in racers'/fanciers' own words, which is a very small sample of such messages posted to their own, restricted membership email discussion groups (unless otherwise noted):
Note: It is a customary practice of competitive pigeon racers to kill large numbers of birds they deem inferior or surplus. This includes "basket culling", which means that birds are carelessly released far from home and any who don't make it back to their family and friends (in essence, abandoned) are deemed not worthy of keeping, anyway.
A tactic to build and maintain a false public image by the competitive pigeon racing community is to cover up the killing and to portray the pigeon fancy as wholesome and benign. As you will see, below, nothing could be further from the truth.
Subject: Re: BREEDING: Teaching kids ... to kill
From: Jim Schneider [NMRollers]
. . .
...I know a LOT of nice people in the Roller Hobby, and I don't know ANY of them that are successful and don't Cull/Kill birds when it is necessary. These are good people who believe that the proper way to create and maintain a loft filled with respectable Rollers is to Cull the ones that can't make the GRADE! ...the GOOD Rollermen ... do NOT want to spread Roller-Trash around the country...
. . .
You say [Dave wrote, below] that there are MANY on this list that are successful in the Hobby without having to resort to Cull/Kill because of talent/expertise/compassion. I say that you don't know much about which you speak.
----- Original Message ----- Edited
[Dave wrote:] First of all, the
standards are decided by people, not by nature. To kill
to meet such artificial standards is an arbitrary decision. To say
that breeders of pigeons, dogs, cats, fish, etc., MUST kill
to meet goals does a great disservice to the many on this list who
have the talent, expertise, and compassion to succeed without killing.
It is also offensive to people who raise pigeons because they
love their birds. ...
Anyone who finds they are not willing or able to ...
cull as needed, the animals produced from
a regimented breeding program, should not be breeding the animals in the
first place. Anyone who thinks they can breed animals in an attempt to
achieve a standardized goal, improving on existing stock, without culling
those substandard offspring produced as part of the process, is a fool...
Subject: Gen Info. ...culling
From: Ed Dillon
cull. You may call it murder,
killing or whatever, but it has to be done. ...Culling
is not a disgraceful thing to do, it is a must. If you do right by
your birds then you must cull...
Subject: BREEDING: Teaching kids (and Animal Dave) to kill
From: Mike Ransom
. . .
Most people seriously involved in the Sport of Racing Pigeons ... eliminate birds that are not of value as Racers.
Click on this line to see a very special page re: Steve Souza
Subject: Re: Culling ...
From: Earl D Allan
. . .
If what most Roller breeders say is true, that out of every 100 birds raised you may get 5-6 stock quality birds. Then that's 95 culls.
Subject: OTHER: Culling
From: Robert L Fragoman
think the subject of culling
... is good publicity for the hobby ...
Subject: OTHER: pigeon legislation
From: Hans Windgassen
Organization: Sophie's Sweepstake Emporium
Subject: Re: Culling ...
From: Jim Schneider [NMRollers]
. . .
Since the list is for information and introducing beginners in the pigeon hobby to the best methods of raising a good family of birds, whether it be Racers, Rollers or Show, then the topic of Culling is a VERY necessary one. We cannot ignore the idea that you will not be successful in ANY of these parts of our hobby without knowing the best way to dispose of your Culls. Some... are fortunate to live in an area where there is a demand for ANY kind of bird (so you let someone else Cull it?), be it for Hawk training, or Shotgunning... but most of us are not blessed with this easy way out. ... Locally, we have "helped" beginners with their Culling and even selecting birds that needed culling. But at some time the Flyer needs to do this on their own. Discussing actual methods of culling may best be done with personal posts, but remember that the same methods may not be correct for everyone.
Subject: BREEDING: Why the need to kill to win?
