Right and wrong
I did not trust the condition of my birds and went to the vet.
"There is nothing wrong, they just lack condition, and medicate birds that are not sick does not make sense, just have some patience" he said.
Only two weeks later it turned out he was right.
The weather changed, the condition improved and they performed.
When I told a fellow sportsman what happened he said:
'I do not take chances. The first day of the week I medicate against canker, the first day of the following week against respiratory problems, the week after against coccidioses and then this procedure is repeated.
Thus I save money that you spend on a vet. Furthermore chances are small that my birds are not in good shape.'
I totally disagreed with him. I rather give my money to a vet than medicate birds against I do not know which disease, if any.
The point is that if birds are not in good shape this does not necessarily mean they are sick. Medication is meant to cure sicknesses and not to create condition.
I did not trust the condition because they were not lively and did not storm out of the loft to train.
Long way back in such cases I fooled myself by thinking 'they do not train since they want to defend their nest boxes.'
I now know better.
Spontaneous loft training is the best gauge for condition.
Fish must swim to taste well.
Pigeons must train of their own free will to perform.
But that is not it.
This bird (99-605) was a super breeder and is in super
shape. Still it stopped filling its eggs when only 5 years old.
In pigeon sport one never knows.
- Pigeons in good form have powder on their feathers.
- They are eager to take a bath, though this also depends on the weather.
- In the morning their droppings should not be spread in the nest box.
- They seem smaller and their eyes are shining.
- The underside of the toes is clean (very important!), there should not even be shit on the bands.
- Pigeons in form do not stand on one leg.
- And, as I said, the way they train is a very good gauge.
If you open the loft they must get out. If some birds stay inside you have reason to worry.
And after you have let them out and you turn round you should not see them any more, they must not have made one round but have gone in one straight line.
Babies in shape sit ready with outstretched necks to storm out with a deafening noise when you let them free and after a few seconds you must not see them.
None of them should stay in the loft either.
My pigeons seem to be 'Adeno proof'.
None of them have been affected for about 15 years.
For others Adeno ('young bird disease') is a real nightmare, since they face this problem year after year.
In case of an infection DO NOT FEED THEM for 2 or 3 days.
It will help them to recover.
Of course they should always have access to water. Some take the drinker from the loft so that they should drink less. That is a big mistake.
The pigeons literally dry out resulting in death.
Babies should be given freedom at the same time, preferably in the afternoon till they are about 3 months old.
If you normally let them out later in the day and then, one day, early morning you ask for losses.
I remember what once happened to Jos Klak.
Due to the nice weather his manager wanted to go to the beach with wife and children, he found that pigeons should train daily and he let them out at sunrise.
The weather was bright that day which even made it worse.
If you get or buy a baby that is too old to release or if you want to remove an old bird to your loft let it loose late in the evening, preferably in rainy weather with other birds.
Chances are greater the birds will stay.
It happens that every now and then a bird is missing and comes back later to fly away again for one or more days.
Probably it has found a partner somewhere else and you may finally lose it forever.
You should give it a partner and again only release it late in the day in bad weather.
Pigeons regularly need a bath, but never let them bathe in the evening.
They will get into the night still being wet since they do not move in the dark and that is a direct atttack on the form.
For some reason they do not feel like taking a bath in warm sunny weather like we humans do, but prefer to have a dive in rainy weather.
Some fanciers massage the birds in lukewarm bath after a hard race.
It will not hurt but it is a waste.
They will not put the feathers up so the water is not where it should be, on the skin.
Special bath salt is a waste as well.
Some salt and vinegar in the water is just as effective and cheaper.
If you go to a vet with droppings put these droppings in a plastic packaging, not a newspaper, which dries out.
And better take droppings of several days.
It is possible that that on one particular day no worm eggs or coccidia are separated which will put the vet on the wrong track. Take a sample of several days of several pigeons. Coccidioses can heal spontaneously when your birds rest in a dry loft.
What some do when they import pigeons is mating them amongst each other 'in order to keep them pure'.
Then you mate 'unknown' with 'unknown'.
Better mate them with your own best birds.
Then you only have one 'question mark' and it is a faster way to find out what the import is worth.
If it is a cock mate it with several hens. It is the fastest way to find out how good or bad it is.