Central Roller Club

GETTING YOUR KIT READY FOR COMPETITION DAY

By Jerry Higgins

Colton Reche Canyon California

California Performing Roller Club (CPRC)


​In order to get your rollers ready for competition there are two primary aspects that should be considered in the following order, first the PHYSICAL condition of your rollers and second is the PSYCHOLOGICAL aspect.

Rollers have to feel good physically in order to WANT to roll and must be in good condition to roll hard with speed. Feeling good is part mental brought on by being in good health and physical condition.

Psychologically you need to stress the birds to reduce their natural resistance to rolling, stressing the birds mentally puts them on edge. The stress created excites the birds when released and induces the full measure of roll that your rollers are capable of doing. This doesn't mean it will make silk purses out of sow's ears, it means it will help you get the most out of what your birds are capable of doing.

You have seen this mental stress, maybe without knowing it, for example, when a hawk fly's in near the kit. The kit will group up closer to each other and in some instances will break into the roll at exactly the same time, this is what we will try to induce artificially during our kit preparation.

 

PHYSICAL CONDITIONING

 

If your birds are into the roll and are in fair condition, you should start getting your kit ready about 10 days to two weeks before a kit competition. The idea is not to break down your rollers to make them roll, but to put them in the best possible condition health wise so they can roll at their very best.

On the tenth day before the fly I start my preparation by worming my birds. I use TRAMINSOL which is a sheep wormer, use 6 tablets to 1 gallon of water in the summer and do not hold the water. In the winter use the same amount of wormer, but I hold the water from the birds for a day, this will insure that they drink enough of the wormer to do the job.

On the 9th day before the fly I use epitsom salt which is a mild laxative to clean them out, use a full table spoon to a gallon of water, and be careful you can over dose them, especially in the summer time when they will drink more water than in the winter. This will, in it's self make the birds start to feel better. On the 7th day before the fly put the birds on a broad spectrum antibiotic like AUROMICIAN to knock down any health problems that might be present. This will also make sure the irritation and wounds that the worms leave will heal without infection or irritation. Give the Auromician to the birds for the next five days, making sure to mix fresh antibiotic each day in fresh water.

It goes without saying that the water and feed and kit box should be clean at all the times. Fly your birds every day and feed them regular pigeon feed containing peas and pop corn, try to make them fly 30 to 45 minutes and feed them to that extent. If they are flying longer give them less feed, if they fly less more feed.

It should not be necessary to starve your birds or take the water away from them for 2 or 3 days to get them to roll, there are rollers strains that roll because they like to roll when in good health and condition. I change the feed from regular pigeon mix to red wheat on the 3rd day before the fly and feed a full ration for that day. The 2nd day before the fly I again change the feed to milo and feed them a 3/4 measure, on the day before the fly I again feed milo, which is a carbohydrate for stamina, this time I feed 1/2 the regular ration of milo and 1/4 regular grain. Feed the kit at least 25 hours before you are scheduled to fly to insures that the birds are empty and have digested all the grain before being released. This feeding method will insure that the birds don't feel hungry at fly time and will have the necessary energy to roll hard.

I have seen more kit competitions lost because of birds being too hungry to fly the time or not flying high enough to perform at their best, all because of the owner messing with cutting the feed back too far or too soon. Some say to remove the water so the birds are dry when they are released, and being dry is important. Most birds only drink after eating, so no need to remove the water; if you do, remove it after the birds have eaten 25 hours before the fly.

This should put your kit in good physical health and the continual flying should put them in good condition. Stop flying the kit two days before the competition, unless your birds are very deep. If the kit is very deep keep them in one day as I do. You know if you keep them isolated to long, you will be picking them up off the ground the day of the fly.

 

PSYCHOLOGICAL CONDITIONING

 

The second part to getting a kit ready for a competition is the psychological conditioning. The things we are going to talk about work, but they must be used with COMMON SENSE, REASON and OBSERVATION. You must observe and know the mental state of the kit before you use them, this is a must.

These stratagems tools or what ever you want to call them can be used singularly or in consort, but should depend on your observations of the kit as you work up to competition day. If the kit is working at its best or at least at 90%, DON'T DO ANYTHING, in the spirit of the old adage "if it's not broken don't fix it".

If the kit is not kiting close together you might try adding a strange bird to the kit the night before the competition, add the bird after dark, if the competition is early in the morning. If the fly in later in the day add the bird just a few minutes before the fly this will prevent the kit from becoming familiar with the bird. This seems to make the kit pull in tighter together as they would in the case of the hawk coming close or a stray pigeon flying into the kit.

To have consort in performance you must have excellent kiting, you can help the kit to tighten up, but good kiting must be bred for and should be a top goal in your breeding plan. Kill any bird that will not kit or fly's at the back of the kit all the time, the flier who has the fortitude to cull these birds will have the best kit on competition day.

You can try adding some mixtures to the birds water which can improve the birds alertness and mental state. Try brewing up some regular tea the day before the fly, hold the water that day, mix some honey in the tea and give it to the birds the night before the fly. The sugar and caffeine will give them a boost and put them on edge, I have also tried Humming Bird mix, it seems to work to a lessor degree, but does give extra energy. I have heard of people trying pills and alcohol and other things, but the best is the strong tea and honey, I have even used coffee. How long before the competition do you give this elixir to the birds should be experimented with and will depend on the weather, mental state and strain of rollers you are flying.

Psychological stimulation or stress can be induced also by adding something strange into the kit box. A rubber snake and party balloons can be put into the kit box the night before the fly. Rollers are scared to death of snakes as most of you know, the rubber snake alone will not work well if left in the kit box over 2 or 3 hours without moving. If you add a small party balloon or two to the floor of the kit box all birds will be on the top perch looking down at the floor. This will induce the desired stress, each time a birds moves it's wings the balloons will move and seeing the snake too will do the job. The snake and balloons should be removed about 10 minutes before the kit is released or you might roll some birds down, time should be called on the kit as soon as it gets together, they are going to be , very excited upon release, and should work their best in the early minutes of the fly.

If your kit is flat you must do something different to stimulate the kit to roll. I move the kit to a different kit box the night before the fly this will also stress the birds. In the new kit box the birds are alert to every sound and movement and will not settle down for a few hours after daylight. The Old Timers stressed the birds by darkening the kit box, this did two things, it kept the birds from moving around and quite because of the darkness, there by conserving their energy for flight. The darkness also dilated their eye pupils, which meant upon release the brightness of the day would make them pull together and kit tight and roll when any other bird rolled. This darkness effect will only last until the birds pupils retracted and adjusted to the brightness of the light. So this spell would dissipate quickly and if the birds were not bred for close kiting and rolling the birds would seem to go flat after about 5 to 10 minutes.

The size of the kit box also induces a certain amount of stress on the birds until they get used to their close quarters, close quarters seem to make the birds kit tighter. 10 days before a competition I keep my birds in a larger well lighted open cage, then move them to the smaller dark kit box the night before the competition. When I move them to the new kit box I get the full effect of the darken close quarters environment. The trick here is not to leave the birds in close/darken quarters long enough for them to become acclimated to it.

To fly a good kit is hard work and you must have the self discipline to watch the kit and understand what is going on in the kit, then make any necessary adjustment. Knowing how the kit feels, what they are thinking requires self discipline to take the time to watch the kit and the knowledge to know what makes a good kit and what kind of adjustment will work to correct any problems.

 

If you are up to the challenge you will be a consistent winner, and we will see your name on the list of the top 25 competitors in the world next year after the World Cup fly. Support the NBRC, IRA and local clubs they are the life's blood of our sport.