Pigeon Breeding

Common-sense pigeon breeding rules

The most valuable birds in your loft are the good breeders. Once a bird shows promise as a breeder you should not risk it in any races. The bird may continue to win, but you may lose it and it is more valuable as a breeder of future racers. You sometimes hear fanciers saying "everything in my loft must race." The smart fanciers don't race their good breeders.

It is very easy to tell which are your good breeders, those birds which consistently produce winning offspring. This does not mean just one winning bird a year it means several, depending on how many you raise. An essential feature of a good breeding system is adequate record keeping. I keep extensive records and it is time consuming, but without good records you have to rely on your memory. If your memory is like mine then you are in trouble.

I read through my records often and make analyses of the various birds. You must have good records of all the progeny from a pair, not just the successful ones. If a stock bird breeds two winners out of twelve it may not necessarily be a good stock bird. It depends on the objectives you have set for it. Once you have detected your good breeders you can start building your own family around them and that will increase your interest in the sport.

However, once you decide to build your own family there is a problem. Which system do you use? Cross breeding, line breeding, in-breeding or system XYZ?

Accurate, honest pedigrees can give you valuable information about the background of a family of birds. If the pedigrees give ALL details of wins and breeding performance they are worthwhile. The pedigrees that give nothing but a string of band numbers are of questionable value. Check all pedigrees carefully for genetic impossibilities such as a red cock bred from two blue parents. Later I will deal with what might appear to be a red cock from two blue parents. (Watch for the opal factor.)

Even well-known fanciers are sometimes guilty of making pedigree errors. If you obtain pedigrees from a fancier which show errors, how can you be sure about the whole breeding program? There are very few fanciers who house their breeders in individual breeding pens and this is the only way to be absolutely sure about parentage. Our pigeons can be very fickle and a whole series of undetected chance matings can change a family completely. I once obtained some birds from a well-known fancier and found that the pedigrees contained errors. I asked about the errors but I never heard from him again. Needless to say, those birds did not remain in my loft.

Breeding Systems
Cross-breeding, line-breeding, in-breeding? Which to use, that is the question. At one end of the spectrum of difficulty is cross-breeding, the easiest system, and at the other end is in-breeding, the most difficult.

Cross-breeding: the mating of birds with no relationship within the previous five generations. That is what the experts say, but we could say unrelated birds. This is the simplest system and the one used by a lot of fanciers. You avoid some of the hazards of in-breeding.

Line-breeding: somewhat the same as in-breeding but it takes longer to establish purity. For most fanciers it is less risky and less-expensive. It could involve the following matings: grandfather to granddaughter; grandmother to grandson; cousin to cousin.

In-breeding: a system used to concentrate desirable genes in a family. This system uses matings as follows: father to daughter, mother to son, brother to sister. Never start in-breeding with anything but the very best stock. Do not expect to take mediocre birds and improve their quality by using this system. In-breeding quickly shows up all the good qualities, by allowing the best association of genes, but it also shows up the faults.

If you are not good at culling don't start in-breeding because strict culling is a given in this system.

Some fanciers start out on an in-breeding program but give up due to the number of culls that crop up. This should be welcomed. By getting rid of the culls you are making progress. You must persevere with the program and not make an outcross. An outcross produces variability and in-breeding is done to reduce variability, although in the beginning in-breeding would appear to heighten variability, that is until you have removed the undesirables.

With stock that is judged on outward characteristics, such as show-type birds, culling is easier. However our racing birds have many characteristics that are not easy to determine, such as homing instinct and constitution.

Careful records of factors like fertility, hatchability and rearability must be kept in order to avoid fixing any undesirable characteristics in the family. I have stressed good record keeping before and I will do it again here, you cannot be successful with in-breeding without good records.

Racing Pigeons For Sale  

Silvio Mattacchione raises prize-winning pigeons in Ontario, Canada. He has pigeons for sale and offers expert pigeon consulting.

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Racing Pigeon (Loft) Breeding Equipment
Racing Pigeon (Loft) Breeding Equipment

A young Webber hen from Top Flite Australia stud loft.   Top-Flite-Australia

Racing Pigeon Breeding: 25 years of breeding Goodgers, Wickhams, Pryors and Webbers.


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Racing Pigeon Formula

The Pigeon Racing Formula is based on the author's loft-tested race-winning pigeon racing formula. Discover the breakthrough pigeon racing formula for dominating race results and following in champion pigeon fanciers' footsteps.