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 Twenty Four Seven 365
by Joe Grimes 2001
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Of course this is exaggerated but those of you who want to win better keep it in mind. Breeding and showing Show Rollers is not a simple task, but if you plan well and are willing to do some work you can raise a lot and eventually win a lot. In this article I'm going to run through my system. Some things I will detail more than others but if there are questions, I will be happy to try and answer them. I'll start out at what I consider the beginning of the year, even though I truly believe that each segment overlaps and there is no start or finish.
I begin when I leave the all age National; this is usually my last show except for the Classic. I already know that I have to cull a few birds, so my mind is whirring with final decisions as soon as my butt hits the truck seat for the trip home. I only like to keep the cocks that I'm breeding from, no extras. I do keep a few extra hens because I like to switch mates periodically. I will admit we don't all see eye to eye, but when I look at a pigeon I look at it as a stock bird first because I'm constantly trying to improve my line. Some stock pigeons are not show pigeons. A show pigeon should be very balanced in all areas. Half of your stock birds need to be strong in something, not just balanced. Pigeons will always breed down, balance to balance will eventually breed down. You must keep stock with strong features to keep it set in your family.
I don't keep birds to sell. I cull heavily. If a young bird is not good enough for me to show I cull it. I don't keep it to sell; I put it in the trash. At the end of the breeding season if there are old birds that did not raise any quality young, they go in the trash. I don't sell them. I do replace good breeders every year with young birds however, this is a must if you are to move forward. I try to replace a third of my stock loft every year with "my" young birds. I do like to help people out with pigeons and if some needs help and I see them trying to help themselves, I will do what I can. I hardly ever sell pigeons without giving away a few also.
When I get home from the National I cut down to what I'm keeping. I put my birds under 16 hours of light for two weeks prior to mating them up. The light stirs up the hormones and makes them think its springtime. Most people think that animals get frisky in the spring because of the nicer weather but it is actually the extended daylight that gets them amorous. My old hens are housed in tight quarters after breeding season, so now that the shows are over and I can move the show birds around, I bring the hens in and let them have more space to fly around. I also try to knock weight off of them at this time as fat birds do not breed well.
I run my birds through a medication schedule at this time also. I give them Global's 3 in 1 mix for five days, then one day of vitamins and a probiotic. The next day they get clear water. Then I treat them with Furaltodone for seven days. At the tail end of this seven-day treatment they get vaccinated for Paratyphoid and PMV-1. I do both vaccines at once. The day after the seven day treatment they again get vitamins and probiotics. The week prior to all of this I give the hens a calcium supplement, Calcium Gluconate. I also add this to the water every other day until they lay the first round and then once a week throughout the breeding season. This is all I do for medications unless something else arises. I try not to medicate during the breeding season because it is hard on the birds and the young need to develop their own immunities. Cull out the weak.
Now I mate up. My breeding sections are 5' x 8' and are set up for eight pair each. My nest compartments are 24" x 30" x 16". They have removable wire fronts and I can divide them down the middle with wire also. I decide what pairs I want where, trying to put any old cocks from last year into their old boxes, but yet trying not to group the young cocks together. I put each pair in their nest compartment but keep the cock and hen separated by wire for the first few days. The cocks have been inactive sexually for a few months and this allows them time to build up sperm. If you let them together right away they will copulate several times the first few days completely depleting the cock of sperm. After the initial day of pairing I let every pair out one pair at a time. They have time to eat and drink and maybe tread once then I chase them back to their box. I never chase them out though, I let come out on there own. This early settling of the pairs will save you from lots of fighting and nest box switching. Make sure the cocks allow the hens to eat and drink. I usually keep grit in her side of the nest compartment as well because she will start drawing on her reserves quickly until she adjusts her diet for breeding. Once the pairs are settled, usually only a couple of days, it is time for patience. Usually within 10 days the hens will start laying, sometimes some of the young hens will be slower. I check my eggs for fertility seven days after the second egg is laid. If they are infertile I will leave them until the tenth day and then throw them out.
During breeding season my breeders get no medications. They are given vitamins and minerals twice a week, probiotics twice a week and iodine once a week. All my birds get fresh grit every day and they all have pickstones in front of them at all times.
