Salads for Pigeons (American Pigeon Journal Breed Specials & more News, Views and Reviews on Pigeon Topics. #4: May 4, 2009) 

Most pigeon fanciers don’t think about providing green vegetables for their birds. We miss the opportunity to provide a great benefit to our birds. Early spring is the to plan that backyard garden and include some extra produce for enhancing a diet for hungry pigeons.


Salads for pigeons is natural an inexpensive way to give many vitamins, trace minerals and other benefits to the well being and performance of your pigeons. Lettuce of all types are eaten readily. It can be chopped in pieces about an inch square. My birds devour chopped lettuce. I think they really like this treat. And I feel like I am doing something extra and healthy for them. It’s fun to stand back and watch my birds enjoy themselves eating fresh greens.

I got the idea of sharing my garden harvest when the grass clippings from my garden tractor were blown into the aviary. Pigeons love the grass bits. When I drove along the edge of the aviary, the quickly learned to overcome their fear of a loud and big tractor to gobble up the green grass.

So why not make them a salad of garden greens? Some diced carrots for carotene and vitamin content is a good addition. Make sure the salad is clean and served on a clean surface off the loft or aviary floor. When your garden is producing, you can cut some green delights for your pigeons. Or you watch for a sale on lettuce at the grocery store. Fresh greens add nutrition that normal feed cannot.

Try it - your birds will love it! At first they may not respond to a salad but soon they will eagerly eat fresh greens. In the wild pigeons eat grass and your pigeons will enjoy greens if you provide it to them.

Salmonellos (Parathyphoid)

Paratyphoid: One of the most frequent bacterial diseases in pigeons

Paratyphoid is caused by a Salmonella bacteria. This Salmonella var. Copenhagen is specific for pigeons. Although this disease is widely acknowledged by pigeon fanciers it is still an underestimated illness.

A lot of fanciers have carriers of paratyphoid in their lofts without knowing or suspecting it. This is exactly the main problem with paratyphoid. As soon as there are clear symptoms and the fancier can do some treatment and vaccination, there is a better health in the loft in general and better racing results. But as long as the symptoms are not clear, the birds just don’t seem to get in good condition without finding an indication why.

The disease can be acute or chronic. The acute disease only occurs when the birds were never infected with Salmonella or vaccinated in their lives and so don’t have any immunity for the disease. In the acute form there is diarrhea, sometimes even with blood, and anorexia. The pigeons also drink more water. And when there is no treatment there can be deaths because of the dehydration. When the disease gets chronic (in most cases) the Salmonella bacteria gets in internal organs and causes inflammation there, f.e. in kidneys, lungs, liver, spleen and reproductive organs. It can also in some cases (but not that often) cause arthritis or nervous symptoms. Because of the infection in reproductive organs the bacteria can get into the eggs and so cause infection of the hatchlings.

In the chronic form the symptoms are much less clear. In a lot of cases it is just not getting the birds in condition although there is no clear diagnosis of any disease. In a lot of cases the breeding is not always that good with sometimes “black” eggs (dead youngster in the egg) or bad reproductive results in general. Sometimes only one breeding hen just doesn’t seem to get in right condition and has trouble laying eggs. The birds also seem to have less appetite and lose some weight.

The diagnosis of the disease is often difficult. There are a lot of false negatives. This means there is no Salmonella found although the disease is present in the loft. One way of diagnosing is collecting droppings from all pigeons for five consecutive days and let it be investigated. Another good way is through autopsy of ill birds or birds that are strongly suspected of having the disease. A last way is by determining antibodies in blood samples, but also in these cases you only find antibodies in pigeons that have been recently infected.

Next to the difficulties in diagnosing the disease, the main problem is treatment. Actually there is no really good treatment for the illness. Antibiotics and vaccination are both not 100% effective. Most antibiotics can’t clear the carriers of the disease. There is even a lot of scientific data that most antibiotics induce more carriers than without treatment. Only enrofloxacine seems to have best effects also on carriers, but in practice there are still a lot of carriers of the disease after long treatment and high dosage. New scientific data show that with a very high dosage of enrofloxacine there couldn’t be any Salmonella found any more in internal organs after autopsy. Still in practice it is better to do a good vaccination schedule after antibiotic treatment.

