Selecting a Pigeon for Distance Racing
And the breeding box
Before I start have a look at the three birds below, each has been a Champion in both racing and breeding.
One thing that is noticeable with the three birds is the stance, on a gradual slope upright position with the tail
touching the ground, all the birds have the centre of the eye above the line of the beak, the blue bar hen is Strinesdale
Queen, she is the dam of 19 birds to fly over 530 miles and G/dam of over 100 Channel pigeon, the second hen was never beaten
in a race, although she only had four races she was well ahead in all, she bred numerous birds to fly over 400 miles including
the cock below 1st at 1000 miles, The third pigeon as a baby flew both 730 miles and 1000 miles in the one year
and then went on to breed a winners for me and others including 2x1st Federation in NSW.
The first thing I look for is to watch the birds in their respective perches, the best birds will be watching you too
to see what you are doing, this is where to start they are usually very alert without being flighty, I have also observed
the birds in the toss and race crate these same birds do not get into any squabbles with other pigeons they look for a quiet
part of the box for their journey to the release point they reserve all their energy for the task ahead.
Starting at the top the first think to study is the pigeons head, it should have a nice rounded appearance with the
eye positioned as near to the centre as possible, the centre of the eye would have to be higher than a straight line from
beak to the back of the head, when looking from the top directly above the head you should see the black of both pupils, the
eye should be bright, a dull eye will not breed you any birds that you will succeed with, colour does not mean very much to
me as most champions have a different colour eye to another champion. The throat should have the slit at the top open at all
times, I like to see the opening of the wind pipe not to large if it is this way it gives the pigeon room to move when it
needs more air, the birds should have a full curtain although this is not a necessary item for success, it is always helpful
to see the throat are a slightly pink colour
The neck should not be short or withdrawn it will be larger at the base with a gradual curve leading up to head, this
curve would continue down to the back of the pigeon to the tail area, I also like to see a small lump at the base of the rear
as seen in the second photo, Looking from the front the chest will have a nice rounded look, the legs will not be close together
or have a bend in them and not too long, sometimes the wing butt will protrude out from the body a bit but this is also not
something to worry about.
The wing and its mechanics are possibly the most important part of any racing pigeon, if it does not have the muscles
and the conformation they will be of no use in distance racing, It doesn’t matter how big the step-up is as long as
there is one there, the older the bird gets the longer the step-up comes, the feathers should be tighter and closer together
near the body, opening up as they progress out towards the primary flights, the ends of the primary’s should show a
complete curve with the curve dropping away from the eighth flight making the 9th and 10th shorter than
8th flight in my opinion is most important in selecting a distance pigeon, working back from the tip place
your thumb at least two inches from the end, check the outside of the quill to see how far back the outside of the feathers
come before it starts to bend out to a wider feather, the further it comes back the better the birds will perform in distance
races, at the tip of the 9th and 10th flight they should have a slight curve out, this I call the propeller,
I do not like to see wide primaries, they must medium width without loosing their coverage, I am also a believer that the
pigeon can change the shape of its wing configuration to suit the weather conditions that it is flying in something like an
aeroplane uses its wing confirmation to take off and land. The shape and configuration of the wing as described would make
it easier to achieve this.
The balance is another thing that a good birds must have, when the holding the bird this is not an easy task to judge
at first as it takes handling a lot of birds until you find the one that sits and feels comfortable in the hand, from here
the keel is the next item it should not be too deep or to shallow but well developed because if it is where the muscles are
that drive the pigeon are, It also takes a lot of practise to find and judge the muscles along the keel, the keel should be
a continuos curve from the front to the rear with the vents being on that same curve, the distance between the end of the
keel and vents I believe should be no wider than one finger width, any pigeon that’s vents drop below the line of the
keel will never be any good for distance racing.
While we are on the frame of the pigeon, pick the bird up with the left hand and let it relax then place the index
finger of the right hand between the rib cage and the first knuckle of the wing, the bird will contract that muscle and if
it is any good and has strength there it should leave a indentation in your finger, if you can move the finger between the
rib cage and that knuckle do not waste your money sending the bird to a distance because it does not have the strength in
the muscles in that area to keep it in the air for prolonged time.
When the pigeon is at ease and comfortable in the hand it is also the best time to feel the heartbeat of the pigeon
The tail should be wedge shape larger and strong where the connect to the body narrowing down to the bottom of the
After taking all the above into consideration the three things that go
into making a champion long distance racing pigeon nobody can see or evaluate
They are the brains the heart and the lungs