Lead colours - memory of a lost hereditary factor: Lead was discovered in the black colour class of Beak Crested German Trumpeter Pigeons by Ernst Meckenstock. In these pigeons, in combination with the spread factor, grey-blue lightening of the body, wings and tail was observed. Head and neck remain black.

Spread Lead Beak-Crested German Trumpeters

The transmission of the factor to blue and blue check pigeons resulted in pigeons with blue-grey ground and slightly brownish overlaid patterns (bars and checks). The factor is inherited recessively, not sex-linked. First inheritance tests are documented in the book ‘Vererbung bei Tauben’ (Axel and Jana Sell, 2004, 2007). The interaction with Spread and the result of the blue-grey lightening shows similarities with Platinum and Recessive Opal. Also, with the sex-linked factors Reduced and Rubella. Tests have been done with Platinum. They are independent factors. Later documentations can be found in the German book 'Genetik der Taubenfärbungen' and in English language in 'Pigeon Genetics'.


Test Mating of a Spread Lead Cock x Blue Check Racing Homer hen and their black F1. Source: Axel & Jana Sell, Vererbung bei Tauben, Oertel & Spörer Reutlingen 2004, 2007

Selected F2 from the mating of a Spread Lead Trumpeter cock and a Blue Check Racing Homer Hen. Source: Axel & Jana Sell, Vererbung bei Tauben, Reutlingen 2004, 2007.

The disappearance of the spread lead colour, and with it the hereditary factor, throws light on the problems of preserving the rarities in general. They are not in the standard and thus cannot compete for attention at shows. In small populations, other colourings or even other breeds are often crossed in order to avoid too much inbreeding. In favourable cases, in F2, and more often in backcrossing, one gets back several kittens in the original colouring. But not always. The desired quality of colouration depends not only on one or two factors, but on additional modifying factors. These factors will not automatically occur together. This also seemed to be the case with spread lead, as also shown by the group of youngsters of F2 from the mating of a spread lead coloured Trumpeter cock with a blue check Racing Homer hen. The mainly responsible hereditary factor is still preserved after such matings in many of the young, but no longer in the appealing 'packaging' since important positive modifiers are lacking.

With small flocks and limited capacity of the breeder, the factor will disappear after short time with the colouring. Recently, however, a photo surfaced on the internet in trumpeter pigeon figure similar to the spread lead colours. Lost does not have to mean extinct!


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

Sell, A. und J., Vererbung bei Tauben, Oertel & Spörer, Reutlingen 2004, 2007.