The kind of vaccine seems to be less important than the vaccination schedule itself. There are dead and live vaccines. In Belgium there is only a commercial dead vaccine but if the bacteria has been isolated, the fancier can also have an autovaccine made. The advantage of live vaccines would be that there is a better cellular immunity. As this Salmonella is capable of surviving in macrophages, a sort of white blood cells, cellular immunity (killing of infected cells by the immune system) is more important than humoral immunity (immunity by antibodies in the blood). In practice it seems that also dead vaccines are effective, but as said they are not 100%. This means that in some cases the birds can still get ill, but certainly do not die any more.

More important is the vaccination schedule. In all cases it seems very good to vaccinate the birds twice the first time. This means that you should give them a prime vaccination and give a second vaccination one month later. Then, depending on the vaccine, the vaccination has to be repeated once or twice a year.

I always advise to vaccinate even if there is no real indication of problems in the loft. When the fancier doesn’t vaccinate there should be at least a regular examination of the droppings. But in a lot of cases when fanciers follow a good vaccination schedule the racing results are also better.


The most common symptoms of Salmonella/Paratyphoid in pigeons:
1. Diarrhea;
2. Torticollis;
3. Infectious arthritis;
4. Subcutaneous abscesses;
5. Infertility;
6. Acute death;
7. Chronic death / wasting away.

Paratyphoid: Salmonella causes the disease paratyphoid in pigeons. It is a bacterial infection that causes a multitude of possible symptoms including sudden death of apparently healthy birds of any age, joint infections causing a dropped wing or lameness, infertility in cocks and hens, diarrhea, weight loss, ect. This is a treatable disease and is best treated with Baytril (250 mg./ gall.) or Cipro (500mg./gall) for 10-14 days. Baytril (and I assume Cipro) has been shown to get rid of the carrier state of salmonella so you no longer must destroy infected birds. Remember these drugs should not be used while breeding and raising babies. Vaccination is available and is a good idea, especially if you have had a problem with the disease before. The vaccine contains an immune stimulant and seems to really give the birds a boost of great health when used about 3-4 weeks before the race season. This disease is carried by rodents so you must keep them out of your loft to prevent possible infection in your birds.


Recently, one of our members wrote to me because he encounters some great
problems with his pigeons:

Here is what he wrote me:

"In March of this year, my birds came down with Paratyphoid.

I lost many good quality birds. I was able to stop it with Baytril. My feeder
birds never got it, however, many of the young had lumps on the legs. I need to
put my birds on a program to make sure that the Paratyphoid is completely gone.
I would like to put all my feeders, Modenas, and Helmets on the program whatever
it takes. As of now, none of my birds show any signs of Paratyphoid, however it
still shows up in the feeder birds, babies.
I have heard good and bad about Sal-Bac. Should I use it? Should I change the
I'm not going to attend any shows this year. I killed many young birds, and
don't really have much to show.
After I treat for Paratyphoid, I would like to put my birds on a complete
program to keep them healthy. I never want to have another year like this one.
Can you recommend a complete program? "

To be sure I answer him the best I could, I made a few researches and completed
my answer looking in what I had in my files.

As I believe my answer can help any one among you that could be in the same
situation, I am posting my answer to all of you. Any comment, will be very much
appreciated, first from this fancier who is reading all our information, second,
by me to try to improve my knowledge.

Thank you,
Raymond Julien,

“First, I will answer your questions, then; I will tell you what you should do to
have healthier pigeons.

It really looks like your pigeons got Paratyphoid the way you described it.
Sal-bac is a very good product but many do not use it as it should be and then,
they say it is not efficient. Dr. Zsolt Talaber gives us the following advices:

You should always treat your pigeons before you vaccinate them against
paratyphoid to avoid too many problems afterwards. The only exception is with
young birds that you can vaccinate at the age of 6 weeks as they still have the
parents immunity at this time. You have to repeat the treatment as per the
description of the manufacturer. (BOOSTER) Please take note that you can vaccine
your young pigeons against PMV at the age of 3 weeks old. It will then act as a
booster and may also help them to fight against other disease in their life.

