My friend was in a bad mood.
What was wrong with him?
He had had a very bad race !
A bad race was not the end of the world, he could live with that but this one was different.
The weather had been fair, it was a race with equal chances and... the birds that he had entered had proven to be good in previous races under the same circumstances.
When he handed me one of the birds I immediately felt something was wrong. The body did not feel tight, I felt no tension.
A bird in good shape trembles but this body felt like dead.
Then I did something that I seldom do; I opened its beak.
And the very moment I saw what was wrong. In the beak I saw those slimy threads.
The threads of a bird that has trichomonas.
"Your birds have canker" I said. "Put them up some Flagyl, one quarter of a tablet."
So he did and one week later his birds performed better than ever before.
"Do birds always achieve such good results after they were treated against canker?"
"It depends" I said.
Canker is not so much a problem as in the past. Today paratyphoid is!
Therefore many fanciers become negligent.
What others do is treat their pigeons against canker for one day after every race.
There is nothing against it but in this case a sensational result will not follow.
What I do myself is wait and see.
If the condition is good I stay away from medicine but when I have doubts I cure.
I have doubts when the birds are not hungry and do not train well.
And, of course, when their bodies do not feel tight.
Then (and then only) I look in the beaks to check if there are slimy threads.
In case there are I give them a cure which is mostly followed by a good result indeed.
What I want to say is this:
A good result you can expect when the birds were not cured for a long time. A good result will NOT follow if you cure every week.
Also the cure (or the injection) against respiratory problems is mostly followed by a good result, provided you did not cure before.
You would be surprised if you knew how many birds got a cure or an injection before a National race such as Bourges in Belgium.
The difference between success and failure is often a matter of small things.
Take for example a crop that is filled with water when you want to basket a bird.
It will definitely not win a prize.
Once it was the cause of the loss of a very good bird of mine.
This bird had won some very early prizes and then came the big race: Orleans.
I had filled in the pooling paper and had put much money on that bird.
But when I wanted to put it into the basket I noticed its crop was swollen with water.
I doubted what to do.
Since the birds would be in the basket for 2 nights I thought the water would not hinder the bird and I entered it.
It was the last time I saw her!
Afterwards I have basketed more birds with a crop full of water and the result was always the same.
Till I had learned my lesson and stopped racing such birds!
A crop full of water means something is wrong but the same thing applies to a crop bursting with FEED !
This is not due to some illness, but the fancier has made a mistake.
He should see to it that the birds eat much the day BEFORE basketing and not ON basketing day.
The mistake is in most cases that he gave too much food early in the week.
When the birds are in the basket for two nights you should feed them some hours before basketing so that they have lots of time to drink.
When the birds are in the basket for one night only, the best thing is to feed them in the morning only on basketing day.
Fanciers like it when birds throw some little feathers every day. This is a sign of good health. But it also happens that all of sudden the nest box is packed with down.
And many fanciers were fooled by this.
"A few little feathers means good condition. An abundance of little feathers means SUPER condition."
At least that is what they think, but how wrong they are.
Pigeons that suddenly throw a lot of down do not win a prize.
They are recovering from some discomfort and will ... perform well two weeks later.
So again: Keep these pigeons home, do not race them..
Pigeons in good shape like to take a bath.
And then you will find a thin white greasy powder coat on the water.
Pigeons that are sick or in bad shape will not take a bath. Never.
When a veterinarian has a sick pigeon in observation and is trying to heal it the first sign of recovery is that the bird washes itself.
The form that reveals itself by that layer of white powder on the bath you will also find in the ... drinker!
In other words:
When pigeons have super condition the water should not be too clean, neither in the bath nor in the drinker.
You know what birds have also fooled me?
Widowers that did not storm out of the loft when I opened the windows for training.
I told myself they did not fly out because they felt too much attached to their territory (their nest boxes), but how wrong I was.
It was always followed by a poor result.
So widowers (and also babies!) have to storm out when you open the window.
If you have to chase them out you have a problem.
The point is we often do not want to recognize that.
And believe me, good condition is more important than good quality.
I"d rather put money on an average pigeon in great shape than on a superbird that has no form.
Two months from now the racing season will start and I can tell NOW already who will race best the coming season. Those are not the fanciers who have the best pigeons but those whose birds will be in the best condition.