The race season is the most exciting time of the year for racing pigeon fanciers. It allows them to test their bloodlines against other competitors. Most clubs and federations have short , middle and long distance races.
Many flyers aim to be competitive in all distances in an effort to win club or federation aggregates. Some flyers choose to focus on particular distances for different reasons. For example with short races the advantages are that the races are usually decided in a matter of a few hours. Another advantage is that highly motivated cocks can be as competitive as many hens are. Other flyers prefer to focus on marathon races. These flyers take great pride in cultivating their bloodlines and the development of long distance families. The appeal of having a bird return or even win from a significant distance is very satisfying and very rewarding for the owner of such a bird.
Once youngsters are removed from their parents (usually at 30 days of age) they are placed in the racing loft. This loft will be their new home.
It is important that the youngsters are let out of the race loft within a couple of days -prior to them being able to fly well. This enables them to
become familiar with their surroundings. One must guard the babies at this time because they are very vulnerable to cats and goshawks.
Whilst the youngsters are growing feathers they need to be fed breedng mix. Once their feathers have grown they can be fed a lighter mix with less peas. The reason for this is that it prevents them from becoming overweight and encourages them to want to fly. After a few weeks
the youngsters will have formed a kit and will be flying together around the loft. It is best for the youngsters to be placed in a section with others of the same age. This prevents older youngsters from bullying the younger ones and it also ensures the younger ones do not hold back the older ones in flying around the loft.
When all the young are flying well arong the loft for at least three months, they can be placed into baskets for training (tossing) a short distance. If all goes well they can be taken further with each susequent toss. When thoroughly trained they can then be tossed with other peoples birds to learn to break to their own loft.
During the race season people usually condition their birds by loft flying and tossing. Some flyers focus more on loft flying whilst others toss
quite often. The type of family you keep and your time availability will determine which system you rely on. Some flyers are very creative using
different exercise at different times or using a combination of loft flying and tossing. One of the fascinating aspects of the sport is that different bloodlines require different work loads to race well. Many people opt for the low maintenance families that require minimal tossing with just loft flying. Other flyers are more than happy to keep high maintenance lines which do well on heavy tossing regimes. The sport allows every flyer to race and compete at to the level that they themselves can sustain and are happy with.