Please take note that you should not vaccinate when it is too hot or too cold or
during the molt period and at least a month before your breeding program.

Dr. Talaber also writes that for one or two weeks, after vaccination, we must be
particularly careful that the vaccinated birds not be exposing to any kind of
infection. During that period, the birds are in the so-called negative phase,
during which their system is highly susceptible to infection.

Using immune boosters during and after vaccination significantly raises the
level of protection. ACV, Garlic, probiotics aloe vera have been well documented
and are very much acknowledged to have incredibly positive effects on humans and
it's been proven the same with pigeons.

Paratyphoid is a great problem in our lofts. In many occasions, we treat but not
enough. It goes like this:

First, symptoms of paratyphoid appear. We give an antibiotic treatment, the
symptoms disappear and it seems that the problem is solved. But it can happen
that not all the Salmonella bacteria are killed yet. The Salmonella bacteria
(the cause of paratyphoid) survive in the environment of the pigeon. In the
environment it can survive several months. This shows us that it is utmost
necessary, whenever you are treating with antibiotics to also carefully
disinfect the environment of pigeons, to eliminate as many bacteria as possible.
Then, the second form of bacteria survival is even more dangerous, happen again.
The immune system is attack again and so on..

Dr. Collin Walker once told me that we should use stronger doses of medicine and
for longer time when we already have treated our birds for paratyphoid.

What can be done then? Have a look on what Carlo Gyselbrecht tells us:

"The ideal treatment is a long term treatment for 14 days with a suitable
chemotherapeutical or an antibiotic, for ex. Trimetopin, enrofloxicine,
(baytril) …) , followed by a vaccination. Only this way together with strict
hygienic regulations you can get rid of the hidden disease, because then there
will be also no anti-elements produced in blood. This is best done in
cooperation with your vet.
It is a fact, that even if you collect dropping five consecutive days, only in a
few cases the Salmonela bacteria can be effectively isolated ( I think only in
10% of the cases where there are problems with parathyphoid- a negative result
therefore doesn't necessarily mean that there is no parathyphoid present in the
loft) . All this doesn't make things much easier. After a described treatment of
parathyphoid you can often see that the usage of medication goes down, in other
words it is much easier to keep pigeons in good health."

Like other birds and animals, most pigeons exposed to paratyphoid infection
recover completely, either through treatment or natural defensive mechanisms,
but as in the case of other species of birds and animals, the occasional bird is
unable to clear the infection, and becomes a permanent carrier"

In order to acquire a good, viable population of friendly bacteria in the
digestive system, often takes a number of days. As a result, I usually recommend
the use of probiotics for 7-10 days at a stretch, repeating at intervals,
especially throughout the breeding and racing seasons. When attempting to
prevent paratyphoid infections in the first place, or after infected birds have
been treated with the correct antibiotic, at this time, you can add to the
drinkers, lactose and apple cider vinegar, or other organic acids.

It is very important that you have no rodents in your loft as mice or rats. They
all carry salmonella.

Summary advices:

Treat ALL your birds with Trimetopin, enrofloxicine, (baytril) for 14 days.

Vaccinate them with Sal-bac. Give them a booster as indicated by the

Clean and disinfect often your loft with a good disinfectant like oxine or
virkonS at least 3 times, the last one being after the treatment.

Give the birds a good probiotic for 10 days in a row starting at about the 7th.
day after you start to treat. Give this probiotic two times a week after that
period. ACV, Garlic, vitamins, and Aloe Vera should be use in your program.
Cleanest is important, disinfection is also.

Do not hesitate if you have any other questions.


Raymond Julien,

Québec, Canada.



Have a look on what was written in "The New York Times"

It is to be reminded that the maximum salt in a pigeon diet should never be more
than 1% of the total feed by day.


Q. The other day I noticed pigeons pecking at some freshly laid deicing salt on
the sidewalk. Is this generally safe for them to eat? And do they need salt?

