Pigeons have been domesticized since the nineteenth century. Originally, they were used to deliver post however since then the potential of the species flying capabilities caused these birds to be used for racing. Pigeon racing is often described as a sport where there is a singular starting point and a thousand finish lines due to the design of the races. Races can range from 100 to 1800 km in length. Several genes have been linked to racing pigeon performance, of which the LDHA and the dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) are the most commonly tested. Changes in two genes have unequivocally been linked to performance over short, middle and long-distance flights.
The LDHA gene correlates with muscle endurance and therefore different genotypes for this gene allow for racing pigeons to perform better at long distance racing. The DRD4 gene has been linked to racing performance in short distance races. At Unistel Medical Laboratories we conduct the necessary tests to analyses the LDHA and DRD4 genes. Through the use of polymerase chain reactions and restriction digestions we can confidently determine if the genetic makeup of a pigeon is favourable or not.
Knowledge of the variant combination of the genes allows breeders to selectively breed chicks with a high probability of performance over various distances. Both parentage tests as well as trait testing adds great value to the avery and provides customers with a scientific certification of quality.