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
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.
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
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
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.
Silvio Mattacchione raises prize-winning pigeons in Ontario, Canada. He has
pigeons for sale and offers expert pigeon consulting.
Visit Silvio's Web site today!
Racing Pigeon (Loft) Breeding Equipment
Racing Pigeon Breeding: 25 years of breeding Goodgers, Wickhams, Pryors and
Interested in racing pigeons, pigeon racing, homing pigeons,
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