Bryan Marshall’s Super Racing Pigeons

It’s been a long journey since Bryan Marshall’s first pigeon races in 1967, writes Thomas Smit.

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Bryan Marshall, Johannesburg Pigeon Racing Club (JPRC) member has competed for Team Benzing/Bryan Marshall & Son, in Division 2 for the past two years.

The JPRC is one of Gauteng’s 15 pigeon clubs, overseen by the Transvaal Racing Pigeon Federation (TRPF). Bryan competes against roughly 12 members with around 150 pigeons on club level, 52 members with around 750 birds in the division and 240 members with 4 000 birds on federation level.

Starting up
Bryan was introduced to pigeon racing in Somerset West in 1967, by the late Andries Gouws. Bryan competed as a junior before doing his military service.

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He started pigeon racing once again in Kempton Park, 1983. Bryan eventually settled in Brackendowns on Johannesburg’s East Rand and has lived there ever since.

Performance highlights
Bryan won nine races and four first divisions in his first year at JPRC, finishing up 23rd in TRPF’s 2008 single bird-to-count points league open series.

In 2009, he won 17 club races and nine in the division, placing 16th in TRPF’s single bird-to-count points league averages. He also won the 2009 division and two all bird-to-count points league averages, and had the division’s champion best pigeon.
Bryan was five-time club winner and three time division winner, with TRPF’s fifth best champion pigeon which had only been raced seven times.

Bryan was crowned JPRC overall club champion on 2009’s short-, middle- and long distance series in both the single and all bird-to-count points league series.

However, Bryan most cherishes winning the first four races with the same hen in Somerset West in 1967.

Foundation pigeons
The key to pigeon breeding for Bryan is to secure foundation pigeons from a winning family. These pigeons are then blended into his pigeon family – he seldom introduces new cocks for fear of changing the winning gene pool.

Bryan purchased most of the foundation stock of Gauteng fancier Joe Lemos’s champion pigeons which carry Morkel, Catrysse and Fabry bloodlines. His expectations were met as the offspring from this stock went on to reach top scores in the following years.

Bryan also collected the best pigeons of the first and later generation of superior pigeon Spritzy’s offspring, including two sons and daughters directly bred from her. When the then East Rand businessperson Andre Mills bought Spritzy at an auction, Bryan arranged to have her mated to his top breeder, the 42999 cock – eight of their 12 offspring became competition racing winners. In turn, every quality pigeon mated into the Spritzy line produced medal-winning, best-bird and multiple-winning offspring.

Bryan also bought foundation stock from an Alberton fancier. The base pigeon, the Red King, and his click hen, the Silas Hen, had already bred six winners, breeding a further four after Bryan’s purchase.

Bryan also introduced Andre Roodthooft’s pigeon’s first-rate gene pool into his loft.

Training methods
Bryan pre-trains his youngsters in November/December with up to 100km of road training. He then prepares the birds again from early May for three weeks with the same training.

When the racing season starts, the team is road trained every day at 60km from Monday to Friday and 180km on Saturday.

Beginner’s advice
“Obtain your birds from one fancier that you can trust and stick to him – this would be your shortest way to success,” advises Bryan.

“Don’t expect success to come from a medicine bottle. Pay extra attention to your loft design. There should be a steady exchange between stale and fresh air without causing a draught.”