Hi my name is Joe Jackson and I have had racing pigeons all my life. I hope this web site can help you better your pigeon game or help you start in this wonderful sport.
Yours in Sport
Article for “The Australian Pigeon Fancier “
Rockhampton Flier Joe Jackson and the revival of Extra Long Distance Racing.
Joe Jackson is the most successful Long Distance Fancier Rockhampton has today, and is without doubt the most successful competitor Rockhampton has ever seen over the long and very long races..
Joe has had racing pigeons all of his life, his father became a legend of the area, and since his untimely death Joe has taken his place in the pigeon racing world. Joe is a fancier with passion. Through his passion for the sport, Joe created a website under Mount Jackson Lofts. The website is listed as http://www.mountjacksonlofts.com/. And he offers anyone that may need his advice or help to contact him personally or through his website.
Joe’s uncle “Bill Rumpf” introduced his Father Rodney Jackson into racing pigeons in the 1960s. His uncle Bill raced in the 1940s and 1950s in Rockhampton and his name remains on some of the old trophy’s still in the Rockhampton Racing Pigeon Club. Rodney Jackson built his first loft in Rockhampton at his Park Avenue address, and was typical of most loft constructions of the day.
Moving to Mount Morgan Rodney built a loft that was able to carry more pigeons and was a more permanent structure. Through his life in the “Bush” Rodney developed many skills and was particularly experienced in Carpentry. The photo shows the Mount Morgan Loft.
Rodney extended the lofts during 1989 and again rebuilt sometime in 2000. So skilled was Joe’s father, he also built a horse drawn carriage which he used.
Other photo’s show lofts that was used by Joe at Mount Morgan before moving to Rockhampton.
The Jackson race lofts in Rockhampton is of the basic type that he grew up with, however he has adopted a more modern approach to security and controlled loft temperature.
Joe’s real bond with the birds started when he was around 11, he found a youngster that hatched out in the flyers loft and noticed that there were no parents looking after it, so placed it with foster parents. What Joe did not know until many years later, when in his 20s, was that the youngster he saved, later that day died under the foster parents. His father realized he was interested in caring for this baby, found a replacement youngster and lead him to believe it was a miracle that he had saved the baby. Joe’s interest in racing pigeons grew from there. Encouraged by his father, joe began his “apprenticeship” in the art of keeping and racing his pigeons.
The racing pigeons had a calming effect on Joe as a child and continues to this day. Through his teenage years he began doing bookwork and getting clinical with documentation. “The bug had really set in.”
Some of Joe’s highlights in his teenage years were winning Young Bird Champion at the Racing Pigeon Show in May 1989, judged by Ted Lewis from Mackay, and winning the Junior Two Bird Derby from Jericho, a distance of 276 miles or 442 kms. In Joe’s opinion the worst part about these early years was the high number of racing pigeon losses, Joe’s attitude and approach to his goals to this day was influenced by the vast amount of unexplained losses that happened in those dreadful times. Joe’s father was much loved and respected by him could not explain the losses. Racing his pigeons in the mountain ranges 40 kms away from other fanciers was a tough business. The heavy losses led to forming a partnership with Norm Milner of West Rockhampton in 1993 to 2000, which won a club championship for Norm Milner in 1994 and many other remarkable successes. In 1997 Joe and his father began racing again from Mt Morgan and trained their birds on the South Route to 450 miles 720 kms. Just six weeks after their last race, Joe’s father passed away on 11-11 2001. He remembers his first round youngsters were just 3 weeks old in the nest at the time of his dad’s death, and at 58 it wasn’t planned. As difficult as it was, Joe moved on and raced pigeons for the first time without the valuable help from his father and great partner.
The bloodlines Joe keeps these days are many and most are tried on the line and have merit in being kept. There are no “free” perch in Joe’s loft and he has adopted the saying “fortunes favours the bold”. The families he is currently testing are the Koopmans, Heremens, Hofkens Janssens crossed , Brent Cavill SCF, Van Custens, Silver Shadows, Captain Cleggs, Van loons crosses, Scott Frame Gabbys plus some old Brisbane blood. Joe does not believe in standing still and is constantly experimenting with new bloodlines and older bloodlines. Between his Father, his Uncle Bill, and his own choices have tried a lot of bloodlines. One of the keystones, he believes is to never look back, he makes a well thought out decision and move forward.
Joe keeps no set numbers, usually 15 pairs of breeders and have at times had up to 50 pairs. He also have raced numbers from 70 to 300 birds. These days he keeps about 130 race birds, and feels that number is just about right for the size for his current loft. He also insists that there is always two perches for every pigeon. Additionally, he installed 30 breeding boxes in the racing compartments to provide incentive for those who wish to pair up.
