Aturning point in avian health care (Courtesy Wout van Gils)
The latest large exhibitions of racing pigeons in Kassel and Dortmund, Germany have resulted in something of a turning point. Government Health Authorities performed a close inspection on the illegal sales of medicine in the pigeon food distribution network with particular emphasis on the misuse of antibiotics.It was no surprise that numerous transgressors were found amongst the stand-holders. Sadly this is a problem that also extends to aviculture in general. Over many decades generations have been bred with the aid of antibiotics to such an extent that some bird strains today can no longer survive and thrive without the continued use of antibiotics. The bird’s immunity system has been greatly compromised and the very use of the word “illness” is no longer appropriate.
Vaccinations and veterinary checks of droppings, crop mucus and blood samples are essential in determining which birds are to be removed from your breeding programme. I would go as far as to state that birds that can no longer breed without the assistance of antibiotics should simply be replaced. Antibiotics should be used as little as possible and preferably not at all. The use of Comedgamma*) was for me a revelation. I was intrigued by the system adopted by Dr. Willem de Bruijn, who manages to race pigeons without the use of antibiotics. Of course one can doubt the super-system adopted by a national grand champion breeder and doyen in the industry were it not that for the fact that Willem is also very well-versed in the fields of medicine and science.The impact of antibiotics is further exacerbated by the increasing use of antibiotic mixtures (three-in-one, four-in-one). The latter will lead to further deterioration in the functioning and health of the digestive system - conditions, which are difficult treat and which will greatly diminish the care free nature of our Fancy.
*) The Comed product was tested at the University of Luik (Belgium) and found to generate a strong inhibiting action against resistant bacteria (staphylococcus) and viruses.
(It is interesting to note that Dr Rob Marshall advocates the use of antibiotics in canaries in a restricted manner and only under very strict guidelines)