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The doctor de Weerd interview (part two of two)

Also in this edition doctor the Weerd, the Dutch vet, gives his ideas of diseases and problems that pigeon fanciers may have to deal with. In simple wordings he talks about things that should belong to the basic knowledge of every pigeon fancier. Of course dr. De Weerd is not the Godfather of all vets but you cannot deny he has a good reputation and listening to vets with a good reputation might make you a better racer. So let's listen.


'Adeno/coli' as many people mention it, is the plague of these days. Why has it become such a problem and was it never in the old days many people wonder. Some say it is because of the use of cortisone. It is well known numerous people used it or better abused it to stop the moult. They claim this has weakened the natural resistance of birds so much that new diseases such as Adeno and Coli came up. Are they right or not? Others say Adeno/Coli is in the family, they think it is hereditary and that's why some families of birds should be more vulnerable than others. A third group means 'it is in the loft'. Once the loft is infected fanciers will encounter with problems year after year. What do you think? Dr de Weerd: As for a relation between the use of cortisone and 'Adeno/Coli' nothing has scientifically been proven yet. But this does not mean much. Where did fanciers use cortisone first? Right, in Flanders Belgium. And where were the first problems with 'Adeno/Coli?' Right, again in Flanders Belgium. I am much on the road and everywhere I notice the same thing: The greatest problems with 'Adeno/Coli' are to be found where cortisone is or was (ab)used most. This may be a coincidence but I do not believe much in coincidence. If it is in the family? Of course many things in the life of humans and animals are hereditary (so in the family) but I do not think that is a fact here. I do not think either the environment is responsible, so in my opinion people who say 'it is in the loft' are wrong. You know what I think? Unfortunately any pigeon can get 'Adeno/Coli' at any time. No bird is safe for it and I indeed think pigeon fanciers created the problems themselves by stopping the moult artificially by means of cortisone.


Recently It has become a fashion to give pigeons vinegar from apples which is supposed to reduce an outbreak of 'Adeno/coli' due to the pH. Vinegar belongs, as you know quite well, to a broad category of chemical substances marked by a sour taste. Most body functions depend on the maintenance of balance between acids and bases in cells, blood and other body fluids. Others give yoghurt, also probiotics (an addition of good bacteria) have become popular among fanciers especially to those who have become desperate because of the problems they encounter year after year. Is there a thing you can do to reduce an outbreak of Adeno/coli? Furthermore you hear people say that after they vaccinated the birds against paratyphoid they did not have problems with Coli. Does this make sense to you? It also seems that as for old birds hens are more vulnerable than cocks. Your reaction please? Dr de Weerd: 'Unfortunately I do not think there is one thing a fancier can do to safeguard himself for 100 percent. Why do I say for '100 percent?' Because I do think there are things that might help to reduce chances to prevent an outbreak indeed. One of them is vinegar from apples. I am a very great supporter of this stuff though I do not sell it myself. In my opinion one spoonful of vinegar in a litre water every two days reduces chances of an outbreak of Coli but, once more, no guarantee, just a smaller risk. Yoghurt might also help because of the lactobacilli it contains. About probiotics my message is short: Scientists all over the world are doubtful despite the publicity which is made for them. Pigeon magazines can only survive by publicity, I know. But a good and respectable pigeon magazine should provide any articles which might be educational to the fancier. That is the moral task towards the subscribers who pay to get the right information. Right information in the pigeon press should be more important than make some money made by adverts. I also heard the rumours that pigeons which were vaccinated against paratyphoid do not get 'Adeno/Col' but for me these are no more than rumours. Scientifically there is nothing to support this idea. That hens are more vulnerable to 'Adeno/Coli' than cocks is a fable. And you better not believe in fables. Some years ago somewhere in Holland hundreds of pigeons died only a couple of days after they were in perfect shape. It was no less than a disaster. Nobody talked about it then as there lived some 'sellers' in the area who were afraid foreigners would not buy their birds if they would know about it but I can tell you it was both cocks and hens that died by the hundreds.