I will mention at this point that I do use 10 pair of homers as feeders. They in no way can keep up with the 28 pair of rollers that I start out with, but they do help in many ways. They are great for those early youngsters. Another trick I've learned is that any young roller cock that I use has to raise a pair of homers his first round, whether his eggs are fertile or not. This goes along way in making better parents out of them. I try never to foster more then two consecutive rounds from a pair. I think the hens need to go trough the normal cycle and sitting a full round lets their system rest also. If a pair isn't filling eggs, put fertile eggs under them. They will never get in cycle if they just keep laying every ten days.
As the eggs begin to hatch watch for those youngsters that need help out of the shell. Pick off just a little shell at the spot they are pipping, if it bleeds, let it alone, its not ready. The timing is such that by the time that baby has pipped all the way around that egg, the supply of blood to the inner membrane will have dried up. So if its bleeding don't rush it. Healthy babies will get out of the eggs on their own and will be stronger as a result of all their work. I check my breeders at about 10 PM every evening, if a baby that hatched that day has not been fed by that time, I feed it. I use a dental syringe, used for flushing your gums, filled with a runny mixture of Kaytee Exact Hand Feeding Formula. If this is not available, the watered down yolks from hard-boiled eggs works well also. The feeding is easy to do. Some say its to much work, but they also lose a lot of youngsters. You have to be willing!! I hardly ever have to feed the babies a second time. Once they get through that first night they seem to be over the hump. As the babies grow, I watch out for those nest mates that seem mismatched in size and simply try to move them around to other pairs. The homers help out here also as they will feed three young and do well feeding youngsters that are different sizes. I handle the young every day to keep them used to me and to check for health. I make sure they are on the floor by 28 days and in the weaning pen by 40 days.
Once in the young bird pens I make sure that they find the water and I feed them my breeding mix. I let them enjoy the small seeds but try to make them clean up the peas every third day or so. Once every other week or so, all of my birds, including the breeders, get brewer's yeast sprinkled over feed that has been moistened with wheat germ oil. My young birds get the same weekly water treatments as my breeders, however after they are two months old I give them Globals 3 in 1 mix for three days once a month.
I have four 5' x 6'young bird pens. As young are weaned, I fill up pen #1, usually about thirty birds. As I'm getting close to 30, I start pulling out obvious culls and hens. The culls go into the trash and the hens go into pens #3 and #4. I never move the young cocks!!!! Once they are weaned they stay in that pen until the show season is over and I've selected my breeders for the next breeding season. I ultimately want to end up with about 18 cocks in pen #1. When I get to this point I start weaning into pen #2. I repeat the same procedure. By the end of the breeding season I finish my weaning into pen #4. After I split up my homers (in pen #5), I pull the last hatch of cocks out of pen #4, and put them into pen #5. I guess I shouldn't have said never, this is the only time I move young cocks. I don't recommend moving any young cocks once they have dropped their fifth flight. I move the young cocks out of this pen as a group and it has always worked for me. Any time I've moved a young cock later they struggle with condition.
Let's speak about condition for a moment. I believe it has a lot to do with genetics. I also believe that certain genetic makeup's do better under certain conditions. The only way to really find out what genetic makeup will work for you is to select your initial stock with some thought going into their condition. From these breeders pay close attention to the youngsters who carry the best bodies under your system. These are the ones that have what it takes to gain weight under your care. Consider this when you're selecting the young that you will keep for the following breeding season. Sometimes in order to keep this desirable trait in your loft you have to keep birds that may be inferior in other respects, but condition counts for 25% of our standard and you must have birds that YOU can condition. Pay closer attention to the young cocks, as the hens are much easier to fatten up.
Conditioning your show birds is not something that starts before the shows. It is something that happens everyday of the year. The young birds will want lots of protein so keep giving them the breeder mix, but watch them. If they clean up the safflower quickly you should add more for them. As the youngsters finish up the molt, they will want less protein and more fat. You will need to add more corn or some other source of fat, some use peanuts and hemp. After you split up your breeders you will have to treat them in the same manner. The breeders actually start molting after the second clutch of eggs, so keep in mind that they are growing feathers for next years show season while they are breeding.
The end of my breeding season is based on the number of young that I want to raise. I need to split up all pairs at once because my breeding sections break down and become the old cock pens. In order to split up I try to move the last round of eggs under my homers. When I take these eggs, I place wooden eggs under the pairs to keep them from laying again or sometimes give them homer eggs. Once all of the pairs are ready, I split the sexes. I also turn the timers off on my lights and allow the birds to return to natural light. I have two sections each for the old cocks and old hens. I place an equal number in each section remembering that my homers will be added when they are split up. I usually try to put the old bird show team in one section and the rest, including the homers, in the other section. I treat all equally, its just easier at show time.
