This is what we think the perfect sprint race pigeon should look like: a bit stocky, short legs, a wide and short neck, rather short wings (longer wings are more useful at longer distances), an average size of breast but not too flat. In other words we would look for a pigeon with a wide but stocky body and a round chest, well muscled, short wings and short primaries. We think this is the perfect short distance racing pigeon. This pigeon would be able to beat his opponents even in the shortest races.
Of course you cannot expect this pigeon to fly over a longer period of time. Instead this pigeon will race very well in short and demanding races, where it is likely to perform well on a regular basis. Still, it is very important to keep your pigeons motivated. Even if you have a team that consists of pure sprint pigeons you still have to be able to keep them on top of their game if you want them to be successful.
The best way to prepare them for the sprint races is by keeping them calm and quiet until just before they are basketed. A hen that is raced to eggs will notice that her partner is brooding the eggs when she arrives home after her race; she will immediately take his place in the nest when she is back. For a second basketing you can place a small youngster in her nest.
To be familiar with pigeons and to know how to prepare them for the races: that is the secret to success! This is essential when it comes to winning sprint races! It is also important that the returning pigeons can get back inside as quickly as possible. Pigeons that do not enter the loft quickly enough will never be able to win a top prize in the short distance competitions.
A pigeon that is raced on semi widowhood with an older youngster (which he nourishes only partially) will usually achieve great performances in the sprint races. This approach is very useful for hens as well if they stay in the basket for a night. Again it is important to take precautions: you should never show them their cock during widowhood with a youngster. Outside the races they should be kept in a semi dark environment to force them to recover as much as possible. To avoid any irregularities the fancier should sometimes let them do a training flight instead of a race just to make sure that the cocks and the hens are flying separately.
When the cock and the hen are racing their youngster will have to be fed by a couple of breeding pigeons in order not to tire the two birds too much. If there are no couples available, the fancier will have to feed the youngster himself. The youngsters will be kept away from the father or the mother with a transparent board that is removed in the evening. As a result the two partners can cherish their youngster throughout the night. The two parents falsely believe that they are the only birds that feed their youngster. As a result they will eat more regularly and this will give them the strength that they need to win prizes in the races.
After the cock has been fed he will be allowed near the youngster. However, as the youngster has already been fed by another couple or by the fancier himself, the youngster will not take the feed that the cock wants to give to him. This approach is of course time consuming. Still, this approach that is used to keep the sprint racers motivated is in fact very natural. Some fancier might think that having either the cock or the hen take care of the youngster or having the hen do races for a few weeks in a row with a fresh youngster in the basket are artificial methods to keep them motivated. This is not true; these are actually very natural methods.
There are a few artificial approaches to keep the sprint racers motivated and on the edge. You can use special seeds that keep them alert and you can also make them jealous. These special seeds should be used very carefully or at least only in cold lofts. In a warmer environment pigeons should not be kept alert artificially.
We much prefer to make our pigeons jealous to motivate them. There are many different approaches and it allows you to increase the performance of nearly any pigeon in your loft. It is important however to change your method regularly and not to use the same approach on a pigeon over and over. This is because a pigeon might get used to it so that the method loses its effect. Jealousy will motivate your pigeons more than anything else. Keep in mind that this puts a strain on the bird’s nervous system so it is very important to allow it to recover well afterwards.
Rest, quietness and easy flights are very important to keep a pigeon in a good shape if you make it jealous on a regular basis and for an extended period of time. A car with a nearly empty fuel tank will not perform well. The same goes for our pigeons.