If you get problems with 'Adeno/Coli' this is far more dangerous and deadly to old birds than young birds as it seems. Can you explain that? Dr de Weerd. 'People always speak about 'Adeno/Coli'. I can understand that. In many cases it is a combination of these two diseases indeed. But talking about 'Adeno/Coli' is simplifying things. In fact there are three forms: a. There is indeed 'Adeno/Coli' and it is mainly youngsters which are the victims. The Adeno type is what we call 'Adeno 1'. b. There is also colibacillose alone. Both old birds and youngsters can have problems with that and… c. There is a new form and this is the most dangerous one: 'Adeno 2'. This is the type that may pigeons kill in half a day. Suddenly they start producing yellow droppings, their crops are full of water and the birds are dead some hours later. If you are confronted with this form the only thing you can do is pray that no more birds will get it. (Note of the author: There is a Belgian vet who found out something which works spectacular. Recently this stuff was also tried out by Taiwanese fanciers who had problems and without exception they were excited. The Belgian vet says you will have a chance to save your birds for 80 percent if you act in time. I think he is too modest. I would say it works for 90 percent. The vet keeps the formula a secret.
The stuff looks like coca cola and the coincidence is that the manufacturers of Coca Cola also kept their formula a secret.


If you do not mind I have a delicate question now. We live close to each other. I know you sell vitamins (nothing wrong with that) and you know my race results. And believe it or not my race birds never get any vitamins. How come? I used to give vitamins in the past but never ever did I notice an increase in condition or better race results after. And for those many others who give vitamins to their racers what is the best timing? Dr de Weerd: 'Of course vitamins do not make you a winner. Honestly speaking I also think the role of vitamins in pigeon sport is exaggerated as far as race results are concerned. If birds are taken good care of and are healthy and if they live in a healthy environment maybe racers can do without. Vitamins are useful in case of shortages and under special conditions. For example during the moult, while breeding, after a disease or after they have to recover from a real hard race. If you do give vitamins to your racers the best day is the day between two races. If they are held in the weekend on a Wednesday for example.


When the weather is very hot and the birds will be basketed for a race some fanciers give rice which is supposed to suppress the feelings of thirst. Thus they want to prevent the birds from trying to find water on their way back home. Does rice indeed suppress feelings of thirst or do you know something better? Dr de Weerd: 'Rice is good food for pigeons but I doubt if it will suppress thirsty feelings. Maybe paddy does a bit because of the carbohydrates. Look, it is like this: On his way home a pigeon first uses glucose, later the fats and finally the own proteins. For the process of combustion much water is required. Therefore I am a great supporter of electrolytes certainly in hot weather when birds need much water. I also support small seeds and peanuts, because of the fats. (Note of the author: Many champions give their birds in hot weather food which was soaked in water before a race. When a bird which has been basketed has food in the crop water is needed to digest the food. If the birds have no chance to drink in the basket or if they cannot find their way to the water pan they are chanceless birds as they have to distract water from the body. That's why giving the birds food soaked in water before a race in hot weather is advisable).


And what about teas, herbs, beer yeast and garlic. Some people collect herbs, dry them and make their own tea. Garlic has been praised since centuries but is it is disputed as well. Dr de Weerd: 'Beer yeast is one of the very few food additives I strongly support. Not only because of the B vitamins it contains but it also encourages a good appetite. Honestly speaking I do not know much about teas and herbs. With many herbs you surely do not do any damage, maybe they are good but watch out. Not all herbs are safe. It has been proven that for humans certain herbs are not so helpful or innocent as one makes believe. In case you give herbs they should be composed by a reliable man or firm. Do not go into the fields to collect your own herbs without knowing exactly what you are doing. As for garlic or garlic oil I cannot prove anything but I believe it is good stuff.


Is it true that pigeon pox is spread by mosquitoes? Some people use tincture of iodine to dry the pox. Does it make sense or not? Dr de Weerd: 'About mosquitoes I can be short: No doubt they spread pox. So if there are any in your loft get rid of them at any time. Iodine is good but it will always take about four weeks for the pox to dry. With or without iodine. So why use it?


'What is the reason that babies sometimes produce droppings which are much too watery when they are about 10 days old and what to do in such a case? Dr de Weerd: 'The reason is the metabolism is disturbed some way or the other. What you should do is give the birds a good product which contains lots of electrolytes.' This is often helpful. But watch out: These watery droppings may also refer to trichomoniasis. For that you have to watch out a whole year round.


I understand, but I am wondering what is the cause of the disturbance of the metabolism? Dr de Weerd: 'That is a good question. Do you want to know the truth? I just do not know. I only know you have the find the cause there.


So far the Dr de Weerd interview. As I said before he is a good vet but no more than that. He certainly is not 'Mr I know all'. I also had these interviews published in three European magazines. Not every vet agreed with everything and a dialogue followed. That is only good. When opinion A clashes with opinion B the result may be opinion C which is a better one than A or B. But before we come to that opinion C there must have been a clash between A and B. The teacher of Karl Marx (philosopher Hegel) already referred to it a long time ago. In pigeon sport should be more frankness. There should be more open discussions from which especially novices can profit. And to keep them in the sport is in the interest of all of us.