Good Feather, Handling For Quality

Good Feather, Handling For Quality

Handling For Quality
When the experienced fanciers handle a racing pigeon they are assessing its racing ability by judging its aerodynamic soundness. Their skill has been taught by time and their success in predicting the quality of the race pigeon rests with the fact that the aerodynamics of every champion is sound. The “expert handlers” cull birds in the race team that handle poorly, because the chances of a poorly conformed bird doing well are extremely low. It is good practice to cull “poor” pigeons from the race team well before training begins, but the decision to cull must be made by a good “handler”. Remember, the expert handler is always a very good flyer or breeder of pigeons and never a poor or mediocre fancier.

Although the athletic potential of the pigeon cannot be determined by its physical qualities alone, an understanding of the features of the racing pigeon which enable fast sustained flight provides the fancier with the knowledge required to both select and breed aerodynamically sound race birds. When handling a bird to assess its aerodynamic efficiency pay special attention to the feather quality, wing, body structure and balance.

An understanding of the aerodynamics of flight will improve every fancier’s skill at handling pigeons correctly. Around the world there are many families of pigeons varying enormously in appearance, size and shape, but the very best birds share the same important physical features. These features give the best birds an aerodynamic advantage. Every champion racing and breeding pigeon has good feathering, a good wing, a balanced body and are naturally buoyant. Every one of these is a hereditary feature passed on from parent to offspring.

Good Feather
The importance of good feathering as a reflection of the quality of a pigeon can never be overemphasised. For every fancier the quality of the feather is a very good and immediate indication as to the quality of the pigeon. A good quality feather is the foundation stone for breeding the champion pigeon and a pigeon with poor feathers should never be considered for stock because good feathering is a reflection of both good breeding and good health.

The healthy feather is silky, flexible, strong and waterproof. These features are all important for efficient flight. The high oil content of the healthy feather gives it the silky feel. The silkier the feather the greater the lift due to the streamlining effect required for efficient flight. The dry feather we get with many illnesses means that there is less streamlining (over the body and wing) and more drag with a subsequent loss of lift and less efficient flight. More energy is required causing the bird to tire more quickly. The dry feather being less flexible means that the twisting motion of the end flights that gives forward thrust is lessened, which results in a slower bird. The dry feather is brittle and lacks the strength of the silky feather, wearing out by the time the long races, when flying efficiency is needed most. Dry feathers lack the waterproofing qualities of the oil laden silky feather and flying therefore becomes more difficult in wet weather.

The feathers of the racing pigeon in top form are tight and silky. The aerodynamics are further improved by the feathers covering the body. These contour feathers of the body and the coverts over the wing and tail feathers of the bird in top form overlap each other very tightly to create a very smooth surface. We describe such a bird as having “tight” feather. During flight this very tight feather allows the moving air to flow smoothly and quickly over the body and wing surfaces in what we call “streamlines”. “Streamlining” gives “lift” to the flying pigeon and is one of the reasons why it can fly for sustained periods without tiring. For whatever reason (health or breeding), poor quality feathers fail to form the tight smooth surface required for “streamlining” and efficient flight. When the surface is not perfectly smooth the air does not flow smoothly across the surface and creates air eddies and bubbles of turbulence. Turbulence has the effect of slowing the airflow over the wing and body surfaces that increases the “drag” or “resistance” and reduces the “lift”. Therefore the bird with poor feathers flies slowly and requires more effort to stay aloft. The end result is a bird that tires sooner. A good feather is essential for racing performance because it is the basis of “lift”.

Good Feather, Handling For Quality by Dr. Rob Marshall

Learn the champions secret winning pigeon racing formula

Pigeon Racing Pigeons


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  1. #1 by javier rodriguez on December 26, 2010 - 2:19 am

    adding to my previous post forgot to say after training for two weeks on the day i yurn off the lights i pull the 9th and tenth feather to speed up the moulting of the primary flights.

  2. #2 by javier rodriguez on December 26, 2010 - 1:47 am

    to speed up the molt for your young racers in the young bird season start by turning on the lights 24 hours for your breeders aruond the end of november. continue having the lights on when u wean the young birds. this would speed up the moulting of there primary flights because the young bird is tricked into thinking it is summer time which is the time the birds moult there primary flights. when routing on there own clip about 1/4 or 1/8 of there 9th and tenth flight train for about 2 weeks short no moe than 6 miles start with 1 mile from all directions after completing this turn off lights and lock the birds up for six weeks and let the young birds complete there body moult without flying or any training @ all. feed light during this time and do not let birds put on too much wieght. after the six weeks the young birds should br completly moulted and ready for the young bird races. for a better understanding buy the bieche young bird light system. it als explaines how to feed and train the young birds

  3. #3 by Alister murray on December 18, 2010 - 6:33 am

    To many people look for something in a bottle to do some magic to the birds.Products that do this and that.In the end,it comes down to one simple thing.Healthy birds grow healthy feathers.Healthy birds are more likely to win races.If you want to buy something for your birds,get them Probiotics,(Good Bacteria)A healthy gut and bowel allows the bird to digest and absorb more nutriants from their food.An unhealthy gut and bowel causes the bird to empty itself prematurely loosing many beneficial nutriants.This is the main reason for a bad moult and/or poor feather quality.

