1st Open BICC Perpignan 2011

The Perpignan International race flown in early August each year is traditionally, the last race of the International race programme. It attracts pigeons from the best lofts in Europe and many of these may well have competed from Pau or Barcelona a month or so earlier. In 2011 the winner of this race with the BICC was a lovely black chequer hen named "Daisy" bred and raced by John Chipperfield of Herne Bay in Kent.

John started in the sport in 1975 when he was a mere 11 years of age and his first major influence was Bob Northfield who was a friend and near neighbour but is now sadly deceased.
Along with his brother Cliff, John used to go over to the docks in London where the two brothers discovered a shed e that seemed always to be full of street pigeons. A pair of these "streeters" was trapped and John took them home, looked after them and was amazed that when released from the loft the pair immediately returned - that's when the bug bit and John was hooked. The first loft was a 20ft self built affair and was soon stocked not only with the aforementioned street pigeons but also by gift pigeons from local club members.
Since those early years, John has moved out of "the smoke" and moved to his present location just eight years ago and his present loft is a 34ft, five sectioned structure that faces due south and therefore catches the sun for most of the day.
The old bird sections are cleaned daily but John uses deep litter with the young birds in an effort to build up immunity in the babies. As for the old bird racers and stock birds, he prefers to get down on his knees with the trusty scraper. This isn't too much of a chore as the Chipperfield loft houses just 16 stock birds plus a racing team of 20 widowhood cocks and 25 roundabout hens with an annual intake of 40 youngsters reared from the stock and the best of the racers.
The widowhood cocks are used primarily for sprint racing with the roundabout hens being prepared for the longer cross channel races. All birds whether they be stock, widowers or roundabout hens, are mated in early January. The birds that John intends to race in the long distance Nationals are allowed to rear one youngster in their first nest before being separated for the major part of the season. They are then re - mated for specific long distance National and International events. At the beginning of the season, while the birds are undertaking their domestic duties, they are left to come and go as they please. However once the youngsters are weaned away the racers are introduced to a rather relaxed home exercise regime and once John thinks they are fit enough then the training baskets are brought into use. I should point out that John never forces the birds to fly around home - any domestic exercise by the birds is purely voluntary and this home exercise takes place twice daily.
Before racing begins the birds get 6 - 10 training spins and thereafter are only trained when John thinks they need a pick me up prior to going to a target race. These training tosses rarely extend beyond 25 miles. However, in the three weeks leading up to a National/ International race they are trained from 50 - 70 miles twice weekly. This fairly intensive training programme is due to the fact that John does not race his National candidates for at least three weeks prior to basketting for their target race. The motto seems to be "get them fit and keep them fresh".
The birds are fed a variety of mixtures in a number of different ways depending on whether they are rearing, racing or are young birds. The stock birds have food in pots in their individual nest boxes at all times when there are youngsters in the nest.
Widowers are fed individually in pots in their boxes whilst young birds are fed strictly by hand in a communal trough. Marimans Varimix is fed to the old bird racers whilst the youngsters, once racing begins, are fed on GEM young bird mix. In the build up to a long distance National race the old bird racers have access to a mixture called "Non Stop" manufactured by Ovator plus a supplement in the form of extra peanuts.
Young Birds
The Chipperfield young bird team is subjected to an extensive training regime in the year of their birth. They are then expected to complete the full young bird race programme as long as they are fit and well. John has raced his young birds on the darkness system for a number of years now and has found that it has no effect on their ability to win in later life.
The present team are made up from a variety of different strains including Jan Hybreghts, Janssens and Walter Dox plus some long distance bloodlines. The Perpignan winner, "Daisy" is a Herman Beverdam Janssen x Delbar. John likes to line breed to top performance pigeons within these families. As a result of this breeding programme, John has developed a type of pigeon that sits well in the hand, is of a calm temperament, is well balanced with a strong back, being just on medium size.
All birds are wormed, cankered and treated for cocci before mating and the racers are routinely treated for canker every three weeks throughout the racing season.
"Vitamin" marketed by GEM products is used routinely as well as Metatone. John also has a high regard for the probiotic Primalac.

For many years John raced successfully into the London area and some of his most memorable wins were 2nd Open London North Road Combine; 2nd Open KentCombine. He also won the Gold Cup when competing in the London North Road Fed. The winning of 1st &3rd Open in the Millwall Breeder/ Buyer event, walking away with a nice little earner of £5,500 also sticks in the memory as does making a firm friendship with Jimmy Burress of Liverpool.
Over the years John has had the pleasure of racing some outstanding pigeons but none more so than a blue Janssen cock aptly named "Bullet". This champion racer won no less than 6x 1ts plus 3 x 1st Amalgamation and was awarded an RPRA medal during his racing career. Since being placed at stock he is responsible for children and grand children to win at club and Federation level. Of course the dark chequer hen "Daisy", winner of 1st Open Perpignan must also rank up there alongside the loft's top performers.
Views on the Sport

I'll let John finish off this report with some of his own views on the future of the sport:-

My views are that people should race and enjoy their pigeons and stop making accusations towards the people who win too much.
Unfortunately computers and computer games have taken over and it is hard to promote this kind of sport to the younger generation. The only way to attract new members will be by trying to encourage friends, family and neighbours to participate.

Congratulations John on your hen's fine performance from Perpignan in 2011.

Gareth Watkins