In retrospect it appears that we've been fighting the "Adenovirus - E. coli complex" or perhaps even the "Circovirus - any opportunist" type of infection
in 1998, 1999, and in the year 2000 in the beginning of the season. Susceptible young birds with an under developed immune
system quickly became the victims and perished.
It is in these times of the more quiet winter months (Nov. 2000) when the planning for the coming year guides the mind to any possible causes of these infections. In each of these years mentioned, the young birds were treated aggressively against canker upon arriving. The antibiotics used for this purpose have the disadvantage of removing susceptible bacteria from the gastro-intestinal tract, thereby leading to a less diverse population of the normal and benign inhabitants. Furthermore, the concentration of the bacterial flora is also diminished. Both of these effects are undesirable. It appears that a high concentration of a very diverse gastro-intestinal bacterial flora is beneficial for health as these normal inhabitants cause a somewhat acidic environment (the effect of lactobacilli among others) which prevents undesirable bacteria from settling there. These beneficial inhabitants also release various substances which are toxic to other newly arriving bacteria.
The year 2001 will give us the opportunity to improve on past management practices. The birds will find beneficial bacteria, i.e. Probiotics, from various sources as well as occasionally Polytonin A complex vitamins and vitamin C in the water for at least their first 4 weeks here and will not be given any prophylactic antibiotics during this time. These probiotics do not only prevent pathogens from invading the gastro-intetinal tract but also enhance the birds' immunity in general. These probiotics will be propagated in an egg-milk mixture.
The vitamins C and Polytonin Complex are beneficial, especially during periods of stress. Stress will be kept to a minimum from the time of arrival by giving them access to a large aviary during the light phase of the day. Stress causes the release of corticosteroids from the adrenal gland and these lower the immunity as much as if synthetic ones were given.The enviromnment will be further improved through the installation of a fan to put more fresh air into the loft.
It is hoped that better immunity of the young birds will translate into less problems with disease.
Further details will be found in the pages of the Alberta Classic Diary.
Darkening will begin at the time of the birds' arrival. The day will be between 07:00 hours and 17:00 hours. The daily exercise period will be between 08:10 hours and 09:10 hours except in inclement weather or before a long toss.
We will train these youngsters up to 50 miles prior to the first race and give 25 mile tosses between races. Perhaps train a few with short tosses
The above was our intention for the year 2001. However, circumstances dictated to us to make changes and adapt. The presence of adenovirus makes villans out of the otherwise beneficial probiotics and allows them to invade the birds' body leading to "stagnant fluid in the crop".