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pigeon Family Done Rightpigeons
By: Ken Easley 02/23/99

The best way to build a family of dependable well-bred rollers is by starting with 6 or 8 birds of exceptional quality. Then over a period of 6 to 15 years slowly and carefully inter breeding them using the best rollers to form a family where all birds share similar type, arial ability, eating patterns, development etc. The reason it takes so long is because you have to fly them out and put in the time. There are no shortcuts to real success. The shortest route is what seems to be the longest when you first begin. Some will fool themselves from time to time thinking they can somehow inbreed or use birds that look pleasing to produce quick results. This is far from the truth. If anything quite the opposite is true. I believe you should always try to have a family where all birds share common ancestry without breeding too close. Birds inbred too close produce birds that fly too fast, roll too much or are erratic in their development. The finest of specimens will become unstable and deteriorate when hard inbreeding techniques are used. When you’re family reaches the point where all the birds are related you should breed to the outside of the family. That doesn’t mean bringing in an outcross. It means to pair birds together in your family that are related but as far apart as possible. Always using only the best in the air that has been flown out at least 2 years or more. If the family becomes too weak you need to breed toward the outside of the family. If they become too strong you can take them in a bit. If you cannot resist the temptation to mate up birds that haven’t been flown out properly you should raise a few rounds then return them to the kit for further development. Another successful method is to find someone who has put in the time building a family correctly. If possible try to get youngsters from this family then begin your own being careful to understand the founder of the family’s methods of feeding, flying, and pairing. Birds evolve how we allow them to. That is a fact. Differences in feeding, flying and stocking standards can destroy years of hard work in the best family of rollers. For example if you have always fed a high protein diet and selected your stock birds from the ones that responded the best from these feeding techniques for many years. Then someone else gets your birds and feeds them a low protein diet. This may cause them to roll down or be too weak. Then you begin to select birds that respond well to the new technique of feeding. You have changed the family. It is like starting over again. Think about it. It is true. There are fanciers that fly rollers that aren’t hungry. They do fine because they have been selected that way. If you change the way they are bred to respond you can not expect good results. It would be like putting diesel in a gas engine then complaining that it does not run good. I noticed birds usually reflect their owners. You may want to keep that in mind when you are getting started or starting over. Know it all types are very irritating sometimes but if they are the real articles, not clones or parrots much can be learned. Scatterbrain types usually have a hozh posh of several families of rollers for years. They can’t make a decision. Don’t look there for good birds. Some guys run to buy birds to start a new family every couple of years. These guys are rainbow chasers. Build your own rainbow. The best way is the careful long study of rollers through experience. Look for a source with at least 20 years experience raising rollers. The answers do not come overnight. The best way to be sure is to put in the time and gain your own wisdom. You will find that some fanciers are better breeders and some are better flyers. The better breeders may be able to pair rollers for optimum results and may also be able to fly their birds quite well as long as they are by themselves, but when competitions or company comes around things fall apart. I myself have been guilty of this. They get nervous a few days ahead of time and start messing things up by changing the feed or switching out birds. The guy that keeps his head and sticks to his plan of gradually getting his kit on form will usually be victorious on fly day. A tremendous amount of flying is what it takes to win, coupled with close observation. It is far better to fly 16 of your best than to use birds that are not up to the standard just so you can say you have 20 in your kit. Usually you can expect to raise 6 or 7 very good birds out of 100 raised in a year. It would not be unusual to have 3 years invested in a top scoring kit.


In short, fly them hard, build a family using the best from the air then save up the best until you have 24 or so to work with in your holdover kit.

Remember to be patient. Not all birds start out as champions. Sometimes the best birds on the start are the least valued in the end. I have noticed when you get a good cock at two years old he was probably trouble when he was young. The cocks that roll a lot and have a hard time keeping up with the kit when they are young may turn out to be your best cocks at two years old. Sometimes, the cocks that roll just right when they are young will grow up to be too strong and become infrequent. Hens are another story. Hens that roll too much, most of the time will never straighten out. They usually get deeper and deeper until they crash and burn. The best hens are gradual in their development getting better as they age. Generally they have bounced at least one time in their life and learned their lesson. When they have learned you will notice they will only tumble or short roll when close to the ground and spin deep when they are at a safe height. Some birds will get better after they have raised a round or two of youngsters.

Never get rid of a bird that rolls fast with good style at the back of the kit as long as it always gives its best to return to the kit. These birds are full of roll and just need to learn how to handle it. When they finally learn you will be pleased with them and yourself for having patience. Not all of these will turn out good, but the ones that do are generally real good. I would much rather have a kit of birds that roll than a kit of tipplers that are referred to as rollers. The best are the ones that shoot back to the kit quickly after each roll. Rollers go through several stages of development during the first couple of years. I draw the line on whether or not to keep a bird by how he goes back to the kit. If the bird is always going back to the kit he will usually turn out good. When you see a bird that rolls deep and gives up on going back to the kit time after time, 9 times out of 10 he is destined to be a cull. He doesn’t have the heart to keep trying. No need to keep birds with poor character. They will only disappoint you. Save the feed for birds that deserve it. I also will not keep a bird that bounces every time you open the door. These are more signs of poor character. The bird doesn’t have the fortitude to stop committing the same mistake over and over again.

I like to mate orange eye to pearl if possible. By possible I mean if I have 2 birds worthy of breeding, I prefer to have orange on pearl but it is not necessary. I like to mate reds of every type to blues of every type. By this I mean red checkers, recessive reds, red badges, red spangles, ash reds, spread ash and so on would be better mated to blue checkers, blue bars, blue badges, silvers, blacks. Grizzles and tortishells can be mated either way depending on which is the dominating color. I believe this helps to keep balance of physical traits. But again it is not necessary. Recessive reds can be mated together provided you know what color is underneath. A rec. red that is blue underneath will show bluish or gray around the tail. I would not mate 2 blacks together if another choice were available. The same applies to silvers, grizzles and tortishells. This is just preference, but preference built on good results.

I enjoy seeing a good stork marked once in a while, but my favorites are black self’s, black badges, recessive reds, red spangles, dun self’s, dark check bronze self’s, blue check badges then dirty or sooty red check self’s. I refer to these dirty spread ash birds as charcoals. I believe they have a good mix of the red and black, or ash red and blue. I noticed that the Smokey blue bars are usually good producers when the gene pool is correct. These are the colors and patterns that year after year have produced the greatest number of quality stable rollers for me.

It would take a book rather than an article to explain everything to watch for when undergoing the task of developing a fine stud of rollers. These are some of my methods, which were determined by the best results in the air.

The no-brainer method is to mate the best rollers to the best rollers regardless of any other trait.

A POSSIBLE RETORT:

a. When referring to weak or strong in the above-mentioned article I should mention that I am referring to mental stability. Some inbred birds look and are very strong physically but may not be mentally, which is usually the case. They are generally smaller which is a desirable trait. Highly inbred birds usually take longer to develop in regards to rolling.

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