Ask anyone who's raised pigeons and he'll tell you there is a distinctive fulfilment in seeing these birds fly away and then return to their lofts. However, there's more to raising these avians as pets. The craze for pigeon-training enthusiasts and breeders: pigeon racing. Pigeon racing is a contest in which the bird that returns home the fastest wins, and there are many techniques to raise the best pigeon racers.
First and foremost, get only two birds. They don't have to be purebred; in fact, a lot of breeders actually prefer crossbreeds. Never look a gift horse in the mouth if someone gives you a pair from her loft. The best pigeons are those other breeders give you when you are just starting out. At the outset, learn everything you can about feeding, diseases, loft housekeeping, banding, tossing, motivation and moulting. Understanding every facet of pigeon training and keeping will help you build your racing fundamentals.
As their owner, you likely will grow somewhat attached to your birds. That is OK, but keep in mind they are not just house pets; they are racing pigeons. Like athletes, your birds should be at their optimum weight and body condition for the sport. Pigeons can get fat very fast if overfed. You might as well toss rocks instead of birds on contest day if you enter a plump pigeon. Pigeon-training veterans feed their stock just six times a week for optimum performance.
Control the environment within and outside the loft in order to protect your pigeons from stress, since pigeon training experts often attribute low performance of racers to agitation. Make sure their home does not let in strong winds or drafts. Plug holes or sieves, which mice or other rodents can use to enter the cage. Provide fresh water as often as you can to keep diseases from plaguing your brood. In participating in the actual races, remember to continue keeping your pigeons stress-free. Do not overwork your pigeons by putting them in more than 10 official races annually. They are not horses, and the ideal number of contests you should enter each of your pigeons in is four per year.
Keep in mind there are some unavoidable things in raising racing pigeons. For starters, you can lose a bird or two to hawks---but if you keep your birds in top condition, they will be better able to evade their predators. In addition, the demands of a sport can weigh heavily on even the most steadfast sports animals. There are various races, seminars and racing club meets for every age group of bird. When these things overwhelm you, remember you're doing all this for fun. Pace yourself and take on engagements moderately.
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