The couple of weeks after splitting up the breeders is a very stressful time for them, especially the hens. All of the birds will go into an extremely heavy molt but this is more draining on the hens after producing eggs all season. I pamper them and feed them what ever they prefer for a week or two. Baths are also very important at this time, as they are through out the whole year. I don't really do anything special for the birds once I've gotten the old birds through the break up. At this point the breeders just need to rest and recuperate and the young birds need to grow. I handle my birds frequently to keep me aware of their condition.
While waiting for the show season culls are removed as soon as development warrants, but I do give the young birds time. The time frame and age for culling will depend on your bird's rate of development, the seriousness of the fault and how well you know your birds. I'm very familiar with my strain of birds and I know how they develop. This allows me to cull for certain thing early and yet forces me to be patient about others. You need to know your birds and have a goal in mind. Cull as soon as possible because the less crowded the young are, the better. Keep in mind that culls eat just as much as the good ones. Be careful not to thin your young cocks out to much as to few in a pen will lead to some of the older cocks establishing territories and cause more fighting. With young cocks there is a fine line between to many and to few.
As the show season arrives I treat the birds in much the same manner as the rest of the year. Keep watching what they are eating. Feed them what they want as far as the protein and fat is concerned but don' t spoil them. They will get to picky if you let them. I clip the toenails and beaks quite often in preparation for the shows. Keeping the hook trimmed off of the beaks also helps prevent the young cocks from tearing up each others necks. I do nothing special before a show; if you have taken proper care of your birds they will be ready. When I return from a show, however, I do put the birds on an electrolyte mixture. A lot of times upon returning from a show the bird's droppings are slimy green, especially the young birds. This is normal for stress. The electrolytes help them rebound from the stress of the trip and also help with dehydration caused by not drinking well at the shows. As long as their droppings return to normal in a day or two, I do not get concerned. I repeat the same routine after each show. Showing is very stressful on the birds so plan your show season wisely.
This article has now reached full circle. Good luck with your Show Rollers. They have entertained me as well as intrigued me for over fourteen years. If you don't have them now, you should try them, the challenge of such a popular show breed is very rewarding.


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 Breeding and Conditioning
by Ron SImpson
I have been asked by several different people in the hobby to write an article on what works for me. I certainly donít profess to have all the answers, but Iíll explain what I do. Last year, I ended up with three years worth of George Petroís calendars. These calendars told what he did in the water each day of the entire year. With my current practices and the information I gained from him, I put together a pretty good game plan last year for conditioning birds, and this year for breeding them. It must have helped me last year with the show record I had! I know it helped me in the breeding season this year because I banded 200 birds and had almost all pairs broken up in June! I want to share the following information with the hobby.
After show season is over, I select the pairs I want to put together. I then put them on Dacoxine for about 7-10 days to prevent any paratyphoid and e-coli. I always use this drug first because it hurts the fertility of the cocks for a while. I then put them back on my regular vitamin program for about a week. This consists of Vita Preen on Monday, Biotin Stress Pack on Tuesday, Probiotics on Wednesday, electrolytes and amino acid on Thursday, Global Bounty and Global Lugols on Friday and clear water on Saturday and back on Probiotics on Sunday. I also give them tamed iodine twice a week in the water to help fertility and hatch ability. The next week, I put them on Baytril. I buy this from Global Pigeon Supplies. It treats respiratory disease, e-coli and paratyphoid. Then Iím back on my vitamin program for about a week. The last thing I do is worm the birds with either Ivomec or Wormmix.
I increase the amount of daylight hours I give the birds by way of electric timers. I wrote about this in an earlier article. This seems to put the birds in a breeding mode. I think the two main things to help produce young birds are 911 Plus, Probac, and iodine. I also mentioned in the earlier article my concern about our modern Show Rollers not feeding the young well anymore. My opinion is that we bred this problem into our birds over the years and this is why I have to use a lot of feeders and also have to switch eggs around. I never expect much out of my breeders for the first round or two. I do, however, let them sit the first round full-term whether the eggs are fertile or not. This always seems to help the second round. Some pairs may have to sit unfertile eggs full term the second round before they finally fertile. If they donít fertile the first round, I cut about 1 inch off their tail to assist in copulation. I donít seem to have much trouble with the young getting out of the egg. I think the iodine twice a week helps.
