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A nightmare gone?

Doctor M is a good vet and a good racer as well.

When he once told me that he had not treated his breeders against canker for some years he must have seen the disbelief in my eyes.

I did not understand, but I was much interested.

You must know that canker had been an obsession for me for years.

And not only for me.



Can you believe there was a time that I could hardly raise a baby if I had not treated my birds before?

It happened that I treated them when they were on eggs but even then the babies were infected later on.

Why it was especially a problem for me?

Maybe the reason was that when I was young I already realised how harmful canker might be and therefore I was one of the first who regularly treated my pigeons.

I am afraid I had to pay a price.

Some hundreds of cures later it seemed as if I myself had created a family of trichomonads  that was very hard to suppress.

Later on, when I read and heard about an alarming increase of resistance and about medicine which were not effective any more or pigeons that could hardly be cured I found the time had come for a change.

A double set of drinkers was a first step but today I have not treated my birds since several years.

This was something unthinkable in the past.



Some years ago when the young bird disease (Adeno-coli) became a nightmare for many it started.

'Give your birds apple vinegar and they won't get Adeno-coli' it was said.

Since I am sceptic by nature I had my doubts and it seemed I was right.

Fellow sportsmen who gave their birds vinegar found that it did not help indeed.

Then P v d Merwe wanted to give it a try.

He gave his birds apple vinegar and never before was Adeno such a problem.

Vinegar as a means to prevent Adeno was just wishful thinking!

No more, no less.

But this was not it.


Garlic, after many years I believe in it.


With vets that specialise in pigeons I often discussed vinegar.

They were all positive and one of them made a remark that caused the big change.  

'If you frequently give your birds vinegar you keep away canker' he said.

I also became interested in a product that had always made me laugh before: garlic.

'I give it a try, nothing to lose' I thought and asked my wife to go to the mall and buy me vinegar and garlic.

She did not object, probably because the stuff was cheap, and since then there was garlic and vinegar in the drinker four days a week outside the season. 

And I did not clean the drinker with chloride like I used to do but just re-filled it dayly.

And guess what?

I had no problems with canker from that day on.



Meanwhile I heard and read that:

- Champion Jef van Winkel experienced the same thing; No tricho with garlic and vinegar in the drinker.  

- Champion Andre Roodhooft found the same as well.

- Canker became history for Belgian National Ace Rene Mertens after he started giving the birds vinegar some years ago.

- Whenever pigeon vet Schroeder tested birds free from canker he asked the fancier if he had given them apple vinegar, which was the case indeed. 

Can they all be wrong?

About disinfecting the drinkers one more thing.

The drinkers in the lofts of W de Bruyn are never cleaned and filled automatically.

'Don't those drinkers get dirty?' I asked him.

'So what?' was his reaction.


Apple vinegar, why not try?
Nothing to lose, much to win!


The reason of this article was a question by a fellow sportsman who has my pigeons. He had weaned the squeakers and asked if he should medicate against trichomoniasis.

'Why should you?' I asked.

'Buy medicine just to be prepared. As long as the babies eat well and are vital leave them alone and check the beaks now and then.

If there are no 'threads' or slimes and you do not hear the babies in nest and and the droppings are fine stay away from medicine.

The medicine you need to have at hand just in case. The best thing that can happen to you is that it is a waste and you have to throw it away later on!'



'Of course' I said, 'some babies that you are weaning may have some canker, although they look ok.


But' by medicating you do not give them a chance to overcome the problem themselves, as a matter of fact you destroy the weapons to fight the infection.



Since I am not a scientist and canker is a problem for many I studied the numerous researches that were made in several countries.

Those nearly all led to the same conclusions.

- Especially pigeons that are often treated are vulnerable.  

- It is in the family, some birds are very vulnerable, others seem to be canker-proof.  

- A good choice, maybe even the best, is Ronidazole since it is not toxic and may be administered the whole year round, including to birds that are breeding or moulting.

But be sure you take the 10%! (1,5 gram per litre).

- Flagyl (metronidazole) is not bad either but is not solvable in water so you have to administer it in tablets in the beak.

- Spartrix (Carnidazole) is fine but one tablet is not effective. 

- The scientists found not one bird got rid of canker after a treatment of 2 days only, regardless the choice of the medicine.

- Best of all is not to medicate at all if birds are in good shape. The less you medicate the greater the effect will be in case you have to.


As for not medicating I refer to breeders and understandably not to racers that get into contact with birds of other fanciers on their way to the release station. With such birds you should always be on the alert especially in hot weather.


And naturally garlic and vinegar are not curative but as it seems preventive!