flyers have gone home, usually about nine o’clock. Then, having your youngsters hungry for barley, you just settle for the last two hours of daylight. (This is no good for the person who is on a short fuse!). They will be hungry as they will not have had anything to eat or drink since the night before. They are only fed and watered once a day and if this is at say ten o’clock at night and then let them out at say eight or nine o’clock the next night they will certainly come down to the droppers as it will have been at least twenty two hours since they were last fed. It is twenty four hours between meals and a drink (no maltesers in between!).

It does your kit no harm to fly on a down wind for two hours but don’t overdo it. The game is never to stop them enjoying their flying. Youngsters must always be handled with care but if you should get a youngster that after two hours on a bad wind starts looking seedy and will not come straight into the pen and eat like the others then you can forget about this uird as it will never make the grade.

Finally never let your macs out for training doing the day. Always keep the training time till the last five hours of daylight.

 Ken Brown, Yearbook NTU 1984