The backward kit - Ken Burgess


Last August, Colin Smith of Norwich offered me a Blue Cock bird that he had no further use for; a 4-year-old, typical Gordon Hughes type; I didn't really want it, but as it was too good to be `put down', I decided to breed a pair of late breds from it, with a Percy Field Blue Badge Hen that was spare.

The result of this pairing was a Blue Bar and Blue Badge, both hens. I started them off at about 7 weeks on a barley diet, building their timings up to 3 or 4 hours. I added a Black Marlow/Field late bred to make up a kit. The object of this late flying was to find out if the birds were worth retaining. The kit flew very high and `raked' out well.

Shift work in our sport had many disadvantages but the main advantage is that during the winter months, when on night duty, the daylight hours can be spent with the birds. With this in mind, I gave the kit a bit of a feed-up and set them off on a clear frosty morning. They went up like specks, kitting tight and ~~ raking out well. They'll fly the day out I thought! After 4 hours they were `showing' to the loft, so I dropped them. On examination they were fit and `perky', no distress evident. Lazy, I thought, I'll push them next time out, which I tried to do. They started having a good look at an electric pylon which is the only high feature in my area, so I gave them best, and dropped them.

After a while, I accepted the fact that this kit of late-breds would fly 3 - 4 hours high, and in good style, but would not extend themselves. I decided that they would be flown throughout the winter months, which I did. They flew in all weathers, being dropped when they asked, and giving me hours of pleasure.

During February, I put them away and started up my yearling kit. These five birds had flown well as young birds, and I had high hopes of a good `Old Bird' season with them. They were `trained on', and the first competition they went all the daylight hours 12 hours 35 minutes showing great promise! During training (for the first time) three of the kit went to the pylon, for no apparent reason. This left me only two flying birds. I thought 4 hours is better than not taking part in the competition, so I put my late-bred kit into training.

13 hours 50 minutes, 15 hours 12 minutes, 1638, they flew during the remaining competitions; they improved every time they went out, pleasantly surprising me!

The reason I wrote this article about my kit is to bring home the point that we are, perhaps, too impatient with our youngsters, not taking into account that like all other livestock, including us humans, some are quicker to develop in mind and body than others. Makes you think how many potential winners are disposed of, without a real chance of showing their developed ability.