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Pigeon Racing Systems; The Pros and Cons of Each

Racing Pigeon Systems The Pros and ConsOld Birds

Old bird systems are designed around motivation.    Cocks and hens are motivated by their love for home (security, food, shelter), their nest box, their mate, their eggs, etc.

Natural system

This system allows for the birds to mate up, go down on eggs and race to the nest box.  Eggs are often switched for dummy eggs but some are raced to youngsters in the nest.

Positives

  1. the mate, the nest box, the eggs or youngsters are extremely powerful motivators
  2. The possibilities of ways to “set up” individual birds are numerous.
  3. Allows you to breed from your race team.
  4. If various pairs are kept on different laying cycles various birds will be in form at different times.

Negatives

  1. When a mate becomes lost, it then handicaps the remaining mate as it has to be re mated and re motivated
  2. Raising a youngster is added stress that may take away from racing form.
  3. Brooding sometimes causes a pigeon to eat less rather than get off of the eggs and loft flying may be decreased.  To keep from loosing either of these careful attention must be paid to each individual.
  4. Birds do not stay in form as long.

Widowhood

This system flies only cocks and uses the nest box and hens as the motivator.   The cocks are deprived of the hens except in preparing them for the race and often upon return from the race.

Positives

  1. The hens are a very positive motivator
  2. Requires less road training
  3. Losses during the race system do not handicap the system or the individual birds
  4. Bird keep their form longer than in the natural system.

Negatives

  1. Hens are not flown
  2. Requires an additional section to house the hens
  3. Must have dedicated breeders other than racers to also breed for a young bird season

Double Widowhood

This system is the same as regular widowhood except that hens are also raced.   The hens/cocks are motivated the same way by each other just before basketing and upon the return from the race.

Positives

  1. The hens/cocks are a very positive motivator
  2. Losses during the race system do not handicap the system or the individual birds
  3. Both sexes are flown maximizing the amount of birds in the loft racing.
  4. Bird keep their form longer than in the natural system.

Negatives

  1. Requires an additional section to house the hens
  2. Requires more road training
  3. Must have dedicated breeders other than racers to also breed for a young bird season

The Celibacy system

This a system where hens and cocks are housed separately.  They are flown unmated.   Some use of the other sex is used as a motivator.

Positives

  1. The hens/cocks are a very positive motivator
  2. Losses during the race system do not handicap the system or the individual birds
  3. Both sexes are flown maximizing the amount of birds in the loft racing.
  4. Bird keep their form longer than in the natural system.

Negatives

  1. Requires an additional section to house the hens
  2. Requires more road training
  3. Must have dedicated breeders other than racers to also breed for a young bird season

Young Birds

Young bird systems are based off of the biological clock and the ability to manipulate that clock.

There is the natural system in which nothing is altered other than young birds are hatched, weaned, matured naturally, trained and raced.

The Lighting System uses artificial light to increase the amount of daylight to trick the birds biological clock into making them mature faster.  This system usually requires pulling the 9th and 10th flight feathers.

The Darkening System uses the deprivation of light to also trick the birds into maturing differently. The main difference in the darkening system is the birds will loose all body feathers but will keep their flight feathers.

If young birds are matured enough, they can be flown to a widowhood system.   The only draw back to this is that most clubs do not separate hens/cocks therefor that could hinder racing a young bird with that type of motivation.

By Domanski Family Lofts

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7 thoughts on “Pigeon Racing Systems; The Pros and Cons of Each

  1. Can someone explain the lighting system and oulling the 10th and 9th flight in detail? When you should do it and amount of light needed.

  2. Hi guys.
    Over hear in Australia i do not think we race the Widowhood system , I race hens ans cocks in the race team each week With good relalts.The cocks fly 700+ no problem
    Happy flying witch ever system you fly over the Globe.
    Regards TREV

