JACK BARKEL must surely have been the youngest serious keeper of fancy pigeons of all times. He started this hobby, which was to develop into an abiding passion and fully-fledged sport later on, in 1941, at the tender age of five!
Jack remembers: The Second World War was in full swing, and prohibited youngsters from keeping racing pigeons. However, in 1946 my father gave me the Air Raid Shelter as a pigeon loft, where I may say, I had spent the majority of the previous five years, while the bombs of war were dropping all around us.
Jack and his family lived on the North East Coast of England, which was a prime target for enemy bombs, being a coal mining and ship building area. Hardly conducive to peace of mind for birds of any kind!
However, all wars eventually come to an end, and in the mid-fifties Jack and his younger brother Sid started competitive pigeon racing, racing as the Barkel Brothers. This continued until lack emigrated to South Africa in 1965. Sid and his three sons still race as Barkel Bro's, from the same position as they did all those years ago.
The name brought nostalgic memories to mind, and later taking his sons to the United Kingdom in 1988, they put pressure on Jack to start up in South Africa again, and race as Barkel Brothers S.A.
Jack would like to pay tribute in this article to his brother Sid, of Ryhope, Sunderiand, for sending him some of his most treasured pigeons as a gift, for there is no way he would have parted with his best, other than brotherly love.
And what a superb gift this was! Sid offered lack 6 pairs of champion stock pigeons, and in February 1989, the 12 birds arrived safely. They were Busschaert-van-Bruane and Kozajek Opal Jansens, and constituted the start of the Barkel dynasty in South Africa.
Initially, progress was slow. Jack had a resistance to making any changes from the methods he used in England, and on this matter he has a bit of sound advice for any beginner: "Stay away from the success stories and methods gleaned from overseas literature, as some of the advice is given without the knowledge of conditions peculiar to countries like South Africa." Good advice indeed.
MEDICINE AND TREATMENT
Jack has a tried-and-true method of combating disease, and gladly shares his years of experience with new fanciers. He mixes 1 part Tylan with 1 part Emtryl and 6 parts Terravit. This mixture is given on 1 litre of water for 3 days, every 4 to 6 weeks. Jack is emphatic that this is a must for every racer, should he wish to remain competitive for the whole season.
The biggest scourge of racing pigeons in South Africa, according to jack, is Salmonellosis. This disease may be called by various other names by other breeders, as is often mistakenly done, but the main reason for the ongoing epidemic of Salmonellosis is that this country is full of poultry breeders.
Jack explains: "Fanciers say that they have Paramyxo or Adino and several other -yxo's and -ino's, but 1 can tell you that most of the time, your birds have contracted Salmonellosis, which develops rapidly into other forms, such as Newcastle disease, etc, if left untreated. 1 have found that if you treat your birds every Monday with one teaspoon of Furasolidone mixed with one teaspoon of Oxyvital on two litres of water, you can keep this horrible disease away from your birds."
TRAINING AND FEEDING
The Barkels fly widowhood cocks and hens on the roundabout system, and once racing has commenced, all basket training ceases. However, Jack feels that this might be the wrong approach for specific South African conditions, and they intend to see their birds trained right through in 1996. This will be an important breakthrough for trainers, as the Barkels will have accurate comparisons of the two systems available within one year's time.
When it comes to feeding, Jack feels that many different feeds bring success, but pigeons weren't meant to fly for many hours in the merciless South African sun, and if you do not feed large amounts of de-husked sunflower seeds, your birds' feathers will fret and lose their curvature memory.
Jack warns young fanciers: "Beware of overseas off-season mixes! The off season in the United Kingdom and Belgium is during wintertime, when the birds have completed their moult, and you are lucky to get 7 hours of daylight. The birds are very inactive, and are given low calorie diets to prevent them from gaining excess weight. In South Africa the off-season is the moulting season, and should you feed an overseas off-season mix to your S.A. racers, you are going to have a lot of dead heroes on your hands to start your 1 996 season with!"
THE ART OF IRIDOLOGY, OR THE ALL-IMPORTANT EYE-SIGN (Click to follow link)
Jack Barkel is considered an expert on the subject of eye-sign, and has studied bird iridology for many years. He says that one cannot just read a couple of books on the subject, and become an eye-sign specialist overnight. Proper practical training is of the utmost importance regarding this fascinating subjects.
There are 5 circles, or sphincter muscles in the eye of a bird. No 1 is the pupil, which has a muscle called the .verkenning-sirkel', or recognition circle. No 2. is the circle of adaptation, sometimes incorrectly called the Bishop's sign. No' 3 is the correlation circle, also correctly called the coloration circle. No. 4 is the iris, and the last one, NO 5, is the perimeter, or breeding circle. Each of these circles has an effect on the quality or type of pigeon you breed or race, and studying eye-sign is an absorbing hobby for any good fancier.
These results of the last two weeks of the racing season (1996) surely speak for themselves.
Matjiesfontein open 1 (960km): 2nd, 14th, 1 7th, 20th, 21st, 24th
Matiiesfontein open 2 (960km): 2nd, 3rd, 9th, 10th, 15th, 15th, 2oth, 21st, 25th, 26th
Touwsrivier Open 1 (1000km): 3rd, 4th, 5th, 9th.
Touwsrivier Open 2 (1000km): 1st, 2nd, 3 rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 12th
Article by Eric 1996
PICTURE GALLARY (Click to follow link to pictures)
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