Tipplers As I See Them (Sam Billingham)

Start Well and it is Up to Yourself as to What the Result Will Be

I am trying to pen a few lines on what I consider the most beautiful of pigeons – The Flying Tippler, and this after nearly thirty years’ experience with them. It therefore gives me the very greatest of pleasure to write this article and to give you my thoughts in print.

To begin with, it is the bigger mistake, both for old and new fanciers, to over-crowd your stock, although I admit I am fool enough to do it myself. I suppose it is simply because I love pigeons. But to over-crowd means that the best birds don’t
get the attention they should have. You can never see them at their best, simply because the second or third rate bird is always amongst them, and through them being over-crowded they light for perches and pull each other to pieces. Under these circumstances you don’t get the same amount of pleasure out of them as you would had you only a few really good ones.

This brings us to the matter of purchasing your birds. It is far cheaper in the long run to give 1 for a good one than to have four second-raters for the same money. The latter method only ends in you not being satisfied and killing them. In buying a first-rater, or breeding one, you always have a good chance when you show it, while, on the other hand, it is no earthly use contributing to shows or flying competitions if you haven’t the proper stuff.

Be Careful When Buying

The novice should look about him and decide from whom he will purchase his stock. He has a big range of choice, as there are good lofts of birds all over the country. If your object is flying, or showing, always tell the person you are buying from for what propose you want them. After that stick to the fancier you select to buy your stock off, and if he fails you after you have given him a fair trial – well, then, try someone else. Why I say this is because flying and showing are two entirely different propositions.

We flying fanciers know perfectly well that if those birds which fly these big times were put in the show pens there would be some rum stuff amongst them. But give them their Place alone as Flying Tipplers and they are masters of the air. I am not for one minute saying there are not good specimens amongst the, long time flyers, because there are a few of them very hard to beat as show birds.

I have had experience at building up a loft of good Flying Tipplers and to win in the pen at the same time. Believe me, you never have your hand out of your pocket, and you have got a hard job on to achieve the combined objects. The old hands know when they have a real good one, and my experience is they don’t like to part, which should again prove to the novice that it pays to give a good price at first and get the right birds.

I know of a man who has had about forty years’ experience with Tipplers and he made this remark: “There are horses for courses, and pigeons for places”. And he is right I have seen these little Sheffield crossbreds fly into the ‘teens of hours with the wind down hill, where under the same conditions some of the more delicate breeds would have been down. I know there are good birds in every colour and sort of Tipplers, but I do honestly think that if all these men who have done these big times with the blacks, blues, reds and badges were to concentrate on the Light Prints in the same manner they would get just as good times out of them. I know over 18 hrs. has been done many times with the Light Prints. I have myself flown three young Light Prints 16 hrs 5 mins. One of them was direct off a pair from “Josh” Davies, Swansea.

But you novices can see what is wanted to win a record fly, when Jack Cockane’s record is 19 hrs. 35 mins., and Jack Holland is still a bit handy at doing 17 hrs. with young ones. There is no question about it, one must have birds with long staying powers to do something near the above records.

I have had a bit of experience with the dun and silver. The very best I have had and still have, came from Alfred Chamberlain. The lovely silky touch when handling, along with the pearl eye, and the neatness of them makes a true pigeon fancier love them. I have often heard fanciers talk about pigeons going through the clouds. These duns and silvers certainly do, and a treat they are to watch, but they will not stand the punishment of the harder breeds.

Feeding and Training

Now, to the novice who is interested in flying. Many of us old hands have different ways in training. Some are up in the clouds for eight or nine hours and some are on the slate tops for three hours. But it makes no difference, they all fly nearly all day on fly day, and very often those that have been trained to fly low put up a good performance. The reason is that their owner has made them bad in order to make them feel better the last three or four days in the core previous to the fly day.

I don’t think there are many fanciers in Sheffield who believe in a ten days’ or seven days’ feed, they would sooner have a three days, and for this reason: We will say you have your birds flying five hours nicely on barley or wheat and dari; fill them with canary seed, finish up with good tares on Saturday they will fly eight or nine hours. Now ask yourself the question: “How much more does it require to fly fifteen or sixteen hours?” Now something like this would come to your mind:-

Last time out Friday. Friday night half a feed of canary seed, finish up with good tares. Saturday 12 noon, a little rice, canary seed, and finish up with maple peas. Saturday 12 midnight, half a crop full of small Indian com, fill up with tares. Now you can leave them until 2 o’clock Saturday as they will be looking well now. Tighten them up with a mixture of the following seeds: Prima Donna, Swede turnip, niger seed, millet, English rape. Let them have a good go at it. Monday morning feed on the same mixture if they will have it.

You may use for a suitable tonic six or seven drops of Phosferine to a pint of water, in fact, you can give it to your birds right through as it will not hurt them. A friend of mine, T. Crownshaw, once gave me a recipe of a tonic which is very good: One teaspoonful of Parishes Chemical Food, one teaspoonful of brandy to a pint of water. Try it. It is given from a lifetime’s experience.

I could go on writing long enough, but I don’t want you to get fed up with it. However, remember these points: It is good judgment to know your birds; when to feed, how much to feed; handling for condition, such as firm body, not to heavy, steadiness of the bird, tightness of feather, bright eye nice white wattle. Another good guide to health is the droppings, which should be firm and small. Study the above points and see how far I am wrong.

I will close by wishing all fanciers a
prosperous New Year: 1934.

Sam Billingham