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Pigeon Racing : Top 7 Things You Need to Know to Win

October 9, 2022 234 0
Pigeon Racing : Top 7 Things You Need to Know to Win

We are all fascinated with fierce competition and finding out who is the best competitor among others. Racing is an exciting set of events involving machines, running, cycling, swimming, and even animals. Most of us are familiar with horse racing and greyhound dog racing, which people link to their betting activities.

Pigeon racing is another racing sport for animals that involves trained racing pigeons. It may sound difficult to race with pigeons, but there are special kinds of these birds that experts can train to compete. If you want to learn more details about this sport, here is a guide to pigeon racing for beginners.

Pigeon Racing Take Off

Pigeon racing is a racing sport that involves highly trained pigeons. The race is about releasing these pigeons and returning to their homes over a measured distance. The period when the pigeon takes off and covers a specified distance will be the duration of the pigeon racing. The pigeon with the highest speed and shortest time will be the winner of the race.

The pigeon with the highest velocity will most likely win the race, and it can only have a difference of seconds from the other participants. To measure the precise time, organizers use a timing apparatus for accuracy. Traditional pigeon racing uses timing methods, including placing rubber rings into special clocks, and the latest time measurement uses RFID tags.

Pigeon racing started becoming more popular in the mid-19th century in Belgium. Pigeon enthusiasts in Belgium developed Voyageurs, pigeons that can fly fast and have long endurance. Their hard work spread through many parts of the world. Still, it also experienced a decline in participants because of the economic crisis, a decrease in the public interest, and aging enthusiasts. Nevertheless, it is still an exciting race to watch.

1. Background of Pigeon Racing

For thousands of years, pigeons were already domesticated animals. People used them for their homing ability, particularly as “Pigeon Posts,” where they carry messages from one point to another. This kind of pigeon service was established everywhere, especially in the military. Pigeon posts are still in active service today.

2. Pigeon Racing

Pigeon racing is a competition among birds where they take off from their lofts and will race home. Races would usually range between 100 and 1,000 kilometers in distance. A pigeon race in the United States recorded a total distance of 1,800 kilometers.

During pigeon racing, there are many hazards that birds can experience. The required age for pigeons to race must be at least 6 months, and they can still compete at over ten years of age. The average racing career seldom goes over three years on average. 

Participating racers must wear a permanent, numbered band or ring placed on their leg five days after birth. To start the race, participating pigeons would usually start at the organization’s clubhouse and have a predetermined time and location for their release. The organizers use GPS to measure the time and distance between the home loft and the race point. Pigeon racing has popular leagues and 2 divisions – the young and old birds. 

3. Customary Timing Method

In pigeon racing, the conventional timing method uses rubber rings, serial numbers, and a pigeon racing clock that has a special design. The birds will have the ring attached to their leg before the race. Organizers will record the bird’s serial number and make sure that the clock is sealed and set. The birds will carry their rings back home and return them in a slot in the clock. The official race time of a bird will be the time they return the ring in the clock, which will also determine their average speed and the winner of the race. 

Even though this method serves its purpose, it creates some problems for these reasons: Pigeon racing records the official race time of the birds after removing the rings, then placing them on the clock. This procedure can have vital differences in seconds, which can cause race results. The pigeons may also feel reluctant to enter their lofts because they may feel uncomfortable with the loose rings attached to their legs. Loosening the ring’s attachment can be removed easily when returning to their lofts.

4. Modern Timing Method

Pigeon racing also adapts to new technology to improve the overall racing event. The Electronic Timing System is its latest development that helps record the race automatically with accuracy, and the birds do not have to go back to their lofts to clock. The racing pigeons will have a band equipped with a small RFID chip to capture data during the race. An antenna or pad is placed at entry points of loft entrances that record the birds' performance as they pass through. The transponder ring also has a serial number that sets the time and distance of the bird’s travel, the same timing system as the human races.

5. Pigeon Racing – One-loft

One-loft is a process in pigeon racing where many breeders train their birds in the same loft. The birds train under the same conditions and trainers to obtain the fairest method of determining the best bloodline or breeder that will excel in any pigeon racing event. Organizers, breeders, and trainers record the pigeon’s performance in the race and may have a close 100th of a second difference from other competitors. 

All pigeons start from the same release point and must return to the same loft as fast as they can. One-loft pigeon racing is increasing its popularity anywhere in the world, with enthusiasts comparing their pigeons with the best bloodlines.

6. Pigeon Racing Training

All participating birds in pigeon racing must undergo special training to win events. These pigeons will be under one loft during their training and would usually start at a young age of five weeks. Racing pigeons are dedicated racers that train until the end of their careers. The racing loft is where they begin and end the race.

Young pigeons experience rigorous training and selective breeding to determine if they are race-ready in pigeon racing events. Their training will start with familiarizing their surroundings and the entire loft, which will help them utilize different features of their home. It is important that the birds adapt and learn commands like going inside the loft when the trainer whistles. 

Once the birds pass their initial “homing in” and training, trainers, will allow these young birds to fly outside. No matter how strong these pigeons became, overzealous pigeons would tend to fly away. Their training will prevent this from happening and will make sure that the pigeons find their way back home.

Pigeons become smarter and stronger when they get old, which gives the trainers the confidence to allow them to fly further away from the loft. Some trainers let their pigeons fly within the same area, and thousands of “loft flying” could be in the flock.

“Loft flying” means letting the pigeons know their surroundings and develop good fitness during training. This training can be good for the bird’s physical development but not for its ability to find its way home from long-distance travel. 

Young pigeons may also undergo “training tosses” to have faster progress in letting them fly away from their loft for longer distances. This type of pigeon training is a simulation of a real race but on a smaller scale with a shorter time. A pigeon undergoes tossing and loft flying training throughout their racing career.

The training and practices for pigeons are effective systems for finishing pigeon racing successfully. Some trainers show their basic strategies in training their pigeons, but there are also trainers who are reluctant to give details on how they become successful. Widowhood is one of the most effective and popular training systems in pigeon racing. This system teaches pigeons a sense of urgency, especially on race day. 

7. Pigeon Breeding

In preparation for pigeon racing, pigeon breeding is important in building owners' and trainers' careers. Pigeons start to mature sexually at the age of six months, but most breeders would go beyond that age before they begin to breed. Hens lay two eggs 36 hours apart, where the first egg does not go into incubation until the second egg is out. The reason behind this practice in breeding pigeons is to make sure that the two eggs will hatch at the same time.

The eggs will have 18 days incubation period, a crucial period for preparation in pigeon racing. Breeders are careful in selecting good breeds, which will undergo training that will sometime go beyond the bird’s capabilities. Some racing pigeons can find their way back home over a distance of 1,600 kilometers away and flies at speeds in excess of 130 with a tailwind. They fly at an average of 80 km/h on a calm day. 

Final Thoughts

Pigeon racing is an exciting hobby and also an opportunity to make money. Breeding racing pigeons and winning events regularly would be a good investment in this sports industry. You can also find many ways to bet in pigeon racing and earn prizes. Pigeons are great animals and provide good services to humans everywhere in the world.

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