I’ve made them all 5 and I hope this article will be useful for the beginners just starting this wonderful hobby.
1. View and visit as many lofts as possible before building yours – preferably visit lofts of constant successful fanciers. There are many chances to build it wrong and changing it after that is very hard. You’ll notice many common aspects in ALL the lofts and they are there for a reason (the sputnik, the compartments, the nest boxes, the V perches, and so on). Even if you are stubborn like me and want to build the loft without advice, you’ll soon understand that you were wrong and you have to change it.
2. Get very good pigeon stock right from the beginning. You can’t say that you will start with modest pigeons and as you learn, you will get better birds. It’s a waste of time. Good pigeons have a different behavior and all that you think you’ll learn with modest no-name pigeons you’ll soon have to forget and start from scratch when you get better birds.
- A poor origin bird doesn’t like to fly at home, and you’ll have to force it exercise; it might land on taller buildings around and drive you crazy! A good origin bird loves to fly(if it is healthy), and fills you with joy.
- A poor origin bird will make your enthusiasm fall to the ground right from the beginning of your racing life, when your club mates have all the birds at home after a race and you have only 6 from 20 and those tired like hell.
- A poor origin bird isn’t hardy, it catches diseases very easy because it’s ancestors are also poor birds that never completed a racing season successfully. A poor origin bird has poor muscles, poor homing abilities and poor motivation in races. The problem here is that most of the poor origin birds look exactly the same as the birds with high qualities, in the eyes of a beginner. This is why it is wise to get birds from honest fanciers that win races on a regular basis each year. Very important: get pigeons from fanciers that still race, a loft that didn’t race for the last few years is in decline even if the birds in there have good blood and the loft was extremely successful in the past. Each year without selection in races makes the birds worse.
- Forget about beautiful pigeons, rare colors, big heads, and so on…the most beautiful racing pigeons are those that are home by the end of the racing season, with excellent results ready for their pedigree. You have to decide right from the beginning: do you want beautiful birds that you can enjoy at home or you want pure performance in races. If you just want beauty you could get other pigeon breeds. Very often, the “ugly duckling” of the flock might have the best results by the end of the racing season, and you’ll love it the most.
3. Don’t keep strays and don’t even think about breeding from them. They are weak low quality pigeons most of the time and they only set you back. It’s a waste of time. The good pigeons always get home.
4. Don’t hurry to the medicines shelf. You have to remove the cause, not the effect, most of the time. Good quality racing pigeons remain healthy if they have:
- dry loft with a lot of fresh air
- clean high quality food, with different procents of seeds in different periods of the season
- fresh clean water changed at least once a day, better twice
- supplements like grit mixtures
- enough space for the pigeons; overcrowding them produces stress which is the main trigger for diseases. It drives me crazy when I see 80-100 pigeons in a tiny loft, so overcrowded that you can’t see the floor when they are all down feeding.
Overall, the entire flock must be resistant to the usual diseases like canker, coccidiosis, and so on. Treat only per individual or better don’t treat at all. If just a bird is weak, and the others are OK, get rid of it. You don’t want such birds to slow you down.
5. Don’t forget that defects are easily passed from parents to the next generations. Don’t keep a pigeon just because it has a great pedigree. Pedigrees don’t fly. Each pigeon must work for its position in your loft either by racing wonderful or by producing great racers in the stock loft. Doing a very serious selection might leave you with a few pigeons, but this is not a problem – they will breed and if their babies are are as good as them you are on the good track. Unfortunately a lot of lofts are filled with birds that are there just to fill space.