A One-Day Racing Pigeon Loft receives young racing pigeons from entrants at a prescribed entry fee. These newly weaned birds are then homed and trained from a communal loft on the entrants’ behalf. Active and non-active pigeon fanciers as well as members of the public can participate. A team of two to three pigeons may be entered. Of these, the fancier will nominate one as the main entry, keeping the others as “reserves”, called upon if the main entry is lost during training.
Entry fees vary from around R600 per pigeon entered. Some One-Day Lofts charge a R300 perch fee for each reserve pigeon to be kept, fed and trained. Entrants may then top up the perch fee with the difference to “activate” the reserve pigeon if it wasn’t needed to replace the main entry.
Identity and ownership
Each racing pigeon entering a competition must have an undamaged identity ring on its leg to identify it and its owner. Note that the rings must be approved by the South African National Pigeon Organisation. Due to the size of the ring it can’t be removed from the leg after the youngster is 10 days old. When a pigeon ring is sold to a fancier, the pigeon’s identity is recorded along with the owner’s particulars. Entrants forfeit the ownership of their pigeons to the loft they enter, but can bid on their pigeons at the auctions after the final race. Breeders will receive 50% of the auction proceeds minus auction fees.
One-Day Lofts are also known as “armchair pigeon races”, as all the work is done for the fancier. All the fancier has to do is observe the results and collect the prize money. One-Day Lofts enable retired pigeon fanciers, who are unable to manage loft chores, to keep a few breeders in their backyard just to breed for One-Day Lofts. It also an affordable way to test the breeding potential of your pigeons.
In addition, One-Day Lofts enable businesspeople who work long hours and who can’t practise the sport of pigeon racing in their own backyard to participate – and to advertise their companies. The results of the entire training programme are available on various websites for all to see and the winners of the final race receive media coverage.
What you stand to win
The average South African One-Day Loft pays out between R50 000 and R100 000 to the owner of the winning pigeon of the final race. There are also various consolation pay-outs on pre-final events. With an entry fee of US 000 (around R7 630), the Sun City Million Dollar Pigeon Race offers more than 350 ways to win, plus five new motor cars on the pre-finals at no extra costs. The final race pays out US0 000 (around R1,52 million) to the winning pigeon’s owner.
A word of caution
The winning pigeons on the big day are those few that are fit, ready and keen to fly in front to win the race. The pigeon fitness curve in a One-Day Loft race can’t be manipulated so that all pigeons peak in the final event. In other words, there can only be one winner. So don’t risk taking out a second bond against your house to enter a whole crowd pigeons, thinking that this will win you the jackpot. All that’s likely to happen is that you’ll join other fanciers in the record books who did just that – and won nothing.
Contact Thomas Smit on 011 680 4778 or e-mail [email protected].