Ray Hammond with one of his 2 Bird Average winners from BICC Barcelona

 Readers may be wondering the reason for the title to this report on Ray Hammond, a staunch long distance competitor and, hopefully by the end of this article, they will have grasped the reason, as the Hammond methodology entails a slow, easy going attitude to the sport of long distance pigeon racing.

Ray started in the sport in 1970 and his first loft was a simple 6ft x 4ft converted garden shed. Since that time the loft has expanded to its present form of   an 18ft x 6ft KIDBY built structure containing two sections for Ray’s old bird team of 40 racers, or as Ray put it 10 racers and 30 “Homers”!! A second 8ft x 6ft loft houses the young birds reared each season.


 Ray has a totally laid back approach to the sport in as much as the birds are raced on the natural system and are allowed to select their own mates. However, Ray did select as a matched pair his first and second birds from Barcelona in 2012 winning the 2 Bird Average. The birds are usually mated “sometime in February” and are allowed to go to nest and rear their babies. They are allowed an open loft as often as possible whenever Ray is around to keep an eye on them.

Once the first round of youngsters is away then Ray starts their gentle training programme with a few tosses up to 30 miles. The third bird home from Barcelona in 2012 had just two tosses at 30 miles and was then lifted for its first race of the season into Barcelona at 690 miles!!

Ray likes to have his hens sitting on a small squab at time of basketting for their target race but has not found any particular favoured nest condition for his cocks as it seems to make no difference to the male of the species.


  All birds at the Hammond loft are hopper fed a good Irish mixture from Gem 365 days of the year. The only addition to this is some cod liver oil sprinkled on the corn once or twice a week and allowed to soak into the grain overnight before being fed. The birds have access to food in the hoppers 24 hours a day 365 days a year.


 These are a mixture of the late Eric Cannon’s family with the addition of some birds from Cumbrian ace Tom Gilbertson. Ray also has a few “Bertie Bassetts” i.e. liquorice allsorts to augment the race team. Ray prefers to outcross and does not like to keep the birds too closely bred. This breeding policy has produced Ray’s ideal type of racer which is medium sized with an abundance of rich silky feathering. The birds developed at the Hammond loft do not require a great deal of road work to maintain their fitness levels as the team seem to keep themselves fit with their voluntary home exercise.


 These are raced naturally and Ray likes to get at least a dozen training tosses into them up to the 30 mile mark before the start of young bird racing. They are fed exactly as the old birds with plenty of Irish Mix from Gem occasionally laced with cod liver oil.


  Ray would like to thank Ron Dodd, Malcolm Parker and Alasdair Muir for their help and friendship – although Alasdair did suggest to Ray that perhaps it was time to pack it in!!!

Over the years the Hammond team have achieved many top class performances from the long distance race points of Dax, Pau, Palamos and Barcelona and listed below are some of the more recent.

2 x 1st LSECC DAX.


1st sect 2nd Open BBC Palamos.

2nd, 3rd & 5th Open Barcelona.

 2nd & 7th Open Perpignan winning the 2 Bird Ave with his two bird entry.

2nd & 14th Open Barcelona winning 2 Bird Average.

1st Combine Bergerac with only 5 birds on the day from more than 1,000 entries.

However, Ray regards his 1st LSECC from Pau, when his bird beat more than 2,000 birds from England and Wales liberated at Pau that day, to be his most memorable, as the conditions were stifling with a north east wind blowing and temperatures in the high 80’s.

So there you have it- the methods of a top class long distance fancier who wakes up each morning and “smells the coffee” and who is totally immune to the dreaded “red card fever”. Long may you continue to enjoy the sport Ray.

In closing Ray has asked me to thank the hard workers in his local Godalming Club, so take a bow Alan Austin, Vince and Sue Durrant and Michael Tuck. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.


Gareth Watkins