Choosing Breeders: What to Look For
Here is a short clip from John Halsteads ‘Breeding, Feeding and Tactics to Win Races’. John talks about the physical aspects he looks for in a breeding pigeon.
Below are a few of the most basic things to look at when choosing breeders, it’s important to note there are many other contributing factors involved in producing a winner but this should serve as a solid starting point as you get your bearings.
- Size of the bird – medium size may be preferable
- The body of the bird:
- the back
- pectoral muscles
- tail orientation (neither left nor right leaning)
- the body shape
- underbelly, pink skin?
- The wings – primary flights shouldn’t be too wide
- Feather quality – silky and smooth
- Eye should be strong – though be careful when judging eyes as they can often be misleading
- The balance of the pigeon
The list above pops up quite a lot when searching for pigeon breeding tips on the internet and many fanciers use it as a foundation for judging birds before they buy. Even the world-famous Janssen Brothers used the above qualities (among other factors) as benchmarks for choosing breeders and identifying quality.
Sprint pigeons vs long-distance
As you gain more experience you will likely want to specialize at a certain distance, i.e. sprint or long distance.
And while the above list gives some excellent overall, general points to take into account.
When attempting to judge the performance capabilities of a pigeon based on its physical attributes, it would be incorrect to use a one-size-fits-all approach.
Just as a long-distance sprinter would have a very different build to that of a marathon runner, so too are sprint pigeons different from long distance birds.
Therefore we must modify our criteria slightly.
Selecting long-distance pigeons
The following factors as observed by John Murray (Murray & Mills) are worth noting.
- Long and thin flights
- Don’t handle that well
- Broader shoulders
- Handle well and have good balance
- The tail is straight or if anything slightly down indicating a strong back
- Step-up on the wing may be preferable
- Shorter back wings
- Feathers tend to be wider