There used to be many more people who were able to make a living racing pigeons. That was in the 40s, 50s, and 60s.
Today, there are relatively fewer fanciers in this sport who make a stay-at-home wage. BUT, there appears to now be a come-back, and Belgium (the historical hotspot), Germany, and Holland show a rapid rise in international racing events, and hence, in more flyers going into full-time careers. Indeed, some of the winnings for First Place can be as much as $50,000+US. Scoring 3 top wins per year can guarantee you a comfortable income.
This all takes work and cost however. The racing loft itself can cost up to $25,000 US depending on how many birds you want to keep, and what architecture you want to incorporate. Most good lofts average about $5-10,000 to build. The good thing is that the birds don’t really care. They just want to fly home from hundreds of miles away, to return to their mate and/or eggs or friends, as quickly as possible.
The usual steps are: 1. you build a loft, 2. you buy the best pedigreed birds you can afford, 3. you join a local club, and 4. you buy all the racing equipment needed (timers, bands, etc.). Club members can have ‘in-house’ betting, but most flyers race within a federation of clubs, to make competition more keen, and to be able to make more money from various betting structures – somewhat like horse-racing.
All the fanciers I have known, and I have known many, stay in this hobby for years, whether they make or lose money from racing their birds. Moreover, money can also be made just by selling stock from the best breeding birds with the best pedigrees. This can bring in added and constant income without racing. Here however, the trick is to buy/import only the best breeding stock you can find, and to make sure that sold birds perform for their new owners.
Yes, it is possible to make a living from racing pigeons. Living in or near large urban areas will provide you with the best competition, the largest winning pots, and the least interference from predators. Rural breeders who sell only, based on pedigrees, can make it work too. Wherever you live, this is a very rewarding hobby/vocation. Birds are lots of fun, with personalities all there own. They can be easily tamed to eat right out of your hand.
Just search out “racing pigeons” on the internet and follow where you want to go. You’ll have a lot of fun learning about the sport, even if you don’t want to pursue it.
Remember – before you build a loft, check with your local ordinances. Otherwise, GOOD LUCK FLYING!!
P.S.: I used to fly with the Toronto Runnymede Club and the Thunder Bay RPC. I bred Jansens, Delbars, and Desmets. Best cock bird was CU-56-448, First at 600 miles.