It is a well known fact that water is a matter of life and death to all living things.
Especially Eastern people seem to be aware of that.
It always strikes me that they drink so much while for example Americans eat much.
Judging from figures that are released every now and then about health it seems our Eastern friends are doing the right thing.
It is also well known that pigeons can do without feed pretty long but a loss of 20% of their 'body water' leads to death.
Not every fanciers knows water is an excellent parameter to judge the condition of our birds.
The less they drink, the better the condition, the more they drink the poorer their condition.
Therefore many champions in old bird racing give their birds water individually so that they can see which have drunk little and which have drunk much.
Birds that have a crop full of water are birds that should not be basketed, since something is wrong with them.
Little babies that produce droppings that are too watery have a problem as well.
Of course it is the old birds that pumped them that are responsible; they drank too much and why was that?
Health problems that may be of a different kind.
Of course in hot weather pigeons will drink more than normal in order to make up for the loss of moisture.
The same like humans do.
How true this is I experienced last winter.
It was real cold and I had to leave home for 2 days.
So what did I do?
Put lots of food in the feeder and two drinkers fully filled with water in each loft. When I got back home the first thing I did was go to the loft, like most fanciers would do.
I was surprised to see how much the birds had eaten (because of the cold) and how little they had drunk (again because of the cold).
In fact they had hardly drunk anything at all.
This reminded me of many fanciers that ask me questions after they had medicated their birds in winter.
They treated against canker, salmonella or whatever and did the exact thing they should do.
They followed the prescription that the manufacturer had put on the label of the medicine; for example 5 grams per litre for say seven consecutive days and after that they felt relieved. Now there was one thing less to worry about.
But much to their disappointment they noticed that despite the medication the birds got sick later on and they did not understand.
But this is not strange at all.
The manufacturer of the medicine may have calculated thoroughly the appropriate dose (how many grams per gallon) but he has one problem.
He does not know how much the birds will drink.
In cold weather birds may drink less than 20 percent of what they normally drink.
So they will get only 20 percent of the required medicine.
In hot weather however birds may drink 3 times more than normal.
If they are treated then they will get medicine that is 3 times more that required.
So what we see is an enormous difference in the drinking habits in cold weather and in warm weather which the manufacturer of the medicine has not taken into consideration.
The result is that in cold weather the treatment is insufficient, birds may still get sick and too little of the medicine will also enhance natural resistance.
Too much of the medicine on the other hand will result in a dramatic fall in condition.
For that reason it has become trendy to administer medicine through the feed that has been made sticky with sugared water for example.
Another disadvantage of putting medicine or vitamins into the water is that some will give it a taste that birds do not like.
The result may be that they drink in gutters or somewhere else outside and if they 'know' there is water in the drinker on home coming from a race this might be a reason for them to make a stop on their way home to drink, thus losing costly time.
Once a scientist told me that vitamins may cause an outbreak of Coli.
I did not understand.
Then he said that in case Adeno is on the point of attacking drinking less than normal will disturb the digestion and open the gate for the virus.
If there are vitamins in the drinker they may give the water such a bad taste that birds do not like it, therefore they drink less and' problems!
You can reduce an out break of Adeno by always serving clean water or water with some apple vinegar.
Pigeons infect each other with trichomoniasis (canker) through the drinker mainly.
Especially in water that is pretty warm the protozoa develop and spread fast.
Therefore one should be on the alert for canker in warm weather.
What some people do is refresh the drinker some times per day.
Others only medicate against canker in hot weather.
Especially birds that have been in the baskets for a longer time and have drunk water that was pretty warm are vulnerable.
Therefore it is advisable to treat directly after home coming from a race in warm weather.
When temperatures are close to zero the danger of canker is very little which is the reason that I never medicate in winter.
In case birds are treated either through the drinker, with tablets or through the feed it is of the utmost importance to treat ALL birds together.
Finally it is important to know that most vitamins and medicine expire pretty soon in water; thus losing their efficiency and it even may become toxic.
If the water gets another colour you have reason to assume the stuff in it has expired.
Again this will happen faster in warm weather.