Resolving Issues in the Breeding Loft

Well its just about breeding season again!

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to treat your entire loft for canker. Be sure to change the canker medication you use every now and then to reduce the possibility of developing a medicine-resistant strain in your loft.

Many fanciers opt to use a 4 in 1 as preventative treatment, which treats canker, coccidiosis, e.coli, and salmonella in one simple treatment. Additionally, a de-wormer can be safely used before there are babies in the nest. Small stable colonies of canker, e.coli and coccidiosis are normal inhabitants within the pigeon’s body. Extra stress during the breeding season can cause these populations to gain traction and cause both adults and babies to become symptomatic. Better than any medicine treatment or supplement, the key is to practice good husbandry! Frequently cleaning drinkers and providing fresh water is probably the number one thing we can do for our birds to reduce the spread of disease!

Pairing

Before putting a new pair together, it can be helpful to place the birds in a divided nestbox where both birds can see each other. This setup especially helps with aggressive cocks, who may drive a hen too aggressively when she may not be receptive. Provide the cock with a nest bowl where he can call to the hen. Providing both birds nesting material such as tobacco stems will also increase pairing and breeding activity. After a few days, once the hen appears to be interested, remove the divider and allow both birds to meet.

Infertility

Infertility issues can stem from either the hen or cock. Generally, if eggs appear normal and contain a normal sized yolk but no chick forms, this is normally the result of an infertile, old, or very young cock failing to inseminate the hen. Cock fertility tablets can be given to increase libido and improve overall physical condition. Feathers around the vent of both cock and hen can be trimmed back with scissors before the start of breeding season to increase cloacal contact and increased fertility. Cut feathers around the vent rather than pull them, as pulled feathers quickly regrow.

A month or so before breeding season, increase the amount of Vitamin E in the diet. Vitamin E is shown to increase libido in both the cock and hen. Wheat germ oil is very high in vitamin E (255 mg/100g), with the highest content of vitamin E of any food that has not undergone prior preparation or vitamin fortification. Sunflower seeds are also very high in vitamin E. Take caution with feeding oils and/or fatty seeds/nuts like sunflower (also peanuts) as they can spoil easily and cause issues in the crop. Store oils and oily nuts/seeds out of the sunlight, purchase smaller amounts more frequently, and store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

Not Laying

E.coli. infections of the uterus can lead to chronic infertility. Separate any hens (which are still breeding age) which have stopped laying, treat with Amoxicillin and Ideal pills for 10 days.

Egg Bound Hens

Be sure to have several types of grit available year-round for all birds, double check that your grit has calcium, vitamin D3 and magnesium included in the mix, or you will need to supplement this separately. A lack of these key minerals may result in soft shelled eggs, which can cause egg-binding in the hen. Egg-binding can be fatal. Eggs may break and cut into the lining of the reproductive tract and cause bleeding. Sepsis may result due to the breakdown of the egg contents and bacterial growth, as well as their inability to pass excrement.

Old hens are more susceptible to egg-laying issues, especially when they are nearing the end of their reproductive years, as their reproductive tract muscles are not as strong and the last few eggs they pass may also be softer or irregular.

If you experience a hen which appears hunched over and depressed, fluid or egg contents in the feathers around the vent, and/or sometimes unable to move her legs or tail (the egg can put pressure on the spinal cord), it’s time to bring her to a warm, dark and quiet location. If it not too cold/windy where the hen is housed, soak her in a warm bath and gently massage her back to relax the muscles, for about 10 minutes. Gently dry the hen and offer her a heating pad on level 1, although it is important that she be able to move off of the heat source if she chooses. A few drops of oil can be given orally, and a lubricant can also be inserted via 1cc syringe into the vent of the hen. Give calcium liquid orally as calcium helps to induces muscle contractions. Return the hen to her warm, dark and quiet location, repeat as necessary every few hours. If the hen is of value/importance and the above fails to produce an egg, bring her to a vet where they can further assist her.

