Culling is the process by which an animal is removed from a group due to its lacking certain characteristics or having those that are undesirable. There are several cases in which culling practices are utilized today. In each instance, however, strict culling guidelines and criteria are implemented.
For instance, in the area of livestock, male chicks are culled shortly after being hatched due to their lack of use in egg production. Culling in wildlife occurs with the hunting of certain animals to deal with overpopulation, and is often put into practice when certain species of animals are tested positive for contagious diseases, in order to prevent the spread.
Culling, in the instance of pedigree animals, can also refer to the selective breeding of a species. Certain animals are spayed or neutered if they show undesirable traits for which the breeder does not want passed to its offspring. In addition, the animals that are more desirable are kept to breed, while those that are not are given away or sold as pets.
In the case of the Birmingham Roller Pigeon, culling is performed when the bird is ill, debilitated, injured or does not meet breeding standards. If the bird is experiencing pain and is unlikely to recover or respond to treatment culling is recommended. It is also practiced to control the breeder's pigeon population, given the fact that simply letting a roller pigeon be set free into the general feral pigeon populus gives it little to no chance of survival.
A domesticated roller pigeon has been cared for since hatching by its breeder. It has been given a fresh supply of food and water, medications when necessary and a safe loft to escape all predators. To release this domesticated animal into the wild would be inhumane in and of itself.
Some believe that certain cosmetic and physical characteristics of the rolling pigeon warrant the culling process. While others believe that the only reason to cull a rolling pigeon is due to health concerns or its failure to thrive. Some of these culling factors are: pigeons that are too small, those that are poorly feathered, pigeons with weak rolling ability, and those that generally do not conform to the breed aerial standard which is:
“The true Birmingham Roller which turns over backwards with inconceivable rapidity through a considerable distance like a spinning ball”. Lewis Wright
Overall, the argument for culling being a necessary part of animal husbandry for domesticated animal breeds is a strong one. The process ensures the continued health and safety of the species as a whole in the cases of sick or diseased animals. When talking about animals that have been simply injured beyond their ability to fully recover or are suffering, culling becomes a humane and altogether responsible solution for the breeder.
Culling should be carried out by those trained and/or informed of the proper process. There are several considerations to be taken into account when the culling process is determined to be necessary and euthanasia is deemed appropriate. The choice of technique should take the pigeon's welfare into account and should minimize the bird's pain and distress. Also, human safety, aesthetics and the person's skill all determine the method of euthanasia.
To find out more information about humane culling practices there are a number of informative online resources; here are two useful links:
POLL QUESTION: Should fanciers practice “selective breeding” in the context of this article to maintain the integrity of the Birmingham Roller as a breed?
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