DES MOORE - DENMARK WESTERN AUSTRALIA.
I have been impressed by the writings of Des Moore for some time and my friend Ted Jones from New South Wales (who knows Des well) has confirmed my intuition on the possibility of a good story. I have never physically met Des and have spoken to him only once courtesy of our National telephone system. I found the conversation interesting and Des has kindly given me permission to utilize this forum to base a long distance interview on a most remarkable fancier.
What do you do to keep yourself occupied Des?
I spend little time in front of the television and love the pigeons and writing about my favourite subject, pigeons. It gives me a tremendous amount of satisfaction when I know other fanciers are interested in my writings and it also helps me to make contact with other fanciers worldwide.
Des, would you tell the readers a little about your history in the sport?
My first pigeons were a gift from two of Western Australias top fanciers. I was twelve years old at the time; my father worked with Tom Wootton and Fred Guerke who both gave me two pairs each. At the time we were living in North Perth, we then moved to Claremont in 1954 where I joined the Claremont Racing Pigeon Club and started racing. I remember the first race from Meckering (70 miles) where I entered and pooled all my thirteen entries and thought I was going to set the world on fire. Not one bird returned home and learned then my first lesson in pigeon racing. At the presentation night, the President presented that entry sheet back to me and still have it to remind me of that event to this day.
I remained a member with Claremont until 1957 when a family relocation placed me in the area of the newly formed Scarborough Club. Other clubs that I have been a member are Northern Suburbs 1962 to 1970, Stirling Club from 1970 to 1974 and Albany Club from 1983 until present. I decided to search for a better line of pigeons, as my old lines just were not as consistent as I would have liked. After an extensive search I decided that the birds I wished to concentrate on were the Barker Strain and purchased a Barker Jurion from George Galvin and a Jackson Barker from Tom Read.
However, in 1962 I contacted Ivan Henderson from Ballarat in Victoria and Ivan sent me, through a mutual friend, some of his best and to this day they still remain the base of my successful, all purpose Barker family. Other additions from this family were from Tom Jackson (Victoria) which were birds from Romeo, Achilles and 9410 his ref D line. I have tried most of the old Australian families and quite a lot of imports. I have Janssen, Busschaert, Van Loons, Delbar and Maurice Mattheus. However, I find that they cannot compete on an equal basis with my Barker basis as all round pigeons. My experience is that the Barkers are capable of winning from the first to the last race but especially the longer distances suit them to the ground.
Des I hear you gift a lot of your birds away to help new starters out?
Yes, in Denmark Club I have given stock birds and youngsters to the members to allow them to form a competitive team at minimal cost. I fly in two clubs as the Denmark club has been reopened after a few years in recess. Denmark has only five active members but there is a promise that more will join next season as the club has rekindled some interest in the community.
I also understand that you have set up a lot of clubs in Western Australia?
Over the years I have organised several clubs. I remember the country clubs of Manjimup and Esperance where I donated 100 pigeons for both clubs to auction for club funds. At Manjimup I donated club crates for the club members to transport their birds.
The first meeting of the Stirling Club was held in my lounge room, there were five of us present. When the club first started we invited all the members to join including all the fanciers in the Scarborough and adjacent areas. I then went to the local authority and negotiated permission to build the clubrooms on an A class reserve and this was the first such building to be used as a clubhouse of any sport in Western Australia.
Frank Taffee, Eddy Willie and I set out to raise the money to build the rooms and by completion of the project we had built the club and left it debt free. Another exercise that I was proud to assist in was the Albany Club who also contributed money to the project. When the club had to vacate their rooms I went to the Government and negotiated a grant for the club to build a replacement facility, which I believe, is one of the best clubrooms in Australia.
Interesting Des tell me more about your pigeons and your results to, as they say, "Change the subject"?
I prefer to fly Barkers as my main breed. The cocks are not impressive in the hand, although you occasionally get a show bird type but the hens are a treat to behold. They are slightly on the small side but their proportions are as they should be. The experts have told me that they have a nice eye. I dont know anything about this subject and believe that most of the "experts" do not know about it either. One of my biggest problems is that I breed too many pigeons for the space available and I regularly overcome this by selling enough birds to pay for the feed, club and race fees. I also enjoy breeding100 birds annually for selected fanciers Australia wide to fly. These gift birds have won in all competition from club to National level. However, I have never won a combine but have been the bridesmaid several times (five to be exact). I have taken several other top ten Fed places and have been placed in the Top Ten Flier of the Year several times. There have been countless wins in the club races over the years, too many to count really. At present I have fourteen 1st prizes between two clubs so far this year. The majority of these were won in the small Denmark club where I live in a very good position.
What do you feed them to perform Des?
Mainly peas with a bit of wheat added. The peas I feed are a mixture both of new and old peas, plus a little white pea. The mixture is 5/2 that is fed to the birds right through the flying season. They are fed twice a day as much as they want. The only other feed that they get is canola, which I feed as much as they want once per week. I never feed maize, as I believe it causes more problems than it is worth because mould easily forms on the tips of this grain and the only way to be sure is to place the grain in the oven or microwave before you use it.
In the breeding season I add Coprice M and Turkey Grower pellets are added to the mix and the birds are hopper fed wheat at will. There is also grit in front of the birds all the time. All the floors are covered with grit, which I get direct off the beach. Even so I add a little salt to the grit as well.
