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In October of 2019 Paul Williams asked a question on the NBRC Facebook group that generated an interesting discussion on handling mature untrained Rollers.

The Question is asked


Paul D. Williams Q: Someone who has good stock and is a long time birdman who you don’t really know, but many do gives you an 11 bird 2018 kit that has never flown, because of the lockdown for Newcastle. They are hard to work with as you knew it would be, but now you’re getting frustrated, because your labor isn’t producing any fruits. It’s been about a month and a half. Would you continue to work with them, so you can tell him the results, pick some you consider worth checking out in the breeder loft, then cull what you don’t use, or cull the whole lot and continue the focus on your program?


Response Thread # 1


Touhoua Yang So the birds are all about a year or more? Well it depends on a number of factors:

  1. Are you retired and do you have unlimited time?…
  2. Are you retired and do you have unlimited time?
  3. Do you have decent/good stock already?
  4. What are your training/flying methods and schedule?
  5. How much room do you have in your breeding loft?

Ps, I was gifted a kit of unflown youngsters last year ranging from about 4 months to 1 year. I ended culling the lot

Paul D Williams Touhoua Yang what would “YOU” do. Is the question.

Touhoua Yang Paul D Williams depends on what I told him. If I said I would fly them out, that’s what I would do. But realistically, right now, I don’t have the time so they’d go to someone else or the original owner since I can answer all the numbered conditions above; not retired, no time, no room for more breeders, and I have what I need right now

Sheree Whiting Farr What would I do? Hmmm

I’m gonna just think out loud a bit. Long time/short time means nothing to me. If I didn’t know the guy, I’d be less inclined to take them to begin with, regardless the reputation. I am always looking for something better, and willing to try new blood. But … it’s not just an open door. I’ve got to have seen and have a reasonable expectation what I’m gonna see from them. Example; I might try a line to look for better teamwork or for deeper workers or for a prettier style, etc.

If this situation was before me today, I wouldn’t take them. My boxes are full and daylight getting shorter.

Assuming I had the space and time, and made a commitment to take the birds, I would fly the feathers off them. I would give them adequate opportunity to show if and what they’re cspable of in the air. I would also be evaluating ‘other’ aerial traits besides just roll. Like flying height, strength of character, reaction to changes in management. I’d cull anything undesirable. If any were left come breeding season, I’d give them a try, even if they didn’t roll to my breeder selection standard, I’d already have eliminated all the bad behaved ones. If I got to a point of breeding some, I’d give them 3 years of production/handling to decide if there were improvements I could use or not.

I’m fortunate to have an established loft already. What I have may not be the ultimate, but they satisfy me. Because of that, anything new I fly/breed is going to have to impress me to stay. They will have to prove themselves several years/generations over before I move any of mine out and replace them. It’s gonna be hard to crack the lineup.

Billy Dyer Sheree Whiting Farr Exactly what Jon said. Myself I’ll give plenty of time in the air. Some you need to massage the feed to get awesome action. Myself I got some birds from a master flyer and never gave up on. the hen finally bred to a bird I had on my A team cocks from the same person and I’m getting rock stars. Sometimes patience and hard work is the key in this awesome hobby


Response Thread # 2


Lori Darling This one is pretty easy….DO WHAT YOU TOLD THE MAN YOU WOULD DO.

If you said you would fly them, then fly them. 6 weeks is hardly enough time to make any sound judgement on performance. If you are frustrated, call him and tell him so. He just may have good advice to share.

If you don’t want them, offer them back. He might tell you to pull their heads, but he might want them back.

Just don’t be a rat. Just because they were free, doesn’t mean the gift doesn’t have value.

Paul D Williams The question was what would “You” do, but I got it, thanks.

Troy Copeland I would continue to fly them, it is not their fault they are hard to get going. Perch time is hard on unflown birds, Willard Bolton was given birds that had been being used as foster parents for 2 years, he got them going, he had to cull a couple that refused to conform, but he made a darn nice kit out of them! Just saying!

