River Cottage Australia

Pigeon Racing in Tilba

Find out more about pigeon racing as seen in Series 3 of River Cottage Australia.

Darcy Hoyer is not only Paul’s farming guru he’s also a mad pigeon-racing enthusiast. Pigeon racing is a unique sport where pigeons that have been specially bred and trained are released in a chosen location and then raced with other pigeons- normally back to their home lofts.

It is standard practice for the birds to wear a rubber ring with an identification number, which is then taken off and registered when the bird arrives back to its home loft. Now days, it is also common for pigeons to wear an electronic ring, which is registered by a computer. The owners then calculate the distance of the flight and the time to work out the pigeon’s average speed. The pigeon with the highest average speed is then declared the winner.

Although Pigeons are known to fly an average speed of 50mph, they have also been recorded flying up to speeds of 110mph, which is even faster than a cheetah!

Darcy has owned racing pigeons since he was a young boy. He not only loves to race his pigeons, but he also likes to breed them as well! This makes him your pretty typical ‘Pigeon Fancier’- the common term used to refer to pigeon racers and breeders.

Pigeon racing is an age-old sport dating right back to 220AD. In the early 20th century ‘homing’ pigeons were notoriously used during WW1 to carry messages.

Although a wild pigeon will only live for several years, a racing pigeon’s life span is normally around twenty years! This is because they are looked after and well provided for. Care for racing pigeons is not complicated; but you do need to ensure they have the following:

1. Clean Water
2. Clean Food
3. Dry Living Space (So they can rear their young)
4. Regular handling and attention

In terms of food, you would preferably feed your racing pigeon a whole grain or pellet mix. As for water, pigeons are unique as they suck their liquid rather than letting it run down their throats like other birds. It is a good idea to provide your racing pigeon a water container, which would hold a minimum of 1.5 litres.

Lastly, it is important to remember to give your pigeons some regular TLC! Putting aside some time to give your birds some loving attention will not only make them less afraid- but it will also increase their trust in you.


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