A. Not road salt. According to Christine Sheppard, curator of birds at the Bronx
Zoo, de-icing compounds are not good for any animals or plants because they have
various levels of toxicity.
"Pigeons do need salt in their diets, but not in large doses, and generally
acquire this through their normal diet of plant and animal food sources," Dr.
Sheppard said in an e-mail message.
Some experts contacted through the New York Bird Club said that pigeons would
often peck at anything that might be food. They need some grit in their diet,
the experts pointed out, because without it, they can't digest food. "And often
salt is mixed with grit when it is put down," said Rowan Anderson, a member of a
London group that attends to the welfare of pigeons in Trafalgar Square.''

David Marx, a pigeon veterinarian, wrote that pigeons can acquire a salt
deficiency, especially if they have been feeding young. But if they then eat too
much, they can contract salt poisoning, which can be fatal.

Raymond Julien

Dr. Talaber in his book writes that pigeons have a great desire in salt like all animals, including man. If given freely, they might eat more than they need to maintain health.  Over a long period, excessive salt intake will lead to increased thirst, causing excessive fluid intake, which give rise to raised blood pressure and heart diseases kidney disease, cerebral hemorrhages, acute blindness and so on’’



SECRETS: See tips.


Unfortunately it happens that a baby (or adult bird) suffers from a

broken leg ... The following advice was given from a vet: "Cut two

pieces of 'cloth' adhesive tape, align the bones as well as possible and

place one piece of tape on one side and the other piece opposite.

Squeeze the tapes together down each side of the tape with forceps, as

close to the bone as possible, and then cut the tape close to leg, maybe

1/16". After this, run a bead of 'super glue' down both seams and let

dry. The super glue holds the edges together and also strengthens the

tape, ”A perfect little cast."

SEXING:  Pigeon Insider :

Cock birds.

1. A. Make note that most cock birds are bigger in statue and have for the most part a bigger head.

2. B. By looking at the tail of the cock you will see it has been drug on the floor of the loft or ground and will be dirty.

3. C. Will run the hen by this I mean that he tries to get the hen back to the nest and will run her all over the loft or when they are outside will run her all over the ground or roof of the loft. He is the one in the back.

4. D. Tend to peck at the hen to gain her attention; this usually takes the appearance of light pecking to get her attention and is not a deliberate pecking to cause injury.

5. E. Do a dance which consists of but is not restricted to walking in a figure eight pattern, ducking the head or bowing and spinning in a circle.

6. F. Will emit a low growling noise and in general seem to argue with the hen.

7. G. Will peck at the underside of the wing by reaching back over their side and lifting the wing.

8. H. Will run or charge at the hens in an attempt to intimidate them.

9. I. Will sit in a nesting place and call to the hen.

10.  J. Provide the nesting material by bringing it to the hen and offering it to make a nest.

11.  K. Will chose a nest place and then bow down and call to the hen and beckon her to come to him.

12.  L. Are more agressive.

13.  M. Eyes are not as round as a hen’s.

14.  N. Take the nest in the late mornings relieving the hens to eat and catnap in the sun.

Hen Birds

1. A. Are smaller in stature and features.

2. B. Tend to the nest duties at night.

3. C. Have more space between the vent bones

4. D. Are more timid

5. E. Will attempt to feed the cock bird by sticking her beak into the cocks Beak

6. F. Will go to the cocks chosen nest site and kneel down positioning herself into the mating stance.

7. G. Tend to have rounder eyes I am talking about the cere being rounder in the corners.

8. H. Is the bird in front during the “chase”

9. I. Seldom make any sounds.

10.  J. Are normally cleaner.

11.  K. Is the one that lays eggs?

12.  L. Is usually the one that grooms the cock bird by lightly pecking around the eyes, ears and head?

13.  M. Is daintier when drinking I mean she will only stick part of her beak into the water where as a cock will gulp with whole beak in the water ….