Davis Vang Lori Darling Well said. Agree with you.


Response Thread # 3


Mokoe Lockhaven Month and a half flying

Paul D Williams Mokoe Lockhaven not even flying.

Mokoe Lockhaven They’re being lazy?

Paul D Williams Mokoe Lockhaven It’s like training squeakers, but so much worse. Squeakers are easier. I can see some progress, but very little. The good thing is they aren’t really taking up space as I’ve just built a new double. I just work with them after I’ve flown my own 3 kits. The Falcon was successful for the 1st time yesterday. So I will be moreso locking down which is going to give them months more of perch time.

Mokoe Lockhaven Paul D Williams have yu been throwing them up in the front yard?


Response Thread # 4


Mark Fields Bob Westfall (may he rest in peace) hand picked from his 2018 birds for me to get restarted. Because of his health these birds were “untried and unflown” I knew that up front.

After selecting the matings I was left with a few cock birds that were duplicates (genetically) and not needed. I tried flying them out. Major disappointment. They didn’t want to fly, kit, etc. No surprise to either Bob or myself as they had missed the critical air-time they need when young.

Now the ones used as breeders were only one generation from Bob’s flown/tested birds so I had that “leg up” as it were. Of those pairs I’ve identified 2 pair whose offspring I really like and will focus on those. The others produced ok birds but not of the caliber of those 2 pair.

I’ll pass along the pairs that produced good birds but the rest – no, I won’t do that to anyone. Trying to fly out untested “old” birds is frustrating.

As a side note – I did have one cock bird of this group that I tried flying that rarely wonders far – he’s lazy. BUT, he has turned into a great bird to use when a young bird strays and is afraid to land or come back down. I use that male to coax the young birds back in because he knows all about landing on the loft and going into traps.

Mark Fields As I clicked “send” another thought crossed my mind. If Bob were still living I am convinced that he would be “ok” with me not keeping all the birds after testing them (well over 2 months) and not using them as breeders. He was a practical man and didn’t waste time on things that didn’t work. So, the guy that you got the birds from, is he equally practical l on these things or does he have a big ego?

Paul D Williams Mark Fields let’s say he’s practical enough, but has enough ego to not allow you inside the breeder lof


Response Thread # 5


Wess Johnson i dont fly birds givin to me. or i buy right away. i first breed them to see if there producers. if not good producers. then they go into a kit. if then shows me something thhen my later get another chance at breed. some of my better birds come from birds that never flown or that wasnt great in the sky but carried good blood

Paul D Williams Wess Johnson I never thought I would see that one. Thanks for your input!

Wess Johnson Paul D Williams many dont agree with my method. but it works. 30 years plus. i was told ass a young boy you dont get birds to fly you get blood to produce flyers. you should have know something about the birds history before you got them.

Paul D Williams Wess Johnson I got the history on the birds when he gave them to me.


Response Thread # 6


Paul D Williams The question is posed as what you would do, not me.

Goss Hawker I would fly the crap out of them still. That is not enough fly time. Fly them and pick the best to breed a round or two. But I wouldn’t lock anything down until they have flown for at least a good season since u got them as older kit birds. If you. I need to see two seasons of flying

John Dillard You pay the feed bill…you decide what its worth to you.

Paul D Williams What would it be worth to you John Dillard. The question is in reference to you. Not me.

John Dillard Paul D Williams I can tell you this…I have a group that didn’t get flown and I am breaking them in now. It’s been a month and they are still fighting me, but finally flying about 30 minutes. My suggestion is…if you want to get them to fly….take em away from your loft and make em fly. increase the distance until they get the idea. They are being released over a half mile away right now, and just yesterday I released them from the kit box and they went up and flew for 30 minutes…so progress. The ones that land early now will get long necks.