All the birds are kept together and after the breeding season, may be separated just to get them back to normality. The race teams are usually trained together and are worked together most of the time. The main aspect Joe is very particular about is the moult and feels that the race birds moult better when separated.
Joe has never viewed forced loft flying as a critical conditioning exercise. His race team have the freedom to relax and exercise as they see fit. When he wants the birds to stay out, they are locked out for an hour sometimes more leading up to tossing. He studies their health, identifies weaker birds, and looks for signs of form. As Joe works shifts his birds can be let out at any time of the day and leaves and returns to their perch quickly when Joe requires them to. An important aspect with training is that the birds must respond to him and should be waiting for him. Sometimes there is a very fine line, but to be successful you need to find it. Leo Heremen DVDs is a must watch in terms of feeding and method.
Before racing begins ,there are 4 stages in his method that he considers important.
The first stage incorporates preseason health, and then getting the mob started and road training up to racing standard.
Before he starts any training, he must have the birds in sound health and have completed their body moult. Once he gets those priorities in order, he then begins pulling the team “into gear”. He gets the pigeons mobbed up, which usually takes two weeks. If he notices that there are birds reluctant to train, he inspects them for injuries or health issues and takes action to fix the problem or put them aside so they do not hold the team back. Once those important issues are addressed, he is ready to commence road training. Before road training can commence, the team must be working away from the loft for at least twenty minutes.
Road training begins at 15 kms and before moving on to further distances, the pigeons must be homing in one mob and in good time. Joe also removes any damaged or sick birds from the team at that point. Then on to 25kms, and then 35 klm, and to 45 klms and to 75 kms. The target distance is 100 kms at least one week before the first club race. By now, Joe tries to have about 20 road training exercises prior to the first race. Joe insists on having a clean, healthy race mix and feeding system, he ensures that his birds are getting vitamins two days a week, and the same for probiotics and grits.
The other three stages of his training can be seen on his web site.
Joe races both Hens and cocks equally as well. He has no preference of hens or cocks, for him they display different behaviours, however the good ones stand up when needed.
A “Widowhood mix” is fed to his racing team during racing. In the off season, he finds the most economical and best grain. Last year he got Dunn peas off a farmer from Bundaberg and have sourced grain from Pro Fowl Feed and Grain as well, which is tested by Dr Rob Marshall. It is important that the grain is of high quality and free of weevils and mould.
Joe uses a range of minerals and grits, like McMahon grits, BVM powder from Mineral Energy, Beyer’s Protein powder. He also uses Sulphur powder and is currently testing other mineral blocks. Vita stress is a good product as well. Acid Pack 4 way Probiotic used during racing. He has also used 3 Wise Men Product from Bird and Pet. A race booster FORCE 12 + DMG from APFA. Joe is certain about honey and believe it is a must for pigeons .
Parasite products such as Prazole tablets are used once a month in the off season to build immunity, and bathed in Cydectin Oral Drench for Sheep weekly, recently he has gone to Eprinex in the drinking water.
Oregano is given once or twice a week and assists with respiratory prevention, birds that develop respiratory problems outside of this are carefully examined and consideration given to their value, before medical treatment is given.
During breeding, Joe recommends treating for canker using Turbosole for 4-5 days a month. He treats against Coccidiosis for two days a month using Baycox and or Keystat and helps to keep this in order. The use of Apple Cider vinegar and probiotics assists to keep the pigeon’s bowel and droppings in good order.
Vaccination of Pigeon Paramyxovirus (aka : PMV, PPMV, PMV1 -Pigeon) is now allowed and is very important for the welfare of the pigeons using Poulvac ® Newcastle iK Vaccine (Inactivated). Also vaccinating against Pigeon Pox is also a must. In Recent years he has been vaccinating for Salmonella as well, which he has been getting from Dr Mark White Sydney.
Starting in March Joe begins a health program which is designed to help alleviate the necessity of using heavier medication during racing. He gives his birds 5 days Tiamulin, 5 days Triple Vet or Triple X, 5 Days Sulfa AVS, Probiotics used in between 2 days , Worm with Prazole tablet, Lice treatment Cydectin weekly in bath, and or Eprinex Monthly in drinking water, 2 days Baycox or Keystat, 5 days of Canker treatment.
During the race season Resfite-Baycox-ACV-Turbosole, mixed at recommended doses, usually when birds come home from short races , and or long tosses.
