Racing pigeon lofts are specially designed houses that accommodate the distinctive needs of racing pigeons. Lofts are usually self-contained structures that are built to ensure that the birds receive optimal rest and protection from the elements.
Racing pigeon fanciers compete by bringing the birds to specified locations ranging from 50 to 500 miles. The birds are then released and fly back to their lofts, using the inherent "homing" instinct that is refined through training releases that begin when the pigeons are several weeks old.
Because racing pigeons are specifically bred to fly long distances, they are exposed to a variety of external, environmental stressors throughout their hours-long trips back to their lofts. To maintain good health and favorable racing abilities, racing pigeon lofts must consistently have a temperature range of between 10 and 30 degrees Celsius. The humidity in the loft must also never exceed 65 percent. These two factors, called the thermo-neutral zone, propel many professional racing pigeon owners to build lofts away from rivers and ponds. Ideally, racing pigeon lofts must also be raised off of the ground to ensure that water does not collect on the floor of the lofts, making the birds susceptible to diseases that could impair their flying abilities.