Cold-Blooded Culling in Pigeon Racing
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Cold-Blooded Killers – Routine Cruelty in Pigeon Racing Exposed

dead bird

“You have to kill some, obviously.”

– Rod Adams, North of England Homing Union, 3 August 2012

PETA US recently went undercover to reveal the truth about the world of UK pigeon racing. The findings were shocking: hundreds of thousands of birds die each year during gruelling cross-channel races, while the sport has an endemic lack of regulation and is rife with illegal wagers and unlicensed associations.

Another aspect of this dark story makes it still clearer that racers (also known as “fanciers”) have little to no regard for the pigeons’ welfare – the killing of birds at the end of the racing season to make room for new birds in the loft or to save money on feed over the winter is widespread.

“I’m quite ruthless with pigeons – I mean, they’ve got to perform; same in the stock loft – they’ve got to perform, they get a couple years – the different hens and different cocks … and if they’re not producing, they’re out. I do not suffer bad pigeons.”

– PETA US undercover audio recording of a champion UK pigeon racer, 2 August 2012

Pigeons would naturally live approximately 20 years, but in pigeon racing, only a small percentage will make it to age 4 if they are not put in the breeding loft. “Unsuccessful” birds – those who survived the races but who did not earn enough money to be wanted on the race team the following year – are often killed by drowning, gassing or decapitation. Most birds, however, are killed by having their necks broken (called “cervical dislocation”) – a method that has been condemned by top avian vets.

“Cervical dislocation does not result in immediate unconsciousness, and studies have shown that, in fact, it can persist for well over a minute. The killing of pigeons in this way by untrained, hobbyist racers undoubtedly causes the birds tremendous pain and suffering.”

– Dr Yvan Beck, President, Planète-Vie, 6 December 2012

Fanciers can be ruthless when selecting which birds to kill at the end of a racing season, only keeping the bare minimum number of the very fastest birds necessary to maintain a winning loft.

“I think the biggest secret in pigeon racing is being ruthless. You’ve got to show something as a young bird to make it into the widowhood team and as old birds if they don’t show anything by the time we reach the coast, I don’t waste my money sending them across the water.”

– Roy Reid, Spellow Flying Club, North Liverpool Federation

Please speak out against this inhumane sport and urge Defra to prevent more pigeons from suffering in cross-channel races.

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  1. avatar Brien Comerford says:

    Those in the Know, know that pigeons have more earthly value than the human brutes who exploit, harm and ultimately kill them.

  2. […] loyal birds who served their country by delivering vital messages during both world wars, are being ruthlessly exploited by the pigeon-racing […]

  3. […] of birds who are separated from their families, forced to fly hundreds of miles, and often unceremoniously killed at the end of the racing […]

  4. avatar Joe Sheldon says:

    I sent this to the RPRA pigeon organisation:-

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    I note in replies by pigeon fanciers to the PETA accusations of cruelty regarding keeping and racing pigeons that many of these replies state your organisation has the bird’s welfare at heart and even has rules regarding this.

    One of your rules states there is to be a minimum headroom height in the box which I think are called baskets of 10 inches for vehicles built after 2008. This ruling is obviously not policed by yourselves as I know of two of what I think you call National organisations that have vehicles built after 2008 and in no way is this headroom height anywhere near 10 inches. It would appear your members have difficulty in understanding what ‘headroom’ means’, which to me means measuring from inside the box from the floor the pigeon stands on to the top above the pigeon’s head and not the outside measurements which appears to be the practice.

    Whilst I can accept that you personally probably don’t go and measure the boxes, one would presume your staff do and they are turning a blind eye because these boxes have now been built. I’m interested to know now you have this information what you intend doing about it.

    It is my intention to find out where the other two or three National organisations garage their vehicles and we will measure those boxes also.

  5. avatar John Thompson says:

    I’m a UK fancier and i have to condemn peta’s findings. Fanciers loose pigeons because of birds of prey, wires, ect they don’t kill ruthlessly. Pigeons played a large part during ww1 and ww2 this was because fanciers raced and trained there birds to do so. we test our birds for illness and vaccinate them against parathyroid and paramixovirus on a yearly basis. Peta claim a pigeon in natural circumstances lives for 20 years this is untrue if you look at ferrel pigeons they will be lucky to live 2 years and there almost all diseased and disabled many loosing limbs. pigeon fanciers do there upmost to give there birds the best, most look after there feathered friends more than themselves. It’s not a ruthless sport it’s a loving one were the birds return because they love there home and owner’s.

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