No part of our Secrets can be copied or published without written permission from Frank McLaughlin.
November 15th 2015
McLaughlin Lofts continues to stay many years ahead. Most recently the Animal Rights people (MSPCA) reprimanded me for using Virkon S in the drinking water. Now Dupont is marketing Virkon H2O for use in poultry drinking water. To learn more about Virkon H2O
Attention: On August 26th, I had a visit from MSPCA which is the Massachusetts Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. I was reported for giving my pigeons Virkon S. I have used Virkon S one or two times per year and found this to be beneficial to the pigeons. Someone felt I was poisoning my pigeons. This could not be further from the truth. I would never do anything to harm my pigeons and advocate natural health methods. Virkon S is not designed for drinking water but has been used from Koi fish breeders to chicken breeders for years. I will use Virkon S to disinfect my lofts, water dispensers and feeders. It seems to Animal Rights People, that endless use of antibiotics and bleach in the drinking water is much better than Virkon S. I am disappointed I was not questioned direct by the person that reported my Virkon S use as a cruelty to animals. McLaughlin Lofts will no longer advocate Virkon S to be used in anyway other than instructed by the label. Virkon S is used around the world in many ways, but the label must be followed here in the USA.
Email Received 9/2/2015
Frank – I am the Technical Sales Leader for The Chemours Company, Clean and Disinfect business in North America, formerly DuPont Animal Health. On 8/20 a report was made to the Rocky Mountain Poison Control Center that you were recommending online the use of Virkon S in poultry drinking water. I received the report this morning. I see that you have posted a notice on your site of being visited by MSPCA. Just to reiterate, Virkon S is not approved for use in animal drinking water according to our label registered with EPA in the US. It is a violation of federal law to use a pesticide product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. I understand there are uses outside the US that are allowed and even accepted as common practice, but we must adhere to the label instructions that are approved by EPA. Please remove your recommendations from the attached website. Thank you!
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly.
Jeffrey A. Odle
Technical Sales Leader NA, Clean & Disinfect, Chemical Solutions
Secret 2 – Updated 3/12/12
Moxidectin wormer - if you are still using Ivermectin or any other wormer, you are wasting time and your birds probably have round worms and other parasites. We have been using Moxidectin for twenty years with incredible results. The easy way to administer is to go to a feed store with horse products and buy a product called 'Quest'. Quest comes in a syringe tube and will make seven gallons of water.
Quest is a gel that must be mixed in a blender and poured into the water and given to the pigeons for 48 hours. It lasts in the pigeons’ system for 30 days. Not only does it eliminate all internal intestinal worms, it eliminates gape worms and all external parasites. We treat the race team with Quest seven days before a big race and have only had super results.
We place 1/2 tube of Quest in one cup of water in the blender. We blend for 30 seconds and then pour this into 3.5 gallons of water and stir. When you see the dial on Quest you will realize it is difficult to make less than two gallons at one time.
If you see worms you can repeat every three weeks for up to six months. If your pigeons are reinfected from the environment, you can treat every three weeks or monthly for six months. Round worm eggs only live in the environment for six months so the life cycle can be broken.
Once per year we treat with Quest Plus which contains the Tapeworm medicine. The pigeons do not like to drink Quest Plus so we use it only once a year.
NEVER give to dogs, it may be deadly!
Are you a widowhood flyer and wish you could fly hens but do not have the room or time? Here is a system that will change the way you race pigeons. Before the widowhood season begins train the hens out 60 to 70 miles. Once the birds are separated feed the hens 100% high quality barley every day but, Thursday evening the day before shipping. On Thursday evening feed all the small seeds like safflour, hemp along with all the European mix they want. After about 30 minutes remove the feed and place barley in the feeder for the day on Friday.
Ship the hens every week to each race and upon return let them eat all the rich feeds and small seeds they want. Place them back into their holding section or flight pen a couple hours after they home until the process starts over each week. They are never trained or let out of the loft. They only fly one day a week in the race. Leave one or two hens’ home for the first two arriving cocks or use some unmated stock hens. Often, the hens will beat the cocks and will even be better when the distance races come along. The hens only eat barley except for Thursday evening and Saturday after the race. If you are sending the hens to a long-distance race, you can feed the hens the rich seeds the day of shipping also. Keep every possible mineral in front of the hens, free choice all the time. If the hens fly eight or more hours in a race you can skip a week and go two weeks between races.
This system works so well and allows you to race more pigeons without any extra time or effort. You will start to re-think how to train pigeons when you fly this system.