  4. #4 by Jaco Venter on November 6, 2010 - 11:31 pm

    Can you guys tell me were to get some articles on the “wing”. Cant find much on the net. Hope all birds are well.

  5. #5 by Ronny Henderson on October 29, 2010 - 10:04 pm

    Interesting article, and lots of good ideas and thoughts from other pigeon fanciers. I’m just getting into the racing part of it and I already have become attached to my birds. I think I will not try to breed to many per season and maybe not get overrun with them so I won’t have to figure what to do with too many….

  6. #6 by Christopher Adam Trella on October 24, 2010 - 1:32 am

    I just try to make sure all the flight & tail feathers are there! Yes, there’s much,much more to it than this! But to sum it up,bright eyes,no wheezing,good tight feathers,both you & the bird have a chance! Sorry, it’s gettin’ late, but I had to throw in my 2 cents!

  7. #7 by pij lover on October 14, 2010 - 3:21 am

    i have written on my loft ‘you are welcome if you like to stay or if you like to leave’
    some will die and some will fly away and the ‘some’left are mine. i try to give my extra birds to beginners so that they are taken good care. NEVER KILL MY BIRDS

  8. #8 by Marcus on September 18, 2010 - 6:13 am

    Hey Chris,
    Keep up the good work. am really enjoying your articles. as for the moult. I find adherb very good. keeps them healthy and gives nice silky feathers.

  9. #9 by Whitney on September 6, 2010 - 6:55 pm

    I hate getting rid of birds too, but we have to remember that they are just animals. Today we live in a crazy society that doesn’t have any morals. Everything is screwed up because we have a right to “choose”, but animals must be protected??? Culling birds is a heartbreaking thing to do, but we all know how overrun our lofts become if we don’t.

  10. #10 by jay on September 3, 2010 - 9:13 am

    i agree w/ u mike its better to give it to other people which not involve in racing than killing them, still have a purpose w/ that bird mybe good for fancy purposes or as an ordinary pet,..

  11. #11 by mike spiegelberg on August 24, 2010 - 5:13 pm

    Plain and simple ….. I don’t believe ” Culling ” ( Killing ) Birds should be legal !!!!!!! Theres a law in the books called ” Animal Cruelty ” and this fits in the same bracket — pigeons have lived in the wild many years , let it go — or perhaps give it to someone whom is just starting out !!

    • #12 by terry downs on January 13, 2011 - 5:19 pm

      Unfortunately culling is part of keeping pigeons. the whole idea is to improve,you can not do one without the other.As for letting it go………….it’s a homing pigeon remember. if you can find it a home, give it to a beginner,by all means, but somewhere down the road you are going to have to cull. None of us enjoy or like it, but it is part of the whole. If you can’t, get someone who can, or get out of pigeons. Any one who loves them understands this. Best of luck, we need all the good pigeon people we can get.

      Keep-em flying.

      • #13 by Mac McSweeney on January 16, 2011 - 8:20 am

        I fly against Terry and am still a student of his. He is very knowledgable.

    • #14 by Mac McSweeney on January 16, 2011 - 1:32 pm

      Dear Mike, Terry did say he tries to find homes….thus thats how I got a great start. Terry gave my daughter and I birds to start in a fantastic hobby. Is keeping too many birds or any other type of animal above the carrying capacity of the environment humane? That is why deer must be managed and any other animal, for the health of the animals. I believe that it is cruel to keep too many birds. Very unhealthy for the loft. You say just “let it go”. Go where? They are “homers” they will return to “home”. That is equal to people turning out dogs, cats and horses who never learned to fend for themselves. I am not trying to attack you Mike when I say that just turning them out could be a slow lingering death akin to torture (cruel). That is the key. Length of time anyone or thing has to endure. I just think that there would be less problems if fanciers bred less young…..I am still looking for the fancier who points to solutions and not harping on the problems. Also, am I to understand that you breed young birds and keep them all? You must have unlimited resourses to keep all your young? May I please bring you any or all of my extras? I just can’t keep them all.