SHOW (Pigeon)

SHOWING (preparation)

Hi everyone,

I am quite sure many of you have read the article: “Then and Now” in the May/June Purebred Pigeon  (2012). (What a great pigeon’s publication)

This article is about one of the greatest King breeder, if not the best one ever. It is written by Larry Foos, AKC Publicity Director. And the name of this great fancier is John Schroeder who won 23 Grand National Champions!

In this article, Larry ask: “You had birds that be just show beautifully in the show pen. Why is that?”:

John: Because I train them. A lot of days, especially on the weekend, I’d go out and put the best birds in the show pen to leave out there for 2-3 hours..Etc..  

With Jim Johnson’s agreement, one of our ASR members, I am copying one of his articles he once wrote. You will see why Jim is also such a great breeder. He has many details in his article and I keep it in my files to read it every year in June. Now, I want to share it with all of you:    

Hi all,

I thought I would jot a few things down on this topic. First off show prep starts as soon as they come out of the nest. If you don't keep an eye on them as far as health problems and or pest/bug problems the show season is done before it gets started. I am always looking at them in the show cages and when I do I find out if they are down in weight or have any bugs or other issues to be corrected before it's too late. This is also part of the culling process. As we look at them we decide if they are worthy to be shown / bred / sold or even fed to maturity. And keeping inferior birds will only hurt the others as far as condition goes. As you check them over in the show cages, you will discover some are very tame in the cages and are easy to handle. While others are kind of wild and try to get away all the time. These are the ones that will require more "coop time" and handling to get them to settle down. Some on the other hand will not settle down and continue to be wild. This is another thing to "cull" for. Temperament is genetic, and you need to breed for that as well. As we go through the summer months looking over the birds, you will find the ones that will be the best for your "show team". Try to make sure there is not a bunch of cocks fighting in the young bird pens. I know that’s almost impossible with young cocks, but try and move them around and find where they fight the least. When it gets closer to show time start looking at beaks and toe nails that need trimming, you want to do this a few weeks before show time. Then just file the beaks as needed before showing. And of course the gazzi will need some feathers trimmed, if not experienced at trimming then practice!!! You can do it with birds with juvenile feathers, and then they will grow back in if you make mistakes. And practice on those gazzi you think are so bad they can't be shown! You would be surprised how nice they look when you get done! (I can hear some groaning now about "over trimming"). And weekly baths help keep the feathers clean and in good condition. I rotate a few different products in the bath water, bleach, a few drops of dish soap, permethrin, borax, etc.
> As far as meds go, the sky is the limit and some give them everything under the sun. The past couple years I have done little or nothing as far as meds. Just the basics, like worming, and something for canker if that shows up at all. And the pest control is key, I don't know of any judges that will put a bird with a lot of bug "holes" up very high in a show. I usually show the same birds at the shows, maybe at most 3 shows for a bird, some can take several shows while others get "tired" after 1 or 2 . The only difference is some shows I show more birds than others, due to local support, entry fee or whatever. And I usually show my "best" ones since I'm trying to win! Some will hold a bird back because they feel it is too good to risk losing for what ever reason. And yes I often breed from birds that win or do well at a show. But not just because they win at 1 show.

 And the selective breeding thing is difficult to explain completely, but most good show birds will have some weak point that you want to improve, so you try and pick out a mate that is strong in that area. Also there are ALOT of good stock birds out there that will never win at a show. Maybe they have a huge head, or 3" lock legs, or a perfect underline, any great feature. but may be weak in another place that makes them not balanced in the show cage.
 Well thats enough rambling for now, hope some of this helps someone out there!!
 Jim Johnson
 Pacific Modena Club
 Sec / Treas / Bulletin editor
 Camp Verde AZ

Specially selected for the members of this group by Raymond Julien.

 Show racing homer 



SICK PIGEON ( Treating)


See also: Young bird sickness


SICKNESS also see Diseases

Hi everyone,


While we are on this subject, I am posting a part of an article the great As Schaerleackens has just written on 18 of March 2012. Again this has been written for the racing homer fanciers but, as always, those guys are paving the road for us and all we have to do is to ‘try’ to follow them:



It made me think of some e-mails I get.

There are e-mails such as the following:

- I have bought good birds and what I need now is good medicine. Can you advise me Mr Ad?


