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Racing Pigeon Discussion Forum


By Gord Chalmers, DVM on Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 03:02 am:
Jeff: Oct 24th - Just caught your message while I've been overseas - yogurt contains several species of friendly bacteria that can help to protect crop and intestines from invasion by unfriendly bacteria. It can be given at any time for any length of time. I use it regularly for my birds, and often when YBs are in the nest. I understand that it needs to be given for several days at a time to establish a good poulation of friendly bacteria in the digestive system. You can repeat at any time. G.

White spots in throat?

By Gord Chalmers, DVM on Tuesday, October 24, 2000 - 02:54 am:
Tony/Gary: These spots aren't necessarily associated with candida, and in fact I'd doubt this association in most cases. Likely they are small areas of calcification or small collections of white blood cells called lymphocytes, part of the defence system, but if quite a number of birds have them, take a bird to a veterinarian who specializes in birds and have them examined more closely. In most cases they aren't worth worrying about, especially if the birds appear otherwise in good health. G. PS. Writing this from overseas, so likely can't answer further on this until I get home next week.

Garlic & brewer's yeast?

By Gord Chalmers DVM on Sunday, July 16, 2000 - 01:07 pm:
Anonymous: In keeping with the comments of others recenty, I feel it would be nice to have your name instead of this mysterious stranger. Like others, I think I'm going to stop replying to anonymous individuals. For now however..... A bit of research into scientific literature has told me that bee pollen is very much overrated as a nutrient in human or animal nutrition, and I don't see in it, much value that can't be derived elsewhere. It's the male germ seed of plants and is high in fibre.
Your ideas about Brewer's yeast are very good - it has high protein, and this means a lot of the amino acids, plus vitamins, and I wouldn't at all discourage you from using it. Your wife can't use it in the kitchen though -it's a "dead" product and won't work in the leavening process. I agree with the fancier who suggested fresh cloves of garlic, and yes, it would be fine to combine the two. Garlic pills, oils and powders are a bit questionable, as the active ingredient called allicin may well have been destroyed in the production of the oil. If there's no odor to these products there's likely also no activity. Possibly newer technology has gotten around this problem, but to be certain, get fresh cloves from the grocery store and mince them fairly finely to expose as much of the enzymes in the garlic clove that convert the basic compound called alliin, into allicin, one of the main active ingedients. Add water, shake it up well, and whatever you do, DON'T HEAT THE SOLUTION or the allicin will be destroyed if the temp gets over about 142F. Just leave it on the counter or in the fridge until you're ready to use it. Hope this helps. G.


By Gord Chalmers, DVM on Tuesday, July 18, 2000 - 01:23 pm:
Roger Mortvedt: Is the product you mentioned available through Dr Shetrone? If so, I'm vaguely familiar with the name. Thanks for the info - I (and I'm sure others as well) appreciate it. Do you have Warren's website address for his products?? Many thanks.
Other natural substances like the mineral selenium (in extremely small doses), and Vitamins C and E are also useful in supporting and giving a boost to the immune system. The wormer levamisole is also useful in this respect.
You raise a very good point about handling birds in a one-loft setup. I believe that because birds from so many diverse sources and environments are sent to these lofts, loft managers should really look seriously at some preventive approaches (such as those you've taken) to try to minimize the potential impacts that go with mixing young birds from so many different backgrounds into one common environment. These newly arrived birds bring a virtual zoo of bacterial, viral and parasitic agents with them, and with their undeveloped immune systems, these young animals are ripe for whatever is waiting to spread to them. Quite likely your approach to these facts, among others - vaccination where indicated, the use of pigeon-derived or other source of "friendly" bacteria, etc., is a major contribution to the health and well being of the whole flock. I'd encourage other loft managers in the off season to develop preventive and management programs to try to forestall major problems when all these young animals are brought together under one roof - I would hasten to add, without the constant use of antibiotics as preventives or treatments. We need to diminish the role of antibiotics whenever possible, only using them when absolutely necessary. Sorry, I'm on my soap box now and just getting into high gear, so will stop for now! Thanks again for your information.

