The nutritional needs of developing young kit birds are going to be different from mature kit birds and this is an important distinction in which to be aware. Many new guys who are anxious to see their young birds roll will put them on a diet they read about somewhere that is actually designed for a mature kit of birds.
Essentially the young birds are being starved of protein on a diet meant for a bird at a different stage of physical condition and maturity. No wonder you hear about new guys whose birds are only flying for 10 minutes or so. A young bird kit of 4 to 5 months of age should be flying 45 minutes to an hour and 6 months and older should be able to fly for 60 to 90 minutes with tweaks to the feed. Use these fly times as a guide only, your mileage may differ.
In my research to explore what disease fighting mechanism is at work I came across information that would give validity to the practice of tail plucking. According to my modest research it appears that the trauma caused by a plucked tail could be triggering a response of the pigeons immune system that might be activating macrophages and production of pro-inflammatory mediators which ushers a cascade of reactions that overwhelm disease and can quickly bring a pigeon back within several hours to just a day or two given the severity and time the pigeon has been suffering its ailment.
Here is a reference to it by Wendell Levi in his pigeon encyclopedia: "The Pigeon" Section (878)
(878) Extracting Tail Feathers—As long as I can remember, I have been told by old-timers that extracting the long tail feathers of an ailing pigeon is beneﬁcial. No scientific explanation has been noted or can be imagined.
Experience, however, has shown that, regardless of the ailment, the extraction of these feathers appears to aid the patient. It seems an illogical thing in theory, for not only is the bird subject to the pain of the withdrawal of the feathers, but it is forced to expend energy in growing new ones. I have made this extraction, however, on thousands of pigeons. It has certainly never been harmful, and apparently has aided in almost every case.
Whether the pigeon’s system is stimulated or whether the removal of the weight of the tail is beneﬁcial, is not known. There is an analogy in poultry: Frequently the feathers of the wings and tails of young white Leghorns grow too rapidly.
When trimmed, the chicks are apparently benefited. Feathers should be extracted with the least possible pain to the bird. Each feather should be drawn with a quick, ﬁrm jerk. There should be no half-way pull. The uropygium (parson’s nose) should be ﬁrmly held with the left hand. The feathers will grow back in a surprisingly short time.”
I have seen pigeons that were getting sharp in the keel or where very sharp in the keel that would typically succumb to whatever was ailing them completely recover after their tail was plucked and apparently no worse for wear. I have plucked the tails of breeders that were starting to go south from the stress of breeding to bounce back as though nothing had occurred. This all without using antibiotics or medicated liquids.
There is precedence for this in humans and is believed to occur in animals as well. I have posted this Extract from PubMed as well provided a link here: Visit Extract PubMed Page
The response to trauma begins in the immune system at the moment of injury. The loci are the wound, with activation of macrophages and production of proinflammatory mediators, and the microcirculation with activation of endothelial cells, blood elements, and a capillary leak. These processes are potentiated by ischemia and impaired oxygen delivery and by the presence of necrotic tissue, each exacerbating the inflammatory response. Hemorrhage alone may be a sufficient stimulus. Inflammation once was considered to be a host reaction to bacteria or other irritants. This concept was expanded by the discovery of autoimmune diseases, and we are now aware that some illnesses are the result of the body's response to an invader rather than the direct effect of the invader itself. The discoveries about the response to trauma described here add another dimension, showing inflammation to be a fundamental life process that begins at the molecular level at the moment of injury and that, depending on the severity of the stimulus and the effectiveness of initial treatment, may spread to include every cell, tissue, and organ in the body, for good or ill. An important part of these expanding concepts is the notion that all noxious stimuli activate the cytokine system as a final common pathway. Sepsis, hemorrhage, ischemia, ischemia-reperfusion, and soft tissue trauma all share an ability to activate macrophages and produce proinflammatory cytokines that may initiate the SIRS. Second-message compounds and effector molecules mediate the observed clinical phenomena. (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).
Continual mating together of the best birds in the air without regard to type or size will breed as many different types of birds as there are stock birds. The results are a deterioration in quality. The perfect rolling ability ceases to exist as the type deviates from the standard.
Among rollers wildness in the eye, short, weak secondaries, and pinched faces are the first signs of deterioration. The use of these birds for stock ultimately results in roll downs. In pure Birmingham Rollers, there should never be any doubt that the birds will roll. Ray Perkins wrote; “Of the 2000 or more Rollers l bred, there were none which would not roll in some manner, if given the time and opportunity.
And Bill Pensom: “Quite right, all types will roll because they cannot help it, but we have found THE type which is the answer to everything.” It having been established by these men and others that all PURE Birmingham Rollers will roll, fanciers can now set about to increase the number of good birds by balanced matings: by selecting the stock birds on the ground with due regard to aerial ability.