  12. #15 by jamie rodriguez on July 29, 2010 - 9:23 am

    thanks for the great info again Chris! i’m currently using the light system to speedup the molt and this information would surely come in handy

  13. #16 by hamed on July 20, 2010 - 5:35 am


    tanks is good helping for me

  14. #17 by Andy Rivera on July 15, 2010 - 9:11 am

    Probotics and anything you can do to keep stress off birds I keep my birds in the loft at the start of molting let em get by the heavy part 4th,and 5th flight 6th and on i’ll let them back out around loft for about 2 hours then back in for the night. I’ve never rush the feather dropping just keep everything around the pigeons less stressfull clean loft,feeding times the same everyday, clean water,and a couple of baths once a week for 2 or 3 weeks with salts in the water. If you live in a hot state make sure before bathing birds are not showing signs of pox and after bathing check em for a couple a days.


  15. #18 by Mircia Dobrin on July 14, 2010 - 12:59 am

    Hi,I used netle tea, and it produced marvelous results. Of course, it is very cheap!

  16. #19 by colin smith on June 24, 2010 - 3:18 am

    hi all.
    just started keeping the the birds again for the love of them and the relaxing pleasure they bring me. i dont race as the chicago area is lacking in this sport.
    as i am scottish it is great to hear and witness people helping each other for no gain on their part. so to all of you who give your time,experience and knowledge to helping others. i thank you

  17. #20 by Gwilym on March 18, 2010 - 4:39 pm

    Hi guys Flowers of Sulpher and peanut oil with a regular purge works wonders and dont forget the most important ingredent IODINE is a must.
    Happy moulting

  18. #21 by Marius on March 11, 2010 - 4:14 am

    Hey Guys!

    The “anti-fungal” and “improver” are manufactured by “Vital” – visit their website “”


  19. #22 by joe kelly. on March 4, 2010 - 5:50 pm

    ive enjoyed reading about the feather quaility of the birds. ive tried using antfungal and omprover 12 months ago -and im delighted with product-forget the rest
    this is the best on the market- if fanciers contact theese people who make this fine
    product they will help fanciers with a health program for there pigeons if people
    contact my email no i will gave any information on theese product.–there is one
    thing fanciers should know about using cod-liver-oil it must be keept in the fridg-
    once its opened to the air it could be dangerous to our pigeons. its a verry good oil
    great for the feathering and the bird health in general–i myself discovered years
    ago that if you put a little water in a saucepan -use verry low heat for half-hour
    5 spoons of linseed into water you will see this going like choclate -leave it cool
    for 3 hours and add it to your feed its great for the feathers and your birds will
    look and feel fab you must use this 2 differant days every week .

    • #23 by patrick kelly on March 29, 2010 - 9:32 am

      i am new 2 the sport that sounds good 2me

  20. #24 by george on February 26, 2010 - 6:32 pm

    thank you for sharing this most informative article. I have always wanted to find someone willing to share all their knowledge.

  21. #25 by tenmon on February 5, 2010 - 12:02 pm

    Oh, as the article states in a nutshell, good quality feathers does include being silky, tightly fitted and water proof. If the birds feathers are rough and dry then the birds intake of proper nutrients are lacking.

    Obviously, if you live in a dryer climatic condition, such as Arizona, Colorado, etc, this could be a detriment to top performance. But feather quality is just one of the required ingredients to having good birds and assist in the aerodynamic performance of the bird. Proper physical structure, such as wing curveture, weight to wing strength, muscles, etc. all have to do with the aerodynamics of the birds.

  22. #26 by tenmon on February 5, 2010 - 11:52 am

    I think that some family of birds have great feathering, such as the Meulemans. There are however some that do have a rougher quality than some and still perform just as well. You can give some supplements that are required for building better feather quality, and given during the proper time of the moult will definitely help. Wheat germ oil, according to the book feed to win has certain chemical compounds that when given on a consistent basis will cause the birds to moult more often than usual.
    One reader did not care about the supplements but wanted to know how to make the birds moult faster. Well try the lights!
    We should all try to find out what the birds need during periods of high moult to make sure that their diet consists of such ingredients be it in the form of food intake or water supplements, such as a good source of vitamins and mineral supplements. One should realize that the minerals are more important than vitamins.

