Mervyn Mooney works full-time as a security guard. He lives close to Millisle, County Down, and enjoys watching motorcycle racing and getting out, along with his two sons, on their bikes.
How long have you been keeping poultry?
My dad and I started keeping poultry, I suppose, mid-Eighties when I was still single and living at home and I should mention we must have had very understanding neighbours as we lived in the middle of a housing estate in Groomsport. I then got married and the birds moved to my wee place as I had more room. My daughter then started show jumping and I was working shifts and sometimes away from home, so the birds unfortunately had to go. Approximately 2005, the birds were sold off. I have only started back in February 2018 when I bought breeding stock.
What got you into poultry?
It was my dad and the late Jim Smyth who got me interested in Belgians. Jim sponsored me in my motorbike racing days and he was very knowledgeable about Belgians and he sold us a trio to get us started and kept us right.
Did you start to show straight away?
We didn’t show the first year, we just concentrated on breeding birds to show the following season.
Who got you into showing?
Austin Shaw, Jim Smyth and the late Derek Hanna from Dromore gave me and my dad great encouragement and guidance when we first started going to shows.
How many breeds have you kept over the years?
I haven’t really kept that many breeds over the years. I have kept basically Belgians, Orpingtons, German Langshans and very recently acquired two pairs of Brahma bantams.
What is you favourite breed and why?
My favourite breed would have to be Belgians. I think they are a beautiful true bantam with a great personality.
What are the greatest challenges with this breed?
The greatest challenges within the Belgian breed would be, I suppose, the same as most breeds trying to breed birds as close to the breed standards as possible. One of the main problems with Belgians are that they are starting to get too big and the challenge is trying to breed them nice and small.
What is you greatest achievement?
Including my dad, our best achievements in the hobby would be going to the Scottish National twice and getting Champion Belgian on both occasions and then winning Champion Langshan at the English Federation Show 2018 and Supreme Show Champion at this year’s Ulster Poultry Federation Show in my first year back showing for a long time.
If you were starting out in poultry is there any advice that you would give someone?
If I was asked to give someone just starting out in birds my wee bit of advice would be to honestly think what breeds they are interested in and to stick to a maximum of two or at a push three breeds and do not breed too many the first year until you learn the basics of how to look after your birds properly. As I have seen people getting a load of different breeds at the start and breeding dozens and dozens of chicks and getting a real sickener before they even get going.
Finally, is there anyone in the poultry world you admire?
I think the likes of Ryan McLaren, Robert Shaw, Neal Adams and James Weatherup to name but a few who I remember as small kids when I was showing before and they have stayed loyal to the poultry scene and birds have become a major part of their lives and they and others like them are the future of this great hobby in our wee country.