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Dealing and playing with young birds. (part 7)

Dealing and playing with young (part 7)

Readers who have followed this series may have noticed that we haven't paid attention to the medical part yet. This is not a coincidence.

Because as strange and unbelievable as it may sound, I think that's the least important. Of course, you can't live without it. Playing well and never curing against canker hardly goes together anymore. Cures against canker is a must.
At least in the beginning of this century.
One of the few cures that you can apply without consulting the vet. Pigeons can spontaneously heal from coccidiosis, an infected pigeon will never get rid of tricho if no action is taken. How often? As little as possible and if you cure then do it well! You have to see and feel a little bit when.

Coccidiosis and worms are rarely a problem in youngsters. Drugs against it are form killers. You have to watch out for worms when they are stuck in aviaries, youngsters have other problems. Intestinal disorders in particular. Alum, buttermilk, pro-biotics, intestinal conditioners and so on are palliatives in which I hardly believe. And the so-called ornithosis complex, the membrane, respiratory problems, wet eyes? You shouldn't try to cure those discomforts, but prevent them! Through good housing and a thorough selection. The misery often starts with that first weakling who gets sick. By not removing them or trying to keep them going with medication. It is precisely those fanciers who make intensive use of ornithosis powders that often have ornithosis problems.

Then there are the famous and much-discussed eye drops. It is not up to me to determine the limits of medical supervision, but it is possible that a dosed use of the moult-inhibiting dexamethasone drop or Neo Corteff is less harmful than is claimed. But I know the fanciers Keeping pace is not his strong suit if there are no performances and that pigeons go under after short-lived successes will be a concern for many.
That is why cortisone-containing drops have rightly been banned, although Terra Cortrill and Neo Corteff were excellent 'healers'. But you no longer need cortisone-containing drops to inhibit moulting. Darkening is a nice replacement.

Youngsters that are weaned at the end of January are cherished. It is the hope for the future and the culmination of many efforts. Because for winter breeding you have to do something.
But there is a certain danger in this: People are inclined to give winter youngsters a little more credit, to spare them more. 'It's still so cold for those creatures'. A wrong setting. In the middle of winter I have seen young grow beautifully in open aviaries, exposed to wind and bitter cold. I have also seen winter youngsters, bred in artificially heated lofts, which thrived so badly that they were not worth living, to put it in an animal-unfriendly way. I don't have much against heating, but you don't need it. Heating can be useful during periods of high humidity, not to drive up the temperature in winter. Winter youngsters should be as strict as normal spring youngsters. And that's very strict!

By the way, there are quite a few prejudices about winter youngsters. For example, it is not true that they are inferior as old ones. There are numerous examples of winter youngsters that performed exceptionally well even at the age of five. As long as they are good ones. If winter youngsters disappoint as yearlings, the cause has to be found elsewhere. Often too much is asked of them in the year they were born. Winter youngsters can be raced more intensively and longer and many people make use of this. And pigeons that had to deal with races of more than 500 km in September have to hand in as yearlings, with a few exceptions. But other than that, winter-bred youngsters are not necessarily worse or better than others. It is also not true that winter breeding burdens the widowers. Perhaps the opposite is true.

There are fanciers who do winter breeding with widowers with a view to the game later!

With racing pigeons that do winter breeding, you have to be careful with a view to moulting. You have to make sure that the hens don't come back with eggs a second time or that they start bumping feathers. As a result, such pigeons are finished early due to a moult that is too advanced. Especially when 'the BIG races' are on.
 For many pure sprint players, that's not a problem. They want to be in shape early, stop the old birds' game in June or even earlier and then focus on the game with youngsters. Middle distance racers and long distance racers can lack early form. I once heard W Geerts say that there is nothing more to fear than super form early in the year, from a loft of widowers that was unleashed in April. Because... You can't keep that!

Selection based on health should be made for a whole year. Weaklings should be kept out of the colony from birth. It is not difficult to get those less vital pigeons out of the bunch. A glance gives them away in the nest. The feathers are fully grown a little later, they are sharp to the touch, lay thick with raised feathers and have half-full crops. The latter is always a bad sign for nestlings.
It is absolutely inadvisable to spare such stragglers. Get rid of them.
They are birds without future. One must also be strict with newly weaned squeakers. They may refuse to eat for one or two days, but then they must be so hungry that they first peck the larger grains. Squeakers that carefully select the small seeds are seldom any good.
Usually they eat too little, in the evening the crops are not full, as said always a bad sign. Forget also Youngsters with weak mouths, thin legs and a weak skeleton (which usually go together).

Incidentally, it is not uncommon to breed a round of beautiful youngsters, youngsters that are in super health and then suddenly, when they are about six weeks old, relapse. Usually there is canker, even with pigeons whose parents were cured during breeding. Newly weaned pigeons have the habit of huddling close together, they spread a lot of moisture and as is well known, moisture is the breeding ground for all kinds of ailments.
Some try to solve this with straw. It feels less hard and less cold than 'bare' planks. But straw is not ideal. It retains moisture. I know people who will never go to bed until they've put those clumps of squeakers apart for the night.

I myself have had positive experiences with heating plates. I place them in the loft as soon as the youngsters are weaned and I throw a few handfuls of straw on it. The pigeons are doing very well. Not so much because of the (small) heat that is spread as because of the fact that the environment remains dry: The straw and the pigeons themselves. Definitely recommended for newly weaned squeakers that have heating plates.   End of Part 7

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