Racing pigeons • 28,283 views

Visit Cal Murray’s website.

1. Please tell us something about you: location, age, your work, etc.
I am located in Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada, approximately 70 miles or so to the north of North Dakota USA. I am a professional commercial real estate appraisal and am now a working senior citizen.

2. Do you have other hobbies besides pigeons?
I have no other hobbies.

3. A little history. How old were you when you discovered pigeons and how did it happen?
I became interested with will pigeons along with rabbits etc. as a young boy, taking youngsters off a bridge in the small community where I grew up.

4. Back to present. How is your loft organized? How many compartments do you have?
I fly my birds celibate , that is , cocks and hens separated both in the loft where they each have their own compartment and are excercised and trained separately.


5. How many pigeons do you usually have in your loft(s) each year? (breeding couples, racers, young birds)
I have approximately 150 birds in total, 20 pairs of breeders, the balance old and young bird racers and am in the difficult process of reducing my numbers dramatically in view of a current back problem.

6. How much time do you spend with the pigeons daily during the season and off-season?
During the racing and breeding season I spend 3 hours a day with all the chores involved. During the winter when temperatures get to -35 C I spend just enough time to feed and water them after breaking the ice from the water dishes and carrying water from the house , approximately 15 or 20 minutes.

7. Tell us about your feeding method: frequency, types of grains, vitamins and other supplements.
I feed once a day, after each of the hens and cocks have flown an hour or more around the loft each late afternoon and have trapped into the loft and also feed once a day year round. I feed a variety of grains , being in an area where considerable grain farms are located nearby and include wheat, barley , corn, safflour, millet along with other special grains in the mix for breeding and for racing when I consider them necessary. Vitamins and electrolites are given during the racing and breeding season once a week. Seldom are other supplements given but meds are given for a variety of diseases if necessarily but that is seldom.

8. What kind of races do you like: short, middle, long distance or all of them? Why?
All of them but the long distance best since I enjoy the extra challenge for both birds and owner.

9. Do you think that there are pigeons for short distance and pigeons for long distance, or pigeons can do well in all types of races?
Any bird can win a short distance race . Good birds can be bred to win both middle and long distance races but long distance races weed out the men from the boys.

10. What kind of motivation techniques do you use? Do you race natural or widowhood? Why?
As I said, I race a separated celibate system where hens and cocks learn to fly to their own respective lofts, trapping from a communal landing board but going left for the hens an right for the cocks and seldom going into the wrong loft even coming home together from the same race and released at the same time. The motivation to come home is their instinct to get back to their perches and food and water and the love and safety they feel in their loft.

cal murray loft

11. What is your method of training the birds? What distance do you start the training from and how often do you train? Do you train the birds by launching them individually or as a flock?
The birds are confined to the lofts from late October until warm weather in March or April and released to fly around the loft until they will stay in the air for up to an hour then are road tossed at 8 miles, 20 miles, 30 miles then 50 and sometimes up to 60 miles as long as they are coming good otherwise they will get a couple tosses till they home in good time. Most of the time after the old bird races start they are not road tossed again but excercise around the loft for an hour or more each late afternoon. They are usually released at 20 or so at a time but sometime all together depending on how much time I have.

12. Is training at home around the loft important for you and if it is, what does it consist of?
Training around the loft is critical since they don’t necessarily go back on the road if they fly well around the loft. Sometimes a flag is used in case they want to come down early which seems sometimes like about after 15- 20 minutes but they get a second wind, just like people, and they usually take off for awhile out of sight , then fly back over the loft and are gone again.

13. Are males or females better in competitions?
They both fly top prizes equally, and in the same race where they come home together. They go in the same races after 130 miles where they are less likely to mess around on the roof as the distance gets further out

14. What strains do you have and how do you introduce new birds?
I have a few strains including Smeulders, Peter Van Osch direct from his loft in Holland, Van Hees imported from Roger Mortvedt in California , most crossed on mine, breeding best to best.

15. How do you create the couples? How many youngsters do you breed from a breeding couple per year? Do you also breed from the racing team?
I breed best to best after racing them and mate the imports to each other mostly as that is why I bought them. I now pretty well have a family of my own.

