Taken from 1958 American Pigeon Journal!
Central Roller Club
Developing A Strain of Rollers
Qualities To Be Desired For High Flying-Art of Mating Very Important In the Breeding of Birmingham Rollers
By WILLIAM. H. PENSOM
At the outset let me say, that the word breed, which is commonly used by all, is wrong. In fact there is only one breed of Birmingham Roller. What one generally understands by the word "breed' should be expressed by the word strain. Generally speaking, no one has created a breed, but many fanciers have cultivated a strain which often bears their name. These strains are often the fruits of lucky mating, and even mere chance and nearly always, even the expert can attribute his success to something of the same order. The great difficulty in discovering the value of a pigeon lies in the fact that there are birds with invisible and implacable faults. The experit should be able to overcome these difficulties. He should be able to choose out of a flock of Rollers, the pair of birds with which he intends to cultivate his strain. It is to be understood that the said flock, contains some birds susceptible of producing something good. It is indeed, quite common, that even in large numbers of birds, one does not find a single pigeon that is worthy of the consideration of the expert. The degeneration of the Birmingham Roller pigeon is the result of multiple cross breeding, which is done everywhere quite unconsciously by the non-initiated, who wish to find some improvement in the degeneracy, but instead produce poor blood. We can therefore estimate and without any exaggeration, that from the total number of Birmingham Rollers bred, there are ninety per cent of no value whatever. A large number of these birds do not deserve the title of "Birmingham Roller,” as they do not possess the necessary qualifications.
Let us explore the qualities for a bird destined to high flying. The body must be of a robust and compact structure, a strong or rather large and round chest, a silky plumage, and the eyes must be bright, which often denotes the character of the bird. The most certain characteristic is the silky plumage, for this is a quality, which is more often than not, accompanied by all the other qualities. The richness of blood is expressed both in the eyes and by the soft silky feather, and its expanse of for it is really only understood with long experience. The deviation of the sternum, or the keel of the breast bone is not a defect, and the presence of an eleventh primary flight or quill, is not a quality. Mate birds which resemble each other the most, but when one of them is very young, give it an old bird for a mate, and vise-versa. This is the secret of good mating.
Do not believe in the theory that the first egg laid by a maiden hen is the best, or in any way to be valued above any other that is laid in later life. If such was the case, then every breeder would have no difficulty in breeding champions. Also a great number of youngsters would be bred each year with the idea in view that the older birds are somewhat inferior in reproducing quality than a youngster bred from same. All ages of birds breed good ones, but with the exception Of luck, good youngsters can come Only from a strain or family of pure blooded pigeons. The fact that yearlings, when mated together, breed good ones, does not prove they are the best to breed. Maturity plays a very important part in the evolution of a strain. Some strains mature earlier than Others. In any case, it is more reasonable to assume that an adult has more influence on the character of a youngster, if the mate used is of immature status. In the case of two yearlings mated together, there is always the same doubt as , to the youngsters parentage. Always remember, that the youngster is as old as its mother.
The influence of character and quality produced by each pair of breeders is not a mixture in equal parts of the qualities of the parents. Never trust to luck. Do not breed any birds of unknown origin, and only buy and accept birds from a loft which you are certain holds only first class Stock. Birds are only as good as the fancier who breeds them, that is to say the better the breeder understands his birds, the better the quality of the pigeon. The form or condition of a pigeon plays the principle role in any flight or competition, the bad bird is never in form. The state of super health is manifested by a tight vent and by a thick layer of powder on the plumage which comes off on your coat when handling the birds.