MAKING A PLAN
By Ski Grabanski
In October at our club meeting (Greater Seattle Racing Pigeon Club) we discussed having a seminar on getting the birds ready for the upcoming 2015 breeding and flying season. Because of several new members that we have had join the club in the last couple of years, we thought that they would really benefit from this seminar. As it turned out, I believe everyone that attended the seminar benefited a great deal.
It was decided that we would meet at the Golden Steer Restaurant in Kent Wa. for breakfast and the seminar. After the location was decided the next question was who would we ask to present the seminar?? It was decided to ask Bruce Gordon and Steve Lesley of the Top Gun Club. They both graciously agreed. Bruce and Steve have been on the top of the concourse race sheet ever since I can remember and Steve has a vast knowledge on the different medications available and their uses. The seminar was held November 8th and it was a joy to see how everyone enjoyed themselves and got very motivated about the upcoming season.
STOCK BIRDS: The key here is to give yourself plenty of time to medicate the birds before you put them together. Also during the winter months, all medication is given on the feed, using Lifetime Liquid D-3 or Saffron oil (there are many products available to moisten the feed). During this time of year the birds water consumption is way down, so to assure the birds get the proper dose, it's better to administer the medication on the feed. Bruce and Steve both treat for: Paratyphoid: The product of choice for Bruce is ParaStop by DeWeerd. Use 5 spoons (spoon comes with container) per 3 lb. coffee can filled 1" from the top. Steve's product of choice is Trimethoprium Sulfa at 2 teaspoons per 1 gallon can. He believes it's as good as ParaStop and it's about half the price. This treatment will clear up the male and female genitalia on the birds and will give you a good hatch. Canker: Products of choice here are Ronidazole at 1.5 teaspoons per gallon of water, Metronidazole at 1 teaspoon per quart of water or FishZole at about 5 teaspoon per 3 lb coffee can, 5 to 7 days. Steve said if you medicate on the feed, you use twice what the product calls out for if you were to medicate through the water. If the product calls for 1 teaspoon per gallon of water, you would use 2 teaspoons to a gallon of feed.
Treatment for Paratyphoid and Canker are administered at the same time.
They also start to add artificial lights to the breeders around 3 weeks before they are paired (cocks only at this time). The first week the cocks get about 14 hours of light, week 2, 18 to 20 hours and week 3, the cocks get 24 hours of light. The hens start getting artificial light around 1 1/2 weeks before there paired to the cocks. If you start any earlier, the hens will mate with each other and get eggy. The hens get between 16 and 18 hours the first 4 or 5 days and then go to between 20 and 24 hrs the 4 to 6 days.
The advantage of the artificial light is that it wakes them up and all the hens will have laid 8 to 12 days after they are paired. When you band the babies, this would be a good time to add a new nest bowl, because they will lay back 7 to 10 days later. By adding the lights, they lay back much sooner. A couple of other advantages are that the breeders will finish their molt a lot quicker. You can feed , clean and water at times that best fit your work schedule. Also if you fly your young birds on the light system, they are already on the system when weaned. They have used this system for years and it doesn't hurt the breeders at all.
OLD BIRD RACE TEAM: They like to treat the birds when they are together. They also like to be finished with their medication program before the training starts. Canker: BelgaMagix by DeWeerd 1 tablet by mouth each month or Ronidazol or Metronidazole per above. Respiratory: Some of the products of choice here are a combination of Tylan and Oxytetracycline based products, Doxy-T by Colin Walker or Tylosine 10% by Dac. Here too, the medication is administered on the feed. Although Steve does not use any Tetracycline products on the feed. He believes its harsh on the throat. The respiratory treatment is for 14 days.
