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Site last updated on 07/10/2022

There are many different genes that influence racing pigeon performance. The total number is not known, but it may be as many as one hundred. To be a successful breeder of racing pigeons, it is essential that one understands how these traits affect race performance. All of these traits are strongly influenced by the environment, but they also have a significant genetic component.

A bird that wins consistently, has to have the:

  • ability to orient itself quickly at the time of release AND maintain the proper orientation on the flight home.
  • ability to fly at a speed and for a duration that is competitive with the rest of the birds in the race. Many sprint birds, for example, just do not have the tools for competing in a long distance race.
  • desire to want to get home quickly  (as opposed to just plodding along until it gets there).
  • intelligence to resolve challenges that inevitably arise at some point during at least some races (i.e. strong winds or a storm that breaks up the flock and blows them off course).
  • ability to learn from their experiences and their mistakes.
  • mindset of a leader as opposed to that of a follower (which is somewhat at odds with their normal gregarious nature).
  • willingness to take risks such as starting for home before the pack is ready or to break from a group during the race. The DRD4 gene may be involved with this trait.
  • strongest possible homing instinct so that it returns home even on races where it doesn't place (birds that come home after disasters are able to race another day!)
  • ability to recover quickly from a race so that it is in optimum shape for the next race. The LDHA gene may be involved with this trait.
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