Mites and lice?

By Gord Chalmers, DVM on Monday, July 17, 2000 - 11:31 am:
CC: If they were red mites, you'd be able to see them OK, especially when they are full of blood. They are just fast red dots with legs. Those looking for a meal are brownish and they and the red ones can best be seen if you put a white cloth in a nest or perch and leave it for a few minutes. They will crawl all over it. You have to dust nests and perches, especially where there are cracks, as the mites live there during the day and come out to swarm over the birds at night. You could have a biting midge if they are winged. Do they seem to bother the birds?? Permethrin, Malathion, etc. should deal with them too. Permethrin is a good product as it is derived from a plant source. G. By Gord Chalmers, DVM on Sunday, July 23, 2000 - 04:09 pm:
Bill: Brad's advice is pretty good - just be aware that ivermectin by mouth or injection will get ONLY lice and mites that suck a blood meal. It won't get those that live on scales, feathers, etc.. Brad is right that you are likely describing feather lice and that ivermectin on the surface of the bath water will likely help you a lot. If you have a Chinese community in your area, check with them for "Chinese chalk" which is used in the old country to kill lice, bedbugs, etc., in human dwellings. It works well in the loft against feather lice and others. Just scribble a few lines with the chalk on the walls and floor of each perch and nest box, and problem is over in a day or two. G.


By Gord Chalmers, DVM on Wednesday, August 9, 2000 - 02:56
pm: Hi Folks: Regarding adenovirus, nothing in our medicine chests will hit it or any other virus, so there is no "best" medication to use. However, it seems that adeno infection is often associated with E. coli (tending to produce vomiting), and some product that is effective against E.coli might be useful, including amoxicillin as suggested by Dr Marx. My experience with adeno in species other than pigeons tells me that it comes to the forefront when the immune system has been damaged. One of the best examples of this is massive adeno infection in young Arabian foals that are born with severely deficient immune systems. Possibly a two-pronged approach might be useful - immune stimulants as suggested by Roger Mordvedt recently, and an antibiotic. Just a thought.


By Gord Chalmers, DVM on Thursday, August 17, 2000 - 10:09 pm:
Frank: I assume that you took your birds to your veterinarian because of diarrhea in them. If you now have a bird with a paralyzed foot and droppings of other birds are very watery, you could be dealing with paramyxovirus (PMV) infection. The virus damages the kidneys and the fluid you see is very likely from the kidneys (because of the white color), not from the intestines. The paralyzed foot could be the result of the infection affecting the brain and or spinal cord. Have you vaccinated yet?? If not, it might be a good idea to get that done soon. PMV tends to spread relatively slowly in a loft, so this gives you time to vaccinate and stop it fairly quickly. Don't train or race with other fanciers or you'll spread it to their birds, not
a sporting thing to do. G.

Epsom salt?

By Gord Chalmers, DVM on Friday, June 9, 2000 - 07:46 pm:
CC/Spud: There is no place for Epsom salts in the loft. Avoid it like the plague. The old idea that it should be used to "clean out" birds is a myth - clean out of what? I ask. To use it on recently returned racing birds -again to clean them out - is just not reasonable. It doesn't kill worms, canker organisms, coccidia or bacteria. It works by drawing badly needed fluids from body tissues into the intestines and these fluids are then expelled as loose droppings - hence the idea, I suppose, of cleaning birds out. It simply dehydrates returning racers even further, something they really don't need. As I suggested in an article I wrote, if you really feel that you need to use Epsom salts, take them yourself! Don't inflict this chemical (magnesium sulfate) on your birds folks - just don't use it in drinking water for your birds.

Bent keels?

By Gord Chalmers, DVM on Wednesday, November 1, 2000 - 11:01 pm:
Peter: I assume you mean that the keels are wavy and soft. If I'm right about that, the only real cause I know of is a lack of calcium and/or vitamin D. Get some oyster shell or calcium phosphate rock chips to your birds right away. Add a multivitamin mix to the water for a day or two. Nesting material just doesn't do this to healthy pigeons with an adequate supply of oyster shell or calcium carbonate rock chips (with all due respect to the others who have answered and tried to help you with this problem). Grit is not enough - it is only for grinding. Hope this helps. G.