Dead-in-shell

If chicks die in the shell before hatching out, add Breeding Preparation to the drinking water. More often than not, this is due to an iodine deficiency in the hen. Iodine naturally occurs in fertile soil, but when the same food crops are planted on the same plot over a long period of time, minerals are not cycled back into the soil and mineral deficient food is produced. If Iodine added to the water does not remedy the situation, your birds may be experiencing a form of paratyphoid, but this usually will have manifested itself prior to the breeding season.

Splay-leg and Rickets

A lack of calcium, vitamin D3, and magnesium can also be detrimental to the formation of healthy bones in the growing chick, and may result in splay-leg and/or rickets. Chicks with splay-leg appear as if they are doing the splits in their nest bowl. Splay-leg can also be caused by poor or no nesting material in the nest bowl. Legs can be bound together, and the leg position corrected if caught early enough.

Young birds with rickets are unable to fully stand, misshapen beak or keel, bowed legs, drooping wings, hard bumps on the wings and legs. These bumps are actually small fissures in soft bone that have calcified (healed on their own). Rickets can also occur in adult hens, especially towards the end of the breeding season when they have depleted the calcium reserves stored in their bones. Hens may show a lack of appetite, be fluffed up and depressed, and be more prone to bone breaks.

Bone mineralization is a constant process and therefore correction of dietary deficiencies or imbalances can ease the condition if identified early enough.

Fostering Chicks

If foster pairs are not available to take on abandoned chicks, babies can be hand-fed. It’s smart to have a supply of hand-feeding formula such as Exact on hand. Many different types of feeding syringes are available, try a few and see which you prefer. After warming up the chick, fill the crop until it feels like a soft water balloon using slightly warm (but not hot!) formula. Overfilling the crop can cause damage to the tissues and result in infection. Check the crop every several hours, feeding again only when the crop is empty.

 

All of us at JEDDS hope you enjoy another season of happy and healthy birds!!

 

Prevention is the Best Medicine

Young Bird season (and Show season) tests the undeveloped immune system of our birds and many are bound to get sick, so make a plan to stay ahead of the game– build up their immune system and gut flora well before the first race or show. It’s also good practice to keep a few basic medications in your cabinet for the birds that have to be pulled out of your loft (the favorite go-to is Tony’s Treasures).

Pigeons are susceptible to a number of diseases, two of which can present neurological symptoms such as spinning and head twisting. Both Paramyxovirus (PMV) and Paratyphoid share common symptoms and it can sometimes be difficult to tell the two apart.

PMV is the most likely culprit for birds showing neurological symptoms. Birds are often unable to eat and drink due to their physical instability. PMV also affects the kidneys so birds drink excessively when they can and can have very loose droppings. It is not necessarily fatal so with proper care and observation, your birds can survive it.

 

Responding to Paramyxovirus:

  • Because PMV is a virus, it is unable to be treated/cured with medicine.
  • Remove birds that are showing symptoms. If supportive care is to be given, make sure food and water is within reach and monitor weight, birds may need to be tube fed.
  • Treat any secondary infections with antibiotics. *Some fanciers suggest using Enrofloxin for 10 days along with DMG 15 for 21 days to birds showing symptoms, 10 days for the rest of the flock – this rules out Paratyphoid and eliminates E.coli infection.
  • Vaccinate birds in loft with La Sota Vaccine by administering in the drinking water. This vaccine has a rapid titer/immune response, although offers only a temporary immunity for about 4-6 months. Observe the remaining birds in the loft and continue to remove birds that show symptoms.

Paratyphoid, sometimes called Salmonella, is a bacterial infection which can cause loss of appetite, diarrhea / green slimey droppings (sometimes with blood), increased thirst, stiffening of the joints (they may be unwilling to fly). Chronic Salmonella can affect the birds internal organs, as well as visible swelling of the wing and leg joints. Sometimes neurological symptoms can present. At this stage, Paratyphoid is very likely fatal, and occurs quickly.