Monday, beginning after the fourth week, an additional day or two of one of the following (Sulfa AVS, TripleX, Linco Spectin), Keystat , canker R tabs , and worming. Birds with the additional treatment would not be raced until the following week. Three weeks before a special event Joe treats selected pigeons with Baytril for 4 days and treated for canker on the 1st and 3rd days. Veterinarian help is called in cases of severe sickness .
Yearlings that show promise is usually kept for racing as a two year old, that way his best birds are the ones to teach the young yearlings the ropes. The pigeons that do not meet his set standard are removed from his team. In the event that a pigeon is removed for poor performance, Joe looks closely at the offending birds family of brothers and sisters performances as well.
Performance is Joe’s guide. Young pigeons, if kept for stock are for maintaining the parent’s bloodline, which have in their racing have done exceptionally well. All birds chosen for stock duties must have super health and fit Joe’s preferred confirmation. Joe agrees that good pigeons come in all shapes and sizes but the traits he prefers are those who have round pectoral muscles and weigh as light as a cork. He also likes to see good length in the breast bone of cocks. Eye sign and wing theory are just that, is his opinion. Joe conforms to the Throat theory by Paul Halterman , who features on the secret of champions video series and is one theory that is worth having a go at. He agrees with the theory and believes the throat is the motor for the pigeon and so must be perfect or near to it, particularly when it comes to breeding.
In the Sport of Pigeon Racing there are many that Joe admires. Locally in Rockhampton ,h e makes mention of fliers like Danny Curry (Rocky Premier lofts), Noel “The Rock” Ballinger, and Ray Jennings.
Queensland further afield, Brian Daley from Brisbane easily takes the cake. Brian’s efforts in the distance races are second to none. Others in Queensland that deserve special mention are Noel Randall, Russel Beatham, Joe Reeves, Craig Porter and Len Vanderlinde. Country flyers that also have his respect are Rodney Lowe from Townsville, Michael Frame from Millmerran.
Nationally Joe admires the VHA champs David Wetering and John Van Beers. Special mention also to Jack Vanderlinden who owns and runs Adelaide Premier Lofts South Australia, who has produced exceptional birds and kick started many lofts around Australia.
Internationally the legends of the Sport are hard to go past, Gaby Vandenabeele and Gerard Koopman. Their birds have left a remarkable result in Australia.
Changes in the pigeon racing game is always occurring, the current trend of new fanciers new to the sport are born out of the internet. The easiest way to communicate and sell pigeon racing is through the net. Like most sports in Australia, they sell themselves through good marketing and advertising. Local councils are also making it hard for fanciers to develop themselves in their own back yard as what has just developed last year is a newly formed National Body to address governing bodies’ problems. Joe believes Governing bodies need education on both history and current climate of pigeon racing. There has been successful codes of practices developed throughout Australia that have improved housing and keeping of racing pigeons. Joe believes these codes of practices need to be adopted by councils that are outside Racing Pigeon Federation jurisdiction. Joe’s opinion is that The newly formed Nationally body is a breath of fresh air for pigeon racing in Australia.
The Blue Chequer Hen below "Ella Bella" is the new pride of Mount Jackson lofts and in 2015 won the 705 mile, [1128 km] race. She has become the champion and new record holder for Rockhampton arriving home 07.40am on day two of the race, and rang up the velocity of 1251 m/m., the quickest velocity for 700 miles in Rockhampton’s history, she was 1 hour and 48 minutes in front of second place. Her sire is Van Custen bred out of Kev and Jan Pearson birds and Dam is straight Heremen from Steve Pradella birds, both parents have been great performers for Mount Jackson lofts in the last two years.
As for his overall record, he has won 34 races, come second 27 times and 28 thirds.
2014/2015 has been Joe’s highlight years by winning the East Coast Championship between the Taree 5000 and The Qld 10000 in addition to the” Premier” Rockhampton club’s seven hundred mile race.
Joe’s best bird in 2014 was "Red Man" and is one of the best pigeons flown in the Rockhampton combine. Racing was hard and club returns averaged just 10-15 % all year. Red Man was placed 7th Combine Ilbilbie 217klm, 350 birds , equal 1st Combine Proserpine 367 kms, 250 birds winning by a margin of 44 m/m . Ayr, 527 kms , 1st and only bird on the Day in the Three Bird derby in the Ripa club. Red Man is bred out of Joe’s 700 mile Hen “Condo Girl” .
On the 24th August , the RIPA Inc club flew Condoblin 700 miles , Joe clocked “Condo Girl “ No. 60 MJL 12 Red Cheq Hen to take 4th club, which is a daughter of his second Pigeon home No 24 MJL 11 Mealy Cock. No 60 is a granddaughter of "Sue" to "Hussie" (which are the parents of No 24 and also a full brother to Scott Frame 2nd Fed from Thargomindah ) and "Find the Hope" to a Daughter of Ian Howard Innisfail Winner.
