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Champions of the Lagan Valley RPC
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Andy and Ryan Milliken have just recently been crowned the Highest Prize winners flying with the Lagan Valley RPC within the mighty Belfast based Ulster Federation.
Ryan holding his favourite Black Busschaert Cock
and Andy holding his good racing Sootjen Hen.

Andy and Ryan Milliken have just recently been crowned the Highest Prize winners flying with the Lagan Valley RPC within the mighty Belfast based Ulster Federation.

What an achievement considering Ryan has just turned 13. A pupil at the local Wallace High School I was very fortunate to meet football mad Ryan as well as dad Andy on my Saturday morning visit considering it was 3rd Round F.A. Cup Day.

The Milliken’s and indeed the family circle are no strangers to the pigeon scene around Lisburn and will need no introduction from me as there is a few of them and they have been going for a very long time. Needless to say Andy’s cousin Lawernce Milliken Top Prize Winner in my local Club once again (Largymore HPS) don’t need to go on do I ???

Taking nothing away from this outstanding performance by A & R Milliken from a loft location you would hardly call favourable unless racing with the assistance of an East Wind. The partnership have started to make an impression in the Lagan Valley Club over the last few seasons and that is something that is not easy done as seconds is all that split’s the result most Saturdays battling against a membership of 20+ sending 400+ pigeons.

Just look at some of this years performances that I have had hand:- Club Level 01/05/05 4th Club Kildare 488 Birds, 07/05/05 1st Club Kildare 502 Birds, 14/05/05 1st, 3rd & 8th Club Fermoy 492 Birds, 21/05/05 2nd Club Talbenny 400 Birds, 29/05/05 2nd Club Talbenny 368 Birds, 11/06/05 4th Club Bude 272 Birds, 18/06/05 2nd & 7th Club Sennen Cove 204 Birds, 30/07/05 2nd Club Kildare 375 Birds, 14/08/05 1st & 7th Club Thurles 383 Birds, 20/08/05 4th Club Fermoy 349 Birds, 27/08/05 1st & 9th Club Fermoy 334 Birds, 5th Open Clare Braniff Memorial Race 259 Birds Competing. Federation Level :- Kildare O/B 6th Fed 233 members sent 3794 Birds, Fermoy O/B 5th & 15th Fed 242 members sent 3805 Birds, Talbenny (1) O/B 17th Fed 199 members sent 2451 Birds, Talbenny (2) O/B 8th Fed 203 members sent 2280 Birds, Kildare Y/B 3rd Fed 211 members sent 4262 birds, Thurles Y/B 3rd Fed 208 members sent 3232 birds, Fermoy (1) Y/B 6th Fed 194 members sent 2887 birds, Fermoy (2) Y/B 1st & 9th Fed 175 members sent 2603 birds. Sennen Cove O/B Classic 2nd Federation, Talbenny Y/B Derby 7th, 14th & 24th Federation.

Andy has been about the birds all his life, starting to race with his father to which Andy admitted he owes much of his current drive and success to in 1975 winning the Lisburn & District HPS on a few occasions under the partnership name of J.Milliken & Son going onto join at that time the ever popular Lisnagarvey HPS. 1980 seen Andy and his dad join the Hills & Maze HPS were things started to improve just not at Club level but they were starting to make an impression at Section and NIPA Open level including success in the INFC Kings Cup.

After 15 years of an apprenticeship with his father Andy upon moving house to Cross Lane of the Moira Road decided to join Hills & Maze as A Milliken. This happening around the time that the Lagan Valley RPC were seeking members and Andy was to duly join. What a start two Club wins achieved in his first years racing. Amazing how a win can drive you on for 1992 was to bring 14 x 1sts between both Clubs including 1st Open Ulster Federation Talbenny Derby. Followed by 10 x 1st’s in 1993 including 1st Open O/B Skibbereen Derby and 1st Open Talbenny Y/B Derby both Ulster Federation.

Success continued at a steady but very enjoyable rate up until 1997 when family circumstances forced a complete clearance sale. Andy decided to return and give his dad a hand at his lofts for the next 5 years his dad was at this stage racing as J Milliken. In the meantime young Ryan had got the bug and he in turn started to fly with the Lagan Valley RPC finishing 11th Open in the INFC Y/Bird National in his first season 2001. 2002 seen the father and son partnership of A & R Milliken finally established on the map as two very credible racers in partnership hence the reason for this article.

