Newsletter - May 2021

Latent infections
Start Pigeon season
The start of the pigeon season is often at a different time in the various countries. There are countries where a start is already made in March, but also countries where people are more likely to wait for the warmer season. Cold can be disastrous for the pigeons.
That is easy to understand because a person can also catch a cold just a few days after he or she has had a freezing cold. The name cold says it all. Getting snotty and drooping from "catching a cold". These infections that one seems to get, who likely “fall out of the air”. Of course not. Humans and all cary several infections with them that are innocently, or rather, patiently waiting for the circumstances to become suitable to take their hit.

Various viruses and bacteria
This is no different with pigeons. Pigeons can often be regarded as breeding vessels for infections. If we think of ectoparasites, we end up with lice and quill mites. Endoparasites are the worms and the protozoans, such as the Trichomonas and the Coccidiosis. But in addition, various viruses occur in pigeons. The circovirus, Adeno, Paramyxo, Herpes, Rota and so on. But the bacteria that pigeons can carry to mycoplasms and Chlamydiae are also a long list. Salmonella, E. Coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococci, Streptococcus, Enterobacter and so on and so on.

Under normal circumstances, pigeons all seem to experience little inconvenience from this. These infections often act like latent infections. So infections that do exist, but that cause little nuisance to the pigeons under normal circumstances. Only when the conditions for these attackers improve can these infections break through the defenses of the immune system.

Healthy gut
There is a certain balance between the immune system and the attackers. The immune system is constantly stimulated to stay alert. The bacteria, viruses, etc. make contact with the immune cells and they arm themselves against a larger attack because they know that the attackers are nearby. The microbiome in the healthy intestine helps to keep the potentially pathogenic bacteria invisible. Each bacterial species fights for its own survival.
As long as the conditions do not become favorable for the potential pathogens, things can go well for a long time. This way it can go well for a long time outside the racing season. Well in the autumn during the moulting period, certain pigeons can sink through the ice and get intestinal complaints. In combination with the cold of the autumn, other pigeons can also suffer from wetness due to the manifestation of the Chlamydia. Also known as the cause of the Ornithosis. The circumstances have then become favorable for these attackers. It will become even easier for them if pigeons are given moderate food and no extra support.
Other pigeons that are less sensitive can cope with the same conditions and nothing will happen to them. So there are many factors that can help to turn the balance to an unfavorable side for the pigeons.
In early spring, pigeons that have managed to hold their own in the winter against the attackers can suddenly develop symptoms due to the stress of basketing and the confrontation with the cold during the first flights. They can then put so much energy into the defense against the attackers that there is no more energy left to invest in building the form.
Practice shows that support with resistance-supporting preparations such as the Bony SGR and the Bony Sambuccaplus and others can make it easy for the pigeons to cope with these attackers. Pigeons that are already in heavy combat with the attackers elsewhere are therefore often passed on the results list by these supported pigeons.
However, there are always circumstances in which the pressure on the immune system becomes so high that intervention is necessary because there is a tendency for the infections to become clinically manifest. In other words, the pigeons become clinically ill and have symptoms of sneezing, head scratching, lots of feather plucking and so on. Most enthusiasts notice this quickly and then take appropriate measures. If the weather is then more favorable for the pigeons to fly in, these complaints do not have to repeat themselves.
Old habits
Over the years, a stainless custom has developed to preventively disinfect the pigeons after the flights. Old habits are often difficult to unlearn, I know enough fanciers who sleep badly if they have not disinfected their pigeons after the flight.
Whether there is a need to disinfect after the flight therefore depends on several circumstances. If pigeons are in top condition, the disinfection can have an inhibiting effect on the flight performance. This is something that is hardly ever considered. This phenomenon means that I often advise against giving all pigeons a disinfection with well-playing fanciers. It is often not necessary. Individual treatment of the weaker late-coming brothers is often sufficient. Latent infections that want to become manifest and lead to a clinical outbreak are prevented from spreading over the loft and thus also attacking the well-flying pigeons. Pigeons that deliver top performances deserve a keen eye fancier.
There is also a category of enthusiasts who do not take care of the pigeons so closely and still think that in the contemporary pigeon sport one can still achieve top performances with cheap food and water. Well exceptions always confirm the rule. But in general more is needed today.
There are also enthusiasts who disinfect vigorously every week, as they call it and do not shy away from shaking a bag in the drinking jar three to four times a week. This has been done for overty years and cannot be dissuaded from it. This practice dates back to the 1970s and 1980s when even governments recommended adding antibiotics to pig and chicken feed in order to improve manure performance. At that time there was an illusion that all problems could be solved with antibiotics. Just as it was believed in the 50s and 60s to be able to handle stress better with the promotion of smoking. Doctors often prescribed cigarettes for the stress.
But just as cigarettes are not good for health, the unbridled use of antibiotics is not. Antibiotics must be used sensibly and can thus reduce problems and enable top performance. That is not the same as shaking something in the drinking pot three to four times every week. In the long term, people often encounter themselves. This habit keeps the gut microbiome under pressure.
Famous are the outbreaks of clinical paratyphoid in enthusiasts who give an antibiotic for two to three weeks in the winter against possible contamination with salmonella. I do not want to feed the fanciers, who had no problems with anything before the cure, but two to three weeks after the cure suddenly have manifest paratyphoid with pigeons with thick wings. The explanation is simple. By giving these cures, all bacteria will be taken back. Not just the salmonella. The latter is often quite resistant to the agents used, in contrast to the rest of the microbiome. Instead of going forward, people are farming backwards. After all, the bacteria in the microbiome also get hit from which they often recover less quickly than the salmonella. He laughs in his sleeve and sees his chance to multiply strongly as a result and to achieve a clinical outbreak because the rest of the microbiome has been delayed and the salmonella is no longer able to keep the salmonella in check.

Moral of this newsletter?
Make sure that the pigeons are supported with natural defense-promoting agents so that they can develop a strong and healthy microbiome. I dare to say that if one knows how to keep the intestines of a pigeon optimally healthy, one is well on the way to a fun racing season. Avoid all kinds of preventive treatments without knowing if they are necessary at all.
Remain critical
Also be critical during the pigeon season. Coupling treatments of all pigeons in a loft is often not necessary at all for routine flight supervision in well-playing lofts. Realize that unnecessary treatment of pigeons in top form is often an attack on the microbiome of the intestine, so that the pigeons have to adapt to this again, so that the top is no longer achieved. Several super-playing fanciers have entrusted me in recent years that the pigeons flew so well that they did not dare to give anything for fear that it would backfire. A prerequisite for this is that as a fancier one knows how to create the conditions, so that the pigeons can on the one hand maintain the strongest possible microbiome. And on the other hand, has an eye open for small clues that something is wrong and moves the pawns in time to restore the balance. And don't believe everyone uses the jars of antibiotics for this. Even if that is a story that is difficult to disprove.
Good luck, Peter Boskamp
Peter Boskamp