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"Dedicated to the preservation of the Oriental Roller as a Flying - Performing Pigeon."

Training a Kit of Oriental Rollers

by Terry Rhodes

Flying a kit of rollers takes more than just a number of birds and a kit box. The preparations should begin in the breeding loft. It goes without saying that the right stock is needed to start with. The biggest mistake made by most is raising the young on too rich of a diet. If the young birds are too heavy going into the kit box they will be difficult to get into the air and prone to develop bad habits before they are able to fly. I like a high protein and low carbohydrate feed mix, this will give the birds good feathers and muscles without a lot of excess fat.

Oriental Rollers are usually slow developers so there is little advantage in weaning them too quickly. I keep the young birds with their parents until the parent-sibling bond is broken. Then they go to a holding pen until I have enough birds that are established to transfer to the kit box.  The Kit box and itís perches should be larger that those used for Birmingham Rollers with a non-fouling water system and a removable feed tray. I want the birds to bond with the box so I let them live in it a while before I start settling them. When I do settle them I use a 1x2 inch welded wire cage that covers the entire top of the kit box with trap open so they can come and go in and out of the kit box freely. When I am ready to start changing them from a captive to a free flying system I start cutting back their feed to a half ration for a couple of days then skip a day and turn them out the next day. Usually they all go out then right back in, where I give them all they want to eat. When I can fly my birds on a regular schedule I like to fly two kits on an alternating schedule. The day the kit fly they get full ration of feed and the day before they fly they get half a ration, more or less depending on how long I want them to fly. On a maintenance diet they get a regular pigeon feed mix, I think it has around 14% protein. When I want them to get into shape for a competition I give them plain old chicken scratch or a wild bird feed mix that Wally World sales, depending on how hot the temperature is. 

Getting the birds on the wing is not difficult, I use a empty feed bag to chase them out of the kit box at first, later they should exit on their own.  Another point, I recommend never chasing them from the top of the kit box, they must feel safe there.  Then use the control feed (increase or decrease) the day before liberation to get the desired results. Unfortunately not every youngster is a born kit bird, so if they do not respond to the system after a few weeks (more or less) I cull them, and put a mark against its parents.  A kit bird will express its energy where you let it, I prefer to have mine strut their stuff in the air so I keep them in a semi-dark kit box and the only day light they see is when they get to fly. I want them to go up and fly then drop down and trap in with as little cutting up as possible. Be patient with the young cock birds. It just takes them awhile to get over that first thrill of testosterone, some outgrow it and mature into some of the finest birds in the air, others become a bad head ache.  The trick is being able to tell the difference between that head ache and merely a temporary pain in the neck, early on. Also remember that no two rounds of young birds are the same and the trainer with a large repertoire training techniques will be better equipped to deal with these variances. Donít be afraid to experiment if it works its right, and share it with the rest of us. Good Luck.                                             

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