Vince van Royen Paul D Williams Since your question isn’t really asking for advice or opinions, let me share what happened to me this year. Last year, I got rid of all the birds I was working with, and began looking for what I wanted to acquire in order to build a top-quality comp family. I was very fortunate to get 37 birds from Dan Foster that were all from a top WC flyer’s family. This year started off great, and then I got hit with cancer. Thanks to my family and friends in the Roller community, I ended up with 3 rounds of babies in the kit boxes, and that was where all the problems began. No trap training, no fly time etc., etc. When I began to work with them it was basically a disaster. At that point I culled the worst ones, and gave some birds to a guy just starting out to use as breeders so that he could start flying some babies. Now comes the good part… I had faith in the quality of these birds, so I curbed my frustration and started working with them every day. Now, after two months of feed control, trap training, and flying, they’re getting better and better. All of these birds will be flown for the next two years. Kitting is vastly improved, trapping is down to “in it in a minute” and I’m happy with their progress.

Jim Johnson John Dillard , long necks! Lol…..I have a very short patience lever for birds that don’t wanna fly. I’ve got a group of 25 young of varying ages right now that are giving me fits. I couldn’t start them as I normally would because of the hawks and prepping other kits for the fall fly. Frustrating at best……

Vince van Royen Jim Johnson It took all the patience I could muster, especially with the chemo causing all kinds of mood swings. Flew them a little bit ago, and they’re improving in every way. Quality does shine through sooner or later, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you get them where you want them.

John Dillard Vince van Royen have patience…if the goods are there…you will see it.

Vince van Royen John Dillard Today was a great day for these guys. Most of them dropped straight out of the air into the open door, which as all of my friends will tell you is something I’m fanatical about, lol.

Mokoe Lockhaven John Dillard cool!

Paul D Williams John Dillard That helped, thank you.

Paul D Williams Vince van Royen Good deal, thank you.

John Dillard Paul D Williams once you get them flying well half the battle is won. Then when they start performing select what you like and move forward. After they are flying well when released from the kit box, you may have a few revert to not wanting to fly…stretch their necks.


Response Thread # 7


Tou Vang All depending on your location. And what I mean by this is bop numbers. If you live where I do, where you lose up to 100+ birds, I’d say, put them away and breed from them to see what they are capable of.

If you have little losses, I wouldn’t mind flying them out. Windy days will be my best bet and you might have to take them further away from your loft to fly. But if they don’t wanna take off, time to try em in the pen and see if they will give you some good ones to enjoy.

Tony Hatoum I would weigh my options. If my yard didn’t have much to move me forward I would continue to push this group and if you say they came from some one who is reputable I would give them the time.

If I had something in my yard and really didn’t think if I got these flying would help my program I’d pull heads.

Huey Conn Some birds need six to eight months of flying to show their true ability.

Paul D Williams I gotta get ’em up first LOL. I got some input on getting them up though. I do take birds a lil further away to get them to fly, but I didn’t think of it with these.


Response Thread # 8


Bernard Benjamin First of all I would have never taken them in the first place….but to answer your question, after that amount of time and effort i would have culled them…those birds hardly come right they would continuously fly low and fast never form a kit and go sit on any roof close by…in that amount of time i could have had new eggs from the birds i trust.?

Wess Johnson Bernard Benjamin you got that in all of the 6 weeks of flying. if your expecting champions in 6 weeks of flying you will cull everything on your yard.

Bernard Benjamin Wess Johnson no i know my birds and i seen this to many times…waist of time

Wess Johnson its funny if i say i got pedigrees ill get 100 people saying pedigrees mean nothing. it selection. if i get a bird from somebody you dont know im told its a waist of time. with no offer from a good flyers for free birds to get started. why is the hobby doing bop and no help from veteran flyers just saying.

Bernard Benjamin That’s why i said i would not have taken them…besides i just answered what was ask so that’s what i would have done…?


Response Thread # 9


Michael Wolden I won’t keep my own older unflown birds to try I surely wouldn’t want someone else’s…….. no.

Wess Johnson Michael Wolden well maybe you haven’t established a family yet. just cause they can roll doesn’t mean they can produce.

