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By: Ken Easley 4/06/99

All strains of rollers are different in one way or another. As I have stated in the past, rollers evolve how we allow them to. I have seen two or three different body types in the same family. Families like these were probably started with birds from several different families. After years of inter-breeding you can still see the differences. For each different body type a different feeding program may be required. That is why many breeders are inbreeding to produce an identical body type throughout the flock. Just remember not to inbreed too close unless its garbage you want. Some families will inbreed better than others will. If all the body types are similar the feeding requirements will be more closely balanced giving a more uniform performance. Also there is the mental aspect to consider. Some birds respond to low protein level diets whereas others may require a high protein diet to develop properly. Some breeders believe that more feed is required or higher protein content for flyers. Some may follow a different program of low protein. I would suggest that this is due to the responses of their family of birds. A physically stronger bird exposed to a high protein diet may loose the urge to roll and never be used to breed as a matter of fact he would probably be culled. A bird of lesser physical strength may excel on a high protein diet. It could work out exactly opposite, it depends on the birds. When the diet does not meet the birdís physical requirements, stress deteriorates the mental condition. All birds do not react the same; there are many factors to consider. Stock is selected on what the owner considers the correct response. All of these differences contribute to the outcome of the family traits.

It is the same with color balancing. One owner may have always kept frequent birds of the recessive red type and used them to keep the darker less frequent counter parts (in that family) balanced. And I suggest that this is probably needed for this particular strain because this is the way in which they were developed.

I would further suggest that in another strain where the breeder has looked for the frequency in the colors available, whether dark or otherwise, then color balancing would not be necessary. As I said they evolve how we allow them to. Nature has the ability to adapt to its surroundings. This was Gods way of allowing a species to survive. Man has manipulated this ability to produce a pigeon that rolls.

Short-face Helmets did not ask for short beaks so they canít feed their own babies. Whether you believe it or not, you must keep using good rollers from the air to maintain a strain, because a little of what the bird has developed into in the air is carried into the next generation. I believe that a bird will produce better rollers if it has been allowed to develop into a good roller itself. This same bird will not produce as good if it hasnít been allowed to develop in the air completely. I am not saying that an unflown bird will not produce good rollers, I am saying that the chances are much greater with a fully developed roller. This may be hard for some to believe. It is easier to think that what is in the gene pool is the same from birth till death. I disagree. I believe what is there can be modified by experience. It would be impossible to get positive proof but all my yearsí experience points this direction. It has to be true or adaptations or evolution of a species could not happen. I am not an authority but I believe something Darwin overlooked is that God created us so perfect that the ability to evolve is just part of the package. Cave men were rough and tough because they had to be to survive. By the same token, the best producers are the best rollers straight out of the kit box. All great breeders innately know this. That is why first rate breeders of any stock will not consider breeding immature specimens.

I have had young birds that have never flown more than ten times, roll thirty feet one time then never do it again until they are much older. I checked to see what these birds were out of. They were raised out of the best two birds in my A-team. Each year I take the best two birds out of my A-team and raise two rounds then return them to the kit. If your worried about not having enough good rollers for next year, mate up the two best birds in your kit and let them raise a round or two. I will promise you at least two out of the four will be as good as their parents in six to eight months.

I believe you can build rollers however you want in any color you want. I enjoy looking at these new colors and think they are really nice. I keep the basic colors and do not want any other colors or new bloodlines because it introduces new genes that you donít understand again. If you have invested years in learning and deciding what the desired traits are to be locked into your family, you donít want to add new birds with new traits to deal with unless you are missing something in the originals.

That is why rollers are enjoyed by so many people with so many different views, because they are subject to each mans interpretation.

The correct physical attributes of the bird will definitely contribute to tighter faster spinning.

I have been watching rollers for most of my life and I can confidently say that almost any shape within reason can roll to a scorable degree, but the really fast ones have a wedgy tight shape. Yes you have probably heard this before, but I can assure you I am a hard sale, I donít believe until I see it with my own eyes as my friends will attest. So now you have heard it again.

The stable roller gene does not always follow the perfect shaped bird. Yes, you may get some darn fast ones but that doesnít mean they are as good as they can be. The smaller ones appear to be faster because they are. You must watch and wait for that really fast stable one with the right shape then use this bird to the advantage of your strain. I would also say that the little pretty birds that a lot of guyís think is the right shape is not at all correct. These little beauties are usually more apt to be roll downs. You have to look for a long time to find a beautiful bird that rolls excellent and stable. That is because there is one body type that is more apt to be stable and another body type that is more apt to be fast in the spin. What we are looking for is the bird in the middle. The medium size birds have been the most stable in my family. If I have a medium and a small roller of equal ability in the air I would rather use the small one but would not unless it was stable. I am sure most of you know that stable means the bird doesnít roll down leaving or returning to the kit box or otherwise. It has passed through the difficult task of learning to control when and where to roll.

I overheard a breeder tell a guy that had gotten his strain of birds twenty years before, " these birds are much better than when I owned them, you really did something with them"! (After seeing them in the air.) Then later the same guy (the originator of the strain) was looking at the same family of birds at another guyís house that had received them from the first guy. He commented "these birds are much better looking than your birds". The second guy was a beginner, and of coarse the first guy with the good birds from the air won the competition. I started thinking about the comments of the originator of the strain and it did not take long to understand his mistake from years before. He preferred the better-looking birds to the better performers. The guy with the good birds in the air had improved the strain because he knew to use the best birds from the air.

Every thing we do effects these birds in one way or another. So forget the pretty birds and use the fast tight spinning birds that shoot back to the kit after each roll. Try to use the better shaped of your choices for breeders to keep the speed coming. Once you learn the correct shape of speed birds and stable birds they will become more attractive because you will appreciate what they can do in the air. Iíve always said beauty is created by what is on the inside. Breeders often pick out the wrong birds because they have no idea what stable fast birds look like. Stop guessing and use the ones that prove it in the air, at least until you know what to look for.

Try not to forget these birds are very vulnerable to our ignorance. For instance if you feed wheat and milo all the time to your flyers then you decide to give them a lot of peas and safflower one day you could roll down a kit. It takes approximately 72 hours before the peas will break down and show you what you have done. Of course if you kept the protein level at a safe level of say no more than 14% then you can expect to see some excellent rolling. Like anything else, it depends on the birds. Some families have been trained on high protein their whole life and will respond better to giving Milo for stimulation.

If you feed wheat and Milo which is basically a low protein diet give your birdís safflower and peas to the heavy side Wednesday then see what they do on Saturday morning. If you do it just right it will make them roll like crazy. You can make rollers on any feed. It is up to you how you develop them.

I prefer to use birds that were hot and worked their way through it and turned out to be exceptional birds.

This insures plenty of roll in the genes passed on. The birds I refer to may have rolled frequently when they were young, having a hard time staying with the kit but never failed to get back to the kit as quick as possible. As they matured they learned how to control the urge to roll until the right time and became stable quality rollers. By the time they are three years old they are smooth, fast and stable.

We are all responsible for our family of birds good, bad or indifferent.

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