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You are going to need a loft, equipment and pigeons.
Start by looking at the expense of your loft, equipment and birds. How much you want to spend will determine the type of loft, it can be as simple or detailed depending on your budget. The birds probably don’t care if they live in a shed or a mansion. Most importantly build a loft that fits your yard and budget. Depending on the size of your available area you can build a small loft with one section or large loft with multiple sections for old birds and young birds.
To fly racing pigeons you are going to need a computer timer, electronic antenna and chip rings for each pigeon’s leg. Used computer timer with cables, connectors and antenna can range from $350.00 up to $700.00. Computer chips are around $2.00+ apiece.
There are many online racing pigeon sites where you can purchase racing pigeons. At the FVC club there are members that will give you racing pigeons at no cost to get you started in the sport. I find myself giving young birds to new member yearly. It’s not uncommon on race day for them to tell me my bird was their first bird to arrive from the race. Quite often they are beating me with my own pigeons.
It’s a process but not that complicated.
You need to start with young birds. You need to raise and band your own by paring up your stock birds or you can get young pigeons from another pigeon fancier. Young birds around 30 to 60 days old are about the right age to start with.
When young pigeons are around 30-60 days old they exit out of the loft on to the landing board through the exit opening/trap onto an aviary. After a week or two the aviary is opened allowing the young birds to fly to the ground and around the loft area. A few weeks later the young birds start flying around the neighborhood and then increase their flying time up to an hour or more.
Six to eight weeks prior to the first race you start training the young birds. You want to make sure you train them in the direction of the race release point. Take those short distances from the loft numerous times to make sure they have the conditioning needed to make it home and compete at their first race.
Once you feel confident your birds are race ready you put a computer chip band around their leg. This band contains the bird’s personal number, club insignia or personal insignia, year of birth and union affiliation.
Once your birds are trained they are race ready. Depending on your loft location the first race is usually between 100 and 115 miles. Load up the birds you have selected for the first race and put them in carrying crates. You must also bring your computer timer along with your birds to the club when you ship your pigeons. Your computer timer stores all the bird’s data (personal number, club letters/personal letters, year of birth and union affiliation). At the club each one of your birds is scanned into your timer as official birds entered into the race. The birds are then put onto a pigeon transport and driven to the release point. The transportation of the birds usually takes place late at night or early the next morning.
Race day is usually the following day, weather permitting, the birds are released shortly after sunrise. Plug in your computer timer in preparation for the bird’s arrival. When the birds arrive at your loft your field antenna is positioned in front of your entrance opening/trap. As the birds land on the landing board they walk across the antenna and that registers the time your bird’s arrival.
Later that evening you take your timer to the club. The race results are calculated, speeds are determined and race winner is announced!