- I want to become a pigeon fancier. Can you advise me where to buy birds and what medicine I need to be a successful racer?

And more similar questions.

It seems that many people, especially foreigners, strongly believe that medicine is something you absolutely need to be successful in this sport.

This is far from true.

You need good birds, of course. And for those birds you need a loft, food, a timer and a good handler. Medicine you only need just in case. And this does not often happen to good pigeon men.



I would not say that birds cannot get sick but this is far less common than people think. Especially those fanciers that often medicate get the most health problems with their birds. And the bad thing is that they often medicate against something that the birds are not suffering from.

On a longer term they are literally killing their family.

The champions in Holland and Belgium who say that they seldom medicate are not all liars as some think.


Moreover: Why medicate when birds are in good shape?

Do you yourself take medicine when you are healthy?

Fanciers tend to forget that medicine is created to cure birds that are sick and not to make birds fly faster.  

Furthermore medication is often done in the wrong way.

Medicine in the drinker in very cold weather (in winter) is useless since birds hardly drink then. In very hot weather less of the medicine should be given since birds drink very much then.

Furthermore some medicate only part of their birds when something is wrong.

This is a big mistake. They should ALL be treated at the same time.

And… many fanciers medicate too shortly. One period of 6 days is better than 2 periods of 3 days. Cures of one day against whatever disease are useless and dangerous!   





SIZE of the modena by Willi Richert, Scott Brown and Jim Vines:

I have always been in favor of a slightly larger bird. When I developed the
whites into a color that had more "power" I used only Modena crosses.
Today's size is more the result of out crossing to another breed. Many times
the size was not proportionate. Many of the birds were just tall. I looked
at what Jack Horn used as a basis for his crossing and found them to be
nicely tight feathered but lacking in the smooth roundness we desire. They
also had the long thin beaks and legs that we do not want.

It was interesting as they lacked the proper tail lift to complete the round
underline. I have noticed that the pictures especially the Blacks the body
is round but the tail

comes out straight as almost an afterthought.

It was interesting that this thoroughly inbred outcross had such an impact
on a few breeders and the breed. Today we evidence the shortcomings of this
breed development as well as the positive traits. The birds expressions are
not as pleasing as they were. If you look in the older yearbooks (95-96) the
birds had nice eye expression

and the heads were free from all the clefting. To get head volume you had to
loosen up the feather as it also covered up the shallow area in front of the

The real asset to the outcross was tightening up the feather behind the leg.
I have noticed that in trying to get rid of the clefting the breeders are
losing the appearance of

roundness under the wing butt. For whatever reason when Jack crossed back
into Modenas the ash red and black schiettis he used carried nice head
volume but the

clefts were magnified.

The other issue is color. It is only an exception today. When we see
excellent color today it is a pleasant surprise.

The size issue has gotten out of hand. In an effort to win, size has been
steadily increased over a long period of time. We as breeders have really
not noticed it because of

the slight increments every few years. However we have all heard how
surprised people are after not having seen Modenas for a number of years.
Quote "they are as

big as Kings" or "Little Kings".

The Modenas in my opinion should be penalized if they go over 12 inches. A
bird 10 to 11 inches is probably where we are at. I like a lot of substance
on a medium bird.

The bird should have balance and certainly not be overdone to the point of
being grotesque.

Those that have inbred the crosses will need to continue selecting for
parenting as it is a trait easy to lose and hard to regain. But we still
have a gene pool that will help.

My average production is 5 to 51/2 young per pair over a 6 month period.

As noted by several others I believe our judges need to revisit the type of
bird selected. This should be directed by the National club as the
interpretation of the standard

has gotten out of hand.

I could probably become even more detailed on the traits both positive and
negative but for the sake of casual conversation will not do so.

We have a great breed I hope that we do not lose sight of what has made it
so popular.

