Photo: Fred Wright. Think big: Ian states that a key advantage, when starting out in Borders, is to give yourself as spacious a birdroom as you can. Don’t start out cramped! 

Fred Wright concludes his Q&A series with IAN PERRIER with advice for anyone looking to take on Borders, and tips gleaned from decades of experience with this variety.

FRED Wright: What are your ambitions with your birds in the short and long term?

Ian Perrier: I think short term I’m nearly there, but in the long term it’s maintaining and staying among the top birds. I know from personal experience that it’s easy to slip backwards – you don’t need many bad seasons to lose your way.

I plan to breed and keep decent numbers for the foreseeable future until it becomes too much, then I’m not sure. Time will tell.

FW: Who are the people you admire most in the fancy and why?

IP: There are many individuals and it would be easy to name several of the top fanciers in various sections. Without these dedicated top fanciers the quality of the stock wouldn’t be as good as it is today. However there are many “ordinary” people who ensure there are clubs for exhibitors, give talks, judge and in general play an essential role without seeking fame and fortune.

If I had to name a couple it would be Phil Warne (Border canaries) who continues to breed and show top-quality Borders. Grosvenor Ridgway and Derek Oldknow also deserve a mention because they were top men in their section of the hobby (British birds).

FW: What advice would you give to anyone wishing to start up with your variety?

IP: The Border fancy is a great hobby but one where you have to be patient and slowly build up the quality of your stock and, of course, your knowledge and experience.

In line with the world today many newcomers are not prepared to do this, so they go straight to the top fanciers thinking that if they buy the very best, then they can shortcut their way to the top.

Breeding Borders is like an apprenticeship: you learn as you progress and it takes time – often more time than is available as a family man – and perhaps more financial outlay. You also need luck.

Putting the birds to one side I dread to think how much it would cost to set up a fairly basic shed with cages and utensils – probably as much as a family car and certainly more than a family holiday.

FW: Give two special tips that you would like to pass on to our readers.

IP: The first is once you have chosen a variety of bird, get the standard in your mind’s eye, go to shows and look at the winners, then look at those that are just behind. Gain an understanding, listen to people but be prepared to let some things go in one ear and out the other. If you want instant and sustained success, perhaps consider another hobby.

Second, when setting up a shed from new, make it as large as possible, ensure it has electricity, hot and cold water, as well as drainage and – in these days, sadly – security.

Even if you are able to construct a decent-sized shed, be sensible on the amount of cages you install. These can be added to later if space is part of your early provision. Make your cages a decent size – it’s better for the stock and they keep cleaner for longer.

FW: How would you go about starting again with a fixed sum of money £500 (or even £1,000)?

IP: If I were in a position whereby I had to completely restock, I’d hope that friends within the hobby would contribute in terms of foundation stock. There are still genuine people who will help colleagues and are not solely biased towards adding to their annual income.

Depending on the composition of those birds, I’d look to buy in a couple of foundation cocks. But as you’ve suggested that I’ve got £1,000 to play with, I have a hard task ahead! It’s not a situation that I’d like to find myself in.

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