In either case, immediately provide immunostimulants and probiotics as well as electrolytes (to combat dehydration). Remember, if you jump to treat your entire team with medicine, birds who are not clinically sick are now brought down and out of condition. Observation is key. Also, this is a great time to disinfect the loft and your crates.

To treat Paratyphoid:

  • Remove young birds in your team that are already showing symptoms, and treat using Enrofloxin, also make sure to provide a liver support supplement (Lewerstim and/or DMG 15).
  • Observe the remaining birds in the loft. If other birds seem to be getting ill, treat with Amoxicillin and/or Furaltadone. Also consider Avio’s Typhoid Cure or Chevita’s Furazolidon
  • If many birds in the loft are sick, treat the whole loft with Enrofloxin/ Lewerstim  and/or DMG 15.
  • Some fliers suggest vaccinating all remaining non-symptomatic birds in the loft (KM-1 Salmonella Vaccine), while continuing to remove any birds that present symptoms

 

*photo credit chevita.com

 

Tis the Season… for Adenocoli

 

With the start of Young Bird racing season underway, birds who once appeared at the top of their game may start to show signs of sickness. As young pigeons with fairly immature immune systems co-mingle in shipping crates with birds from other lofts under close and often stressful conditions, sickness is bound to find opportunities to spread.

The best thing we can do for our birds is to support their immune systems well before race day. With so many race supplements available on the market it is sometimes difficult to prioritize Apple Cider Vinegar, Garlic Juice, Oregano, and/or Probiotics into our supplement schedule, yet really these are the most important.

Do NOT use antibiotics as preventative treatment, this really is asking for trouble, weakening the bird as well as multiplying the opportunity for the growth of drug-resistant bacteria in our lofts!! Instead focus on the bird’s immune system and strengthening the gut flora for increased health and resistance.

Sometimes even after all we do to prepare our birds for race day, they may still come home looking “off”. If symptoms begin to show such as lack of appetite, undigested food in the crop, increased thirst, diarrhea, lethargy, vomiting, and loss of body condition, these are the beginnings signs your birds may have Adenocoli virus, a combination of both Adeno virus Type-1 and an E.coli infection. Not all birds in the loft will show symptoms at the same time or even at all, often just 5% will be symptomatic.

Expect other secondary infections (especially canker or respiratory) to occur during and after the outbreak of the virus, as the bird’s immune system will continue to be weakened for several weeks. Remember, don’t be disheartened if after it seems like the virus has run its course, birds that were not previously sick are now showing symptoms!

Treatment:

  1. Use an immune stimulant like Viroban, Medimune, and/or Vita Duif
  2. Next add Adenozap, DMG-15 or Lewerstim (for liver support), and Amoxicillin 10% (to treat secondary infections) to the water and treat for 7 consecutive days. Recovery may take up to one week.
  3. Follow up with a good Prebiotic/Probiotic!

Other Important Notes:

  • Keep loft clean and dry. Depending on your loft husbandry beliefs it may be time to disinfect perches, feeders, drinkers and crates.
  • Reduce training frequency and distance. Keep sick birds home from the races this week. Limiting stress and increasing rest means your team may be able to recover more quickly and continue the race season.
  • Do not ship symptomatic and out of condition birds. These sick birds do not have the necessary energy reserves and will do poorly at the races or may not return home at all.
  • Following treatment,  loft fly and observe. If they are active around the loft- slowly resume road training. For birds that were obviously sick and out of condition they may require an additional 1 week of rest following treatment depending on severity of symptoms.

The Benefits of Anise Oil


Anise Oil is derived from the perennial herbal plant, Anise or Aniseed. Pigeons are attracted to the sweet spicy aroma of Anise oil, which is often put on the food or grit to increase appetite and trapping success in racing lofts. This oil can also be used to help settle or re-settle birds in new lofts or boxes.But Anise Oil is so much more than a trapping or re-settling oil!

