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From The Desk of Jerry Gagne

From The Desk of Jerry Gagne

Posted by Jerry Gagne on Jul 24th 2019

There is no product anyone sells that will replace sound loft management. If you are a beginner or “old pro”, it makes good sense to invest in a good book that will answer many basic of often complex questions. #836 "Pigeons for Pleasure and Profit" or #805 "The Pigeon Guide" are both good books which cover all phases of pigeon raising. Two books on pigeon health that I recommend are #880 “A Veterinary Approach To Pigeon Health" or #881 "The Flying Vet's Pigeon Health and Management".

FEEDING

If you fly, show or race your birds, you must control the feed consumption. If you feed your birds and after 20 minutes or so, there is still feed left, you are feeding too much. If they eat everything but leave some that they don't like, I give them the leftovers the next day. Do not allow uneaten feed to stay on the floor overnight, it will become contaminated and may result in sick birds.

WATER

Many diseases are transmitted through the drinking water. It seems like birds think of their drinking water as a target. I've yet to find a waterer that the birds can't foul. It is a must to change water every day, twice a day is even better. When adding medications or vitamins to the water, it is even more important to change the water every day. If you place the water fountain in the same place every day, make sure the area under and around the fountain is dry. Dampness creates a perfect environment for disease to develop. I move my waterer from place to place, thus allowing each location to dry.

GRIT

Grit consumption changes from season to season. When you are breeding, they seem to eat more grit than feed. The reason for this is the production of eggs in the hen and the mating process. Make sure good clean grit is in front of them at all times. Do not rely on granite grit alone. Your birds need grit containing trace minerals. If you are using granite grit for chickens, I would suggest you add grit concentrate to your mix. If you are using a regular Pigeon Grit, keep it clean and fresh. I use pigeon grit, but also add Pick Pots. The bird's body tells it what it needs and you'll notice a change in consumption as the seasons change.

OVERCROWDING

Birds are very fast breeders and without planning, most people have too many birds. Never a day goes by that when I ask a fancier how many birds they have, the answer is “too many”. If you don't have the heart to cull or a way to dispose of birds, plan for the future.The best thing to do is to separate all your hens and cocks and put them together only when it is breeding season. Another method is the use of wood or plastic eggs, #155 or #157. Dispose of a freshly laid set of eggs and the birds will set the dummy eggs for up to three weeks, thus slowing down the young bird production.

Have you thought of throwing one egg, from each clutch, away? When the pair raises only one young at a time, the young are usually healthier and grow faster. If you allow your loft to become overcrowded, disease will pay your birds a visit.

LOFT FLOOR

You should make every effort to keep the floor dry. I use no litter on the floor and clean it two to three times per week. If you use litter such as shavings or ground corn cob, try to rake it every day to prevent moisture from building up. The best litter for the floor is probably sand, but it needs to be turned over regularly also. Try to prevent a draft from blowing directly on the birds. Do not use hay or straw on the floor as it holds moisture.

FEED

Keep your feed in a covered metal or plastic container which will help keep mice or rats out. Rodents are carriers of Paratyphoid and other diseases. Unseasoned or moldy feed will kill pigeons. I store mine in a large plastic trash can with a lid.

WHAT IS A SOUND LOFT MANAGEMENT PLAN?

If there was just one loft management plan, I’d write a book about it. A sound plan really is one that works for you and most importantly, works for the well being of your pigeons. The plan is really based on you, the breed(s) you raise, what part of the country you are in and whether you show, race, fly or use your birds for ceremonies. Other variables include loft location, type of feed, the hours you have available and on and on.

There are some basics however. I talk to people all day about the health of their pigeons. Most people do not vaccinate and all people should. It is something anyone can do. You need to vaccinate for Paramyxovirus (PMV), Paratyphoid and Pox. I use the regular syringes and needles that we carry.

I am not a big believer in using antibiotics or medicines as preventatives. I think you should have medications on hand in case of an outbreak. I do believe you should treat, before breeding, for worms and Canker. We have individual treatments for both. Try to rotate, from time to time, to prevent your birds from building up a resistance.

What should you have on hand? That question is best answered by your wallet. You can never have everything, but it is a good idea to build up a medicine chest of pigeon medications.

Try to have some one eye cold treatment such as “1 Drop 1 Eye 1 Time”. A good treatment for Paratyphoid is Salm-A-Bloc or Batryl. Coccidiosis medications must be rotated so keep Baycox and Cocci-Cide around.

I like to keep individual tablets around to treat birds that seem to be sick or when I don't want to treat the whole loft. Baytril tablets or Aureomycin capsules are good to have around. Parasites are always a problem. I dip all my birds once or twice a year. Use Permectrin II as directed. Dusting your birds is a popular way to control bugs and Diatomaceous Earth is excellent.

Be sure to remember that when you use any drug on a pigeon, you must not eat them. No one really knows how long it takes for a drug to clear out of a pigeon's system. If you're raising them to eat, then make it natural for your health's sake.

We are a family business and when you call, you'll get Vickie, my wife; Kim, my daughter or once in a while, myself! The business was purchased by our family in 2000. We are only the third owners in the 115 year history of Foy’s. We make every effort to get your order out the day you call or the next day.

I spend much of my day talking to pigeon people about their bird’s health. I usually know what diseases are crossing the country or what products are best for your bird's problems. Having access to all the books and products on our shelves, I have formed some opinions about which products to use and will do my best to help you.

I am no vet, but experience is a great teacher. Most symptoms of sick birds are the same; when you call, I’ll ask you questions that might help me figure out what might help.

I receive many calls as to my personal choice of product(s). Here are some of my choices, which change from time to time based on new products or experiences.

MEDICATIONS

CANKER – I rotate Ronadazole and Dimetrazole. WORMS –I use Worm Gel. RESPIRATORY – Good success using Vita King's Respiratory Powder, Baytril or Quell Respiratory. COCCIDIOSIS – You must rotate products as the cocci will build up a resistance in as few as 2 uses of the same product! My choices are Cocci-Cide or Baycox. PARASITES –Dip them with Permectrin II or dust them with Diatomaceous Earth. BACTERIA BUILDER – After you medicate, you should put your birds on a good Probiotic for 2-3 days. I use Pro Bios. VITAMINS – I use Pigeon Builder regularly.

As mentioned previously, I scrape my loft floor regularly and once every 2 or 3 times, I sprinkle Belgium White on the floor using a broom to cover the whole floor and to get into the cracks. We live in a cold climate but I do not use a heater. I use the #315 Ideal Fount/Feeder and use an extra crock bowl. I do this year round. If it freezes, I bring it in and clean the bowl while replacing it with the one I used the day before. I’ve never broken a crock in cold weather. I use #1001 to hold my grit.

The “T” perches are my favorite perch because they stay fairly clean with most of the droppings going onto the floor. I also love to use the nest boxes, either the Simplicity Box or the Oversized Nest Box with a plastic front. When it comes to feeders, I have really enjoyed using our new Cafeteria Feeders. I use them when I am not flying my birds. They save me lots of time as I can dump a full bag of feed; I don't have to worry about feeding that section for a month or so. When I start flying in the Spring and Summer, I switch to the feeder with the guard.

I certainly hope this information is of some use to you and remember…. the reason we have so many choices is that everyone has a different idea or need.We've have a great new item that will measure teaspoons, tablespoons, milliliters or an ounce. This new measuring shot glass has all the measurements conveniently marked on the side of the glass. A great gift, you'll want one for yourself or what a nice idea to give them away as a prize at as how. Comes with a generic pigeon on it, but you may order it with your own special breed. Minimum order of 150 when you want to have a custom print.

~ Jerry