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Breeding in cold weather

On a cold winter day


It is December and my birds are on eggs.

Today at least 70% of the fanciers in Holland and Belgium mate their birds at the end of November.

Birds do not feel like mating late in the fall since it is cold and the days are short.

Therefore most fanciers prepare them by increasing daylight hours 10 days before 'mating day' in order to make the birds hotter.

They do so because bands of the following year become available January 1st and by breeding as early as possible they get youngsters that are more matured when the racing season starts.

Novices that also have their birds on eggs wonder if they should medicate against canker now. They are unsure since most fanciers medicate when the birds are on eggs but now the situation is different.


It is well known that pigeons hardly drink in real cold weather.

Therefore it is understandable that in case there would be medicine in the water they would not get enough of it since the prescribed doses is based on normal weather conditions when birds eat and drink as usual.

Furthermore trichomonads can hardly survive in cold water, not to speak about multiplying themselves.

So canker should not be a real problem when temperatures are around zero C.

We should also take into consideration that Ronidazole is the most popular anti-canker treatment today.

It is supposed to be the safest and therefore it may be administered during pairing, racing and even when the birds are moulting.

But the problem is that today it is only available in the 2,5 % or 5% formula while 15% is the proper dose.

For some families of birds even 15% is not enough since they lost immunity due to the abuse of the medicine throughout the years.

Now it may be clear that putting the '5% formula' in the drinker in cold weather is a

waste and absolutely nonsense.


December 22nd 2007, in front of my house. Beautiful but cold which has its consequences for the birds.


So in case you medicate in cold weather, whether it is against canker or other sicknesses the best thing is to do it through the feed that is made sticky by sugared water, glucose or other stuff.

In fact most champions in Holland and Belgium medicate via the feed today.

On the labels of the medicine it mostly says: '5 grams per litre/gallon' or something like that. No feed is mentioned.

A GOLDEN RULE is the following:

What you should put in one litre of water you have to cleave onto 1/2 kilo of feed.



I myself do not treat at all right now.

For reasons mentioned above it makes no sense, moreover the birds look perfect.  

But I do have an anti-canker treatment at hand so that I can act immediately if I think if it is necessary.

And when do I think it is necessary?

When I hear the little babies in the nest squeak, when the feathers lay not flat on the bodies, when they stand up and when watery yellowy or greenish droppings smell.

In fact I want to act earlier than that.

Therefore I watch the babies growing up carefully to make sure that they are ok.

Fanciers should not forget that every day that the water is free from medicine is a good day. If you medicate rarely the effect will be much greater in case you need to.



Recently I got some questions about medicating against canker. People asked me if there is a link between canker and quality.

- Amongst them was this fancier who had bought himself a microscope.

He tested his birds, most of them were 've and' those that were -ve were his best.

Was this a coincidence?

Or should he get rid of the other ones in order to build up a family that is both of good quality and less vulnerable.

- Another fancier had a question which was almost opposite.

He seldom needed to treat against canker but in case he had to it was always his best that suffered most from it. Now he did not know what to do.



I can understand the first fancier.

It is normal that he felt like getting rid of 'the other ones' but he was just lucky and what he noticed was a coincidence.

The point is that no pigeon in the whole world is 'canker proof'.

Long way back a bird of mine got skinny and could hardly stand on his feet.

Since it was my very best I felt like crying and consulted a vet, or rather a scientist; Mr Lemahieu, 'the best ever' people say.

After a thorough investigation he said: 'The intestines are full of trichomonads. You are just in time but for the traditional medication you are too late'.

Three days on a row he gave the bird an injection and 2 weeks later it was ok.

To my surprise the bird never got canker any more for the rest of its life.

Later on I heard more examples of outstanding pigeons whose lives were saved by a vet since they had serious problems with canker.

It is true that real good pigeons generally speaking are healthier than average birds. But it is NOT true that they will not get canker.



As for canker you always have to be on the alert and in case birds need a treatment the best way is to treat all birds in all lofts; both breeders and racers.

And you have to treat them thoroughly, 5 days is a minimum if they are positive.

Of course you can select on canker by getting rid of those birds that are most vulnerable.

But then you may end up with a family that can resist attacks of trichomonads but that lack quality at the same time.

Selection is THE real secret of champions.

But it should be based on both results and natural health (immunity).