Jeff and Dr. John Lamberton's
About the Global Sport of Racing Pigeons

"Competing At The Top Of The Race Sheet Is Simply A Matter Of Faith . . .
You Can Depend On The Reliability Of
A Small Team of Super Pigeons, or
You Can Gamble On The Random Luck Of A Mob Of Average Pigeons."



October 2016


by Jeff Lamberton

When I open a pigeon magazine, I often see numerous products that are advertised for sale to boost your pigeons racing ability.  In this blog I will suggest some ideas that will help your pigeons race at the top of the results sheet that you are not able to purchase.


Passion for your racing pigeons is free. You cannot buy passion for your pigeons or the racing pigeon sport on the shelves of your favorite racing pigeon feed or supply store. Passion is priceless. Take my friend Tim Hawkins of Arrowhead Loft East as an example of a fancier that understands the role of passion in the racing pigeon sport. Tim recently posted this quote on his Facebook page:

I know I’m probably ahead of what most people are thinking right now, but it’s almost breeding season!!! The first thing I do is re-read Dr. Lamberton's archived blogs. DO YOURSELF A HUGE FAVOR.....go to scroll down to the "BLOG" section, then click on "ARCHIVED BLOGS", then to start at Nov 2010!!!!!!!”

Tim is already thinking about breeding season. He is currently coupling his pigeons on paper to decide which pairs just might produce a super racing pigeon – a Crack as fanciers often say in Belgium. Tim is already developing a plan for the upcoming breeding season because he wants to breed young birds that will race next year in front of the mob! Through the ups and downs, never lose your passion.


You have to decide what your goals are. No one can make you clean your loft, train your pigeons, or study what the successful fanciers in the sport are doing to fly at the top of the race sheet. It is all in your mind and up to you.  No one else can do it for you.

Fanciers occasionally call or email the same basic question “what is the secret to consistently racing well?” We tell them that there are no secrets. Racing consistently in the top 10 to 20 percent of the race sheet is founded on well-known historical fundamentals such as top quality pigeons, a clean, well ventilated loft, fresh water and clean water drinkers, fresh grit daily, clean top-quality pigeon grain, daily exercise, and motivating your racers on race day. And, of course, you also need to believe that these fundamentals really matter and that you can do it!


Make a choice, believe in yourself, believe in your plan, and be curious and willing to learn. That’s the first step. Hard work and practicing consistent fundamentals on a daily basis will pay off. Since the ARPU national award was created about eight years ago, our racing pigeons have consistently raced at the top of the sheet allowing our loft to score in the top ten in the President’s Cup award.  We are passionate with our pigeons and we want to do the best we can each day to set them up for success on race day or in the breeding loft. If you truly believe you can do it, it will happen!

“Where ever you live; whoever you are; whatever your personal appearance; however the sport in your club, combine, federation or country is organized; whatever your customs and values; whatever your political views or your religion; the information we like to provide and promote on our website and social media is available free of charge FOR YOU. Whether you are a prospective pigeon fancier who wants to learn more about homing pigeons and the exciting game of racing pigeons - whether you are a current pigeon fancier who wants to enhance and improve your personal knowledge and enjoyment of racing pigeons - or you are a member of the world's general public who knows very little or nothing at all about homing pigeons and the sport of racing pigeons, the information on our website is designed and written expressly FOR YOU.”  (Written by Dr. John Lamberton). 

To be continued..........................................................Thank you.................................................................Jeff & John Lamberton

January 2015



Since Jeff has partnered with me, his expertise has grown by leaps and bounds.  This past 2014 young bird race series in September through early November,  our racing pigeons were 1st Combine Champion Loft which encompasses all of the clubs and fanciers in the Greater Tulsa Metropolitan Area; which is about 40 to 60 fanciers depending upon how many fanciers participate in a young or old bird race series.  We also won 1st 2nd and 3rd Combine Ace Pigeon.

In Belgium, pigeon racing begins in late spring, i.e., April or May, and ends usually in October of the same year.  Classes of racing pigeons are usually divided by age and gender.  There are three classes of racing pigeons based upon age: young birds, yearlings and old birds which are released at the same day and at the same time.   Usually there is only one release per day.  So the three ages of racing pigeons are competing together against one another in the same race.  Often, another sub-class in a race is between males and females.  In America, we generally do not recognize any of these distinctions either nationally or in our specific geographical area for many reasons including the fact that all record-keeping is figured on a volunteer basis and usually kept to a minimum of effort.  In Belgium, the capital of racing homing pigeons in my estimation, there is a mandatory entry fee per bird which is paid to the KBDB national organization to offset costs of transporting the race pigeons and doing the work or business of the club like entering the pigeons in the races and figuring race results.  Thank goodness for computers.  Results used to be calculated by hand or using calculators rather than today's comfort technology like specialized software and PCs or other electronic devises.