I am still working on the problem of the parents not feeding the young and letting them die. I sometimes watch the young coming out of the egg for a day or two. I feed them some Exact or pigeon pellets that I grind in a blender. The parents seem to feed them after that.
As far as conditioning my birds, I repeat the same steps as I did at the beginning of breeding season after breaking them up. I cut the amount of light down by about three hours. This puts them into a hard molt. I then put them on my vitamin program. I increase the amount of protein I give them to help put them through a good molt. When the molt is about over, I increase the amount of hemp, safflower and pigeon candy I give them. Right before show season starts, I begin giving them raw Spanish peanuts to add extra weight. These are very expensive, but you will see a difference that will be worth the extra expense. Also, donít forget to give your birds a bath twice a week. I use bath salts and 20 Mule Team Borax in the bath water to get rid of any feather mites and lice. I usually donít mix the two products. Some breeders use Ivomec in the bath water. This is very costly, but it does work. Be careful to use a very small amount as not to harm the birds.
All nine of my conditioning pens are about three feet off the ground and have wire floors. I have openings at the bottom and also at floor level for good ventilation. I have two ventilation fans at the top of my loft to help pull air and dust out. This is not only healthier for the birds, but also much healthier for me. Water for the birds is about three foot up and on the outside of each pen. This makes it much easier to water them and keeps the water much cleaner. I clean my water containers about once a week with Clorox. However, I never put Clorox in their drinking water.
I know after most of you read this article, you will feel I do go a bit overboard! Iíve often thought maybe if I didnít do so much, the birds might even get in better condition. I do feel that Petro and Emerson did a lot of the same things to condition their birds. This is why I think people would buy birds from them and the birds would fall apart a week or two later. The birds were treated with all the little extras and then they had to adjust to someone elseís conditioning methods. Some birds even died. Please remember after reading this article that this is what works for me and is only my opinion. What works for me might not work for you.


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 Modern Show Rollers
by Bob Evertson 2001
There is one breed of pigeon, no matter where you show from the smallest local show to the biggest National, which is always represented with some competition, and that is the Show Roller. An exhibitor can pick any degree of competition that he wishes, can show at the smaller local shows, move up to the bigger regional all breeds shows, or really get serious and go after the big boys at the major District and National shows. You can decide just how serious you want to get and what effort you want to put out with this breed.
With the Show Roller you will find plenty of support from Clubs to enable you to learn more about the breed and interact with other fanciers. There are two National Roller Clubs that put out bulletins, sponsor major point shows, Master Breeder award programs, etc. Every area of the country also has a regional Roller club that sponsor shows, puts out bulletins, etc. Some areas of the country also have local Roller clubs. Anyone interested in this breed should definitely contact at least a regional club to enable them to make contact with those fanciers reasonably close by and to learn more about the breed.
The Show Roller is a breed that is adaptable to any area of the country. I know of successful breeders in the hot, humid area of Florida, to the desert heat of Las Vegas, to the extreme cold of the northern states and Canada. Show Rollers seem to thrive in any type of weather. I have seen successful breeders in every type of loft imaginable, from the simplest to some really elaborate lofts that would put many homes to shame. As long as the birds are kept secure and dry, they will thrive.
On this website you will find many pictures of the modern Show Roller. For those of you new to pigeons, they will give you an idea of what to look for in top quality breeding stock, and what is winning at the major shows. For those who have had pigeons for many years, you will be surprised at the changes made in this breed, over the last few years. "You've come a long way baby" sure applies to this breed in the last ten years.
For those interested in genetic and color projects, I believe this breed has about every color imaginable. The major shows are all putting up awards for rare colors. There seems to be more interest each year in the rare colors of Show Rollers. You will easily be able to find others fanciers that are interested in improving and raising the rare color projects.
Anyone interested in raising pigeons or anyone just wanting to add another breed to their loft, the modern Show Roller has a lot to offer. All you have to do is contact any of the clubs or breeders found on this website to learn more about this breed. I don't think you will find a more helpful group of people than those involved in the Show Rollers. Why not give them a try?


