Since the death of W.H. Pensom there has been a gradual change in the Roller fanciers, and their attitudes. They seem to live in fear of losing sight of the true Birmingham Roller, as they believed was known only to Pensom himself. I cannot deny the fact that Pensom was an outstanding authority of the rolling pigeon in his time, but his time was in the past.
We must look to the present to ensure the future, and by that I mean, "we must pick up the torch and carry on but there are so many who do refuse to carry on by living in the past with Bill Pensom's ideas and teachings, like little children not knowing which way to turn except backwards, as if they were lost. I am speaking of the younger generation, who are the future ones to see that the sight of the true Roller is never lost.
I am getting just a little sick and tired of reading so many articles that are constantly repeating things that were said 40 years ago. They have been saying for many years that there cannot be a rolling Standard, but I have come up with one here in my area, and it has worked very well for the past few years. I feel the sooner everyone learns the rolling Standard, and how to judge it, the sooner we will have good competitions that every6ne can see eye to eye upon, and the improvements of our strains will increase to such high levels of quality that we could shock the old timers before us.
I would like to say a little bit about the breeding of Rollers, and the way it should be done. It seems to be a very disgusting problem to very many fanciers when they breed maybe 50 pigeons, and only a small percentage are recognized as deep Rollers.
When starting your family you must breed deep Roller to deep Roller, never using non-Rollers or Rollers that start one month but quit the next, and never roll again. To set one thing straight on my expression "deep", I feel that 30 feet is a good deep Roller for an average, give or take a couple yards. If one was to breed Roller to Roller he will produce Rollers. If this procedure is carried out for at least three generations, you have got a thorough- bred Roller.
You then should produce deep Rollers every time without the problem of non-Rollers. You then should select your matings as close related pairs by means of first cousins, half brother and sister, full brother and sister, etc. you are now inbreeding.
Inbreeding is not a means of modifying any characteristics, it is only used to maintain dominate, and purify what one has started with. The only need for crossing would be to change, add, or modify certain characteristics but at the same time nothing is dominate, you are only adding new genes, and new faults, which could times take a lifetime to correct.
So, one must always be very discreet when choosing his breeding methods. You should also remember to pick the age for your birds to start their development of the roll, and breed them together or as close as possible to that point so that it will become a family trait in your birds to have the same development stage in the future generations.
I personally prefer the age when they have just dropped their seventh primary flight in the year that they are born, but prior to the seventh flight when they drop their first primary, I pull their tenth, and when they drop their second primary I pull their ninth, and then third I pull their eighth, but I do give them time to grow their tenth, ninth, and eighth if they are dropping faster than they are growing. This is the way I produce safe early developers.
This system derived from knowing the fact that a young bird, if rolling deep at the same time when he is dropping his eighth, ninth, and tenth flights, they become extremely dangerous to a point that they might hit the ground, or they may be irritated to another point that they could become discouraged to ever want to roll again. If your family has failed you before or after this point by such problems as too many rolldowns or maybe retarded features, you had the wrong birds to start with. It is very important that you start with the best and if possible a family from a fancier who practices close breeding.
The above method of breeding is the way I have found it most successful, and you do not have to know a lot or anything about genetics. There are a few things to remember when starting such a method as this, and that is that the deep Roller is recessive to the non-Roller, and your early developer is recessive to the late developer. It's up to you to make your choice on how you want them.
For the past few years there has been a great influence from the English fanciers, and their birds, in the U.S. They are trying to give us the impression that they are maintaining the best Rollers in the world, but my opinion on the matter is to the contrary. The U.S. has produced better Rollers to what would be their highest expectations.
There seems to be an impressing new type of performance brought on by the English fancier, but I could not call them Rollers. A better name more suited for their type would have to be Spinners. They feel that any bird that can spin at great velocity, about three or four seconds and not lose altitude is the ideal type. I have studied rolling styles for many years, and the only ones I have ever seen that come close to this ideal have not been able to produce the familiar "hole", as seen in the true Rollers.
They have always said that the smaller the hole the better the style, but I am pressed upon to disagree, and should say the hole must never be smaller than a half dollar, and no larger than 2 inches. The Roller style is an act of high velocity, traveling downwards at great speed for a good distance of no more than 50 feet, but the meaning of spinner would be an act of high velocity, and appearing as if it were standing in midair going nowhere. So it seems that we are breeding •two separate varieties of pigeons, Rollers or Spinners.
As it has been said for so many years by so many esteemed fanciers, their opinions concerning a rolling Standard can not be put on paper, as they felt is was too confusing or too complicated to put across to the novice fanciers. One would have had to be acquainted with one or more knowledgeable fanciers that could teach and explain in person the styles, and qualities of style to be seen in the air, while standing in his backyard, even then you would have had to be most fortunate, but like most of us, to travel half way around the country would be a bit of a problem, so then you might feel that the experience that you have missed would leave you less than knowing what to look for, in your birds, if you have never seen it.
So, I have given much thought to this problem, and have attempted to put is down on paper as simple as possible. I have broken down the rolling styles into five basic types. These are not the only ones, but they are the ones to look for from the best to the worst. I have lettered them in frames from A to E, with a being the best to E as the worst. They are all turning a good velocity, and undoubtedly they will help you in knowing what to look for.
Frame "A", in a side view, shows a very small ball turning at great velocity, and you will note a small hole in the center about the size of a half dollar, traveling at such great speed in velocity you would probably see; from a front view, a small ball as well, and because of the rapidity of the roll, the wing tips have become practically transparent to the naked eye. This style of roll should be found losing altitude approximately the speed of gravity, because of his non-friction, streamline style. I should also mention if this should ever come in contact with the ground while rolling, it would probably be found dead instantly or severely injured.
Frame "B", is much like frame "A" as far as the quality of style in rolling, but the velocity is not as great as that of "A" so you should be able to sight a little more wing action than of "A".
Frame "C", from the side view, would appear in a much larger ball than that of "A" and "B". You will also see a larger hole in the center of about two inches in diameter, and from a front view you should get a good description of the letter "H".
Frame "D", is a very common type. They are usually considered the deep Rollers. They can be found rolling 50 to 100 feet in what most fanciers try to claim as a good one in style. This is not to say they are always deep, but their abilities are not limited to the depth of their roll.
This is the type that I feel is most misunderstood, because from the side view, if one was to look hard enough, he might see one or more holes, and also the ball would be about the size of frame "B" but from the front view, because the wings are in a 45 degree angle while rolling, you should see the figure of a letter "X". I should not fail to mention that the ½speed of descent, during the roll, is not as fast as frames "A", "B", and "C", so you can see the wings are giving the bird more friction while dropping, also this type could easily survive hit- ting the ground more than once, because of his lack of speed in velocity and descent.
Frame "E", is probably the most common type of all five frames. This type should be said the one that is turning in the style of a Tumbler, but at the same time has developed the speed in velocity of the roller. My name for this variety is what I call the Spinner. You can never witness the hole, in the center of the ball, from aside view. You should also note that the size of the ball is much smaller, much like frame "A". From a front view, you should find that the wings are stretched nearly straight out, giving the bird a much m6re dominant drag to the descent during the roll. These are commonly found in the lofts of the so-called dual purpose Rollers.
In review, on looking back to the five frames below, I should mention that frame "A" is the most outstanding performer anyone could ever hope to see. And so rare that you may never see it. I should also mention that frames "B" and "C" could never be found in the I6fts of anything less than the highest quality Rollers, of a fancier who has devoted much time to the breeding of performance only.