More about pigeon health

In the final part of THis series on pigeon health, I’d like to remind readers that it’s an area that’s not conclusive and there are always advancements. Diagnostics is a specialised field and I will continue to report on new research findings.

Observation is key
Healthy pigeons are also happy pigeons. The minute they seem miserable, something’s wrong. If you have someone else training your pigeons because of your work schedule, allocate observation time. Inspect the lofts for food that’s been vomited, blood stains (injuries), watery or sloppy droppings or a bird sitting in a corner with its feathers puffed up.

However, the latter could just be a late arrival from a race or training event, that needs to be rested, given supportive vitamins and placed on light duty before resuming full training.

Loft environment control
Controlling the social atmosphere in the loft has a lot to do with controlling stress levels and we now know stress can be disease-causing. R acing pigeons are territorial creatures and certain individuals, like humans, are more dominant and others have an intolerant attitude. Some pigeons are relentless bullies. S pending quality time in the loft, one will be surprised to see how each pigeon positions itself in terms of its social environment.

For this reason, a loft should never be overcrowded and a few spare perches should be available for bullies and refugees to occupy. have seen a bully dominating the water fountain in such a way that no other pigeon can drink without challenging it. It’s crucial to assist your flock to gently challenge the bully’s tyranny by catching it and putting it on its perch.

You may find that it prefers a perch in the top corner row of the cubicles and if not, encourage it to adopt such a position. The reason is that it will be further away from the food and water, which will give the other birds a chance to get to eat and drink.

Time and again, these bullies are the better pigeons in the racing team, but if not, retire them to mascot status in a neighbour’s picnic aviary. When you keep a few bullies do not road train them from the same baskets as your sensitive pigeons – and do not house them in the same loft compartments.

Important pointers

  • A dhere to the following principles of health management:
  • Keep the lofts dry and draught-free.
  • Use medication registered for use in pigeons. With exceptions, medication for poultry or humans is admissible, but consult your vet and the pigeon authorities – you don’t want to do the wrong thing.
  • Disinfect the drinkers and clean the food trays daily. Virkon S, Virukill Avisafe, Miltons or a standard household product will do, but rinse properly before refilling the drinkers.
  • Don’t allow food to remain in the food trays overnight and sweep up spilled food to avoid rats and mice.
  • Make fresh solutions of medication daily. ome medication needs to be stirred more often to avoid the active ingredients from settling at the bottom of the drinker. When you buy medicine, check the expiry date on the package or bottle and if it has expired, notify the supplier, but don’t buy it. The expiry date is there for a reason. It’s also important not to use vitamins that have passed their expiry date.
  • Mix sticky liquids or powders in a little less water to allow them to dissolve properly and then stir them into the drinker.
  • Stick to the prescribed dosages and complete the number of days indicated for the course.
  • Keep medicated water away from sunlight by repositioning the drinkers.
  • The prescribed teaspoon measurements are not the household teaspoons we are familiar with. Your veterinarian or local chemist will be able to supply you with the correct teaspoon, which has a volume of 5ml.
  • Alternate medication to prevent disease-resistant bacteria.
  • Use probiotics before, during and after the administration of medication. Don’t mix medication indiscriminately because one could destroy the usefulness of the other. – Thomas

Tip of the month

Thirty-eight years ago, my father and I had great success with the use of Avisol for antimicrobial sulphonamides and coccidiosis at the start of winter. Ten years later, Pastor Beneke had success with Avisol in the summer. Three years, ago Danie Hattingh from Kroonstad had success with Avisol in both winter and summer. It’s particularly effective in young birds. We used +/-15ml/â„“ and added two heaped soup spoons of glucose to sweeten it. We administered it during the first week from Sunday to Tuesday, the second week from Monday to Tuesday and the third week on Tuesday only.