Best regards,

Willi J. Richert



Hi Everyone.... ......I always enjoy the comments when we get on a
subject that interest's many of us. I wanted to make one more comment
and then I'll just sit back and read what all have to say. If any of
you have not done so.......... I would suggest that at the next show
you attend and also in your own loft that you break out a 12" ruler
and start taking some measurements. I think you will find many 11"
and 12" tall modena's that are also very balanced in the show and
also in your loft. I also think you will find many 21/2 and 3" legs
on the birds at the shows and in your loft. I have done this on
several occasion's at shows and I found the result's interesting.
Bird's with 2" legs do not win at the shows here in the USA. Look at
your birds and the winning birds and be honest with yourself and also
with all of us. Your birds are larger than 91/2 inches and have
longer than 2" legs. I'm not saying we need to change the
standard.... ....only that we have gravitated to a larger bird whether
you like it or not. To answer Brent's question on the larger
birds....... .Brent all my good producing stock birds are
large....... ..some over 12". I believe that in order to maintain a
thriving stud of winning Modena's you must keep the size in your
stock birds. Size does not mean a tall bird........ but a bully, well
balanced bird that is proportioned correctly if over 10". Wider and
deeper goes along with the height in order to maintain a bully round

Scott Brown USA


Scott said a key word that is crucial to this discussion, and that is
balance. Yes.we should consider size when judging but there are many other
factors involved when judging Modenas. Size is only one of them.

Jim Vines





The crop of healthy pigeons should empty within 12 hours if fed twice daily and within 24 hours if fed once daily. Delayed crop emptying can be the initial indication to the fancier that all is not well with the team.

Often the problem is first noticed when birds are picked up for a morning toss and are found to have food in their crops from the day before. Alternatively birds may not appear normally hungry and trap sluggishly simply because they still have food in their crops, waiting to be digested, from their last feed.

And so what are the possible causes of delayed crop emptying? I find it easiest to group potential causes into four categories, namely, problems with the food, the crop itself, the environment or the body generally.

A slow crop in the racing pigeon is a disorder that can not only interfere with the performance of the bird but it can also be an indicator that there is something medically wrong. In this article, we will look at the function of the crop and focus on the symptoms, causes, and treatment of a slow crop.

What is a Crop?

A part of the bird’s digestive system, a crop is the dilated area at the end of the esophagus, which is the tube that extends from the bird’s throat to its stomach. The crop is a functional, contracting muscular sac.

What is the Function of the Crop?

Basically, the function of the crop is to store and prepare the food for digestion. When the bird swallows its food, the food travels down the esophagus and comes to rest in the crop. When in the crop, the food becomes moistened and softened. The crop then pushes boluses of food into the stomach, where enzymes are added and chemical digestion begins.

A Healthy Crop vs. a Slow Crop

In a healthy crop, the food passes from the crop into the stomach within twelve hours if the bird is fed twice daily and within 24 hours if the bird is fed once daily. If there is a delay in this and the food remains in the crop, this is a disorder known as a “slow crop”. Delayed crop emptying is often the first thing the fancier notices and may mean something more is wrong.

Symptoms of a Slow Crop

Often, the first time a fancier notices a problem of a slow crop in the racing pigeon is when he picks it up for a morning toss and finds there is still food in its crop from the day before. Other symptoms include the bird not being as hungry or the bird trapping sluggishly because it has food in its crop, waiting to be digested.

Causes of a Slow Crop

Basically, the main causes of a slow crop fall into four categories; problems with the feed, problems with the crop, environmental problems, and problems within the bird’s body.

Problems with Feed

The primary feed problem that can cause slow crop is contamination. Feed can become contaminated with bacteria, fungi, and toxins. When fed to the bird, the crop can become infected, irritated and inflamed.
Problems with the Crop
Infections are the primary issues here. An infection will inflame the crop and interfere with its function. Wet canker, thrush and bacterial infections such as E-coli are the most common.

Environmental Problems
Environmental problems include things such as exposure to heavy metals, like zinc or lead, lofts that fail to provide a secure and healthy environment and even fancier issues such as overtraining.

Exposure to heavy metals usually comes from drinkers, storage drums or feed trays made of galvanized metals. The exposure accumulates over time and can result not only in a slow crop but also in infertility.

Environmental issues with the loft can include things such as a cold and damp loft or an overcrowded loft. Any issue that causes stress to the bird can result in a slow crop.

