How to Line Breed Pigeons

Updated November 21, 2016

Pigeon breeders raising pigeons for specific purposes structure their breeding programs for achieving specific goals. This may include conformation according to breed standard, colour, colour pattern, flying and homing ability. Line breeding involves mating a pigeon with its grandparent, grandchild or cousin for the purpose of enhancing desired qualities in future generations of pigeons.

Inspect your birds and determine what you want to accomplish through line breeding. Using the example of racing pigeons, you can strive to increase flight endurance and speed in your pigeons. Pair your top-performing racing pigeon with a bird from unrelated but also strong flying lines. Band the baby pigeons for identifying them as offspring of your top flying pigeon. Note band numbers and keep breeding records. This provides a foundation for your line breeding program, and tracks your progress as you pair and raise pigeons possessing the features desired. Banding baby pigeons hatched by your project birds distinguishes them from unrelated pigeons.

Train and observe the offspring of your top pair of pigeons. Select a baby pigeon of the opposite gender from your top bird. Pair the baby and an unrelated bird together after the young bird has reached breeding age. Line breeding requires breeding alternating generations of pigeons to relatives. Line breeding pairings include grandmother to grandson, grandfather to granddaughter, and cousin to cousin matings. Out crossing every other generation of line bred pigeons introduces genetic diversity and assists with preventing problems associated with inbreeding pigeons for successive generations. Pair birds based on how well each bird in your program meets your goals for achieving breed standards, racing ability or colour.

Research pigeon genetics and discuss line breeding with experienced pigeon breeders to limit negative consequences possible in line breeding. Line breeding enhances desirable features in pigeons, but it can also intensify genetic problems affecting health, structure or racing performance. Research pigeon breeds you are line breeding for learning about specific hereditary issues potentially affecting your pigeons and their young. Pigeons are not subject to moral constraints humans associate with in breeding and line breeding, but pigeon keepers are ethically responsible for breeding pigeons with the goal of preserving their pigeons' health and vitality.

Plan your line breeding strategy and monitor the results. The difference between line breeding and inbreeding is the specific purpose of line breeding alternate generations of pigeons for achieving specific results. Inbreeding occurs when pigeons are permitted to interbreed with related birds for successive generations without appropriate out crossing. Successive generations of related pigeons bred to one another produce inferior offspring that may carry genetic defects both visible and invisible. Change your inbreeding strategy if the planned results don't occur. Avoid allowing pigeons consistently producing inferior young to continue breeding.


Cage pairs of pigeons in your line breeding program separately from other pigeons to prevent unplanned out crossings.


Line breeding can result in defective young birds unsuitable for breeding.

Things You'll Need

  • Pigeon bands
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