Respiratory infections in racing pigeons: the greatest killjoy?

At the start of the season racing pigeons, like athletes, must be in perfect health and condition. Yet, at the start of the season we already see many lofts suffering from respiratory problems.
In respiratory tract infections, several factors should be addressed simultaneously. 

In respiratory tract infections, several factors should be addressed simultaneously. Usually there is an infection with a pathogen, in many cases with the chlamydia bacteria, the causative agent of ornithosis. In addition, the environmental factors/the loft climate should also be taken into account, as poor ventilation and too high a humidity level in the loft can also be disastrous.

Do you notice the following symptoms in your pigeons? Then the alarm bell should ring immediately.

  • The nose cere and eye rims are slightly discoloured, and not chalky white
  • The heads are no longer nicely smooth and streamlined, and the “ears” are standing straight up
  • The eyes are a little wet and slightly inflamed
  • The pigeons frequently scratch their heads with their feet
  • The pigeons open their beaks a lot and they seem to be yawning
  • When training, pigeons land on the roof with their beaks open
  • In worse cases, pigeons rattle and have respiratory problems with the slightest effort

Do you notice these problems with your pigeons in the run-up to the season? Then treatment becomes essential. In case of ornithosis, you can treat the pigeon with a suitable antibiotic based on doxycycline. Ask your vet for more advice.

Do you notice recurring problems with respiratory infections every year? Then have your pigeons tested for ornithosis at the vet after the season, or have an autopsy performed on an affected pigeon. We highly recommend it, since that is how you can easily find out which germs are causing the disease and what medication should be used to treat the pigeons. In case of a true ornithosis infection, treatment of four to six weeks in the winter period is recommended to keep the pigeons completely chlamydia-free.

But environmental factors and ventilation in the loft must also be thoroughly scrutinized. When returning from the first practice flights, a pleasant loft climate can contribute to a good recovery of the pigeons while also preventing respiratory problems. Often the ventilation is incorrect, causing the pigeons to sit in draught. This makes them much more susceptible to respiratory problems. For ventilation, try to mimic a chimney effect, where the pigeons do not have to sit in the air circulation. So, be sure not to open up too much on different sides of the loft.

The dryness in the loft also plays a big role. If you have heating in the loft, turn it on several hours before the pigeons arrive. Aim for a humidity level of about 65%. If you want to compensate for excessive humidity in the loft with artificial heating, the ventilation must be adjusted accordingly to prevent any oxygen deficiency. In fact, you are heating with the windows open.

Selected for you