Feeding Tip: Never over feed your race team again. Just add about one ounce of Rabbit Pellets to the feed each day. Feed enough until the birds leave the rabbit pellets. Any very hungry birds will eat the rabbit pellets. After we feed our youngsters each day there is always a sprinkling of rabbit pellets in the feeder. By late in the day the pellets are gone.
We give all the birds rabbit pellets two time per week year-round. This eliminates the use of any fresh greens. Buy rabbit pellets that have the first ingredient alfalfa.
Resting Tip. Rest is one of big misconceptions when it comes to racing pigeons. If you want your pigeons to have a long successful career, please give one day of total rest for every two hours on the wing. Four-hour flight, two-days’ rest, 12-hour flight 6 days of total rest. You will not only dominate all season long you will win with 5-year-old or older pigeons if you follow this rest recommendation throughout their career. By total rest we mean they do not even loft fly.
Buy a hygrometer (Home Depot) with a high low setting. The hygrometer measures humidity. Place the hygrometer in the racing loft and adjust ventilation to maintain humidity below 70%. By monitoring the humidity, you will learn to always keep it lower than 70%. Pigeons have a big drop in form with humidity over 70%. My widowhood loft can be kept at 68% humidity when it is 100% humidity outside. My hygrometer monitors temperature and high low temperature also.
Keep an injectable antibiotic on hand for any one eye colds, rattles, or respiratory issues you may have. We use LA 200 an oxytetracycline. Inject 0.4cc at the base of the back of the neck and in two to three days all the symptoms will be completely gone. Buy a very small bottle of LA 200. It goes a long way. We buy at Tractor Supply.
Aquarium Chlorine Removers: Small amounts of chlorine and chloramine are added to tap water to kill organisms for safe human consumption. Of course, chlorine and chloramine are toxic to your friendly bacteria and may interfere with antibiotics etc. Use aquarium chlorine removers to do away with them. Aquarium chlorine removers often remove other harmful heavy metals, ammonia and prepare your tap water for pigeon use. Purchase the one drop or two drops to the gallon dose and stop wasting money by killing or interfering with anything you give your pigeons in the drinking water. Just fill the bucket or container, drop in chlorine remover stir and add your products immediately.
Most pigeon grit is comprised of ground granite. This ground granite is very sharp, fragmented, pointed and generally abrasive. Is this grit irritating the gizzard and insides of our pigeons? Wild birds eat round smooth pebbles for grit. Maybe we should all rethink grit and find a pebble-based grit with no sharp edges. I collect smooth pebbles off a salt-water beach. There are places the pebbles collect at the base of large rocks. The size ranges from slightly bigger than a grain of sand to a little bigger than a pea. I bake the pebbles on a tray in the oven at 450 degrees for ten minutes to kill bacteria, let cool and feed to the pigeons. These beach pebbles also contain shell fragments, trace salts and minerals. If you can get Versele Laga Grit and Redstone you are in luck. This is what we use for grit.
Not all yellow in a pigeon’s throat is canker. Fine lines of yellow could be an ornithosis or some sort of respiratory problem. If your canker treatment does not seem to work maybe you should be treating with doxycycline. Remember eyes, nose, ears, and throat are all interrelated.
The most important meal after a workout is the first meal. This applies to athletes and animals. When your pigeons return home from a tough race, they need rich feed with plenty of oil seeds in front of them free choice. They will eat what is needed to recover. By feeding rich feed your pigeons will recover very fast. We usually place all the 16% European mix along with safflour, pellets, hemp, flax etc.
When our pigeons return home from a race, they drink our special blend of water additives to assist in recovery. In one gallon of water, we place one tablespoon of glucose powder, 1/4 teaspoon of chicken vitamin electrolytes, one teaspoon of Probios Horse probiotic and 1/8 teaspoon of iodized salt. They will bounce right back on this mix. You can substitute honey for glucose.
Apple Cider Vinegar is one of the best natural additives that can be given daily to the pigeons. We have given one ounce to the gallon nearly every day of the year. Usually at least a couple days per week. We also mix in vitamins and probiotics several times per week. For a natural product to have benefits it must be used regularly over a long period of time. Apple Cider Vinegar makes the gut acidic. Bad bacteria will not thrive well in an acid environment. The good bacteria and normal pigeon gut bacteria love the acidic (Apple Cider) environment. We usually buy the gallon container at the supermarket. If you only have a handful of pigeons the Apple Cider Vinegar sold at the health food stores is better.