Problems within the Bird

The most common problems the bird can have that may result in a slow crop are worms or Coccidia.

Diagnosing the Cause of the Slow Crop

The first thing to do when you recognize the slow crop condition is to gather a history:

·         Review your recent management and handling techniques. Have you worked the bird hard in cold weather?

·         Review your loft design and conditions relative to recent weather.

·         Have you made any changes in the bird’s feed?

If you have ruled out the above as possible causes of a slow crop, then it is time to call the vet for assistance in diagnosing the cause. The primary method of diagnosing a slow crop is through a crop flush.  Using the flush, fluid is removed from the crop and analyzed under a microscope for possible infections. Additional clinical exams to rule out causes within the bird’s body include a fecal smear to test for worms or Coccidia.

Treatment of the Slow Crop

Treatment of the slow crop includes correction of the cause. You will also want to support the bird’s health and digestion with probiotics and vitamins.

Another treatment that has proven effective is the administration of fennel tea. This was first discovered by Dr. Lorenzo Crosti, the veterinary director of the world famous bird breeding facility, Loro Parque. Dr. Crosti used fennel tea with birds exhibiting slow crops but that were otherwise healthy.

You can purchase fennel tea bags from health food stores. Brew the tea according to the directions and add it to the drinker. It smells like licorice. There is no dose ‘requirement’ for the tea. The birds will drink it readily if not mixed too strongly.






(Author unknown)

"Young Bird Sickness

Young bird disease has spread rapidly around the world
in recent years, causing severe losses among young

This is a mixed infection, involving viruses and
bacteria (especially E.coli and cocci, but also
The pathogens are transmitted by air, dust and contact
between birds, as well as via communal drinking water
and feed.
Outbreaks of the disease are promoted by stress
factors such as weaning, the introduction of strange
birds into a loft, vaccination, heat (accelerated
bacterial growth, water shortage), may be catched in
any pigeon show room, training of juveniles
(basketing) and young pigeon flights.

Symptoms of the disease:
The disease can take two forms:

Sudden death not preceded by any perceptible signs of
A typical scenario sees young pigeons released from
the loft for their daily training (on a hot summer's
day, perhaps), whereupon they fly around for an hour
and then return to the loft. They land on the roof or
on the alighting ledge, do not respond to the
breeder's attempts to entice them into the loft, and
die within the space of a few hours.

Death preceded by visible signs of illness:
During the period between the onset of symptoms and
death (lasting from 3 days to 1 week), the following
symptoms are observed: lack of activity, puffed-up
plumage, refusal of feed, swelling of the crop, weight
loss, greenish-yellow faeces in puddles, vomiting.

Recognition of the disease:
Owing to the numerous pathogens involved in this
disease, it is only possible to make a tentative

Similar conditions:
E.coli infection, hexamitiasis.

There is no vaccine against young pigeon disease that
could be used to prevent infection. However, sick
pigeons can be treated with adenosan. And timely use
of adenosan may also prevent an outbreak of the
disease in birds suspected of infection.

1. adenosan is used:
For at least 7 days at the first symptoms of young
pigeon disease.
If the disease is only recognised at a later stage, it
is additionally necessary to use a chemotherapeutic
agent with antibiotic activity (preferably
furazolidon+ ) in order to contain the bacterial
infection.The active ingredient furazolidone has been
shown to possess specific efficacy against E.coli
infections in the gut.

2. adenosan is used in the following situations, where
there is reason to fear infection as a result of
contact with other young pigeons:
For a 7-day period when introducing new youngsters to
the flock.
During the flying season, for 3 days after flights.

3. adenosan is used when a disease outbreak is likely
as a result of a challenge to the immune system:
In connection with vaccinations (paramyxovirus
infection, Salmonella, pigeon pox) - for 3 days before
immunisation and 4 days thereafter.

4. adenosan is used where a change in gut flora
predisposes birds to a disease outbreak.
When treating birds for trichomonads, we recommend
parallel administration of adenosan over a period,
beginning 3 days prior to treatment."







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