  23. #27 by peter dempsey on December 21, 2009 - 4:50 pm

    this is a great topic and a real eye opener, something I never gave much thought to but after seeing it here I will definatly try to improve my moulting taticts
    a good moult is a must? without it all else fails

  24. #28 by Jeff on December 21, 2009 - 8:50 am

    For the past couple of years I have been using two products that are natural, not only have my birds moulted out to the best feathering I’ve ever seen on them, I haven’t had any kind of sickness in the loft, and I have to say, the last 2 seasons are my best by a long shot.
    I’m not one that falls easy on any self proclaimed miracle product, nor am I a sales person, but after using the products and sharing them with 3 other members, I decided they were what I was looking for, so I became one of the distributors, this makes availability much easier for club members, I supply it to racing , fancy pigeon as well as cage bird fanciers, haven’t had one complant yet, the products are Improver and Antifungal.
    Well worth every cent

    • #29 by terry , area13loft on December 30, 2009 - 7:23 pm

      whats the name off your product ,how do you use it

    • #30 by liam gaynor on July 14, 2010 - 9:21 am

      what.s the name of your products
      if you dont.t mind saying
      your,s in sport

  25. #31 by Marius on December 21, 2009 - 2:18 am

    Hi All!

    I live in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It is summer now and very hot presently.

    I consider the moult as the most important period in the pigeon’s life if you want success for the fothcoming racing season!

    However, I am confused with all this “on line” crap you can buy to have “better” feather quality, etc, etc… the list is endless!

    All I want to know from an “expert/pro/experienced fancier” a guide as to how to get my birds quicker through the moult.

    Should they get any special supplements, should I avoid any use of antibiotics as preventative measures, or should and can I routinely only see to the control of canker?

    Yours in sport,


    • #32 by Glen Wellmann on November 1, 2010 - 10:24 am

      I am no expert but i think that there is no real way to make them moult quicker and i give premoult 100 from medpet straight after racing antibiotics to young birds as i want them to build up there own antibodys but you must check them and treat them if they show sighns of illness.Stress is the killer as it causes young bird desease.Open loft all day and you will see your birds get silky feathers but some birds obviously have better feathers but the race basket will prove all theorys wrong glen jhb

  26. #33 by Bob Schaefer on December 20, 2009 - 8:26 pm

    when my Birds molting which they do twice a year, i make sure that i give them a cap of “norwegian” cod liver oil mixed in with each serving of frred. you do not need to buy all of this high end crap on line. i freed my birds a coffee can of feed once in the morning and then i give them another serving in the late after noom making sure that they eat every thing i gave them so field nice do not get in to my loft and eat and piss on any lift overs which is the couse of spining disaase or Paromixavirus etc. i also give my birds a cap of clorx in a gaiolen of drinking water that i change out once every two days to keep infections from spreding in my loft in the event they pick some thing up when out flying. i also give them low fat i percent milk once a month to clean them out for a full day with out any drinking water. i am feeding about fourty birds right now and i make sure they have a high quality grit. these are old homor flyer’s tricks of the sport that my father used. if you want your birds to win races you need to train them yourself along your own line of flight from point A to point B directley back to your loft or your going to be given people like the guy that owns the pigion truck and others over fly time and today races are won by seconds.
    always take your birds to the relase spot at least once before picking your nominators and those you expect to fly in the money, remember fools and there money are soon parted in this highley competitive sport and if you can’t afford the sacrafices involed with the sport, then don’t do it which is why i keep my as a hobby.

  27. #34 by Uncle on December 19, 2009 - 11:06 am

    How do pigeons break feathers in the wing? If you try to snap a feather it’ll just bend and crease but somehow pigeons snap feathers.

  28. #35 by Jeff on December 19, 2009 - 9:32 am

    It’s nice to see an article on the wing and feathers.
    I believe the feathering of a bird is one of the things many fanciers truly over look.
    Try and find some articles about the wing, no where near the amount compared to the eye.
    Some real good reading and learning material here.

  29. #36 by MONTY on December 18, 2009 - 5:52 pm

    Hi Guys

    my question is, can feather quality drop during illness and if so what do you guys give the birds to bring back the silkiness or quality.

    • #37 by squeak on October 16, 2010 - 12:00 am

      i give my birds a horse fibre not bran its rich in amino acids which appears to trigger off beautifull silky feathers just today i inspected my birds along with fellow fanciers and they too were impressed with their health. Eyes too were sparkling always a good sign. Now is a good time to feed my birds this fibre during the off season especially when moulting fellow sportsman today were also impressed at how quick they had completed there moult. A great supplement during of season and yes when birds are ill. Three days after feeding this fibre you can see the results quite clearly. I do however refuse to give my birds this fibre during racing season. My research has led me to release the effects of feeding high fibre and that is how it can upset there diet something we like to avoid whilst racing our birds. I plan to write a special feature about this fibre substance in the near future and post it on my website. do hope this has helped.
      highly recomend for ill birds.

  1. Dr. Rob Marshall « Pigeon Racing Pigeons

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