Anise oil has an impressive list of benefits for our pigeons;

  • Promotes digestive health
  • Increases libido
  • Helps to eliminate congestion in the respiratory tract
  • Acts as a insecticide in the feed
  • Helps to treat and prevent intestinal worms
  • Displays potent antioxidant action
  • Has antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties
  • Stimulates blood circulation
  • Boosts the metabolism and nervous system
  • Acts as a pain reliever for muscle pains and cramps
  • Has a calming effect

While inexpensive and often overlooked, Anise Oil contains massive benefits for our pigeons and should be in every fanciers arsenal!


Preventing PMV-1 with Lasota Vaccine

While PMV-1 Vaccine continues to be unavailable in the US legally, other temporary protection is available. We once again have Lasota Vaccine in stock! Order HERE
 
A recent journal article compared the effectiveness of treating Pigeon PMV with the Newcastle Vaccine available for chickens (ND Vaccine), compared against a local PMV-1 Vaccine, and a control group receiving no vaccine. 
 
The results show while the PMV-1 vaccine offered 100% protection/survivability to the virus, the ND Vaccine offered a more rapid and higher titer/immune response. ND vaccinated birds did receive protection to the PMV virus temporarily, with greatest protection around 2 months, and antibodies persisting for at least 6 months. ND vaccinate birds showed PMV antibody titers decreasing gradually to their lowest titers by the 12th month.
 
It was found that the ND Vaccine resulted in 50% survivability of birds challenged by the virus. In comparison, non-vaccinated birds experienced only a 10% survivability rate against PMV-1.
 
In summary- while the Newcastle Vaccine only offers temporary protection for our pigeons, the titer/immune response is rapid and does protect pigeons against PMV-1 for at least 4-6 months. Although the survivability rate when using Newcastle Vaccine is only 50%, this still offers our birds an additional 40% chance of surviving  (given the lack of PMV-1 specific vaccines on the market) compared to the non-vaccinated survival rate.

We hope to see a PMV-1 vaccine back in the US market soon, as racing and show pigeons are in dire need of protection. Furthermore, our unvaccinated birds pose a risk to other poultry throughout the country! Keep your birds healthy with oregano or apple cider vinegar in the water, as well as the occasional treatment of medicine a few times throughout the year. Healthy birds are less likely to be susceptible to viruses and more likely to survive the challenge. Additionally, until a PMV-1 vaccine is once again available, treat your birds with the Newcastle Vaccine (LaSota strain), and rest easier knowing you are giving your birds a fighting chance.

See the journal article here:

Season Reminders- July, 2016

Article by: Greg McKnight Anaheim, California USA

Email: gregmcknight92804@msn.com

Bring the outside in, which in this case would be minerals, grits, pick stone, vegetables, carrot corn, mineral salts and such.


 

Modified light system is used! Reminder, if you haven’t already, please vaccinate for PMV & POX. I know currently in America both products are not manufactured. La Sota for PMV can be substituted and Flowers of Sulphur in the grit should be used if you can’t locate a pox vaccine.

With this being one of the hottest months, I would pull flights and shut them down. Remember, when pulling flights, you don’t have to pre-cut & let dry beforehand if birds are on their 3rd flight. Crate them up, since this will get them excited and hot, then pull the flights straight out– not on an angle that could cause damage to their follicle. Temperature of a normal pigeon is 108 degrees, so crating them on a hot day helps the blood move quicker which then makes it easier to pull flights. I usually pull the last flights (ninth and tenth). After this, return them to the loft and let them get accustomed to flying up to the perch with only eight flights. Optional tail feathers can also be pulled and I do this by pulling every other one (alternate) and then when 3/4ths of the new flights are grown out, I pull the other six tail feathers. At this point, you should shut them down for a month to grow in the new feathers. Remember, one of the down sides to this is the flight is stunted about 3/8ths of an inch for the following old bird season. But most of our money races now are in the young bird series so you don’t leave anything to chance.

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