The birds are exercised around the loft in the morning and are not flagged and free flown from 30 minutes to two hours. During the season they have one toss from between 30 and 60 miles every week depending on weather conditions. The birds are not over raced and the birds which fly the longest points get no more than two race races all year. Over the years I have had very satisfying moments in the sport. One of the best memories for me was when I sent two birds to the 1000-mile race from Nullarbor and homed both together fourteen days after liberation. The only other bird to return was eleven days after mine landed. These birds would have to have flown well over 1200 miles around the Bight to home. Another satisfying moment was when I was the "Sportsman of the Year" in my District in1996.
As I stated earlier I get a lot of satisfaction in when I breed or my birds breed winning pigeons for other people. One example is when a gift pigeon given to Graham Sullivan was the sire and grandsire of Grahams best Australian bird in Thailand in the 4th and 5th Asia Pacific Race. This same pigeon bred 6th National and winner of Special Ring Race, which won him $2000. I sent Ron Dalziell a hen, which bred him 1st Fed 2nd Fed and 2nd $3000 Invitation Open plus three times first club.
Let us talk about our conversation relating to the overuse of Medications? How do you treat for the ailments without the use of proprietary drugs?
Interesting you bring that up Peter as the Vets would go broke if they relied on me for a living. Since I first started in the 50s I have never had a bird to the Vet nor had a Vet to my birds. I still read most books brought out by them and have an open mind but still prefer to use the same methods that I have used for years. The problem with todays birds are that it is expensive to professionally doctor pigeons and I believe if they need continually propping up by medications they are not worth feeding. Certainly, if they wont respond with rest and a little TLC then it is time to dispose of them no matter what they cost you. Weak pigeons will only breed their like, so do not waste your time with them or you will be sorry.
In saying this I do treat with a few inexpensive medications such as Amprolmix for cocci, Nilverm and Ivormec are used for worming and warm water and Glucalite is given to the birds on return from racing. The lofts are regularly sprayed with "Ambush" to kill the little bities that hide in the cracks and crevices, which also is used on my roses. Garlic is given in the water once per week.
For canker I use "Bluestone" which is copper sulphate. I use a weak solution on the day after the race and I have not had canker in my birds for years and the are not allowed to remain in the stock loft if they breed it, simple as that! I have always used bluestone for the birds and had been told about it many, many years ago. By a fancier now long gone.
All the old fashioned cures that I use on my birds can be found in the book "A to Z Pigeon Guide" by Eric Hardy. The book was last published in 1951 and is probably out of print now. One of my mentors advised me to get the book when I first started in pigeons and do not lend it to anyone. I have seen several fanciers advertising to try to get a copy of this book. It is used by several of my friends who have been in the game a long time.
I have flowers of sulphur enclosed in a stocking hanging in the loft all times and every time the birds fly around the loft they release a small amount into the air every time.
Peter, you asked about Garlic? The reason I use garlic in the water is because again, garlic has a high sulphur content, and is the only thing that cleanses toxins from the pigeons system.
I do not believe in pox immunisation and use Lugols (aqueous iodine) mixture on the effected area. Lugols iodine is a marvellous curative for many problems effecting the health of pigeons and a few drops a month in their drinking or bath water is noticeable. It is especially valuable during the moult. Also a 2% Gentian Violet in spirit will clean up pox within a week but looks terrible on the bird.
The fanciers bring respiratory disease about themselves. If their lofts were kept dry, the mould would not be around to effect the birds. If they were put on a grid floor instead of a grill floor it would be a much better solution. If fixed slats were put in on their end, I believe would stop a lot of draughts in the loft and keep the spores under the loft and not amongst the birds. This is a proven Belgian method to avoid dust recirculation from the flapping wings of the birds.
Des, Ted Jones summed it best up to me as describing you "as a tireless ambassador for our sport". How do you find the energy to keep up all the research and effort you do for our Magazines?
Over the years I am grateful to have made numerous friends both in Australia and abroad and the people that I admire the most are those little group of workers that are trying to promote the sport without thanks or support for their efforts. A thankless job which people like Bill and Marie Wells, Richard Clingan from the "Journal "and the retired General Secretary Geraldine Henshaw and now Tom Wills from the "The Fancier", Stan Tillet and Kevin Proctor from "The Pigeon Sport" in the UK all come to mind. These people are few and far between and in most cases they would all be out of pocket trying to establish a service to a generally apathetic fancy.
Unfortunately there are hundreds of knockers out there ready to come in for the kill but NEVER assisting when it is their time to try to help NEVER! All they excel in is criticising and putting all their energies into destroying all the good that has been done to compensate for their own petty jealousies and complete lack of talent and concern for their fellow fanciers.
This "Dark Side" of the sport has many proponents all of which "put down" all those that may beat them. They attempt to destroy all beginners and do absolutely nothing to help anyone for fear of creating competition. The sport is full of self-centred individuals but there are also those of exemplary character which make all the others a mere annoyance.
Who do you admire the most in the pigeon fraternity?
I have met many great pigeon men since I started in the sport. Many of their achievements would fill a book many times over. The two that come to mind would have to be Ray Nesbitt and Ivan Henderson. Ray has been at the top for so long as I have known him and he has a top family of birds, and he knows how to bring the best out in them.
Ivan Henderson is my friend and has been breeding Combine Winners for longer than I have been in the sport both for himself and his many friends. Even the last race that he competed in he won the 720-mile Combine by six hours. To be able to keep his family together for so many years speaks volumes for his talents as a Master Fancier.
I would like to make the observation that if the pigeon fancy do not get behind and help the people that are trying to promote and advance the sport the future of homing pigeons will become very limited.
Authors Note: I hear that even Dennis Belding, the famous flier from UK is advertising to try to obtain this "A to Z Pigeon Guide" as a reference book but it would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack now. Des has consented to research the book and regularly publish tips direct from the tattered pages, which he has followed faithfully for the last 45 years.