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 California Here I Come!!
by Joe Grimes 2001
Last year I took to the air for the first time with my show birds. I've traveled far and wide to shows, driving 20 hours or more one way on several occasions but I had never flown anywhere with my birds. The occasion was the URCA/PRC Combined Grand National, to be held in Sacramento California. I judged the previous years national in DeMoines, Iowa and not having won an all age national (I have won two Youngbird Nationals) I did not want to miss showing two years in a row. So I set out to make plans. The first item on the itinerary was to get a flight. In reading a prior issue of the Pigeon Debut I recalled seeing something about a contact person for the NPA. This person turned out to be Gypsy Hummel (800-264 0557 ext.117). This lady can get the job done if you need to make arrangements flying with pigeons. Delta is the only airline that will carry birds as extra baggage. For $100 each way your crate of birds is loaded on the plane with you like an extra suitcase. The other airlines treat them as freight and they don't fly on the same plane as you do, you can see where the problems could quickly pile up in that scenario. Anyway Gypsy booked me on a flight West with a stop and a plane change in Salt Lake City. Coming back East, I again stopped at Salt Lake City, but this time because of some last minute work on her own, Gypsy had switched me to a flight that was simply stopping to pick up more passengers. I did not have to switch planes nor did my birds. Thus reducing the risk of the two of us ending up in separate places at the end of the day.
The next thing was to figure out how to transport my birds. I had seen several setups and after lots of thought came up with my own system. I spoke to the airline and they said that they preferred the standard airline dog crates. I'm sure that most of you have seen them. They can be purchased at most pet centers and come in several sizes. The airline also said that they were the safest. So my system started with one of the large crates (Photo 1), approximate outside dimensions 28" wide x 34" tall x 40" long. This gave me roughly 24" x 30" x 36" inside to work with. I would use this crate basically as the shell for a smaller crate that I would build and put inside of it. I purchased several 2' x 3' sheets of perforated aluminum very similar to what the aluminum pigeon crates are made of, these sheets were actually made for covering the bottom half of screen doors to keep small children and pets from running through the screening. The perforation comes in several designs. I used these sheets to make the sides and ends of my inside crate. I simply turned lips on the ends and bottom edges and then riveted them together. I used a piece of 1/4" luan plywood as the bottom. Photo 2 shows the aluminum crate sitting inside of the bottom half of the dog crate. Using the same luan plywood I then made vertical dividers (Photo 3) approximately 10" high to create space for ten pigeons. Each "pigeon hole" was about 8"x 12"x 9" high. A little smaller than I wanted but all that I could stretch out of it. Over this set of dividers I placed another piece of plywood the same dimensions of the piece that I cut for the floor. This piece became the top of the first layer and the bottom of the second layer. I actually cut this piece in half so that I could slide it either way when getting the birds out. To create the next two layers I just repeated this procedure. Photo 4 looks down on the top layer, showing the dividers and part of the lid. The lid fits right into the top edge of the aluminum sheets. To keep it tight I cut several pieces of stiff foam rubber and laid them around the edges before I attached the top half of the crate. This created a nice snug fit. It also provided room on the top of the inside crate to lay feed for the show in Ziplock bags. The top and bottom halves of the crate snap together with a few turn buckles. I also added a few cable ties just for safe keeping. I will admit that the crate is a little heavy, not unmanageable, but heavy. I will make a fold up wheel system for it before I use it again .
Carrying the crate from my loft to the truck was a chore. Lifting the crate into the back of my truck was a real chore! Once at the airport I parked curb side and gladly tipped the baggage boy for his help. The ticket counter was a breeze. The attendant checked me through, took my $100 and added a sticker to my crate that would be brought to me on the plane once my birds were safely loaded. She even commented, "that's the most well behaved dog we have ever had. He hasn't made a sound."
I just smiled.
At my change in Salt Lake, they again brought me a sticker and assured me that my "pets" were safe. Upon arrival at Sacramento, I picked up my birds at the baggage gate and met John Geiger at the curb. Off to the show!! I was a little apprehensive as I began to open the crate. The birds had been in there for the better part of 11 hours had made two overland trips to and from the airport and had been loaded and unloaded off of planes twice. To my satisfaction all thirty birds were in great shape. One had a slightly bent tail, which was easily fixed. There were several breeders as eager as I was to open the crate as they had all wondered how it was going to work. I think all were impressed.