By balanced matings we mean to mate the most perfect type birds together, neither one to have more than minor faults, and the same minor faults must not be present in both birds. We must first breed for type. The tightest, truest rolling birds are of a certain type as brought out in the “ROLLER JUDGING PROCEDURE” bulletin.
The birds will be mated to produce that type, taking into consideration, strength, stability, feather quality, both quill and webbing, and aerial ability. First the birds are judged according to the “Judging Procedure” and graded right down from best to poorest. The ones with that Intelligent Look and Balanced Carriage are best for stock.
These will be mated so as to balance out minor defects. After a strain has been established and justified, the best birds cannot always be mated together; on account of eye color, feather quality, color of plumage, size, strength and aerial ability. There is considerable overlap in these points and they will be taken up one by one.
l. The eye in Rollers and the surrounding facial features show the intelligence or expression, which corresponds to personality in humans. The orange eye is most expressive. Bill Pensom considers that the yellow eye puts in more roll and the pearl eye puts in more ﬂy. A pearl eyed bird should be mated to a yellow or orange eyed bird.
Continual mating of yellow eyed, (or its varied shades) birds will result in excessive performance. A matter of record, from experience. It is more difficult to read the expression of a bull eyed bird, so they are not as desirable for stock.
However, bull eyed birds may be used if they are ideal spinners, and are of correct body type. Failure to read the expression of stock birds correctly is the cause of breeding 75% of the bad Rollers.
2. According to Mr. Pensom the best birds come in lst; red check and dun, the most regular performers and mixtures of these colors, 2nd; in blue check the most stable, 3rd; in black, 4th; tortoiseshell, 5th;dun bred reds, and so on. He means any marking in which these are the basic colors.
There is a loss or weakness in the pale colored birds. If one color is continually bred for, the pigeon deteriorates. When there is a loss of soundness such as - too prolific spinning, and failure to kit, THEN is the time to clash the colors, still in the same bloodlines. The pale colored birds should be mated to the darker, stronger colors. A light grizzle could be mated to a red check or dun; blue bar or pale blue to a black; tortoiseshells and light blue grizzles go with any color.
Blue checks go with red checks and duns WHEN there is a loss in stability in the red checks and duns. Always mate pale or soft colors to the hard or dark colors, IF wild eyed birds are used instead of birds with the right expression, then the clashing of colors will do little good. Wild eyed birds should NEVER be used for stock.
3. It is better to stick to short cast birds entirely.
4. The medium sized bird is the most useful in the loft and looks the best when performing. Small birds do not have the stamina and the feather quality decreases as the size decreases. The large birds often harm the performance of the whole kit by ﬂying in front and soaring.
5. Whenever possible to do so, two apple bodied birds should be mated together. Birds with the SAME body feel should be mated together, no substitute. All Fanciers do not have enough of the right sort at the start but it's better to breed ONLY the few good ones. Shallow keeled birds lack stamina and cannot stand up to the rigors of kit ﬂying and performance, because they do not have enough body capacity.
Birds with keels a shade deep are good for stock. ‘They are more vigorous and on account of the greater muscular development will show more velocity in the spin.
6. In breeding for quality Rollers, only those with the high wide forehead and full face may be successfully used. Avoid birds with. long narrow heads. The small birds are the best, so long as they are physically sound.
7. While it is generally true that all Rollers will roll and true -typed-ones will spin, true-typed-ones will be found that do not spin or do any more than a lightning fast ﬂip. The reason they do not spin is due to a greater resistance power to the roll. They usually have everything in regard to type, feather and expression. These birds are the most valuable in the breeding loft.
8. The birds must be mated according to the time of development. Mating early developing spinners together is the quickest way to deteriorate the birds. Any boy can do that and they soon become a loft of worthless birds. Pensom said “He who has discarded all non-performers will never be able to assemble a kit of first class rollers." The American Pensoms are now found to be largely the same blood.
Therefore, the very late developers MUST be mated to the earlier developers to obtain sound Rollers. All birds that develop their full spinning ability the first year are early developers. Those that spin at the rate of 18 months are late developers. These birds can only be discovered by ﬂying them as holdovers, meaning they are flown the second season prior to ever being used as breeders.
Some birds will begin to spin after they have bred youngsters. For this reason many fanciers mate up yearlings. MOST ALL CHAMPIONS start to develop at the age of from 8 months up. End. -
PENSOM ROLLER CLUB BULLETIN January- - - - - 1950 Written by H. McCully
BRIAN: Melanin deposition and formation is a very interesting subject. It is interesting to note that the developmental chain that leads to the production of the melanins (both eumelanin and pheomelanin), especially in its early stages, often also has influences on many other factors, ranging from organ development to physiological development.
