Receiving this interview from Clay was a special treat for your webmaster (Mark Fields). You see, I go way back with Clay even though we’ve never met in person. Long before Facebook groups we were both on the old pigeon forums such as Roller World & Earl’s List. There were some really lively discussions back in those days and I quickly gained an appreciation for Clay’s wit and no-nonsense approach to rollers. He helped me steer clear of many of the myths and old-wives-tales that guide so many in this hobby. In short, he helped me become a better steward of the breed.
I know Clay is too much the gentleman to dig into those old details about the yellow birds, but I clearly recall the many “color rants” that went on back in those days and Clay set out to disprove those myths. No one can refute Clay’s ability to put up good birds whether they are red, blue, yellow or any other color or pattern.
Without further ado, I give you Clay’s interview in his own words:
Henry Clay Hoyle, Icard, North Carolina
I have a loft that is set up for as many as 16 pair but usually about 12 pair.
I usually raise about one hundred a year. BOP bad here.
I got into rollers by accident. I was a bird hunter (grouse and quail) and a friend had me to get some pigeons to use in training dogs. That was in 1989.
Rollers are about as good as one can get for a hobby. Stay at home and have fun.
In the 1990’s I got birds from about everyone in the Southeast except one guy and he never would sell me any of his. I have had my birds stolen twice and the third time we caught the thief in the process. Most of that oldest blood was stolen and I had to keep starting over. Thankfully, there are great friends.
The birds I am flying now are truly a mix, if I tried to list everyone I know I would miss someone, aw heck try anyway, A bit of Danny Horner from the 90’s, a little Monty from Rick Schoening, The ee (recessive red) cock from the 2001 convention, and the brown bar hen from the convention here, They were both bought at auction by Randy Gibson and I ended up with them. Long story but if there is interest I will tell it. A black grizzle cock from JoeBob out of his Frank Lavin stuff. I dun South Carolina hen someone gave Rick Mee and I used her during one of his deployment moves. (she could be where the dilute came from), A blue lace cock loaned to me by Jay Yandle. A reduced bird from Cliff Ball. A good cock from Don Greene after a theft. Two pair from James Turner. And last and least A bunch of birds I have bought.
7. Name and describe the one roller that has influenced your family the most or ‘the best’ you have ever owned.
I raised a red bar hen way back when that was as good as they get. (long story about her and I’m not telling it but she was used) I bred her one year, From her I raised a red bar grizzle cock. He carried dilute and I would get a yellow or two every year, only hens. In 2002 i raised a red bar grizzle cock from him that was in my A kit and I let a guy pick a pair from the kit. He took the red bar G cock and a black hen. He raised a kit from the pair and Dennis White bought all his birds to get the pair. When Dennis got out in 14 he gave me the 12 year old cock. I raised a sweet yellow grizzle hen from him. I mated him to the sweet hen and got two yellow cocks. Both good ones and the first yellow cocks on the place, ever.
“The secret to flying a good kit of rollers is to fly them often and watch them.” Don’t raise more than you can fly. If you fly them a lot you will notice the ones that are good ones and it is just simple to breed from those.
I pay less to the “on the ground” than anyone I know. I just don’t pick them for the way they feel. I know most can do it but I am not good at it.
10. If you had to choose, what color/pattern would you prefer: blue check self, blue check WF, blue check badge, blue check grizzle, blue check bald, blue check bronze, recessive red self
I did mate the old cock to his daughter to get a yellow cock. She gave them to me and they are good breeders. But I like a lot of different colors. Makes it easier to tell them apart and it is free.
11. How does color and the colors in the background of the roller (parents, grandparents, etc.) affect their abilities to perform?
I had always heard that dilute birds were weaker. So, OK, I always had problems with birds that flew too high and too long. I have had good luck with the dilute. they stay down unless something gets after them. I get lots of expressions, silver, silver G, dun, dun G, yellow, yellow G, and and double G, almost white. And I do think it helps keep them down. I end up with about 25% dilutes and some cocks carrying dilute. I know that I will have to watch that I don’t get too many dilutes
Too many birds will get stiff as they age. I am raising now so the birds will be the age I want them for the competitions. All you guys tell me what age is the best age for the best performance? I never considered this until I started the dilute influence.
Bad judging. I said when I started that I would not complain about the judges and with that in mind I will keep quiet.
Poor kitting. Keep in mind that a lot of birds will fly above the kit when the spin gene starts acting on them but if they keep it up…. I don’t let my birds on the ground. I will scare them up a few times but if they keep it up……….Land and fly again, I had a famous family of birds that would land and spook off the loft several times before they trapped, keep it up and…………
I compete in every competition that is offered. With whatever birds I have, good or bad.
Send me $1000, in a plain envelope…….I just fly them every day for 6 or 8 days and give them two days off before fly day.
It is so simple, fly them often and watch them fly. I’m having a hard time doing that right now as I have a dislocated shoulder. I have 25 birds here right now that have not been flown as they REQUIRE if they are to live up to their breeding.
I want to thank all you guys that I fly with. great bunch of guys. I’m sorry that I have not been able to make the rounds but I guess I should be thankful that I can still compete.
Above Clay had eluded to a “longer story” on a bird. I asked him to share and here is the story.