Yu Yuguang’s heart beat rapidly as he stood on the roof, his eyes turned to the sky, waiting for one of his pigeons to fly through its cage door.
Yu was lucky. His 7-month-old Little Ancestor finished first in the recent China Race Pigeon Association competition, beating more than 4,800 others.
The bird completed the 1,000 km race from Langfang (near Beijing) to Shanghai in a record time of 16 hours and 24 minutes. However, the 5,000-yuan bonus is impervious to the 200,000 yuan that Yu spends each year on his 500 pigeons.
In November, a Chinese collector caught the attention of paying 1.3 million euros for a pigeon racing at an auction in Belgium. Within China, some breeders are also willing to pay a premium for the birds that win the races, helping to upgrade their value.
Last month, a player in Hangzhou named Ying, went to Beijing to participate in an auction, buying back six pigeons ranked well in the races. Each bird costs between 15,000 and 50,000 yuan, Ying threw her money indecently. “I love pigeons very much. In my heart, pigeons are first and wife and children are second,” he said.
Dong Xiaobo, a pigeon player since 2000, now has 1,200 children. He has a lovely bird named Dabai who loves to be fed with his mouth. For racing pigeons, from training to breeding, the whole process is a lot of fun. Especially in races. No matter what rain or wind, as long as you wait at home they will fly back, even if your body has injuries. That is their precious quality.
Dong has 5 employees who take care of and train the birds. The birds will be released for an hour each afternoon. To train racing, the birds will have to wake up at 5 o’clock, check the stomach for undigested food, because if it remains it will be difficult to fly far. From 2 months before the race starts, the birds will receive long-distance training. The distance increased from 30 km to several hundred kilometers. A pigeon can fly for 30 km in 20 minutes.
Over the years, Mr. Dong has won numerous awards. This year the birds brought him 4 championships.
In recent years, economic development has been a prerequisite for spreading the hobby to the super-rich. From a few tens of thousands of people, the membership has grown to more than 400,000, said Huang Jian, vice president of the China Pigeon Association. A 2019 race gives the owner of the top bird up to 8 million yuan.