When you have genes that change the developmental chain of melanins, genes that can create visual phenotypes such as pied, reduced, dilute, etc., you don’t know what else they are doing to any aspect of the creature. It is not uncommon for these genetic changes to the developmental chain to also cause minor or major changes to other aspects of the creature and these can have mild to major deleterious effects, or just change such things as behavioral traits.
If pied, for instance, has an influence on rolling ability, and we know that rolling is a neurological defect (as opposed to the wild type, non-roller - not that it is something wildly deleterious, etc.) then I would suspect that the pied gene, by knocking out melanin deposition in various numbers of feathers, is having an effect on the neurological system of the bird, and that then may enhance rolling ability.
As to examples of melanin modification that have effects in other domestics - first, it is important to look at the fact that changes in melanin development and deposition seems to be part and partial of domestication. I would strongly recommend that anyone interested in this aspect of melanin disruption and domestication look at the interesting research that has been done in Russia on domestication of fur foxes:
Foxes, Department of Animal Sciences :: College of ACES, University of Illinois
This is an extremely fascinating, long running study that has given us a lot of information on many aspects of domestication. I would not that al domestics have phenotypes with pied markings, melanin reduction or complete melanin knockouts (solid white). In poultry, some of the recessive white genes are associated with reduce egg production as well as general weakness and higher susceptibility to disease. These types of genes in many species are often associated with partial blindness (sometimes even full blindness).
It is a very broad subject and you can find interesting examples in almost any of the domesticated animals. I suspect that if there is an influence from pied to rolling, as you have noted, that means pied has neurological implications that are related to the neurological variant that is causing the rolling trait.
BRIAN: Well, you can’t make a trait dominant. It either is or isn’t. What you are selecting for is concentration. It is very, very rare to find any single gene existing in a vacuum. When we hear a reference to a gene ‘becoming dominant’ that means we have concentrated many minor genes along with one or more major genes into a homozygous state, so that when we outcross it, we see some effect in the progeny in the first generation.
There are instances where a group of genes, whether they are all recessive, all dominant or a mixture of the two, when they are all found together, can appear to behave as a single, dominant gene, but they aren’t. If you then take the first generation offspring and backcross it to a non-carrier of the trait, you will begin to see the trait ‘break up’ in the next and later generations.
So what you want to do is concentrate as many of the modifier genes together as possible and this makes the trait stronger and more apparent. What I am describing here is quantitative genetics as opposed to qualitative genetics.
TONY: What is happening to genes that are not being expressed because of traits we are selecting for are essentially what we want expressed instead?
BRIAN: There can be many possibilities, but if you are selecting for recessive genes, then to bring those genes to homozygosity, you are literally removing the alternate alleles (the dominant gene at the same gene locus where the recessive gene is found) from the genome. So in that instance, you are literally want to eliminate those unwanted alleles.
Thus, to have the desired homozygous expression, you are eliminating its opposite. However, in epigenetics, when an environmental situation triggers a gene to turn on or turn off, the other expression is still there in the genome, it is just turned on or off, but not gone. Further, one gene may be present, but another gene may silence it, so that it is still in the genome, but not active. There are many ways this can happen.
TONY: To follow this train of thought then it is possible for old “dormant” genes, modifiers and so forth to pop up and be expressed! This expression may even be something that I did not want to see in my strain to begin with, but for someone new to my line they may actually not even realize that some negative trait has reared its ugly head?
BRIAN: This can happen. It is not tremendously common, but it does. What is more common is to have birds carrying a single dose of a recessive gene and you don’t know it is there and you may not see it for generations. You have to have both parents carry one dose of the recessive gene and they both have to give a dose to any offspring for that recessive gene to be seen.
So often, a trait will appear and people will say ‘mutation’ or ‘throwback’ while in fact it was just a recessive that finally came together homozygous and became visible. Always remember that a recessive gene can be carried unseen indefinitely with a population until an individual gets a dose of the gene from both parents and suddenly, a trait is visible that has not been seen up to that time.
TONY: Where I would have culled that type of bird, someone other than myself could potentially reintroduce a trait that I wanted rid of. Oh, what a tangled web!
BRIAN: Exactly. Breeds are artificial constructs. They change over time as genes are concentrated, new genes are introduced or old or new fashions reemerge.
Maintaining a breed is a process of selection to maintain a given set of genetic effects. When someone else takes that line and begins to work with it, they may make very subtle selection differences that will lead to the line being the same breed, but subtly different than other lines of the same breed.
End of Interview