Other Highlights over the years , was in 2011 ARS syndicate In Townsville clocked a Mount Jackson bred Hen from Goondiwindi 685 miles, only two birds home late second day.
In 2010 a Special Combine between Sunshine Coast and Rockhampton Flyers from Yass 807 miles . Only 4 birds home from the event, 3 belonging to Joe and the other was from Ray Jennings. "Proud 10" which is the first pigeon ever to fly over 800 miles into Rockhampton after 100 years of racing pigeons in the area , it is a very special achievement.
2010 Long Series Race Champion RRPC ,1st Coonabarabran Open 560 miles RRPC, was won by 8 hours , only two birds on the day , both in the night and belonging to Joe.
1st Moree Open 420 miles , 1st Three Bird Derby RRPC from Moree 420 miles .
In 2009 Joe entered birds into the One loft Races in Taree 5000 and Gympie (QLD 10000), gaining 8th Place Overall Australia against some of Australia's best fanciers.
Joe entered his pigeons in the RIPA club North Series against 18 flyers. He was Runner up club Championship and runner up Long Series , also equal short Series Champion with Arthur Arnold.
In 2008 Joe competed in One Loft Races Taree 5000 and Gympie 10 000, gaining 8th Place and Won Second Place Gympie 10 000 winning nearly 3000 dollars.
The same year he flew with the RIPA club on the South route and won the long series of races and not competing in the last race. Joe was placed 2nd Moree Open 669 kms, 1st Goondiwindi Open 572 kms, 1st , 2nd and 5th Goondiwindi RIPA Breeders Plate, winning over 1500 dollars., 1st Moonie Colored Bird race 483 kms, 1st Moonie Open race 483 kms, 1st Condamine Open 397 kms, 1st Condamine Two Bird Derby 397 km
In 2007 he competed in the Mallee Classic One loft race, gaining 3rd place, and over all Ace Pigeon Australia and 2nd overall Ace Pigeon QLD. Club Champion, Long Series Champion, and runner up short Series Champion, South, down the Coast against 15 flyers.
Without a doubt his last race is the most memorable. The picture is of his two Ella Bellas . One being his daughter, and the other the 700 mile champion.
Over the years Joe has struggled to get club racing past 600 miles . Until 2008 Rockhampton had only flown over 600 miles twice, the first time was from Mount Isa 720 miles in the 1970s, which proved unsuccessful. 1995 was the year Noel Ballinger got two birds home from Newcastle 660 miles on the third day.
In 2008 Jimmy Smith and Joe co-ordinated a race from Cobar 620 miles to Rockhampton and 510 miles to Gympie . Des Lovell won the race on the third day in Gympie, only bird in race time. Ray Jennings ended up getting 4/4 and Joe got 8/24 birds. Despite being a tough event, he took heart in the fact birds kept coming. Again in 2010, a 800 mile race flown with the Sunshine Coast fliers, got pigeons out of race time but proved that the long distances can be achieved and only needed a little more work to prove that point.
At this point of the interview with Joe, his passion for long distance racing was evident, way past the possibility of homing race birds from that distance, he was convinced that the glory days of long distance racing as our forefathers knew, was certain to be achieved once again. It was difficult to keep up with his enthusiasm and asked him to put into words, his own thoughts. Here is what he had to say:-
The Birdsville event in 2011 was a year for Ray Jennings on two fronts, which I’ll explain in a minute. I was committed to distance racing and decided to put my faith in planning for an Event first which Birdsville is 714 miles to Rocky , and 880 miles to Brisbane and working backwards. I personally did not fly the event, but Paul Hawkins and I committed to the event and roughly 90 pigeons were sent plus 50 belonging to one person from Rocky. Only two bird’s homed in race time. The winner was Brian Daley on the second afternoon with a two year old hen, and second was Ray Jennings on the third afternoon with a two year old hen. Rays Birdsville Hen created the longest race flown in race time recorded in Rockhampton, a truly great achievement. Finally some luck to distance racing and the planning paid off. As I said Ray had another achievement by winning the Qld 10000 which was also a tough event. I didn’t fly the Birdsville race, because the lead up race Eromanga 510 miles Ray and I flew was a disaster, only 8 birds home on second day. Eromanga proved to be a wakeup call, but I knew Ray could pull off Birdsville. There is a story with the Birdsville Hen , which may interest some readers. The Birdsville Hen was a two year old when flew her mighty race, but what most people won’t realize is that she was a stray that Ray trapped the year before . Sometime in October 2010 , I attended Ray’s place to inspect his Yass hen. During the visit I recall Ray trapping a pigeon with the same colour life ring as the Ripa ring 2009. Anyhow Ray’s first thought was, it was one from Yass , but when he checked the number it was a LPRC ring, initially myself made some enquires and left messages with the Lockyer Valley Pigeon club . What I found out was the TDPF (Toowoomba Fed) flew their last race from Charter Towers not long before the now known Birdsville hen arrived at Rays place. I remember with Ray , we both inspected the Birdsville Hen and both agreed she had not been well looked after , by the holes in her feathers and lice on her body she was in shocking condition. Despite our best intention the owner did not communicate with Ray or me. Fast forward 6 months and the Birdsville Hen madeher new home hers. I think during the training we believed the Birdsville hen would falter and not come home in training tosses, we were proven wrong when she turned up from Eromanga 510 , one of only 4 birds for Ray. After the shock had passed, we concluded that Ray’s birds had handled the smash race well. The Birdsville hen was born and she proved everybody wrong. Again several attempts to contact the breeder of the Birdsville Hen had failed and again Ray and I were stonewalled. I believe her youngsters will leave their mark as with Ray,s Eromanga Cock. Attached is a picture of the Birdsville Hen shortly after arriving home. :
The praise given those results by Joe was indeed a testimony to long distance racing in itself.
