Racing Pigeons: Three Things to Look For When Selecting Breeders
Chances are better that you will produce a winning pigeon if you are breeding from birds that are winners. In racing pigeons, we are selecting for so many factors many of which can not be seen or detected when holding a pigeon in our hand, or viewing them on a perch. Which genetics come variation. Variation in everything, from muscle quality, organ quality, the ability to orientate and find home, inherited behaviors such as a fierce determination to get home. We as fanciers select for physical characteristics we can see. The basket and the races select for the qualities that we can’t see. Using this logic, we must assume if we want a leg up on selecting for breeding quality, we have to also look at racing performance.
2. Breeding Performance
Which is worth more, one pigeon out of ten that is a “sport” or a champion or ten that are above average? This is a question we must ask ourselves. When evaluating our birds breeding performance we must set a standard. I think it’s a wrong standard to select on merely the number of birds bred versus how many of them remain on the team. We must set a higher bar and look for those that produce diploma winners, even if a good number of their youngsters get lost in training. That’s selection working for us. The basket training is selecting the youngsters that did not inherit the right combination of genes, while the diploma or point winners, though few have inherited the right combination. If you do not have an abundance of diploma winners, than look at how many birds are first or first of three to the loft. Start there. Set a standard and maintain it. If you improve enough to set the bar higher, than you are doing something right.
Don’t select from only one mating. Before you give up on a breeder, mate it to at least three different mates. Often times, you are looking for a good “nitch”. Sometimes, two birds, genetically are not a good match and are passing on genes that do not compliment each other or are passing on similar deleterious genes. After you have mated them to several different mates and they are not producing to your standard, remove them from your program.
3. Physical Characteristics
Look for birds that meet your preferred physical characteristics. A good breeder will be balanced regardless of size. They will have good feather quality. A breeder must be healthy. Breeding stresses a pigeon and a pigeon under stress will not breed to his/her potential. The eyes should be clear and the wattle snowy white. Some breeders are prisoners or have been prisoners for some time. Muscle tone and physical fitness is not maintained in a prisoner pigeon that is not out flying nearly daily. Also today when there are so many birds of prey attacking our homing pigeons, only a fool would let their best breeders loft fly and take the chance that a Cooper Hawk or Goshawk would take them down. As angry as you might be, the predators are protected and if you send the bill to Uncle Sam, he’s not going to compensate you for your loss. If you are looking on the race team, and you are selective with the race team, they should already possess the physical traits you are looking for.
I prefer a bird with longer wings, I like the tips of the tenth flight feathers to reach within 1/2 inch of the tail bar. I want a roomy throat. I don’t like birds with long necks. I prefer a shorter roomier neck. I want the muscles and air sac to be supple. I like a broad rump area and a strong back. I like a pigeon to feel like a piece of pie when I hold them. A bird must be balanced, both when viewed standing on a perch and when held in the hand. I like a bird that is well feathered over the keel. Sometimes I get birds that are not thick feathered in that area and none of them have ever flown to standard. I like the lower mantle of the tail to be thick. I like like wide and longer secondary feathers on the wing. Just like the tail, I like the lower mantle on the wings to be thick. I like the ear holes on my birds to be well feathered. Any birds that do not have well feathered ear holes have never proven to be of value. I am not a subscriber to eye sign at this point in my hobby so I make no selection based on eye sign. I like the eyes to be clear, but clarity of the eye is a sign of health.
Racing Pigeons: Three Things to Look For When Selecting Breeders by Domanski Family Lofts