|Photo by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com|
Let's start with the basic needs: food and shelter.
Food for pigeons needs to be clean, fresh, and of high quality. Grains and grit are their primary foods but these will not boost their performance enough to win a race. Minerals and vitamins must be included in their diet which can be mixed with the water or with the food in the form of oil. It is highly important that the food should have low moisture content or else it will be susceptible to becoming a breeding ground for fungi, bacteria, and eventually become toxic to the bird.
The shelter, specifically called "loft" for a pigeon house, comes in different styles depending on your desired functions. Most pigeon fanciers build multiple lofts in order to separate the males from the females as well as the young from the mature ones (or the unmated from the mated). The former is being done to have full control on breeding while the latter is often for pigeons which are not yet identified whether male or female.
Lofts may come in different forms too. There's the "trap and landing board" for race pigeons, a "flypen" for those that are limited to fly freely, a "nestbox" for each pigeon especially that they are territorial animals, and numerous "perches".
Every pigeon starts to live in a nest then must be transferred to a bigger loft after around 4 weeks. Once inside the bigger loft, the pigeon is trained to become familiar with its surroundings such as the location of food, water, and the entire look of the loft. Only after the pigeon's 6th and 7th week can it be made to fly higher and farther for practice. By this time, it is understood that the pigeon has developed already some capabilities to recall signs that it can utilize to get back to its owner or loft.
Determining the speed of your pigeons is also crucial. Only once you have identified whether your pigeon is indeed in need of further speed can you really work on the potential reasons for the slow performance. You can measure the speed of your racing pigeon through the traditional and electronic timing methods. But although both can be effective, the traditional method may pose some conflicts when the winning bird suddenly does not continue on entering its loft, and hence the time recording does not become accurate
Lastly, you need to make sure that you are closely connected with your racing pigeons. Flying and tossing them from time to time may always be a wonderful activity for both of you and which shall continue all throughout their racing careers. So don't be fooled by the thought that one great breed is enough to lead you to success. Training is very much a must.