The show was great. It was good to see friends that I had made on a previous trip to judge in Fresno and it was good to add to that list of friends. My birds and I packed it in and headed home Sunday morning. My 6:30am flight was delayed until 8:00am for of all reasons, the plane hit a bird. This didn't turn out so bad though because Steve Olsen was on the same flight and it gave him and I time to chat. I did have a little trouble when I landed at home. After picking up my birds, I found out that the crate would not fit into the parking lot shuttle bus very well. I managed to get it into the isle way but no farther. I only made one lady uncomfortable but I helped her with her bags. We made it to the parking lot and out of the bus without much more trouble. Again I had to lift that crate into the truck, but it was all worth it because in that crate was my first All Age Combined Grand National Champion.

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 Building A Family
by Ron SImpson
It sure seems like building a good family of Rollers should be fairly easy to do, but in reality is very hard to do! Not only is a good consistent family hard to start but even harder to maintain. I think this is the hardest lesson to learn and understand in breeding Rollers. A Fantail breeder taught me years ago that like produces like. What I had to learn was that you canít spread the gene pool too far or this will probably decrease your chances of raising birds as good or better than what you are breeding from. This hurts a lot of breeders because they expect to buy good birds and raise good birds from them. This seldom works for most. For years now, Iíve seen people spend big dollars on good birds and think they should raise good birds that will put them on top. Sometimes these breeders get lucky and may raise one super bird. The odds are against this happening. When or if this does happen, they might put this cock or hen on their best cock or hen they have. This will open up the gene pool again if they are not somewhat related and this breeder will be throwing the dice once more. Iíve seen people both in Rollers and Fantails buy birds every year from several people. They sometimes get lucky and have a good year or two but seems they soon fall by the wayside. If they would have kept some birds that were somewhat related, I think they would have been much happier. This is another reason I feel people get disgruntled and soon lose interest in showing birds or get out of the hobby completely. Yes, sometimes you need to bring a certain characteristic into your family. This might only be able to be done by using an outcross. Most of the top master breeders probably seldom have to do this because they know their family or families and know how they breed. If they do bring in a bird or two they are very careful.
Building a family of Rollers is almost the same as baking a cake. If one is going to back a cake, there are certain questions you must ask yourself. Do I have the right ingredients? Do I have a recipe? Do I know what I want this cake to look like? Can I make this cake taste the same each time I bake it? The first ingredient would be to start off with the best stock birds you can afford to buy, preferable some that are related to each other. The reason for this is ďlike produces like.Ē Iím not the brightest candle on the cake when it comes to genetics, but I do know the more you mix up the gene pool the more you are throwing the dice and hoping for the best. If anyone wants to know more about genetics, you can consult Nancy Kehl or Bill Koenig. They probably have forgot more than most of us will ever know! The recipe would be how to put your birds together to produce this family that will do well year after year. I have to admit that I cheated while building my recipe. I picked peopleís minds for years to learn what they thought was working for them. I then experimented with some results. I bought birds from George Petro year after year. I asked George how he would put these birds together. I produced some nice birds because I watched very carefully how I put these birds together. However, I could not quite get the recipe right. My birds had plenty of type, not bad style, fairly good heads, but were a little on the small side. When I bought out Mike Carroll, I know a lot of people thought I was crazy, having been showing better than Mike for some time! His birds had big bodies and heads but were a little coarse and long cast, which were some of the ingredients I needed. I also remembered George Petro saying to me, ĒPut your two biggest birds together each year to raise big birds.Ē By being able to breed some big birds each year, this would help keep the size in the family. George thought inbreeding and line breeding caused the birds to get smaller. I did this and started a family of big birds, but they still did not have the type and style needed to win. When I combined the two families together, the ingredients began to blend. I now continue to breed one family for size and one family for type and style. Breeding these two families together doesnít always work, but now the cake is looking and tasting much better!
When I decide to mate my birds each year, I look real hard at the ingredients I now have to work with. I study the pedigrees and look for birds that are somewhat related to each other. I then look at the ingredients the pedigrees have to work with and ask myself if these ingredients will blend together. I match the birds together on paper first. I then put them in show cages side by side and study their faults. Even the very best have some faults. NEVER put two faults together when breeding birds that are related. Remember again ďlike produces like.Ē Try to put birds together that compliment each otherís faults or compliment their good characteristics you want to bring out. Now you are starting on your way to baking that cake that will look good and taste good also!
