Think you might enjoy Racing Pigeons?
Pigeon racing is a very unique
hobby in the United States.
There are approximately 20,000 racing pigeon enthusiast in the U.S.
In other countries such as Belgium
and the Netherlands,
it is much more popular with 1 of every 5 households having racing pigeons.
There are various levels of
involvement and you can enjoy it at any level you choose. From keeping just a
handful of Pigeons for the family to enjoy to large racing teams with birds
being entered in races all over the world. Races range in distance from 100
miles to 1200 miles, with 300 miles being among the most popular distances. The
1000 plus mile races are rare these days. The long distance birds are truly
spectacular creatures (my own opinion). There are typically two race series per
year. Old bird racing begins in the spring until early summer and consists of
races from 100 to 500 miles with maybe a 600 mile race. Old birds are
considered old birds if born in any year previous to the current year. Young
bird racing begins in the fall and consists of races from 100 to 300 miles. A
bird is considered a young bird if it was born in the current year. There are
local clubs, combines and national organizations. The American Racing Pigeon Union,
which our club is affiliated with, has approximately 9,000 members in over 800 clubs around the U.S.
These local clubs compete in races at the club level,
also clubs that are in the same geographical areas will form larger clubs
called combines. These combines allow you to compete with more people. There
are also races around the country as well as the world that you can send birds
to too compete. Some of these races are as prestigious to Pigeon Racers as the
Kentucky Derby is to Horse breeders. The birds themselves are as pampered and
care for as a Kentucky Derby Horse. Some of these top birds can even cost
as much as a Kentucky Derby Horse, bringing tens of thousands of dollars at
The level of involvement will dictate how expensive it will be. Typical
costs involved in starting up would include the following. Different clubs
charge different fees so you need to speak with people in your area to get more
specific fees and costs involved.
A loft normally
an 8 X 12 building would be a good starter size, there are plans out there for
smaller lofts which work great, my suggestion is if you think it is something
you would enjoy plan for expansion. The loft should be weather proof, vermin
proof, dry and airy with plenty of natural light. There are probably a few
pigeon racers in your area who would most likely be
more than happy to show you ideas.
enough perches so that all birds have a place to roost, large enough to allow a
bird to rest comfortably. Feed, water and grit containers that allow the birds easy access and also are easy to keep clean. If you
plan on breeding you will need nest boxes.
of birds can range anywhere from a few dollars to over a hundred thousand. The
local flyers around you will sometimes donate a few birds to help get a new
person started. A lot of Pigeon Racers will tell you the best bird they ever
had was given to them by someone who was trying to help them start up.
clock is needed to time your birds when they arrive home from a race. Typically
a new person will purchase a used clock for around $100.00 later you may decide
to upgrade to the newer electronic timing systems that are fast becoming
popular. As you guessed they can start getting expensive.
feed, misc. loft supplies, bands,
dues, combine dues, and National organization. For our particular
$12.00 Combine $10.00 AU (national organization) $25.00
on the club, your loft may need to be surveyed so that exact distances
the different race station can be determined. Initial survey cost about. $25.00
each race station about $2.00. If the club you join uses GPS then, surveys
are not needed.
Flying fees Flying
fees are charges the organization charges to cover the cost of shipping the birds
to the different race stations. These cost include, transportation, gas, feed,
driver fees and so on. These costs are typically divided up between people
participating in that race series.
Sound like something you would enjoy? Give someone a
call, visit some flyers in your area and see what you have been missing. Its a
life changing experience.
Contacts in the Spartanburg South
We would love to share our secret