  3. Hi Everyone.
    Are you forever tired of being asked the question how do pigeons find their way home?
    More often than not the answer is we don’t know.
    Well a scientist in New Zealand has found out how they do it, especially when the birds are liberated in a locality totally foreign to them.
    The answer is simple they follow the magnetic fields of planet earth!
    The scientist attached small GPS haversacks to the backs of numerous racing pigeons.
    After many liberations, the GPS information was compiled and it showed that the birds followed the earths magnetic fields.
    As the magnetic fields are not in straight lines, the birds flight paths are not dead straight either.
    Have you ever noticed how a flock of racing pigeons that seem to be flying in a straight line but then suddenly veer slightly right or left ?, that’s because they are following a magnetic field.
    The birds have IONS in their head/brain which allow them to be able to follow the fields.
    Apparently some fish have similar systems (Salmon) which allows them to go home to spawn.
    So the birds following the magnetic fields (because they are curved) are actually flying further to get home over long distances than the actual official race measurements.
    There are also locations that are not good for liberations due to very strong circular magnetic fields which confuse the birds.
    Auckland, New Zealand is a large city built around numerous extinct volcanos, these extinct volcanos still have strong magnetic fields around them.Therefore Auckland is not a good liberation point but it is O.K. to race birds to Auckland from elsewhere in New Zealand so long as they had a good liberation point to begin with.
    Of course there are many other factors that determine if a bird makes it home safely,i.e.The weather,topography of the land, birds of prey, wires,hunters,birds fitness/health,birds athletic ability.
    So the mystery is over they simply follow magnetic fields!

  4. I enjoy reading the articles that are posted here. And I see lots of good stuff. A new flyer can really get confused trying to decide what system or systems to use with his or her birds. I like the natural system myself, but that is just me.I raised rollers for many years until I started with homers, and one thing I do know is that you need to let those birds out to fly, excersize. find their wings. I think that is one key to success. if they dont get out, how do you expect them to make it down the road.I raise lots of young birds every year and I usually give many away, but what I have learn is that they need to fly at home first. I know that the new flyer isnt going to want to let his birds out for the first time for fear of losing 1 or all of their young birds. But if you let them out soon enough, they are not going to go far. They usually walk around the roof or in the yard, pecking at every thing, as this is all new to them. I used to set out with them so they would be used to me being around. Dont worry about the “trap”…keep it open. The young birds need to learn one thing at a time. I found that the first time you put them our they dont fly much, so you can easily herd them around. Let them peck for awhile them. open your loft door and walk them back in. if you have been around them a lot they wont fly, they ll just walk. and they will go back in. Feed them as you usually do. Like little kids, the next time you let them out, they will be ready, as they remember. And do every thing all over again. To me this is one of their first lessens in homing, if they dont remember, they wont home for you, and that is what we are working for. You ll find that in a very few days they will be waiting for you. Heres where is gets fun open the trap and stand back.Those young birds now have their wings and will all start toward the trap, out they go……and guess what ,they are in the air . Thats what we have been working for.not all of them at first but they will learn.when they settle. dont leave them out long. call them in and do your usuall thing in your loft. The next day, they will be waiting for you. and again open the trap and stand back. cause they remembered and out they go, this time they are in the air and flying, and circling and circling and circling……this reall y makes your heart beat. Now they have their wings and are doing what they ae supposed to, flying. Dont worry, when they get tire they will come down. When they do call them in. If you let them mess around to much, you ll have trouble getting them in when you want them in. And remember dont have food or water outside the loft. if you do later on will be a down fall. They must know to go inside to drink.At this time you need to start limiting access to the loft via the trap. Dont have all the boobs down at once, and every day drop a few more till they are all down.Now we have them in the air and trapping. Now when you go into the loft, there they are, they see you, and guess what they are ready, open the trap and get out of the way, cause all your going to hear is wings beating loudly……they re in the air and flying……I love to see them circle and circle…..just like they are suppoed to…..ever watch wild pigeon s fly, they do the same thing. This is excirse. Buiding up their wings and body strenght…..now they are ready for what ever training program you have decided upon…….I love to see them fly for as long as they want. All your young birds should all be flying together by this time. I read many articles of how new flyers cant seem to keep from losing their birds. I feel that young birds need to know how to fly around home first, you know, those short flights from roof top to loft and around. They need to get up into the air and see whats around home.When they are up there, they learn the home terrin and and as I said, they remember.Some say magnitism is the thing that brings them home, No I say they know, they remember… When your mom sent you to school, magnitism didnt bring you home, you remembered……you knew the way and as you grew, the farther away you went, the easyer it was for you to come home cuase you remembered. Have fun with your pigeons….keep em flying…butch

  5. im very new to the pigeon game and i let 4 birds out today for the first time and one was a mating pair and they stuck together like glue i got the hen in then the cock followed close behind oh this is there first time out on there own and weren’t sure about getting in and out of the loft so i will try flying the cock only and see how that works

  6. Hi there… Thank you for this very imformative article. I’m very interested in the sport and I feel racing systems is the most complicated part of this hobby. I need to decide which system is best suited for me to design my loft. This article did not mention the pros and cons forround-about system. Would it be the same as the natural system or the double widowhood? Any feedback would very appreciated. Happy flying…

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