we preserve our breed diversity in the pigeon fancy?
breeds and colors and less and less breeders, how does that fit? One
cannot change the development of the number of breeders. The leisure
behavior has changed, including the housing conditions. Who can
raise in the block of flats, terraced house or even in a detached
single family house, with today often almost 400 square meters of
land or less, still pigeons, without having to fear problems with
the neighbors! Finally, new diseases create uncertainty and
veterinary regulations are becoming increasingly complex. Private
animal husbandry also is under attack of animal welfare circles; pet
owners are not perceived as allies with regard to preserving the
natural foundations of life for humans and animals. The thinning of
the number of fanciers in the individual breeds and the
disappearance of some breeds seems inevitable. Even if one follows
the advice of some, no longer to allow additional foreign and new
breeds. That breeds should be sufficiently different, is already in
the conditions anyway.
you oblige breeders to preserve what others have considered to be
beautiful before them? Many certainly want to decide themselves and
pursue their own ideas. You cannot force these breeders.
disappearance of domestic pigeon breeds is dramatized by a parallel
to the extinction of species. Is it real that breeds cannot be
re-established once they disappear? The parallels with the
extinction of species is an inadmissible comparison. The extinct
Passenger Pigeon will not be brought back to life. Most of the
breeds of domestic pigeons, all of which originate from mutations
and selections from the rock pigeon, may come back since they have
many characteristics in common with other existing breeds. In the
event that the Oriental Blondinettes should one day die out among
the Oriental Frills, the Greek Caridia in 1876 has already left us
the recipe for the breeding from Satinettes and African Owls. Within
two decades, they were brought to the level that was - perhaps
somewhat idealized - captured by Ludlow in the Illustrated Book of
Pigeons, edited 1876 by Fulton (Fig. 5 below). Even if a muffed
color pigeon breed should disappear, you can breed a similar pied
marked breed in a few generations with heavy muffs. The kind of
flying and tumbling of the Oriental Roller may be different. The
mutations responsible for the particular flight behavior will not be
easy to repeat. However the flying style is generally not preserved
by fancy breeders and through exhibitions, but by the highflyer and
Statements that with the extinction of a pigeon breed, all
properties are irretrievably lost and the breed is no longer the
same since by crossing with other breed the character changes,
become a boomerang for the entire fancy and the myth prevailing in
some circles on what we do in the fancy. The competition at the
exhibitions is designed for change, and these changes are
essentially achieved through crossings with subsequent selection.
Keeping old cultural heritage unchanged is something else. Whoever
does not want to perceive this as a fact and claims otherwise, lies
to himself and others. Alois Münst addressed this topic in the
volume 1 of the anthology ‘Alles über Rassetauben’ edited by Erich
Müller years ago under the keyword "preserving breeds or breed
names". Compare for example Strasser, Lynx, Maltese Pigeons,
Modenese Pigeons or, in the tumbler section, Danish magpies in
illustrations more than 100 years ago and today. How and with what
other breeds for outcrossing these changes have been achieved is
sufficiently documented in the relevant historical literature.
1: Strasser at Lavalle und Lietze, Die Taubenrassen, Berlin 1905,
and from today
2: Lynx at Lavalle and Lietze, Die Taubenrassen, Berlin 1905, and
3: Danish Tumbler black magpies at Lavalle and Lietze, Die
Taubenrassen, Berlin 1905, and from today
4: Modena, Hungarian und Maltese old type (from left to right) at
Dürigen, Geflügelzucht 2. ed. Berlin 1906, and Maltese from today
some distance, the modern types in Figures 1-4 appear rather like
new breeds, rather than as a result of the traditionalists' desire
to preserve ancient cultural heritage.
also be seen from the literature that over the century breeders have
experienced the interaction with pigeons and competition and
camaraderie as a meaningful hobby. They also gained a lot of
insights into the biological basis and left written record of
experience, thereby contributing to the deciphering of our genetic
knowledge. To use an ancient Chinese wisdom: ‘The way is the goal’,
the contact with the pigeons and handling them. Only exceptional it
will be possible to reserve in life intermediates in breeds’
development. Here lies the value of historical literature, in which,
as for many breeds also e.g. in the ‘Fulton’, the chosen paths and
experiences are documented.
5: Blondinettes from the ‚Illustrated Book of Pigeon’, edited by
Robert Fulton 1876; Collected knowledge in the national and
international pigeon literature
color-classes are something different than new breeds, though often
thrown together in the discussion. For those who have bred only one
color throughout their lives, crossing with another is an
incalculable adventure. They should, however, allow others to see a
special charm in diversity and not to forbid them to breed. From the
so called ‘new’ color-classes, which are also often problematized,
only a few are really new. So for Germany a few decades ago the
Indigo color-classes inclusive of Andalusians, then Reduced, others
may follow. Probably it was not possible to prevent them since
otherwise interested fanciers would have formed outside the
organization genetic groups for rarities. However, most of the other
colors shown in the new breeds sections for getting accepted as
standard-colors are not new to the breeders, they appear
automatically when breeding other accepted colors with each other.
Thus e.g. recessive yellow and black may produce dun hens in the
first cross. And do they really harm the breed? The only question
here is how much organizational effort should be put into
recognizing color-classes. Does every Indigo color pattern, barless,
bar, check, and dark check, really need to be recognized
individually? Even though a genetically experienced breeder knows
that the other color-classes automatically occur by crossing with
the blue-color series when you have one of the indigo pattern
variants? The Federal Breeding Committee could certainly make better
use of its time than wasting it on the idea of new ‘old’ colors.
Geflügelzucht, 2. Auflage Berlin 1906.
Fulton, Robert, The Illustrated Book of Pigeons, London, Paris, New
York and Melbourne 1876.
Lavalle, A., und M.
Lietze (Hrsg.), Die Taubenrassen, Berlin 1905.
Tradition pflegen – alte Rassen bewahren, in: Erich Müller (Hrsg.),
Alles über Rassetauben Band 1, Entwicklung, Haltung, Pflege,
Vererbung und Zucht, Oertel+Spörer 2000, S. 368-381.
Axel, Pigeon Genetics. Applied Genetics in the Domestic Pigeon,
Taubenrassen. Entstehung, Herkunft, Verwandtschaften. Faszination
Tauben über die Jahrhunderte, Achim 2009.
Taubenzucht. Möglichkeiten und Grenzen züchterischer Gestaltung,
Strukturen, Figuren, Verhalten, Zucht und Vererbung in Theorie und
Praxis, Achim 2019.