Breeding one-day loft race winners

In a one-day racing pigeon loft, all the training and racing is done for you. But you still need to deliver the right kind of youngster, says Thomas Smit.

SA Champion racing pigeon fancier Barry Saayman is a distinguished breeder of top one-day loft racing pigeons and head trainer at the West Rand One-Day Lofts.

This week, in response to numerous requests from readers, I’ll discuss how to select the best breeding stock to breed candidates for one-day loft competitions.

Superior quality
Choose your breeding stock from a gene pool of outstanding international quality. A three- or five-generation pedigree without reference to top achievements by super breeders and racers reads no better than your telephone directory. It’s a pedigree with numbers-only data, based on great names from years gone by and too far removed from the present-day champion genes.

And over the years, unprincipled European breeders have sold hundreds of inferior pigeons with numbers-only pedigrees to SA fanciers causing a degeneration of quality in the new owners’ lofts.

Hit-rates
In addition to a proper definition of quality in the pedigree, look for the success hit-rate transmitted from one generation to the next. Once-off winners with a poor overall track record are unlikely to have the genetics needed to produce champions. Pigeons that perform inconsistently are a weak link and can destroy years of hard work.

While it’s true the under-performing brother or sister of your champion may be better breeders, it’s not the norm. Under-performing near kin of your champion pigeons may only have the genetic ability to produce champion pigeons if their pedigree shows a high success hit-rate.

One-Day Loft aces
Buying one-day loft ace pigeons in an attempt to again breed ace pigeons can be disappointing and frustrating. One reason for this is that the ace pair you match may not be genetically compatible. A pair must ‘click’. In addition, some pre-final one-day loft ace pigeons perform badly in the final. Often pigeons have made a mistake on a training flight before the final and gained extra hours on the wing, which enhances their stamina and enables them to better handle the demands of the final.

On the other hand, some pigeons that make the same mistake will see their reserves wasted, thus destroying their chances of a top score in the final. So you need to study and attempt to correctly interpret a pigeon’s results, bearing in mind the ‘big picture’. An under-performer in the final may just have had an off day.

Sprint vs stamina
There are exceptions from season to season, but the winning velocities of most one-day loft finals are rather slow. Because you can’t know for certain what the conditions on the final will be, it’s unsafe to breed plodders or sprinters only. Experienced fanciers who specialise in breeding one-day loft pigeons enter both types.

All-rounders
The all-round pigeon looks good in most pre-finals and scores well in the final – the ace pigeons of the one-day loft usually emerge from this group. They’re neither fast nor slow, but always well-paced. How do you breed them? If the ace pigeon has recorded a good, but not a top, score in the final it should be matched to a mate from a gene pool that could manage a break-away win. To find this match you may need to look at a plodding type.

But when it comes to the latter, you don’t want to breed from pigeons that struggled during the pre-finals and only did well in the final because they were extra fit. The aim is to lift performance at the final, because that’s where the big money is. Finally, a first cross between two quality pure bred lines will inevitably produce fighting spirit and a stronger immune system.

When two different slow starter inbreeds are crossed, they often manage to breed early maturing pigeons, but the genetic factor of early maturing qualities isn’t yet fixed in the line, so you have to select for it. To score in one-day lofts choose from that gene pool.

Contact Thomas Smit on 011 680 4778 or at [email protected] with ‘Pigeons’ in the subject line.