Pearson & Dransfield
Frank Pearson is an inspiration to us all, he is nearly 80 years old, still able to win the National Flying Club from Fougeres, and that the very next season after winning a brand new car in the National Flying Club from Cholet.
After his brother-in-law partner died nearly 10 years ago, his sister stepped up to take his place, along with his niece, Jayne Dransfield who now makes up the team of three. Jayne is a great help to him around the lofts and is really keen herself. She is also a great ambassador for the sport, with her enthusiasm bursting at the seems.
They manage a racing team of 24 pairs plus the stockbirds although Frank says the numbers have grown a little after they decided to build a team for the longer distances, with Tarbes being the main aim. He decided to make the long term plan a couple of seasons ago and realises that in order to get a team of two year olds to Tarbes, a greater number of youngsters and yearlings have to be kept in preparation. But they can quickly take over the daily duties and Frank says it is because of so many sections needing separate exercise, so he has made a conscious decision not to keep so many in future.
His winning pigeon is a two-year-old cock named “Treetop”, so called because on his second race as a yearling, he returned with his tail ripped out and from then on, when ever he was let out for exercise, he would land in the nearby tree after 20 minutes. Frank thought he felt safe and secure in there so he acquired the name.
He was not raced at all as a youngbird, and was stopped as a yearling after the hawk attack, so only had two races as a yearling and this season he had four inland races up to the National Flying Club race from Fougeres. In those training races he was showing form and when I asked if he was nominated for the chance to win a second car in two seasons, Frank said no, because he went for experience and nominated an older pigeon instead. Frank has not raced a young bird in three years although he hopes to this season.
He races his pigeons on the total widowhood, and they are fed a good widowhood mix. Frank says he never restricts the food and would let them eat as much as they wanted, twice per day and remove the feeders after a few minutes. Exercise is twice per day with the hens requiring separate exercise and accommodation during the racing season, a system that is fairly new to Frank, and he said he would struggle to catch them because he wanted them boxed up after each fly and it took him a couple of seasons to get it right.
During the winter months, Frank decided to leave the hens in their section and they choose their own box to roost in. The following season he put a curtain over the window to darken them a little, and then they went up by themselves! A couple of doors across the front of the boxes complete the system by keeping them separate after feeding and watering is complete. This prevents them from pairing together and keeps them very keen for the cock and nest box.
Frank does regret not concentrating on the National Flying Club sooner in his career, when he and his brother-in-law were racing at their best. For years they had held the highest prizewinners title in two clubs and also the 700 member strong Barnsley Federation.
He began racing in 1948 with Kenyon Black Pieds and within a few years he began winning with them but during the seventies, faster Belgian pigeons were beating them so Frank began a 40 year journey with his Busschaert family. In 1974 they went direct to George Busschaert and bought a hen to go with a Busschaert cock they had bought. They paired them together and bred just two youngsters before the cock escaped. So Frank pared the son “The Old Belg Cock” back to the Mother and bred “Superstar” which went on to breed many fantastic winning pigeons up to Combine level and it was then that Frank realized the value of this line and inbred to keep it. The daughter also went on to breed South Yorkshire Amal winners from 400 mles and from these pigeons a winning dynasty was created that won at the highest level all over the UK, even the Grand National winner from Tarbes for Chris Gordon contained these genes.
In the early days he said he did not know how to breed to keep a line with his Black Kenyons but with the Busschaerts he was not bothered how close they went just as long as he was breeding from the best racers. When racing in the club and federation he would have twenty races a year to select from but now he only races in the National Flying Club, so the racing is limited to find the best pigeons. But the competition is very strong and he now looks to buy in from the very best lofts in Sections K and L to obtain pigeons that can win in his area.
These he is happy to cross into some of his Busschaerts as he finds first cross blood makes for the best racers and if he find a particularly good cross, he will inbreed around it to make a little family of those. That’s how you can keep a good line going for years and on one side his winning pigeon can be traced back forty years the other is crossed with a Geoff Kirkland pigeon, a fancier he holds great respect for. Indeed on the same day Geoff won section L as Frank won the open with a pigeon crossed with his Floor Engels.
I asked Frank if he had any theories to select pigeons by and he said he could not judge a pigeon in the hand in any way, only the racing or breeding results matter. Plus you need time to find them and when you do, breed around them to hold the line for another forty years!