Q: Do you feel that there is any difference in the feather quality between a light colored bird and a dark colored bird? If so is it ever enough to affect the bird's race performance?
One common factor that exceptional performing birds have is that they have excellent feather quality. They are always silky and never dry and hard.
The light colored reds and silvers, when mated in successive generations to each other, will develop a drier, harder feather quality, and you will find that their feathers will fray. In other words, the tips of their flight feathers are worn off. I raised many exceptional reds and yellows at one time, which were Janssens and Imbrechts. I never experienced this poor feather quality because I continuously blended in dark pigmented birds. So if you want to breed reds, always mate them to blues or blue checkers. You may skip a generation occasionally, but when you blend the dark pigmented birds with your reds, you will never have a problem with poor feather quality.
So often people get carried away trying to reproduce someone's champion birds without any true knowledge. For instance, the Imbrecht pigeons were known throughout the world as being reds and mealies. Knowing Germaine very well, I soon realized that all birds in his loft were mated red to dark.
Also, you will see Vos Janssens advertised, Vos meaning "red fox". These people again have taken reds from the Janssen Brothers and repeatedly mated them together to create what they call a Vos Janssen family. The Janssen Brothers never did that. In fact, over the years I never saw more than 3 reds in their stock loft which contained a total of 9 pairs of birds.