This is how I bake my cake. Maybe Joe Grimes, Roger Besemer, Bob Evertson, Bill Koenig or some of the other Master Breeders will let us know how they bake their cake. Donít be afraid to ask them. They did not become Master Breeders without a recipe and vision on what they wanted their cake to look like. They also didnít become Master Breeders overnight. Also, donít forget to study the standard to help identify what your ingredients should look like. Lastly, I hope when you bake your cake, it will look and taste as good as mine has these last couple years. Good luck and good baking!

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 My Knowledge of Colors
by Nancy Kehl
Genetically, there are three basic colors in pigeons; all pigeons are one of these three colors. Two are common in rollers, blue and ash red; the third is relatively uncommon...brown. The first two were present in the original Pensom imports; there is a high probability that brown also was, as even the geneticists did not know it was a separate color at the time of the importation's. All three colors are now available in show rollers.
There are four easily distinguishable patterns: T-pattern check, check, bar, and barless. It is unknown how many mutations make up the "check" pattern, at least three. T-pattern (extremely tight, almost solid appearing checks), the check patterns, and bar are all common in rollers; barless is rare, but can be found in flying stock. Several breeders are working on barless show rollers. T-pattern, check and bar were all present in the original Pensom imports. I do not think any of the original imports were barless; at this date there is no way to prove or disprove that the gene was there, but hidden.
Masks are genetic mutations that hide the true color and pattern of a bird. Right now I can think of two: recessive red and recessive white. Both were common in the showroom and in flying lofts before the Pensom imports; both were present in the imports; both are now rare. Recessive red did not disappear from the shows quite as completely as recessive white because it is possible to get a colored eye in them: The eye in recessive whites is always bull; pearl eyes are common in recessive reds.
Modifying genes include (but are not limited to):
Spread: Like the masks, spread largely obliterates the pattern of a bird; unlike the masks the underlying color comes through. For quite some time geneticists thought spread was just the darkest of the pattern genes...not so. Spread combined with blue creates black. Spread combined with ash red creates a variety of colors ranging from a solid bird the color of the bar on a red bar through to a barless appearing bird we know as lavender; in between are various shades of gray flecked with black and/or red known as strawberry. Spread brown is known as chocolate. Spread is fairly common in the showroom; the most common expression is spread blue. Spread was common in the pre import hobby and was included in the Pensom imports.
Dilute: This recessive modifying mutations lightens the pigmentation of the bird. It is one of the more common rare colors in the showroom. Dilute blue is known as true silver; you may hear true silvers referred to as dun bars or dun checks to avoid confusion as some fanciers associate silver with red bars. Dun is the term applied to a dilute blue bird that also carries spread. Dilute ash reds include the yellow checks and yellow or cream bars. Dilute brown is known as khaki; dilute recessive red is known as recessive yellow. Because they are similar in appearance, brown is often confused with dilute blue. While dilute blue and dilute ash red are fairly common, dilute brown is not. Gary Stewart showed a khaki bar hen about four or five years ago. Most exhibitors assumed she was an off colored cream bar. Dilute was present in the Pensom imports.
Piebald: This covers a number of different mutations the common denominator is that it causes white feathers to appear on the bird. It is common. Our badges and beards and white flights are all forms of piebald. Several types of piebald have been standardized for instance baldhead and bellneck. These standardized piebald birds were much more common in the pre Pensom hobby. The Pensom imports contained all the mutations necessary to create standardized markings; the hobby simply did not pursue them. Today only the baldhead is fairly common and then only in certain parts of the country.
Dominant Opal: Dominant Opal is responsible for the white barred and white checked birds seen in Baldheads and in flyers. The actual expression of the gene can vary from the completely white barred (or checked) bird through many shades of gold to orange bar (or check). Some dominant opals appear simply as a heavily bronzed bar or check. This mutation has been present in rollers since the advent of the breed. It has never been common. It was not obviously present in the original Pensom imports; like barless there is no way to prove or disprove its presence.
Grizzle: There are several forms of grizzling. From the conversations I have had with older breeders; the form of grizzling most common prior to the mid-fifties is what is known as "tiger" grizzle. Tiger grizzled birds appear as if they were gaily pied, basically white birds with a few feathers of their underlying color....blue, ash, recessive red, black, etc. or heavily mottled birds. They were shown as AOCs. The form of grizzle common in today's showroom appeared in the mid-fifties; geneticists know it as tippler grizzle. The blue grizzles, red grizzles, and torts in today's showroom are birds whose color is modified by tippler grizzle. Blue grizzles are tippler grizzle on bar and possibly real open pattern checks; torts are a combination of tippler grizzle on darker checks and t patterns. Light torts are usually birds that inherited tippler grizzle from both mom and dad; some may be tiger grizzle. The torts originally received the name tortoiseshell because they were heavily bronzed thus exhibiting three colors just like tortoiseshell cats. The bronze has largely been bred out of our grizzle. The Pensom imports contained tiger grizzle; I do not know if they contained tippler grizzle. Grizzle in the pre import American hobby was largely restricted to recessive red, recessive yellow, black, and dun mottles. In recent years tippler grizzle has been transferred to Baldheads as breeders have tried to improve the body and feather on their color bred birds.