From: Dave <animals@GOODNET.COM>
Organization: Urban Wildlife Society
Here are some thoughts from Pragmatist Dave about competition and killing:
DRUGS. It might be possible to get more performance from pigeons by drugging them. Why is that not acceptable? Does it give an unfair advantage to those who would use drugs as opposed to those who wouldn't? Do those who breed many and kill many birds just to keep a few have an unfair advantage over those who don't? Why is that any more acceptable than the use of drugs? Aren't both deadly to the birds and, in our much more animal protective society, hazardous to the pigeon sport/fancy, too?
The use of steroids in many sports was at one time thought to be the only way to win. So, some winners were 'roid freaks. All that proved was that some people would go to extremes to succeed. How is that different from those who go to the extreme of breeding and killing birds to succeed and thus, have forced others to think they must do the same if they want to win?
"Custom will reconcile people to any atrocity." - George Bernard Shaw
RACING: Automobile racing organizations place restrictions on design. Why? Because advances in engineering and technology have made it too dangerous for the drivers to race unlimited and only wealthy or heavily sponsored racers would be able to compete. So, the restrictions allow greater participation and thereby enable winning through talent, expertise, and determination rather than just money. Wouldn't doing the same for pigeon racing more reflect the capabilities of the breeders in the successes of their birds, expand the sport, and improve safety for the birds, for the same reasons?
SHOW: Standards are set by people, not by nature. If current standards reflect results of copious lethal culling, why not make them conform to kinder breeding practices. One would hate to think that the ones who make the rules do so for their own advantage and not in the best interest of the fancy.
To the ardent defenders of killer culling: Fess up. Aren't you afraid of the real competition you would have from the better and nicer breeders if the playing field were more level?
All it takes is a change of attitude and, if necessary, leadership, to make pigeon racing and showing much more popular -- and more acceptable to the general public. Pigeon breeders who don't like the currently accepted brutality should get together and make change happen -- before someone else does.
"If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a
closed room with a mosquito." - African Proverb
In short the little man and woman
who keeps a loft of pigeons as nature intended is on a hiding to
nothing against the big boys. What the hell! does he/she get the same pleasure
as i do when my birds come home from a race and trap in to our loft, those
birds have come home to us, not because of money system or drugs, they
come home cause THEY LIKE LIVING WHERE THEY DO. if they are placed and
win a card - what a bonus!!!!!
Ron Huntley wrote:
you kill a pigeon...
We have seen here that the methods described range from feeding
rat poison, drowning, gassing, popping them in the head, cutting their
heads off, pulling their heads off and last
but not least bearing [sic] them alive.
From: Harry Hill [Maverick Loft]
. . .
I got a message yesterday ... [about] a call from a lady with a lost bird...
. . .
...what I want to avoid is having a situation where the legal owner contacts the animal lover and says to kill it or picks it up and kills it. That happens...often. ...we do have to be discreet...
Subject: ... What to do with them all...
From: Eleanor D Souza - Lady Flyer - 1212 Loft
that have done nothing as a young bird or as a yearling and show no signs
of being a potentially good breeder are culled.
Yes. Culled [killed]. ...
I haven't come across anyone wanting to keep a pigeon as a pet and I
wouldn't give a cull to anyone wanting to
improve their stock. ...I don't have the time,
money, or energy to keep birds that have not proven themselves as racers
nor showing potential in being a good breeder.
I have been breeding pigeons for over twenty-five years ... Normally I raise around fifty birds each year. ...I have never had more than two or three that I have kept at the end of the year. Everything else is culled. Since I don't fly oldbirds [sic] if the bird does not produce in the breeding loft as a yearling then it is also culled.
Sounds harsh, but I am interested
in winning. ...
Last night at the Club we asked
advice from one or two of the "Old hands" who suggested culling
him immediately ...
For the homing pigeons culling isn't necessary because you can fly them and those that aren't good enough will be lost. If a bird comes from the races late every time and it isn't in the prizes you simply send it to a longer race and if it comes you send to a longer one and so on.
Subject: YB races
Subject: Racers 1st-White dove 2nd
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