Every fancier knows what we are dealing with, and we are also seeing it surface ever earlier each year and also in an ever more aggressive form, sometimes resulting in a high level of mortality.
What is actually going on and what is causing young pigeon disease syndrome? What are the first symptoms and what can we do to prevent it?
What are the specific symptoms?
Young pigeons are unable to eat, since food that is not fully digested stays in their crop. We also see pigeons vomiting and excreting foul green droppings. In some cases, we even see young pigeons wasting away and sometimes too the mortality rates are relatively high.
What causes these problems?
- First, if young pigeons are exposed to highly stressful situations (attacks from birds of prey, first training flights, etc.) this rapidly results in a weakened immune system and a gastro-intestinal imbalance, hence they are much more susceptible to all kinds of viruses and bacteria.
- There is generally an underlying viral or bacterial infection.
In the past, it was mainly an adenovirus infection, but over the past few years we’ve also been seeing circovirus infections and even the emergence of rotavirus infections. These viral infections result in immunosuppression in our young pigeons, giving bacterial infections such as e-coli bacteria, among others, free rein.
Hoe kunnen we hierbij preventief optreden of behandelen in geval van ziekte
To prevent it, there are a number of things we can do:
- Feeding: In their first few months, always give young pigeons the same easily digestible feed (e.g. Plus I.C.+ Junior);
- Give young pigeons the chance to get used to stressful situations from a young age, for example by getting them used to a basket by placing it in the pigeon loft in which the youngsters are housed and letting them walk in and out of it at will and possibly regularly staying there overnight.
- Teach young pigeons to get used to drinking in a travel crate before the start of the season.
Put your young pigeons in a travel crate after they have been fed and hang a drinking trough in it; give them something to drink and let the water run several times so that they can hear it and see it.
If pigeons do not drink during transport, this immediately results in a water imbalance and impaired digestion, which can have serious consequences during the season.
- Vaccinations: over the past few years, various vaccinations have come onto the market from eastern Europe.
After trying out various vaccination programmes over the past few years, we obtained the best results from the following:
- shortly after weaning, vaccinate a first time against paramyxovirus and rotavirus with a combined vaccine;
- two weeks later, have them vaccinated against smallpox virus;
- two weeks after that, have them given a booster vaccination against paramyxovirus and rotavirus with another combined vaccine.
Discuss having this done with your vet. It is certainly well worthwhile if you want your youngsters to excel.
- Regularly administer esterified fatty acids in their drinking water. This always has a very beneficial effect on the intestinal function of young pigeons. We therefore recommend that you administer Intestinal Top to young birds in their drinking water some four times a week.
What should be done if there are still problems and young pigeons fall ill?
- First and foremost, give them little but easily digestible feed for a few days (half rations with, for example Super Condition and a small amount of maize cribs).
- In consultation with your vet, immediately start administering an appropriate antibiotic in their drinking water to tackle E-coli bacteria. Also add electrolytes to prevent dehydration if the droppings are liquid and to boost recovery.
- Following this treatment, you should ideally administer B-Chol, in combination with a multivitamin preparation such as Ducolvit or Omniform, for about five days.
It is also very important to realise that if there is an outbreak of young pigeon disease syndrome, the youngsters will not recovery immediately. Even though all the problems would seem to be over, everything still depends on their bodily resilience and it will be few weeks before they get back in condition. During this time, rest is also the best medicine!