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BREEDING FOR TUMBLING AND FLYING ABILITY
By Levi
The factor which causes a pigeon to "roll" or "light tumble" ( as in the roller ) , and the factor which causes a pigeon to fly continuously for hours ( as in the Tippler ) , although quite different, are jointly treated for they are apparently of the same origin.
An exposition of the genetic principals covering the inheritance of these two factors is difficult for there is a complete absence of scientific tests for the factors and a failure so far to identify their nature. There is also a surprising lack of breeding reports, opinions, or theories by practical breeders.
Tumbling-The tendency or ability to roll appears in different degrees in the same strain and at different ages even in the same family. One member will "long roll" at an early age, another not until three to six months old, while still another will not roll at all but possibly execute only single somersault or "light tumble" at a time. A some what similar condition is found in our American Parlor Tumblers. Roller breeders differ in their opinions, but the majority favor linebreeding. It should be remembered that the training and condition is found have a material effect upon rolling ability. Excellent Rollers allowed full liberty soon lose their rolling ability to a surprising extent ( Pensom, 1933 ) so that the factor is not a constant one even in the same bird but may be improved by the ownerís care.
Graham ( 1933 ) advocates that, to produce good performers, one should mate a long- spinning cock with a short-spinning and high flying hen. He believes that, in a mating of a good performing cock X lazy hen, the young will take after the mother : "a good hen will go a long towards making up for the deficiencies of a mediocre male."
Next in order, he recommends the mating of two medium performers. In his 1941 edition, Graham says to be very careful how you put two long spinners together, as the roll-down young may often be produced by such matins.
J. V. McAree ( pers. Com., 1939 ) , however, after years of experience with the Whittingham strain, says that he always mates one long roller to another long roller, breeding at times from a "roll-down" ( a bird in which the rolling tendency is so developed that it can not fly with safety ) . He has closely inbred his birds for years with great success.
Until the rolling factor is identified, it is impossible to lay down breeding rules applicable to all lofts. What is true of one loft may not necessarily hold true of another.
Outcrosses of Parlor Tumblers X Show Tumblers show that non-performing is dominant since tumbling almost disappears in the F1* Cole ( 1915, unpublished ) made a preliminary study of the inheritance of the trait and found it exceedingly difficult to study because of the great individual variability. In general, he states that normal flight tends to be dominant over tumbling. In the second generation, he found noticeable segregation, but considerable variability rather than clean segregation. He was unable to obtain any reliable ratios, and concluded that more than a single Mendelian factor is involved.
Abel ( 1935 ) relates his experience in testing the tumbling factor in Parlor Tumblers. In 1923, he outcrossed a Parlor Tumbler cock upon a Show Tippler hen, and, for six successive generations, he bred back hens to the original sire with the following results ; F1 progeny were ordinary flying birds for the first year and tumbled occasionally late in the first year ; F3 ( 7/8 blood of the Parlor Tumbler sire ) did not take well to outside flying and became an inside Tumbler, unable to rise more than four to five feet above the floor in her second year ; F4 was a very wild and poorly performing Parlor Tumbler ; F5 and F6 were high-jumping floor Tumblers late in their first season. F6 showed no improvement over F5. The seventh generation hen was produced from a different Parlor Tumbler cock, the sire having died. No hens were produced from this mating, only two cocks which were Parlor Tumblers of mediocre performance. Abelís experiment shows the Parlor Tumbler trait to be easily lost in outcrossing and particularly difficult to recover, seven successive linebred generations proving necessary. Gilbertís records ( unpublished ) tend to disprove this.
Gilbert ( thesis, 1947 ) also studied the variation in Parlor Tumblers and found that the first tumble is made at the average age of two months ( three hundred youngsters observed ) . The youngest was 37 days old ; the oldest. 455 days. Full performing ability is usually attained by the end of the first year.
High Flying-The trait of flying at high altitudes is one which, originating in the Orient, has been present in certain breeds for centuries. No genetic analysis has been made of the factor. Across of Cumulet X Racing Homer at the Palmetto Pigeon Plant ( 1938 ) produced hybrids which possessed the trait in less degree than did their Cumulet parent. Through analysis is necessary to determine itís inheritance.
The trait for long duration of flight ( as in the Tippler ) has not been analyzed, and its inheritance is not known. The factor is closely associated with conditioning and training, without which sustained flight is impossible. The bird may desire to continue its flight but be unable to do so for lack of physical strength and endurance, or it may be capable but lazy.
Strange to say, few breeders of highfliers for endurance records discuss breeding methods. Wedgewood (1927 ) and Ofield ( 1932 ) give no word of their experience or of advise upon the subject. Hepworth ( 1893 ) recommends mating the best flying birds together.
In attempting to analyze the factor, it is recalled that our present-day Tippler is of mixed origin and descended from the flying Tumbler. Ability to maintain sustained flight is a factor found in the wild state and is necessarily associated with outcrossing. The chances, therefore, are that, contrary to breeding for artificial traits, outcrossing can advantageously be used in developing the trait by selecting the best flyers with outstanding physical ability, although unrelated, for matings. To perpetuate the qualities of any particular bird, linebreeding must necessarily be resorted to, or the original cross, if any, repeated.
 
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