Optimal Feeding

By Dr. K H Frank (Karl) ( - on Friday, December 29, 2000 - 01:23 pm:
Please bear with me as I feel the need to summarize the previous postings regarding the theoretical aspects of optimal feeding: The bird returns from a strenuous race during which it used a lot of fat to fuel the muscles of flight. "Burning" this fat required the concomitant "burning" of glucose (obtained from the splitting of stored glycogen, the stores of which are always quite limited) because without any glucose ketosis and acidosis would surely follow just like in the state of uncontrolled diabetis. This would eventually lead to coma and death. I see our job as pigeon fanciers and sportsmen to supply the pigeon with everything it needs so that it can reach optimal condition, and what it needs most on returning from a race is glucose so that it can restore the stores of glycogen. Vitamins are of benefit here as they are required by many enzymes which catalyze the reactions associated with "rebuilding" the bird. It is therefore a sensible approach in practice to supply glucose and vitamins in the water and barley or some other carbohydrate rich feed to a returning bird. After a day or so of carbohydrate rich feeding supported by multivitamins one should think about the bird's need for some protein. Let us remember, however, that too much protein will use up a lot of the just replenished stores of glycogen as the bird will "burn" the excess for fuel. Due to the wasted heat liberated and the energy needed for elimination of the NH3, the bird will not gain much energy. We have to supply as little as possible and as much as needed of the essential amino acids the bird cannot synthesize itself. Feeding some inferior protein may supply all required essential amino acids but the bird may need to consume a lot of it to supply its needs and this is not an optimal state of affairs. The bird would be better off to receive high quality protein, almost all of which the bird can utilize for repair and very little of which needs to be "burned". All else being equal, the greater the variety of grains offered, the better the quality of the resultant protein. One of the better sources of very high quality protein is found in hard boiled eggs but please be careful. They need to be fresh and boiled just before use because boiled eggs spoil very quickly even in the refrigerator. Many sportsmen in Germany and elsewhere divide the week's feeding schedule into 3 phases:
1.) carbohydrate
2.) protein
3.) fat
The third phase of feeding fat could also be accomplished by feeding carbohydrates as the bird can store it as fat too but fat contains twice as many calories per gram as carbohydrate and fat can therefore be used to advantage to replenish the energy stores more quickly than would be possible with carbohydrate. It must be remembered while looking at all these phases that every grain contains carbohydrate, protein and fat. The only difference lies in the proportion of these substances in the specific grain. I hope the above clarifies some confusion any of my previous postings may have left.

Pigeon pellets for the birds returning from a race?

By Dr. K H Frank (Karl) ( - on Friday, December 29, 2000 - 08:18 pm:
Good evening, Jeff!
Pigeon pellets are usually formulated to be a complete diet containing a percentage of carbohydrates, protein and fat as well as some vitamins which were destroyed during the cooking process of the grains. It may on the surface seem that pellets are "easily digestible" because they fall apart in water but I was not really talking about this kind of "digestibility". I was talking about the processes that are happening after the absorption of the nutrients from the gastro-intestinal tract. The protein in those pellets needs to be broken down and "burned" for fuel, liberating a lot of wasted heat and requiring further energy for eliminating the NH3. The bird does not gain much in the way of energy during this process and this is really what the bird needs on returning from a strenuous race. Please remember that the stores of glycogen are always limited and relatively small because, unlike fat, glycogen needs to be stored with quite a bit of water. Quite a few fanciers supply glucose to their birds on the day of shipping to fill up those stores of glycogen as it seems to be the limiting factor for the bird. There is always plenty of fat but not of glycogen. To summarize: Feeding pigeon pellets to the birds returning from a race is like feeding a mix of grains and cannot be considered an optimal management practice.

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