One winter and the entire breeding season we gave the apple cider vinegar every single day. We do not use the vinegar as much during the race season. I am too worried to that the race team will not be hydrated enough if I put the vinegar in the water. When I do use it during racing it is in the water for just the morning feeding or early in the week. Europeans says it works against canker. Used over the long-term Apple Cider Vinegar has positive effects on the pigeons. Never mix the Apple Cider Vinegar with medications.
Please do not feed Popcorn to your pigeons. Popcorn is very hard and does not absorb water easily. If you put popcorn in a glass of water for 24 hours, it does not swell or get soft. Popcorn should not be included in any pigeon feed mix. Use a regular large corn in the feed mix and your results will improve in both racing and breeding.
We do not medicate youngsters in their lives. If possible, just vaccinate and worm with moxidectin. Medicate only if it is necessary. One sick youngster does not mean it is time to medicate the entire team. Our young bird team will not be medicated for anything not even during the racing season. All young pigeons that are not raced, either bred for stock or sale may not receive anything but vaccinations and moxidectin. Pigeons that are allowed to build natural immunity when young have less problems with health for the rest of their lives. Do yourself and your pigeons a favor by keeping them as natural as possible. We do advocate Avian Solution and Oregano Product sold by Jedds. Seem to have an antibiotic effect on the pigeons but is all natural. We have spent years going antibiotic free and we are not interested in keeping pigeons that need medication to stay healthy.
For pigeons to stay healthy naturally they cannot lack anything. We give apple cider vinegar, Avian Solution regularly with numerous mineral cups, grits and occasional probiotics, vitamins two or three times per week, garlic etc. If the birds are not lacking anything, their immune system works optimally.
You can pretty much feed any grain and or pellet mix and raise super babies providing you have every mineral and grit available to the pigeons. Vitamin deficiencies do not affect the pigeons nearly as much as mineral deficiencies. We keep pink Vita mineral, brown mineral blocks, pick pot minerals, oyster shells, Versele Laga grit mix, red stone, magnesium blocks etc. in separate cups in front of the breeders always. Your babies will be spectacular.
There is only one type of oil that should be used on our feed for the pigeons. That oil is Flax Seed Oil. This oil is high in Omega 3's and the health benefits are endless. Wet the feed with the Flax Oil and then add a good natural flavored whey protein or brewer’s yeast. Never chocolate whey because chocolate is poisonous to pigeons. Omega 3 oils act as an anti-inflammatory, which allows the pigeons to keep flying when others have quit, due to swelling and fatigue. Tuesdays and Thursdays during racing (and breeding) will be enough for a positive effect. You may wonder why supply houses do not sell Flax Seed Oil in their oil mixes??? Flax Oil is more expensive and must be kept refrigerated. Use the best oil for top results. Consider using Flax Oil to make your own salad dressing or just take a tablespoon a day right off the spoon. Brain and cardiovascular benefits are endless. Flax Oil has a mild nut flavor. You can buy Flax Oil at the Health Food store and even in the refrigerated section of supermarkets.
Need to up the protein during breeding? Add a high protein small kibble dog food to the mix. Ten percent dog food in the mix will do the trick. My pigeons would rather eat dog food over safflour. Pigeons love the animal protein plus all the vitamins, minerals and calcium is very high in dog food. We like a puppy food because the protein is higher, and the food is richer for growing dogs/pigeons. We have not used dog food in years but still feel there is a benefit.
Before breeding we feed a higher percentage of Rabbit pellets. Being predominantly Alfalfa, the vegetable like pellet is nature’s way to add a spring diet to the pigeons during winter. I feel the rabbit pellet also helps with fertility and the droppings will be firm and dark. We always try to fill in any nutritional blanks with our pigeons. 10% in the mix will be perfect, Rabbit pellets will also help keep their body weight down.
Secret 20 - Updated 11/4/2012
Occasionally we find a super breeding pair. We then try to monopolize the young produced from the pair by swapping eggs to foster parents. Maybe the racing results are not what we expected from the fostered-out babies. Are we missing something? Could there be a link between the immunity/antibodies passed from the parent’s pigeon milk to the baby, to performance? We know pigeon antibodies are passed to the young through milk and through the egg. We always talk about the quality of this milk but never the quality and diversity of the antibodies in this milk.
Genetics plays a big factor in strong immune system. Exposure to pathogens many relatively harmless plays a big factor in the development of a strong immune system. Vaccines also play a major role in the strengthening of the immune system and increasing the immune response to pathogens. Is there something else?
I have a theory that old pigeons have been exposed to many pathogens in their lifetime. What they lack in the quality of their milk may be enhanced by the quality and diversity of antibodies in this milk. Now to my first thought……Consider that champion breeders may be passing something other than genetics to their young.
