The older fanciers used to say: "The moulting period is when the prizes are won for the following year." There's a lot of truth in that. Without healthy new plumage, pigeons cannot possibly have a good season.
Immediately after the racing season, which is also the beginning of the moulting period, it's not a bad idea to take stock of the season just gone. You can ask yourself a few questions to discover whether anything needs to happen and what:
- Am I pleased with the results or not?
- Do my pigeons look healthy?
- Are my pigeons ready for action or do I need to look for reinforcements?
- Is the loft comfortable and good enough or do I need to do something about it?
We'd love to share the following tips with you:
If results were not good enough, it's high time to take action with the next season in mind. The pigeons may have dormant paratyphoid, which is not always clearly visible and recognisable immediately. In such a situation, it is therefore advisable to have an autopsy performed when a pigeon has died. An autopsy can bring to light any issues with both bacterial and viral infections. Once the pathogen has been identified, you can also have an antibiogram performed immediately. This will show what medicine (suitable antibiotic) should be used. After all, there is now a great deal of resistance to certain types of medication, which are therefore no longer effective. By performing an antibiogram, a targeted treatment can be applied, which will have a better guarantee of success.
If your pigeons are infected with paratyphoid (a salmonella infection), it is important to take strict and appropriate action. Separate all your pigeons and certainly do not carry out any breeding, as paratyphoid is a vertically transmitted disease, i.e. the disease is transmitted to the young from the parents via the egg. You then need to carry out a selection prior to the start of treatment and remove all possible sick animals with obvious problems. The other, healthy pigeons will then be treated with an appropriate antibiotic for about 20 days.
It is recommended to vaccinate all pigeons against paratyphoid after treatment. A few days after vaccination, check the vitality of the pigeons again and remove the less vital birds. They might, after all, be carriers of the disease that could continue to cause problems. About three weeks after everything is over, we recommend that you have a bacteriological test performed on a sample of slurry (manure collected over about five days) to check that everything is as it should be.
2. Diseases and infections
If your pigeons have problems every year with head and respiratory tract infections, the moulting period is the time to determine the cause. Respiratory tract infections are usually multifactorial problems, i.e. there are several causes. One such cause may be an infection with, for example, the chlamydia bacteria. Secondly, there is the environmental factor, by which we mean the loft and its ventilation. In many cases, an unadapted loft climate and unadapted ventilation, and consequently drafts in the lofts, are the main culprits when it comes to respiratory problems. If that is the case, even if you continue to give antibiotic treatment, the problems will keep coming back. So tackle both causes simultaneously by treating the pigeons with the right medication (after examination) and by adapting the loft climate and ventilation.
It is also advisable to have the pigeons checked for trichomonas, coccidiosis and worms. If they are free from all these ailments, the medicine cabinet must stay firmly shut until the spring, when the next season starts.
3. Feeding during the moulting period
Let your pigeons go through the moult naturally, using logical thinking to provide the birds with everything they need for a perfect moult. Since new feathers are developed during the moult, there is a need for the building blocks for those feathers: amino acids and proteins. That being the case, make sure that your pigeons get a well-balanced moulting mixture (e.g. Plus I.C.+ Mutine), regularly accompanied by some brewer's yeast along with the feed (e.g. B-Pure). In addition, give the pigeons Colombine Tea and B-Chol twice a week to promote the down moult and boost their condition and resistance.
What's more, don't forget to support the gastrointestinal system. In this way the available nutrients in the feed and the supplements are absorbed more quickly, meaning that they will have a faster effect on the pigeons. The ideal product to support the gastrointestinal system is Intestinal Top.
4. End of the moult: clean thoroughly
Once the moulting period comes to an end, you mustn't forget to thoroughly clean and disinfect everything. First, remove all nesting boxes from the loft, then clean everything well and wash them off with disinfectant. You should then also use flame disinfection around the loft. Leave the cleaned loft vacant for a while before you allow pigeons in again to prepare them for breeding.
5. Breeding pigeons
Remember to get your breeding pigeons vaccinated against paramyxo at the end of October and get them ready for the breeding season in good time. It's always best to get racing pigeons vaccinated against paramyxo and pigeon pox in the spring (February). Also pay extra attention to the darkened young pigeons once the racing season is over. They start moulting later and more slowly, and need to be given the necessary time to complete moulting. If they are used for early breeding and have not yet fully moulted, it could have a negative impact on their athletic performance in the following season.