16. How do you prepare the youngsters for the career to come?
Training of the youngsters is most important to me and I don’t always race young bird races. They should have some road work but they don’t need to be beaten to death. This year 1/3 of my old bird race team consisted of yearlings trained twice to 8 miles, 1/3 of my old bird race team trained twice to 50 miles and the rest of the team were 2 year olds or older. I won 5 races including both 400 mile races, often minutes ahead and 4 or 5 on the drop.

17. Do you like the races with young birds? Do you think that a winning young bird will also be good as a mature bird?
As I said, young birds should be trained if possible but the best young bird is not always or even seldom your best old bird and often not a good one at all.

18. How far do you send the young birds in their first year of life? What about the yearlings?
The young bird races go to 300 miles and if I am racing that year they will go. The yearlings are treated as old birds and go the distance and do very well.

19. What do you think about late breds? From your experience, can they be successful racers later in life, good breeders or both? Do you use to have late breds?
I have late breds but they are seldom worth all the effort of settling after the training has started and usually cause more trouble than they are worth. Here they have to endure cold weather while they are still very young and don’t always develope as they should.
I will breed late breds to sell the odd one or for my stock loft if I need one.

20. Do you have problems with the birds of prey? Do you lock the pigeons during winter?
They are 2 or 3 different types of hawks who take the odd bird. The pigeons are locked up during the winter but because of severe cold weather and snow.

21. What kind of pigeons do you like (colour, size, personality). Ok, color isn’t important for winning, but you do have a favorite colour, don’t you? ;)
I actually don’t have a favorite colour. I like medium sized birds but have had good long distance bigger birds but they are not heavy but more bouyant.

22. Do you believe in “eyesign theories”?
Not at all.

23. Please describe your schedule for medication and vaccination. What health problems do you use to treat during the racing season and how often?
Mentioned this earlier.

24. Please show us your best male of all times (its little story, name, picture, best results).
I don’t have a best male or female but have many long distance Ace birds and winners who have bred Ace and long distance winners.

25. Please show us your best female of all times (its little story, name, picture, best results).
See above

26. Is this sport of racing pigeons becoming too technical and complicated or you can keep everything simple and still win with the pigeons?
Modern technology has improved the sport with the electronic timers and ease of calculating results and made it much more enjoyable by permitting us to see the birds enter the loft and be timed without chasing them all over the place and making them eventually trap shy. Things are not simple if you want to win. It takes time , knowledge and good birds to be at the top, day in and day out.

27. Is there anything that you do not like about the sport, something that needs to be changed for the sake of the sport?
The cost of racing has become very expensive for some, especially for the young flyers and some of the better flyers in our club will donate a couple of their best that are auctioned on the net and the proceeds go to the club to help keep the shipping costs down.

28. What do you think that can be done to make this sport prosper and make more people take a fancy to it?
Advertising in magazines and papers and on the bulletin boards in the malls but many don’t wish to have their phone number posted.

29. Please tell us some pieces of advice for beginners in the racing pigeons sport.
Meet some of the good flyers who have the time and the birds to help them as without good advice and birds to start it is not likely their interests will develop.

cal murray loft

I am sending photos of my loft where I fly celibate cocks and hens, separated from each other by a dowelled door with the lower half being plywood so they can’t mate to each other through the dowelling. They both trap through a roof access and drop approximately 18 inches to a common inside landing board where one sex turns left and goes through a set of bobs to their loft and the other sex go straight ahead and go into their loft through an opening in the dowelling.

I fly both in the same race and of course they will come home together but seldom do they play around on the roof and seldom do they go into the wrong loft. In the early part of the year before the races they are trained separately, usually 50 – 70 miles, released about 3/4 of an hour apart so I can beat the second bunch home ( usually the hens are released second ) , close the bob entrance to the cocks side and open the door for the hens arrival . Once they are used to the system I have little to no trouble and the local flyers don’t believe it till they see the loft and my race results . It’s a relatively simple system which permits the racing of both cocks and hens and it suits them just fine . The hens are not used to going through bobs which entices them even more to go in their own side.

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Cal Murray