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More than words Part 2

This is Part 2 of a series of articles, which are graced by photos. Photos may make things more clear than words. They may bring the news or may be interesting since they are old and historic. Hopefully you will enjoy both articles and photos.

Means to prevent sicknesses.

Older fanciers in particular often complain that it has become far more difficult to keep birds in good health than in the past.
How right they are.
Pigeons we raise nowadays lack natural health and immunity more than before and they are more vulnerable to attacks from bacteria and viruses of all kinds.
Of course those sicknesses also existed in the past but they were rare then, fanciers did not even know the terms of which have become household words now.
‘How come?’ one may wonder?
It is the way that we kept our pigeons and the pharmaceutics that are to blame.
The progress that was made by science enabled us to overcome diseases that we could not fight in the past since there were no vets that specialised in pigeons nor specific medicine; if a pigeon got sick that was the end of it in most cases.
It was ‘the survival of the fittest’.
How much things have changed. Especially canker, E coli, Adeno, circo virus and salmonella have become a plague for some.
Paramyxo is another ‘new’ disease (the first out break in Belgium was in 1984) but this should not be a problem, since we have perfect vaccines.
Canker and Adeno is another story though.
As for canker we notice an alarming resistance and Adeno may attack any pigeon of any fancier at any time.
The only thing you can do in case of Adeno so far is pray.
So we may conclude that we paid a price for the progress that science made.

And the bad news is that there is no way back; we can only try to make things less badly by reducing the use of antibiotics as much as possible.
‘As much as possible’ does not mean ‘totally’ of course but it is high time we are aware of the consequences and be careful.
If in the same loft and with the same care two babies get sick and others stay healthy we should get rid of the sick ones.
It is certainly a big mistake to medicate all birds in order to cure two.
You can compare this with humans.
Say you have a classroom with 30 students. If two of them would have a headache only a fool would give all 30 aspirins.

The main factors that endanger the health of pigeons are:

a. Contact with other birds.
b. Overpopulation.
c. Stress.

It is especially contacts with other birds (‘a’) that are a constant threat.
While moving from one place to another both humans and animals take bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites with them.
Pigeons are different from other livestock since there are pigeon shows and races so that there are no bounds literally.
Apart from that pigeons are transmitted more than other birds and together with the birds pathogens are spread.
There is nothing we can do about that, transmitting birds is in the nature of this sport, but we can do our best to reduce health problems.
A fundamental rule to prevent diseases is that birds carrying and therefore spreading pathogens are not allowed to be amidst healthy ones; thus we protect the latter from repeated attacks by pathogens.
Furthermore we should try to improve the immune system as much as we can but as I said there are limits. Sometimes we have no other choice than to medicate. If one in a flock has hairworms even the best bird of the world might be infected, since no pigeon has ‘worm proof intestines’.
The roots of pigeon sport are in Belgium and sometimes people say that nowadays both the good and bad things come from Belgium too.
Take paramyxo for argument’s sake.
The first out breaks were in Belgium, then it spread to surrounding countries and later on all over the world.

Overpopulation is another cause of a lot of trouble.
Fanciers are aware of that but many seem to be stubborn since there are still too many lofts and too many baskets in which there are too many birds.
When I see fanciers fill baskets with as many pigeons as they can I know these are no champions and will never be.
It is also very stressful for the birds.
In Western Europe out breaks of Adeno and E Coli (nowadays also called ‘young bird disease’ since it has become so common and wide spread) often take place with youngsters after the first tosses.
‘This is due to the stress that is involved’ scientists say.
‘Why did they not get sick after the first tosses in the past?’ one may wonder since circumstances in the baskets were worse then.
The answer is that the immune system of ‘nowadays pigeons’ has been undermined.
The abuse of medicine resulted in stronger pathogens, new pathogens that are developing and more resistant variants of old ones.
Too many fanciers do not realise that medicine are developed to cure sick birds and not to make them winners.

So pigeons may infect each other but we must also be on the alert for mice and rats. Those carriers of numerous pathogens walk on the feed, eat from the feed, urinate on the feed and are a serious threat to the flock therefore.
Investigations in Germany have shown that they are the main cause of salmonella; so we should not allow those little black and brown bastards into the lofts.
Rats and mice are to be found at places where there is feed, therefore fanciers who have always feed available do not realise how great a risk they take.

As I said we cannot ignore the progress that science has made, there is no way back and at times we just have to take refuge to medicine.
But medication should be done properly.
Some fanciers do half the job only; they give too little or stop too soon and it is well known that ‘not enough of the medicine’ may be more harmful than ‘too much’! ‘Finish the cure’ doctors say to young mothers when a baby gets sick.
In case of an under dose the pathogen (either bacteria or viruses) will fall down but stand up again.
The next time we medicate the pathogen will just shake and finally…
It will knock YOU down!!


Nowadays we have the knowledge and the means that we did not have in the past but we had to pay a price: Birds with a poor immune system.

Fanciers who think that medicine and stuff will make their birds better racers are wrong.

Carton boxes are good to transport birds that are not yours; thus you avoid contact.

A double set of drinkers that are switched (one in the loft and one upside down outside) may help to prevent canker since trichomoniasis if any, will not survive in a drinker that is not filled with water.

Feeders like these are handy but unfit for racers since these should have their daily ration. Another bad thing is that the feed in it will attract mice and rats.

In cities where fanciers do not have yards pigeons are kept on top of buildings but they should not be allowed to be on platforms like these.

Dust in the water just cannot be good, drinkers on a heightening may help.

A basket that is so overcrowded does not belong to a champion.