Breeding stock survey for
fancy pigeons 2022
For a long-term monitoring
of the development of the stock and the breed and wild poultry
diversity in the BRDG, the recording of the breeding stock in the
BDRG over the years represents a valuable data basis, even if it is
incomplete. As stated in the introduction to the study, it is only
possible to present what is supplied by the clubs or regional
associations. Some data appear to be taken from previous years and
updated. For pigeons, the survey for 2022 confirms what is known
from the shows, the dominance of some breeds. German Modeneser
(7.4%), King Pigeons (4.1%), Strasser (3.3%), German Beauty Homers
(2.7%) and Lynx Pigeons (2.4%) alone accounted for one fifth of the
367,958 breeding birds registered. The percentages may seem small at
first glance, but about 350 breeds share the rest.
Pigeon breeds, colourings
and 'varieties', and a misunderstanding
That colouration is of no
importance in the characterisation of breeds was already emphasised
by Harms in 1939 in the German Journal for Natural Science,
published in Jena. This is also the view of the official Book of
Standards when subdividing the breeds into colour-classes.
Deviations in the feather structure, such as different shapes of the
crest next to the plain-headed and foot feathering next to
clean-legged, are listed as variants of the breed with otherwise
identical features and characteristics and do not establish an
independent breed (Sell 2009, pp. 7-13). This is also the principle
of the official standards. In the presentation they nevertheless
stand, visually and on the level of classification, on an equal
footing. As if they were different breeds.
In the alphabetical order of
the Gimpel-Pigeons, the Gold Gimpel and the Copper Gimpel are listed
separately as if they were different breeds. Genetically they are
different colourings, which are distinguished from each other by the
Pale factor of the Gold Gimpel. A separation gives a false
impression. The differentiation of the rare plain-headed Gimpels
from the peak crested has already led to a factual statistical error
in previous years. In the case of golden bullfinches, in the
statistic the reported 283 pairs with a peak crest are contrasted
with 964 other (and thus plain-headed) pairs.
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Fig. 1: Gimpel Pigeon plain-headed copper-blackwing,
and peak-crested golden-blackwing.
This is not a 'spin' either,
but probably an error in understanding when filling in the reports.
Plain-headed ones are so rare that outsiders usually don't even know
that plain-headed Gimpels exist. In the case of Copper Gimpels, the
same mistake is repeated as in previous population surveys.
Pigeons are not chickens
The presentation of the
results is the same for large and water fowl, chickens, bantams,
pigeons etc.. However, the husbandry in breeding is different. In
chickens, the colourings are usually kept separately in flocks with
a cock and a few hens. Crosses with other colourings are the
exception. Therefore, from a breeding perspective, a reported
colouring of a breeder can be understood as breeding stock, because
there is a small flock behind it. According to the data, there were
9 individuals per breeding stock. Among them, according to the data
for individual breeds, 1-2 cocks in the respective colouring can be
assumed. With chickens, many breedings tend to mean many breeders.
In contrast to chickens, crosses between colourings are no exception
in pigeons kept in pairs. If you breed recessive yellow pigeons, you
usually automatically have some recessive reds with them so that the
colouring does not diminish over the generations. Blue Bars, Blue
Barless and Blue Checks also form complementary colourings in
breeding. Dilute Blue with and without bars and Dilute Blue Checks
can easily be added. In this example 1 large family and
statistically 6 counted breedings!
Underestimation of the
endangerment potential of a breed and overestimation of the
endangerment of rare colourings
If there is only one breeder
of the breed with the six colourings mentioned in the example, then
six breeding stocks appear in the statistics. This sounds more
reassuring for the survival of the breed than it is. With this
breeder, six breeding stocks would disappear from the statistic, and
also the breed. The rarity of a single colour is less worrying than
that of breeders. Statistically, for example, a breeding in the 2022
report consists of a single dilute blue clean-legged Gumbinnen White
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Fig. 2: Gumbinnen Pigeon in the then called silver
colouring in an article in the Geflügel-Börse 1935, and listing of
the Gumbinnen in the breeding stock registration 2022. 150 cocks and
150 females in each of 43 'breedings', or correct ' sum of entries
in individual colourings'. The rarer short groused ones with 49
couples and here also only one bird in two recorded ‘breedings’.
However, the colour-class is
not more endangered than the breed even with one bird only. The
female can be mated to a blue cock and others and remains in the
gene pool. Further dilute blue females can be bred from their sons
in the next generation. This is not a coincidence, as also many
people responsible engaged in breeding committees may think, but
genetically determined. Rare colourings can remain in the stock even
in small numbers and 'swim along' in small numbers over centuries.
If the number of the
reported 43 breedings of clean-legged Gumbinnen (Fig. 2) were
adjusted for double counts, there would possibly be only 15. For the
pigeons as a whole, if breedings were understood as a 'reproductive
community', only 15,500 of the 37,500 would possibly remain, the
number mentioned for the chickens.
Genetic elucidation and
use of complementary colours
difficulties for large breedings and decreasing numbers of breeders,
breeders will have to increasingly cross colour varieties and
breeds, if only to counteract inbreeding depression. Many pigeon
fanciers have experience in mating different colourings and make
ample use of it.
In some cases it is not only
sensible, it is also required that colourings with complementary
colours are mated. That also here more genetic clarification could
not do any harm can also be seen from the Breeding Animal Survey
2022 for some breeds. According to the 'Hints on Breeding' of the
BDRG of 2011, two carriers with the respective gene should not be
mated due to genetic defects in purebred Dominant Opal and purebred
cocks with the Stipper gene. In the case of the Stipper gene, this
concerns, among others, the colours Almond, multicoloured and
sprinkled varieties. One of the recommended matings is shown in Fig.
Fig. 3: One possibility of using complementary
colours in breeding English Almonds (source: Genetik der
From the breeding pair in
Fig. 3 one obtains four different colourings in the offspring from
an Almond Cock and a Kite Hen, all of which can be reintroduced into
the breeding (source: Sell, Genetik der Taubenfärbungen, Achim
2015). At the grassroots level, the demand for the use of
complementary colours, has obviously not been met in some breeds.
That can be read from the breeding stock registration.
Harms, J. W., Untersuchungen über
Haustaubenrassen, Jenaische Zeitschrift für Naturwissenschaft,
Zweiundsiebzigster Band. Neue Folge,
fünfundsechzigster Band, Jena 1939, pp. 3—75 and tables 1-7
(Investigations on Pigeon Breeds)
Sell, Axel, Pigeon Genetics.
Applied Genetics in the Domestic Pigeon, Achim 2012.
Sell, Axel, Taubenrassen. Entstehung, Herkunft,
Verwandtschaften, Achim 2009, pp. 7-13 on the term ‚Pigeon Breeds‘.
Sell, Axel, Genetik der Taubenfärbungen, Achim