Pigeon Breeding 3/3

These pages are intended to open a small window into the rich world of pigeon fanciers and special pigeon breeds.

Examples of Pigeon Breeds

Following is a sampling of some interesting breeds of pigeons:

Pigeon Breeding Methods

Breeders choose different methods of mating their birds based on the characteristics they want to preserve or achieve. For the most part, breeding falls into two main categories: Inbreeding or crossbreeding. However, there are many nuances or combinations that may be used to achieve best results.

Inbreeding and its variations

Inbreeding typically is the practice of mating two birds that are related, such as a father with a daughter or two siblings together. For example, if a breeder identifies a strong racing trait in a bird (or pair of birds) and they want to reproduce it, they could choose some form of inbreeding for their mating method. This way, they can try to maintain the desired qualities of the original bird or birds rather than diluting the qualities or risking the addition of negative characteristics from a different family.

There are different variations of inbreeding. For example, line-breeding is a term commonly used to describe selective breeding that might be considered a milder form of inbreeding.  Line breeding typically refers to breeding a line of birds that can be traced back to a single champion bird. It usually involves a mating strategy where a pigeon’s pedigree can be traced back to show one or more of the same relative(s) more than once, without close inbreeding.

Problems of inbreeding

When the relation between mated birds is too close there can be negative consequences. The offspring from a first degree mating (for example father and daughter) have a significantly increased risk of suffering from an inherited disorder. For example, there is a possibility of higher infant mortality, shorter life span of the offspring or reduction of immune system functions. This is one of the main reasons that breeders often choose milder forms of inbreeding, such as line breeding.

Cross breeding (or out-crossing)

Cross-breeding (or out-crossing) is when breeders mate pigeons of a different strain, usually with no common ancestors in the previous 5 generations. The goal here is to introduce new genes into the pool. For example, imagine a breeder who wants to produce show birds with special fan tails.

Breeding is about strategy

Since inbreeding can cause inherited disorders, it is a good idea to cross one inbred line with another line after several years of inbreeding. With proper planning, you can cross different thoroughbred pigeons, both with desired characteristics. This could strengthen the new generations. Basically pigeon breeding is all about strategy. If you are just starting out, here is a good link for young new breeders: Pigeon Breeding: Genetics At Work.

Read about Pigeon Fancier Associations…

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