Pigeon Breeding Tips For Beginners
Stress for a stock bird is breeding. Stressed stock birds will shed the organisms in their droppings, saliva and eggs.
If the Chlamydia is in the egg, the developing embryo is weakened and can either die during incubation, during the hatching process or as a nestling or, if it survives, be a retarded youngster.
In a nestbox heavily contaminated with Chlamydia, the developing youngsters become weakened and die. If these things have happened in earlier years, and breeding has commenced, it is too late to treat the stock birds.
However, medication (usually doxycycline) can be given before mating to decrease the level of Chlamydia in the stock birds’ system. This means that they will then require more stress before they start to shed the organism.
The length of treatment depends on the need, usually 7 – 30 days. If your loft has a history of chlamydial problems during breeding, a prebreeding doxycycline course is a good idea. Chlamydia can be completely cleared with a 30 – 45-day course of doxycycline.
However, this is rarely done because the weaned youngsters will be exposed to the organism later in life and may in fact be more vulnerable to illness through this lack of exposure and the resultant low level of natural immunity.
Doxycycline, like other antibiotics, causes disruption of the normal bowel bacteria, interfering with vitamin metabolism and calcium absorption. It is therefore important that preventative courses are completed several weeks before pairing and there is benefit in giving the birds probiotics, vitamins and calcium supplements following them.
The next vulnerable time is the postweaning period, when both weaning and moulting are the underlying stresses.
In Victoria, Australia, January to May are the respiratory months. Most lofts contain large numbers of young birds having just had the stress of weaning and now having the stress of moulting, coupled with young bird tossing and racing.
It is a time of high humidity and fluctuating temperature, conditions that favour respiratory disease.
Between 1 December and 1 March (the usual time that the last youngsters are weaned in many lofts in Australia), fanciers must monitor the youngsters, in particular, for signs of ‘one-eye cold’, dirty wattles or sneezing. However, green watery droppings, failure to thrive, shortness of breath and a reluctance to fly may also be indicative of the problem.
Because of the disruption to normal bowel bacteria caused by the antibiotics, which can compromise feather quality and check development, and also because of the interference with development of a natural immunity, it is important that only the birds that need medication should receive it.
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