Newsletter December 2014

Natural or continue to use drugs?

Basically the question above is incorrect. It shows how one was looking at the medical guidance in the pigeon sport over the past 30 years. It would appear that this controversy is artificially maintained to ensure that the pigeon breeders do not start looking into the right direction. It should not be about whether medication or a natural approach, but about finding the synergy between the one and the other to optimize the application.


The guidance of the pigeon sport in the medical field often ends with only prescribing medicine to diseased pigeons, by most veterinarians. There is nothing wrong with prescribing medicine to diseased pigeons. As a veterinarian, I am more than happy that we have the ability (yet) to prescribe antibiotics if there is disease in a loft. Just as much as the fire department is pleased with firewater when there is danger of spreading fire. But just as with fire, the attention should not only go to putting out the fires but also to fire prevention. So it is not always necessary to drive out with a ladder truck and other large equipment when there is a trashcan on fire. What I mean by this?

Pigeons are carriers of a variety of bacteria and other potential pathogens. I write here with emphasis potential pathogens. Because not all birds get sick by the presence of streptococci, E. coli, Proteus, and so on. We call these bacteria also facultative pathogenic bacteria. These are bacteria that can cause diseases under certain optimal conditions, but will not do this in pigeons with optimal health. Still, I am regularly confronted with lovers who have cured against E. coli or Streptococcus, while there is no illness. The bacteria was only found in the droppings during a routine check-up. It often takes a long time to convince lovers, that this is totally absurd. For example, there are a large number of different strains of E. Coli. Many hundreds.

Of these, there are plenty who do not completely pathogenic and can even be considered useful. These kill off is therefore totally pointless. Otherwise it will be like in section of a dove said bacteria are found in organs where they do not belong. Then it is a different story. In those cases it is better to make an antibiogram to see which medication works best. Trying to kill the bacteria in the intestines always reminds me of that advertising earlier on that plea that was featured with the slogan: "Kill 99% of household bacteria. Not only was it the question whether that had to be slain, but a false sense of security was created. After all, as one of 100 bacteria remains, but will have multiplied after 20 minutes again (it is assumed that overall there a bacterium divides every 20 minutes). That means that we, again taken very broadly, after 2 hours we are back at the old level of bacteria. Not that I therefore say that disinfection is not useful. We should continue to see and another only in the right perspective and seeking to establish an imaginary world.

The same applies to the use of antibiotics. If we apply this to bacteria that will only under favorable conditions that lead to diseases, than we create such a false sense of security. After all, through the use of these agents, if the total is not required in the result screening, we out the more powerful ones. These will be the last to be catched by the antibiotics. Lovers have the idea they are doing well. But in reality, it may be that he is helping the problem, who is not there jet. Prudent use of antibiotics is therefore more than desirable. We serve it, with all of us, to ensure that we can deploy the right resources when it is really needed. If all the water has been wasted by the fire department to silly fires, there is a risk that there is too little firewater if there really is a raging fire. Therefore, treating sick birds as a starting point to be seen and not as an endpoint.

Defense and natural approach

Now I know that Bill Clinton once said: ' It's the economy, stupid', but health should actually apply: 'It's the immunity, stupid! ". Because that is the crux of what is at stake. If the immune system of humans and animals is much better than it has been, the probability is that there is a much smaller outbreaks of diseases. In analogy to fire, if a fire-resistant materials are used, then a fire can spread more slowly. This gives equal to that increasing of the resistance is also, of course, not enough. If a firestorm raging you can still take as many preventative measures. The fire will destroy anything on his way anyway. Reducing the use of drugs will lead to that the weaker ones will show symptoms sooner. Because we are not keeping them alive on medication. As a result, a better selection is possible, which in the end will result in a healthier pigeons. What we have seen over the last 40 years is that the pigeons have become increasingly dependent on medication to stay healthy. Could it not be that it seems that we see more and more new diseases among the pigeons? We have shot our own approach partially in our own foot.

Practice shows clearly that lovers, who renounce the overuse of antibiotics for a long time and their cards are put mainly on prevention, not only establish a better condition in their pigeons, but also reduced susceptibility to diseases to which they previously regularly against cures needed. It is to assume that this is an illusion within a month or so to reach.

Often enough people contact me, just before the start of a new racing season to inform about the possibilities to do more preventive measures. "I want to try the natural approaches aswell”. I know all too quickly that this is a pointless exercise. The lover expects a kind of miracle in a jar. That is not going to succeed. A preventive approach requires a different way of taking care of the pigeons.
We are fortunately no longer the only firm that wants to make himself strong to indicate a more preventive approach and to strengthen the immune system to help reduce the dependence on antibiotics. In Velserbroek is a company who also earned praise for supporting the natural approach to the sport.
What matters in the sport is that we shift the focus from the "small fire-fighting approach ', to take fire prevention measures. Only this way we can make the sport less dependent on the medication. That way we can make better selections, and keep the stronger pigeons on the end instead of keeping them alive on medication. And probably we make the pigeons less prone to all kinds of 'new' infections, which always seem to come forward.

Special attention deserves the preventive approach through vaccinations. Despite the statements of some colleagues who oppose apparently tooth and nail against the use of vaccines, practice shows that there are several vaccines that can make a strong contribution to preventing the outbreak of diseases, especially youngsters, can play tricks. Again, this leaves more energy in the young bird body about which can be inserted in the development of the body and the mold.

Sport guidance

The pigeon sport in recent years has expanded enormously. Would they still compete at the races then nothing should be left to chance. Yet this does not mean that one has to walk waving with the medicine jar. A good sports guidance should include a good selection in the autumn, optimal care during moulting, thoroughly checking the health, before the pigeon season starts and support the natural resistance. If one has met these conditions, one can expect effect of supportive supplements during the flights. The last seven years we are intensively working on improving the shape and the endurance of the pigeons races. Doping is thereby, of course, unacceptable. Not only am I a strong opponent of the use of doping in pigeons, it also turns out to be not at all necessary, given the results, local, regional, provincial and national which can be achieved by an optimal support of the resistance on the one hand, after any diseases well before the season have been addressed properly.

If you meet these requirements, there may also natural resources, many benefits are to be gained in the races. The last group of products I recall as sport guidance.

Three G’s

As stated above, the pigeons have to be free from diseases at the start of the season, the resistance should be optimal. Only then the use of sport coaching products has its value. But, as to the three G's are not met then all of the above has no use. The three G's are Good pigeons, Good lofts and Good lovers. Using whatever product is pointless if no proper selection takes place and the ventilation in the loft is sub-optimal. It is the good lover who should see that as a first requirement.

Good Luck!
Peter Boskamp