Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Homing Pigeons 101 - Health Care Regimen - Husbandry and Loft Management & Disease Control

Husbandry and Loft Management

Loft design should vary with the climatic conditions of a given locale, but lofts should be built with foresight, especially concerning ease  of cleaning. 

Raised floors (slatted or wire) or open bottom wire floors have significant merit.  Concrete floors are easy to clean and disinfect, but may hold moisture at times.  Most eggs and oocusts must undergo development in the environment before becoming infective to the next host.  Warm and wet environmental conditions enhance this development.  Therefore, regular (preferably daily) scrapping and a dry loft are of utmost importance to prevent spread within the loft.  Clean lofts mean healthier birds.

Deep litter, if done properly, will create a very dry environment and can be a satisfactory method.  Deep litter does produce a fine dust which can be hazardous to the hypersensitive fancier.  It may also serve as a reservoir for problems once disease organisms are introduced into the environment.  For these reasons it is discouraged.

Overcrowding is the fancier’s worst enemy.  Crowded birds never have the general good health of uncrowded birds, nor will they perform to their potential in races.

Disease Control

     Quarantine new birds.  These are very often the source of disease in the loft.  The same goes for strays.  New birds should be quarantined for 30 to 60 days, ideally.  Sick birds should be removed from the general flock and quarantined in cages that can be disinfected between cages.

Don’t guess—get positive answers to problems before random treatments are used.

Most veterinarians can help even if they have no specific interest or knowledge of pigeon diseases.  They can at least direct you to labs which can examine sick or dead birds for diagnostic purposes.  The cost is usually very reasonable.

There are many veterinarians with an interest in avian medicine and some specifically interested in pigeon medicine.  They are trying to provide a service to you.  Don’t be too proud to ask for help when you need it.