Finally, the RIPA club agreed to conduct a race out of Condobolin 710 miles in 2013. Despite some hiccups and in-house management problems, the RIPA members threw everything at Condobolin and a huge mile stone was achieved. All of Joe’s work was coming to fruition and he expressed gratitude to the club for “giving it a go”. The race was a success and though Joe was not placed in the race, he was very pleased to home his race birds on the second day.
Forbes 2015 in Joe’s opinion was the coming of age , 710 miles, new record set , 13 birds home second day. His love for distance racing well and truly now certain to happen at club level.
This year 2016, the Rockhampton “premiers” has Wilcannia, 716 miles in it sight. There is no doubt in Joe’s mind that success will come from that race.
As for future plans, Joe wants to keep testing the birds at the distances over 600 miles and hopefully successfully race 1000 miles in good time in the not so distant future.
Daniel Pianto sent Joe a time piece of Vin Blanden holding Kalgoorlie Girl. Becker’s families donated the photo to Daniel.
Being the author to Joe’s magnificent work, it cannot be left unsaid about the effort put into making success of his RIPA club. As secretary of that club in 2009/2010 he arranged and organised the most successful Breeders Plate Race Sales in Rockhampton’s History. Raising over $25,000.00 for 900 birds. To achieve this he personally conducted two pick up runs from Townsville to Brisbane, just a month apart, and covered a distance of 7000 kilometers in doing so. He done this in his own time and at his own expense. Such was his love of pigeon racing and the will to see his club prosper. This is what he had to say:-
When visiting Brisbane, I stayed at the home of Mark McKinnon and during those stays I learned a lot from him. From those visits I learned of the history of Brisbane long distance pigeons. Mark’s extraordinary knowledge of the “Old Brisbane” blood is at the same level as his relationship with the great distance racing men of the QRPF which includes his own partnership with Noel Randall. From Mark, I learned the finer points in setting up pigeons for long distance racing. While visiting Mark, I had the pleasure of meeting Barry and Gwen Hutchinson which I will never forget.:-
In December 1997 Joe, with his father Rodney, met with the Australian Pigeon Pioneer, John Hartley Thomas. From the 1920’s to the 1980’s John flew his birds at Moonta Mines South Australia. From this meeting Joe and his father obtained Grooters and Peddie Blues. The era John flew in was also flown by Max Foy and Jas Peddie. Joe was 21 and John 91 at the time they met and Joe was more than impressed with John’s determination to race his pigeons. Joe was fortunate enough to get some old books and time pieces which is displayed on his website.
In completing this article, Joe offers the following advice to new fanciers, both young and old:- always remember that “fortune favours the bold”
Joe Jackson has defied all the hardships through club disputes and difficult times. He took up the ball and carried on after the untimely death of his much loved father. His undisputed passion for long distant racing drives him and no doubt he will reach greater heights in the sport of pigeon racing which he is so passionate about. He also, during his short stay with the RIPA, became the hard working Secretary that was moving members in the right direction to achieve good things and build the ground work for better things to come. Joe was disappointed that the internal conflicts that created difficulties, did not allow their members to take advantage of what he had to offer. Joe has much to offer pigeon racing in Queensland, and, more importantly, his home town of Rockhampton.
In informed opinion “watch this space”.