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!
- Use an immune stimulant like Viroban, Medimune, and/or Vita Duif
- 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.
- 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.