There are many ways to breed racing pigeons.
The methods that we use in our loft are the result of over 50 years of animal breeding. We believe in them and have had outstanding success in a number of different species using them. While they certainly don’t represent the only way it can be done, the references here (seminars) and here (upcoming book) describe in detail the breeding of racing pigeons as it is practiced in our loft.
In any breeding program the single most important thing is to know what you want to produce. Your program can have no lack of clarity in this regard if it is to have any degree of success. “That’s easy”, you say. “I want to produce race winners!” Well, actually, that’s a little too vague. Do you want to produce winners at all distances flying with a small old bird team, or do you just race young birds and so you want winners at all distances for only the young bird stations? Or, do you want to win in the One Loft Race (OLR) arena? That’s too vague also. Do you want to win the “tough course” OLR’s or those that are more of a six hour course? Maybe you want to compete in all of these types of races, but you just want to be competitive with a shot to win from time to time. There is no single correct answer for all flyers. It completely depends on what you want from your birds.
The objective of our breeding program is to develop a discrete number of families that produce consistent and uniform offspring. The characteristics of each of these families is different though and by crossing these families in various ways, they produce a uniform crop of outstanding flyers suitable for a particular flying situation.
In breeding racing pigeons it is essential that one understands that there are many different genes that affect racing performance, perhaps as many as one hundred. With this many genes involved, there is tremendous diversity in what can be produced, ranging from spectacular racers to complete duds. When one breeds “best to best” without regard to families, the result will be an increase in the variation that is produced. True, some very good racers can be produced, but often such a practice produces large variation in the racing quality of the offspring produced, particularly in subsequent generations. A much better strategy we believe is to breed “best to best” within a family and to then cross two such families to produce racers. Not all such crosses are equal though and care must be taken to make the right ones. When done properly it can result in an unusually high percentage of birds produced that are good racers. Some of the better known crosses are Super 73 x Grondelaers (made famous by Campbell Strange) and Janssen X almost any true family of performance birds. When taking this approach the cross bred racers should not (as a rule) be used for breeding as it will increase the variation and decrease the percentage of good racers produced. This is all discussed in much greater detail here (seminars) and here (upcoming book).
There are many genes that influence race performance in pigeons. No one knows the exact number, but it may well be at least one hundred. In considering the traits of the pigeon that affect race performance, some are visible and can be evaluated by handling (i.e. wing structure), but MANY MORE can not be evaluated by looking at or feeling the bird (i.e. LDHA genotype). Consider, for example, this list of important traits that influence racing performance. It is for this reason that we place a disproportionate emphasis on test/race results over handling qualities (details of our testing program is here).
These are the lines we currently have (the lines are linked to some of the 2020 pairings):