YOUNG BIRD RACE TEAM: Canker: Same products as above. Respiratory: Same products as above, but may treat longer than 14 days if required. Vaccinations: PMV- vaccinate right after weaning and then a booster in early June. Our race season starts the first weekend in August. Some Belgium's believe that if you PMV the birds when weaned and later the follow-up, that it may prevent Adeno Virsus or if the birds do come down with it, it's not near as severe. Pox- Early June or before is a good time to vaccinate, depending on the start of your race schedule. You want to make sure the young birds have been vaccinated around 5 weeks before you start training. You should also wait a minimum of 4 weeks before you give the birds a bath after vaccination.
ADENO VIRUS: WHAT TO DO??? Watch for early morning throw-ups every day starting in March. When the first throw-ups occur start treatment as follows: Bruce and Steve use Fish Mox Forte 500 mg by Thomas Laboratories (it's cheaper if you buy it on line). Dosage is 6/500 mg capsules each day for 8 days. Make sure you empty the capsules, do not insert the capsules in the water. Double the dosage the first 3 days so that the e-coli doesn't get a good foothold. Lock down the birds and feed very lightly (50%) the first 4 days. Treatment can be by water or on the feed. Bruce suggested that if your birds do come down with Adeno and you medicate through the water, that you feed them very lightly 3 times a day so that their intake of water is greater. Again, it's very important that you only feed about 50% of normal. They can't digest the food at this time and by feeding lightly, you give their gut a rest. After the 8 days of treatment you can start loft flying them again. If they look good, three days later you can take them for a 20/25 mile toss. If they do well here, you can increase their exercise time and training. Both Bruce and Steve said these methods have evolved over the last 10 years and for them are proven to work. Variations to these methods may not bring the results you expect!!
THINGS TO LOOK FOR: If some of your young birds get lost and return in a couple of days, keep a very close eye on these birds for a week or so. Steve mentioned this year he noticed a couple of his young birds would not go in when he called them in for feeding. This was not the norm for his birds and a few days later they came down with Adeno. He said if they stop paying attention to you or are acting differently there's a good chance it's on its way.
A very important item that Steve brought up was if you have to keep treating for the same ailment (canker, respiratory, etc) there's a good chance you have a loft problem if the same ailment keeps coming back after treatment. That's when it's time to take a good look at your loft design or the location of the loft on your property. Is it getting enough air flow or maybe too much, It is getting enough sunlight, is it dry, is the ventilation correct, etc. Visit other successful lofts in your area to see if there is anything you can incorporate to your own loft.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
· SIEGELS CATOLG: Provides a great overview on pages 7 thru 10 dealing with pigeon diseases and treatments in detail (dosages included). Most of the products that are necessary to keep our birds healthy and many more are listed.
· Properly constructed lofts and proper care help reduce the need for most products.
· ALWAYS follow up any treatment with the use of a good probiotic such as ProBios. Bruce and Steve like to also use it 1 time per week on the feed with some brewers yeast added. They said they don't know if it helps, but it makes them feel better.
· Grit removal when treating is a very good habit to have.
· Keeping rodents under control on your property by placing out bait at regular intervals is always a good practice. Don't always use the same bait!!
A big thank you goes out to Bruce and Steve for sharing a good part of their day with us. I believe this was very successful and as I said earlier a benefit for everyone that attended. We had close to 30 people attend and are planning another get together sometime in January and maybe February and March.
Bruce and Steve said there are other medications that can be used other than what they have mentioned here. But over the years, the ones they use have worked very well for them. They also said that there is no proof if any of this is a benefit, but it works for them. I know from experience that it certainly has not hurt their performance year in and year out. They also stated that they medicate to a minimum. They do not medicate during the off season. The breeders are treated only once a year just before they are coupled. The only birds they vaccinate are the young birds.
One last item. Bruce said he can't stress enough how important it is to MAKE A PLAN. Not just in your head, make sure you put it on paper. Pre-mate your birds on paper, when are you putting them together, when to start your medication program (stock birds, old bird & young birds). What medications are you going to use, do you have them on hand and are they in date, are there any loft changes that need to be made, when to start training, etc, etc. Get it on paper with a schedule and look at it daily to make sure you are taking care of all the items.