What is a One Loft Race?
Normally when pigeon races take place, the birds belonging to each owner race back to their own lofts, very often in the owner’s garden. In a One Loft Race all the pigeons live together in one loft and race back to it – ours is at Silk Willoughby, near Sleaford.

Where do all the pigeons come from?
Pigeon breeders from all parts of the UK pay to enter a pigeon into the loft. Sometimes groups of people buy a pigeon together especially to enter in the races. Anyone can join in.

How do they know to stay at this loft?
All of the pigeons are sent to the loft when they are about six weeks old and it becomes their home.

Who looks after the pigeons?
The Loft Manager is called Jonathan Swift and he is employed especially to care for the birds.

What do the pigeons eat?
They eat a mixture of grains containing peas, tares, barley, maize etc and always have access to grit and fresh water.

Do the pigeons just have one race?
They are trained by taking them short distances in a specially built trailer and they learn to fly back to the loft. The distances get longer each time The first practice race or ‘Hot Spot’ race is from about 50 miles. There will be other ‘Hot Spot’ races and then the final race is about 250 miles.

How do you know who wins?
The pigeons all carry two rings on their legs. One is a life ring which carries their identification number and the other has a microchip in it. When the birds arrive back at the loft, the ring registers on a computer and the computer knows whose pigeon it is.

What happens to all the pigeons after the races have finished?
After the final race, the pigeons are sold in an eBay type auction and half the money raised is used to promote new projects in pigeon racing. Often their breeders buy them back but some go to new homes. Some remain at the lofts for a second season of racing up to 400 miles.

How do schools come to be involved?
The Royal Pigeon Racing Association sponsors some entries and fanciers are asked to provide a bird for the school. Additionally some fanciers choose to sponsor their own local school to raise interest amongst the children. Some schools are encouraged to adopt a fancier’s entry and watch it throughout the season as the results go up on the website. If you wish to know more about how you or your school can take part please contact us on [email protected]

What are the prizes?
The first prize is £35,000 and there are lots of smaller prizes. There are also special prizes for schools taking part.

How do you take part in the race?
An advert calling for entries usually appears in the British Homing World and on the RPRA website around the end ‘of September, and the list stays open until capacity is reached. A deposit of 50% of the entry fee is required, with full payment being made before birds are accepted at the loft. The loft is open to receive bird entries from mid March to early May.