After an early training session with the young birds, Jonathan and I set off to visit one of the most successful lofts in the UK in the National and International races of recent years.
Geoff and Catherine Cooper live near Bath, in a village called Peasetown St John and is some 4 hours drive from my home. During the journey I asked Jonathan what questions he would ask Geoff Cooper and he said he would ask about the feeding of long distance pigeons but was a little shy, and could I do it for him.
That was my cue for putting him on the spot I guess because I believe one should always ask questions, as there are no wrong questions, just wrong answers.
Anyway once we had arrived we were given a very warm reception by Geoff and Catherine so he was immediately put at ease. I have known them both for a number of years so I was in no doubt Geoff would give him a full run down of his lofts, birds and system.
We spent a few minutes drinking our coffee sitting talking about the recent days young bird racing when Geoff asked Jonathan if he would like to see around the lofts.
He was given a very detailed tour and he quickly lost any sign of shyness with them both and helped Geoff ringing a couple of young birds before we settled outside, sitting in the sunshine, where Geoff answered his questions.
The feeding plan the Coopers follow to race in the long distance overseas racing was particularly apt for Jonathans racing program back home in Malta, and the merits of the inclusion of fats. Geoff named a few of the best seeds to achieve a high fat content like Hemp and Sunflower Hearts and also discussed his racing systems.
A few years ago, Geoff had told me he raced all widowhood with cocks, and could not see the benefit of racing hens at all.
But he was going to try a few the following year, which I know was a great success. So when I was there again with Jonathan, I asked him what he thought about racing the hens now to which he replied “I’ve wasted 20 years by not using them” such was their keenness. I fact he had recently won first International Pau with a hen called Wollongong which was now coupled with Farmer George, the cock that had won his first International Bordeaux a couple of seasons before.
We were shown the first two youngsters out of this couple and I wondered how many in the world there were bred from two International winners from the same loft.
Not many I’m sure! Obviously, I am very grateful for the time they gave up for Jonathan and myself to visit and I know Jonathan has kept up the relationship with Geoff and has since been asking further questions via the internet. Well done Geoff, and a full interview with a series of articles is in the pipeline for the near future.