Breeding Racing Pigeons: Methods of selecting breeders
Genetics are not covered in this section. Entire volumes of scientific information is available on the subject of genetics. One can easily get lost. What most pigeon fanciers want to know is; how do I breed a champion racer? Unless you have lots of spare cash to invest in breeders every year or a young bird kit from top pigeon fanciers, you need to learn to select breeders from among your own team and learn various breeding strategies. As mentioned previously, there is in-breeding, line breeding and out crossing from those systems. There is also the philosophy of just merely mating your best to your best. For the most part, look at most pedigrees of winning pigeons and you will not necessarily find birds that are line bred or in-bred. Most will have pedigrees filled with race winners, diploma winners or at least birds that are descended out of great pigeons. Some birds in those pedigrees might not have any wonderful achievements themselves, but are related to birds that do. Why would that matter? It might matter because those birds have a chance of carrying some of the genes that made the champions they are related to, great birds.
How much do they inherit?
When you look at yourself, you are 50% you father and 50% your mother. There is 50% of your parents that you did not inherit from either of them. When you have children, you will pass on 50% of your genes to each of them. Theoretically, it’s possible for any two of your children NOT to inherit any of the same genes as the other. Relative to your parents, your children would only inherit 25% of any of their original genetic material. Great grand children would then only have 12.5% and great great grand children would have a mere 6.24%. That’s pretty minute. Now, look at some of those pedigrees that you may have your self or have seen. It starts out with a grand child of “So and So”. So this breeder will have only 25% percent of the genetic material that the champion ancestor possessed. That would make anyone take a harder look at the other 75%. It would be important to have another breeder that also possessed at least 25% of that genetic material. If you only have the one grand child breeder of the champion, your best approach is to start line breeding if he proves to be a producer of good pigeons.
What is a strain? A great debate
If you’ve been a fancier for a few years, you quickly learn about all the flashy strains. At any one time, certain strains are hot or new. Then there are the old strains which old timers will tell you are the way to go. The literature out there refers to strains as though the are completely different breeds of pigeons. With our pigeons, it’s not like with other domestic animals such as dogs, cattle, poultry etc. The only breed difference is between fancy pigeons, like the tipplers, rollers, fantails, pouters etc. Take any homing pigeon of any “strain” and mate them together. You will get a homing pigeon. So where did the word “strain” originate? Sorry, I have no idea. I can only say that strains are named after fanciers. In the pigeon world, if a great fanciers had a winning family, soon after others rushed to purchase birds they refer to them as “such and such” after the name of the fancier. Some fanciers, such as the Janssen brothers, would purchase new stock and put them in their loft. They would then always be referred to as Janssens even though they originated from outside of their loft. One thing that you could say that was also true though, those outside birds conformed to the selective standards of the Janssen brothers.
I think everyone than could agree that “Strain” refers to a family of pigeons descending from a common source. My definition then of a common source is a foundation loft in which the birds were selected by a standard and uniform criteria. So what happens when a “Strain” then is sold and flown by another fancier, and then another fancier, and then another fanciers and so on? At which point do we agree that those birds though descended (greatly) from a common source has now, through various transition lofts, been exposed to other criteria which can NOT be exacting of the original source? Can we truly now call them a strain? I personally do not think so. They may still be great pigeons, because they have passed the standards in each successive lofts and each of those fanciers may have been very selective and maintained the quality of the birds, but I do not feel that the term “strain” by logical standards would apply.
I think as an industry of pigeon sales, we attach the term “strain” and we maintain it in order to sell pigeons, or to have other think highly of our pigeons. When someone has a multiple race winner one of the first questions asked is “Oh what strain or family of pigeons do you keep?” Most fanciers then respond “Oh, it’s a Fabry, Janssen, Leen Boers, Wegge” or what ever “strain” may have been introduced into that fanciers loft. I think it’s time that great fanciers, ditch the “strain” names and once a bird has met their standard, bred to their standard and they have sold stock, it ought to be named after them. It’s time we have “strain” names buzzing through the auctions named after the All American or President Cup winners in America of today!!
The only way to attain real longevity in the sport of pigeon racing is to breed your own champions. By mastering the practice of breeding, you’ll have the ability to control quality, quantity, and most importantly, performance. Whether you want to establish a solid reputation as a top breeder or you are looking to sell your pigeons and generate huge profits, you need to know all the facts. Click here to learn more about how you can become a master breeder and start breeding champion pigeons like clockwork!