Wess Johnson my foundation cock never flew produces beautiful rollers. my foundation hen never flew. every bird breed on my yard have there blood in them. many of the birds i breed come from them 2 birds over half of the breeder’s i got come from them never flown its not full proof like every other loft but its working. but if i only gave 6 weeks for a bird to perform. plus bop i wouldn’t have a hobby just abandoned lofts and kit boxes

Sheree Whiting Farr Wess Johnson Incase you honestly didn’t know, Michael Wolden does have his own established family, and they’re a fine one too.

I think maybe you’re missing a point here Wess. We all know flying a bird doesn’t make it a better producer. And most of us know you’re not going to discover champion spin I 6 weeks of fly time. But, flying birds out does help us make better, more informed selection to build from in our programs. Only by flying birds out can you reveal some of the potential faults. Only a rank novice wants to breed from outliers, rolldowns, wingswitchers or slop. Rollers don’t breed 200% true, but let’s face it, what you put in is what you can expect to get out.

Another point you may have missed. Rollers must be flown during certain developmental ages to reach their potential. If we miss training/flying them through those stages, it becomes very difficult to mold them into useful performers. In most cases it will take 6 weeks to even get them flying/kitting proper. These guys aren’t talking measuring performance at 6 weeks, they’re talkng even having them fly as a kit for 20 minutes without landing all over the neighborhood.

Wess Johnson Sheree Whiting Farr i agree with you. i got the point. but at 6 week were already talking about culls that’s. why. really why


Response Thread # 10


Bernard Benjamin Will never breed to 11 birds that never flew…just saying

Billy Berryman I would fly them.

John Castro was probably the best Handler I have ever known he never started a bird till it was 6 months old. I tried it didn’t work out for me. Lol

Spinner Savage A month isn’t a lot of time to do anyting with rollers

Paul D Williams It’s not sensible to be looking for spin, or anything of a quality nature at this point besides temperament and expression. Gotta get ’em in the air first. These birds were bred in 2018 and never flown. I took out 2 hens that have the “look” I’m after i.e., medium/small apple body, and stance parallel to the floor. Others have colors I wouldn’t mind having around, but I’m not breeding from them for the “paint job” I’m working on the “engine”. I have my own breeding projects going. This year was my first “REAL” breeding season of which I got 5-6 rounds out of 12 pair. For the most part, I kind of know what I have going on from a full flying season and now attempting to “fine tune” what I’d like to proliferate. Normally I wouldn’t have taken any stock that I didn’t think would benefit my program, but I was promised a kit and forgot all about it, plus I had some extra room.

Mokoe Lockhaven Paul D Williams all I know is when I got back into birds in the the beginning I got kit for the low . Some weren’t going up. Skinny malnutrition. It took Lil time but after a couple months they wer thick to the hold and flying. So it is possible.

Paul D Williams I’ve been working with them the best I know how. Now the predators are back and the Falcon got me for one of my brood yesterday. I don’t like shutting down, but I hate to see birds taken even more.

Mokoe Lockhaven Paul D Williams shit the falcon should be scarying there lazy asses up

Mokoe Lockhaven Right now I’m gonna cut there feed. No food today . And keeping in the dark then I’m taking them to the corner tomorrow.

Paul D Williams unfortunately he hunts up high. LOL!!!

Mokoe Lockhaven Paul D Williams they do rather do aerial assaults

Jeff Meier God your tough Tony. Lol

Jeff Meier I took the pellet gun yesterday five bit the big one, no fly you die.

John Dillard Jeff Meier gotta be that way….roof sitters score you a zero every time.



I think it is fair to say that different guys are going to do different things with this kit. But I believe Touhoua asked the correct questions at the top of this discussion. The answers to these questions are going to determine what you can attempt to do with this kit of unproven birds.


  1. Are you retired and do you have unlimited time?
  2. Do you have decent/good stock already?
  3. What are your training/flying methods and schedule?
  4. How much room do you have in your breeding loft?



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