Racing pigeons are a great wonder especially for individuals who have a passion for animal cognition. The ability to return to its owner after traveling thousands of kilometers by flight is certainly an amazing quality especially for a bird. Let alone migratory birds fly the really long distances. But whenever pigeons lovingly return to the arms of their owners, the feeling of elation is just unavoidable.
|Racing pigeon photographed near Barkby, Leicestershire |
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Amazing as they are, pigeons who are made to race are not as easily cared for like ordinary pets. Breeding pigeons that can win race competitions is not a joke. Any racing pigeon fancier must be ready to invest a huge amount of attention to the pigeons as well as understand that time and money are involved. And certainly a great deal of passion will tremendously affect your success in raising and turning your special pigeons to real winners.
There are basically three types of breeding methods that you can adopt to make sure that you get the best possible pedigree for a racing pigeon: cross-breeding, line-breeding, and in-breeding.
In cross-breeding, unrelated pigeons (or which are five generations apart) are made to mate with the hope of giving birth to better pigeons – better than their parents. This breeding method is more expensive than line-breeding because of the generation gap (the bigger the generation gap, the more expensive) but relatively more effective than in-breeding.
Line-breeding allows the mating of pigeons with smaller generation gaps (ex. grandchild to grandparents or cousin to cousin) than those for cross breeding. Although less expensive than cross-breeding and a lot safer than in-breeding, this method may take a long time to establish the traits that you want in your pigeon.
In-breeding is the riskiest but may also be the most successful method provided that you have really ideal pigeons. In this system, the mating happens between a parent pigeon and its child or between a brother and a sister pigeon. Because of the closeness of the generation, any trait from any of the pigeons can be easily passed to the resulting offspring – both good and bad traits. Add to this, any bad trait found on one of the partner pigeons is likely present on the other too because of their close generations.
So while in-breeding can magnify the good traits of your pigeons, the risk is that it can also equally magnify their weaknesses. You may even end up with a pigeon that has both the best and worst traits from its parents – what a waste that will be! Also, while in-breeding does not have to spend that much money for bigger generation gaps (because the mating pigeons are IN the same generation), it may however end up becoming more financially-challenging because of the need to eliminate pigeons with non-ideal traits. Not to mention that you should be capable of culling.
The secret to breeding the best racing pigeons lies in thoroughly learning as much as all of their traits. Learn the rules of compatibility – and some genetics too. And be as passionate as you can be in caring for your pigeons.