Like many of today’s fanciers, trying to fit pigeons into a working mans life is no easy task, with Andy working flat out in a joinery and roofing business. Much of the work around the loft is done early morning or kept as simple and as easy as possible for Ryan to do when finishing his activities at school. This has and continues to hold Andy back from trying and more so implementing new ideas and systems, currently the partnership race the Old Birds on Roundabout and the Young Bird team on Darkness.

The partnership would start the Old Bird Season with around 45 this comprising off 1/3 cocks and 2/3’s hens cocks are housed in their own boxes with the hens making do with V perches. Andy did point out 9 times out of 10 the hens do beat the cocks on race day even though the hens are deep littered and the cocks are scraped every day, feeding is Bosmolen Widowhood mixture, Multi Vitamins are added to the water once per week as is Tea, Garlic and Electrolytes on a Sunday. Birds are always treated once a month for Canker, Respiratory is also treated monthly for 2 - 3 days and Cocci treatment is carried out before breeding and racing. Training is a must the more the merrier as far as Andy is concerned and when he has time he would take up the road cocks or hens pending on what the training transporter has took earlier the old cocks and hens are always tossed separately approx. 40 miles each time.

Darkness is the long established system for the Young Bird Racing. The Milliken loft was one of the first in the early 90’s to start with the Darkness programme, darkening commences from around 30 days old until the last week in May for the full team 80 approx. Feeding and supplements are the same as the old birds. Tossing would start around 4 weeks before the first race distance would be very much dependent on how much work they are doing around the house but with the air around the loft filled with wires running in every direction it suits Andy & Ryan to have them up the road as often as possible each week this is a safer option as with a continuing Hawk problem one attack can scatter the other’s into the path of the wires in panic. Just to add Y/Birds are hopper fed with no restrictions re. the amount of corn.

Nine Pair of stock birds is all that is reared from and what luxury they have, Andy and Ryan took me through the garage up stairs to show me the newly fitted breeding pens complete with their own drinkers, feeders and all pots etc they measure about 4ft by 4ft and about 7 ft tall with the height spilt by a half shelf in the middle and nest bowl tucked away in the corner of the floor with plenty of fresh straw in each. Seems so much room for 2 pigeons but I came away thinking to myself fantastic at least you can sleep at night knowing that nothing can go wrong i.e. cock in wrong box or hens getting treaded by other cocks, smashed eggs, makes life a lot easier I would think you could even leave them for a few days without worry. The breeding is split between direct Sootjens and Busschaerts going back to the Billy Parkes of Killyleagh lines. They are always open to improvement and do try other strains at different times. Stock Birds are mated around November with a sweat occurring waiting on rings arriving ( I did c a few rung babies today) and then the racers are mated around the middle of January.

Andy and Ryan would like to thank everybody including friends, fellow club members and fellow pigeon men who have congratulated them since there success.

On conclusion I think this partnership will continue to visit the prize table for many years to come and from what I can hear would have been lifting the main Ulster Federation Fancier of the Year Award this year had it not been for fellow Club men, Sportsmen and friends Spence Bros who just nailed it at the end, just shows the level of club competition and what it took to be Top Prize-winners.

Well Done.

by: Adie


Andy and Ryan Milliken have just recently been crowned the Highest Prize winners flying with the Lagan Valley RPC within the mighty Belfast based Ulster Federation.
The 32 x 6 foot six sectional main O/B racing lofts.

Andy and Ryan Milliken have just recently been crowned the Highest Prize winners flying with the Lagan Valley RPC within the mighty Belfast based Ulster Federation.
The Y/B racing loft situated South facing at the bottum of the garden. (Just some of the wires overhead.)

Andy and Ryan Milliken have just recently been crowned the Highest Prize winners flying with the Lagan Valley RPC within the mighty Belfast based Ulster Federation.
Due to the narrowness of the corridor I was unable to snap a better shot of the spacious breeding pens. (Both Sides)




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