Almond: Unimproved Almond appears as a white bird with a few splotches of black and/or brown feathers. Classic Show Almond is a conglomeration of genetic factors including almond, recessive red, blue, and many bronzes; it appears as a rich buff colored bird marked with black and chestnut brown, white may appear in conjunction with the brown and black on a feather, but no completely white feathers are allowed. Classic Almonds were at the pinnacle of the pre import hobby; there were no classic show almonds in the imports. This is the only color specifically disbarred from the loft of Pensom breeders. There is no way to determine if unimproved almond was or was not present in the imports. Today almond is rare in the showroom; although a fair number of breeders are playing with it.
Reduced: One of the most beautiful of the mutations, reduced was originally recognized and isolated in rollers in Ohio in the mid-forties. Feathers of a reduced bird seem to have had the pigment partially washed to the edge; thus a pale feather with dark edging. Often a neck crescent of a slightly different shade is present. Although roller breeders quickly lost the color, it has been preserved in other breeds .It can be found in some flying lofts and a few breeders are working on reduced show rollers.
Indigo: The most obvious expression of indigo appears on blue birds. The bars or check become red rather than black, the neck becomes a rich red hue, and the blue becomes more intense. A blue bird receiving indigo from both parents masquerades as a red bar or check. As to be expected, Ash Red indigos appear as ash red; I don't know what indigo does to brown. The pattern markings on dilute blue indigos are orange. Combined with spread and blue indigo creates a black bodied bird with a rich gray toned wing known as Andalusian; they are beautiful. This one is rare to non­existent in the showroom although again there are breeders playing with it. It is present in flying lofts. There is no way to prove or disprove its existence in the Pensom imports.
Faded: A close relative of Almond, Faded functions much like tippler grizzle except that the sprinkling of white on the head does not appear and the washing effects the pattern portions of the wing as uniformly as it does the non patterned portion. This one is rare to non-existent in the showroom. Hopefully I'll have one good enough to look at next year. It is present, but rare in flyers. There is no way to prove or disprove its existence in the Pensom imports.
Pale: A close relative of dilute, pale does not effect the color of the bird quite as much. In blue series birds, it does not appear much different than true silver; I do not know what it looks like in brown series birds. Pale Ash Reds can be quite striking. Modena breeders have aptly dubbed the color "Gold". Old timers might form a reference point by relating it as half way between a rich recessive yellow and a Deroy. This one is non existent in the showroom. I know of two Wisconsin breeders playing with it. It is present, but rare in flyers. There is no way to prove or disprove its existence in the Pensom imports.
Milky: Another of the lightening agents. Best example I can think of is in the powdered blue fantails. This one is non existent in the showroom. I hope someone is playing with it. It is present, but rare in flyers. There is no way to prove or disprove its existence in the Pensom imports.
Ice: Another of the lightening agents. Best example I can think of is the obvious... Ice Pigeons. This one is non existent in the showroom. I have made a start, but it's going to be years... any one with some extremely light necked blue series birds, help. It is present, but rare in flyers. There is no way to prove or disprove its existence in the Pensom imports.
Recessive Opal: A modifier that turns the checks a chocolate brown rather than black or red. Most striking on blue series birds (and I think modifying with grizzle adds much). In the past tightly linked to racing homer type. Variation of diet affects this color with one extreme taking on a decidedly pink cast. Of course I can't remember what diet. Rare in the showroom and in flying lofts. Several good show birds have appeared with this mutation in the last five or six years. Think there have been more that went undetected as torts.
Sooty: A common modifier in our showroom, never given a name of it's own. Most obvious example the heavily smudged blue bars...ask the Sharps.
Dirty: A common modifier in our showroom, never given a name of it's own. Responsible for the muddy looking blue bars. Also needed to enrich color on blacks, recessive reds, etc.