TAs I have written in former Blogs, the Racing Pigeon New Year Calendar in Europe (the racing pigeon capital of the world with Belgium as it's center-stone followed closely by the Netherlands) began the first several weeks of November of 2014 as it does each year.  In early November, all breeding or foster pigeons are (1) medicated for worms, coccidiosis, canker and all respiratory ailments; (2) placed on interior breeding lights at least 16 hours per day, and (3) pre-mated - especially if the pair has not been coupled before; and (4) coupled about December 1 of each year.  Prior to coupling each year, nest bowls and nest boxes should be scraped and sprayed very clean with nest pads and excellent long, supple pine needles used as nesting material.  Needles should be placed in the bowl and on the loft floor.  Great breeders will build their own nests  from the pine needles placed on the floor; but putting a handful of needles in the nest bowl simply helps get the breeeders start building their nests several days earlier.  

So today, January 1, 2015, our breeders have already been through a two-month schedule beginning last November; so most of our best breeders have laid their first round of eggs; many of which have been or will be moved under "foster parents" after they laid their first round and their eggs were candled to make sure that the first-round eggs are fertile.   We candle the eggs by holding them briefly up against a bright light to see if the eggs are clear or if they are dark which suggests that they are fertile and healthy.  Occasionally, although the eggs are dark, either they do not develop correctly or the youngster dies in the shell.  Consequently, we may make a mistake in our candling procedures.  So candling is not an exact science; but it works the vast majority of the time.  It is a great waste of time to let your best breeders sit on infertile eggs.  Because we foster our eggs, the eggs for the second round will be laid in later January and we are able to produce more youngsters out of our best breeding pairs as well as recouple our best breeders to different mates so that we have a number of half-brothers and sisters on the young bird race team.  Although the second round will also primarily include children from our AU ELITE CHAMPIONS and proven champion breeders; and will be flown in the young bird race series from September to the beginning of November in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA.

During breeding season, we medicate our breeders about once a month in order to keep them as healthy as possible.  Breeding can be very stressful depending upon many environmental, management, and health issues and every precaution should be taken to lessen the impact upon the breeders.  For instance, we feed and administer grit in the nest box.  We also will water in the nest box when the youngsters are several weeks of age.  Youngsters will learn to eat and drink weeks earlier than normal which will lessen the strain of feeding on their parents if they are fed in the nest box.


We have just finished the 6th-week of an 8-week 2014 fall young bird race series.  We started the race series with an elite team of young hens selected from the earliest 2014 hatches; coupled in June and July with the older male widowhood race team; and now we are racing the young hens on widowhood.  Since we primarily race the young males during the old bird race series as unraced yearlings in addition to a team of older males that have raced previously, the young bird race series is usually the only time we allow ourselves the time, effort and investment to gather performance data on the young hens only "in the basket."  Consequently, all of our young hens 7 to 9 months old need to be able to compete near the top of the race sheet during the entire young bird race series as much as possible.  We consider placing in the top 20% to 25%  sufficient; although Belgium and Holland as well as other countries in Europe, undoubtedly the most competitive geographical areas to race homing pigeons in the world, usually award "prizes" to racing pigeons that place in the top one-third or 33% of the number of pigeons in the race.

Currently, quite a few of our young hens have performed very well every week during the past 6 weeks.  We hope they continue to perform well in the longer 300 mile/480 kilometer races over the next two weeks.  The Federation's young bird race schedule includes 2-125 mile races; 2-150 mile races; 2-200 mile races; and 2-300 mile races.  So our race team is going to compete in two 300 mile/480 kilometer races each week over the next two weeks.  In kilometers, the schedule is 2-200 kilometers, 2-240 kilometer races, 2-320 kilometer races; and 2-480 kilometer races for a combined total of 2,480 kilometers of racing in 8 weeks of variable fall weather.  This BLOG discusses what we expect of our race team's ability to race at or near the top of the race sheet each week for 8 weeks as 7 to 9 month-old youngsters and why. 

Concerning my own personal theory of coaching pigeons to be ready to race each week for 8 to 10 weeks, Jimmy Johnson is the person who I consider to be the greatest coach in sports history. In the USA, he coached the Miami Hurricanes to a College football National Championship in 1987; then went on to Pro football to coach the Dallas Cowboys to two Super Bowl Championships in 1992 and 1993. My favorite quote from Coach Johnson is “fatigue makes cowards of us all.” I believe these profound words apply perfectly to the sport of racing pigeons. Pigeon racing rewards the pigeons that are in superb condition. Pigeons can have the best genetics and handle well in the hand, but fatigue will turn them into “cowards” on race day.  If your pigeons are not in superb condition on race day, they may be able to be motivated to fly fast for a short time, but once the debilitating effects of fatigue set racing pigeons will make mistakes.  They lose their focus and their motivation to “race” home starts to waver. The pigeons become tired and they do not have the same fight.

It is at this point when fatigued pigeons decide to slow down and often stop, or fly home instead of “race” home. “Fatigue makes cowards of us all"; which includes pigeons. If you take top quality care of your best racing pigeons, if you give them space by not overcrowding, if you give them high quality grains and supplements; if you exercise your pigeons daily around the loft or on the road; the racing season will be much more fun and enjoyable. But you can only have success if your pigeons are in great shape. When other pigeons are pulling up in that final stretch of the race and are coasting home, your pigeons are in great shape and are racing home. They can handle the obstacles that may come along in the race because they are in great condition. The pigeons need you to coach them into great shape the same way Jimmy Johnson coached his Championship teams into great shape.