Filial generations and back crosses in the domestic pigeon

It is a waste of time and effort if the reader can only guess from reports on experimental breeding what has been going on. A reason often is a very individual, not to say wrong use of terms by the authors. The first cross breed is called F1 (1st filial generation). The subsequent generation F2 arises from the individuals of the F1. In many reports about a “F2”, a F2 was not generated at all. Instead, a first back cross was made to the original breed. Anyone who has taken the advice literally will be disappointed with the breeding-receipt in the own loft.

An example to demonstrate the difference: A blue racing homer cock with a platinum-colored Pomeranian Eye-Crested hen with eye crests (eye brows) raised only black, plain-headed youngsters without eye crests (the F1).

Fig. 1: Mating of blue bar Racing Homer cock and a platinum Pomeranian Eye Crested Highflyer hen with two young of  the first filial generation F1.  Soruce: Sell, Taubenzucht, Achim 2019

The F2, the young from the pairing of the F1 with each other, was plain headed, lacking also eye crests. According to Mendel, some individuals with small crests (from the hen’s side) could have been there. With the relatively small number raised, however, they were not.


Fig. 2: Selected young from the F1 (at the left) and a young cock of the F2 (at the right)

It is quite different with the first back cross on Pomeranian Eye Crested Highfliers. Around half of the young had a crest, although not particularly pronounced. In average, however, better than the few you would have obtained in a F2-generation as is known from former crosses. In addition, some with small eye crests and some youngsters even in the platinum cock color. In further backcrosses, the structure of the feather structure will quickly increase with proper selection of the best young for further breeding.


Fig. 3: Backcross of a F1 hen upon a platinum Pomeranian Eye Crested cock (photo at the left) and in the middle and at the right a black and a platinum young cock of the first backcross.

The principle of back-crossing is well documented for the introduction of dominant color traits such as indigo, but is also useful in other cases. Shown is that with many examples in the relevant literature.

Fig. 4: Examples of  the transfer of indigo to other breeds. Sourcee: Sell, Pigeon Genetics, Achim 2012

Crossings with other breeds are often done to transfer characteristics such as color and feather structures from one breed to another. But very often also about the viability of your own race. Many rare breeds would have suffered from inbreeding depression and would still have got extinct without the occasional crossbreeding with other breeds!


Fig. 5: Source books – www.taubensell.de



Sell, Axel, Pigeon Genetics. Applied Genetics in the Domestic Pigeon, Achim 2012.

Sell, Axel, Taubenzucht. Möglichkeiten und Grenzen züchterischer Gestaltung, Achim 2019.