Bottom line is mate the old breeder to a younger pigeon. Let them raise the young and send these out to the big futurity. The youngsters from the old pigeon may have an advantage with a better immune system. The common theory is the older pigeon has less quality pigeon milk than the younger pigeon. I am not sure if any studies have been done on this. It could be older pigeons have less vitality (due to age) and interest to pump such milk to their young.
If you have a choice let your old champion pigeons raise their own youngsters. Use these youngsters for breeding. Why not give yourself every opportunity for success? We see many late breds from the old superstars go on to be exceptional breeders. Usually, it is the late breds that are raised by the old breeder. Here at McLaughlin Lofts our breeders raise nearly 100 % of their own young. If there is a connection between a champion racer or breeder and its immune system (genetics/pigeon milk) I like to give the champ every opportunity to pass this to their young.
Nearly all of us in the Baby Boomer generation were bottle fed babies. I feel many health issues we face in our adulthood could be connected to being bottle fed. This is very tough to prove but worth considering.
Need a very inexpensive salt/mineral supplement? Go to a Saltwater Aquarium Store and purchase 5 lbs of Instant Ocean or similar Saltwater fish salt. This salt is loaded with endless trace minerals. Use just a pinch at a time or change regularly because salt will attract moisture. Another option would be to keep all your minerals on a warming plate. Pet stores sell a variety of heating units that can be attached to the bottom of a glass aquarium. You can attach one of these to the bottom of a glass pyrex cookware/dish and add all your mineral cups. Minerals will stay dry.
I have found a super vita-mineral/grit combination. The product contains a combination of grits, vitamins, minerals and supplements. If you wanted to just use one grit/mineral mix this would be the one of choice. It comes in two size buckets 16lb or 22lb. This mix contains, sea grits and shells, small round stones, red grit, tiny mineral pellets, mineralized seeds, pink mineral pellets, B Vitamins, trace elements and assorted beneficial products for the pigeons. This is a must for every serious pigeon fancier. I give daily in small containers and move the leftover from the day before to another pot. Produced in Belgian by Jovati Pigeon Products and can be purchased by the bucket at Vita King Products (877) 848- 5464 . This produce is now called Ganus Minerals. We now buy All in One from Versele Laga.
Some of the top Belgians treat every new pigeon they buy with ten days of Baytril and give a vaccination for salmonella on the 10th day. This protocol makes sense before adding a pigeon to a salmonella free colony. My suggestion would be to treat for canker upon arrival followed by worming with Moxidectin. Then proceed with the 10 days of Baytril and the salmonella vaccination. Plenty of probiotics will help keep the gut in check after this process. McLaughlin Lofts only worms, vaccinates and sprays new pigeons for parasites. After many years of going antibiotic free my birds have strong immune systems and do not need to baby them.
Leave the lights on for 24 hours per day for your first two rounds during the breeding season. Your breeders should always have feed in front of them. The breeders can feed the babies throughout the night while the day length is short. Your results will improve!
The wonders of Oregano. In 2005 my 90 lb German Shepherd could not stop vomiting and had and intestinal issue. I brought him to the Vet and expected a big dose of antibiotics. The Vet gave the dog a tube of Oregano Paste. The Vet said it would work better than the antibiotics. The dog nearly instantly started to improve. He was fully recovered in a few hours. I have thought about this for several years wondering how oregano would work on our pigeons. Shortly after I saw an oregano-based water-soluble pigeon product on the market. It is called Avian Solution or Avian Powder made by Van Beek Natural Science. Can be bought at www.Jedds.com. The solution is gel like, and you must really mix it well, but it does dissolve easily. I have been using Avian Solution for many years now and feel it is the best natural product on the market.
Young birds can spread any health problems in the bath water. Many lofts notice that shortly after giving the young pigeons bath health problems begin. I would suggest adding one teaspoon of Virkon S to a gallon of bath water for each bath. This should eliminate the spread of disease and has a nice cleaning effect on the feathers.
Snake Problems can drive even the most careful fancier crazy. Snake can enter the loft and eat eggs and youngsters. If the youngster is too big to swallow the snake will just kill the pigeon. My friend Butch Shoop in Texas has had some luck with a product called 'Bird Block' made by Easy Gardener. Sold at Home Depot the netting can be placed around the bottom of the loft and over any opening. The product works like Gil Netting on fish. The snake gets caught in the net trying to get through. If the snake does get through the net to feed it will certainly get caught on the way out. 'Bird Block' comes in a roll.
When selecting breeders, you can bring in cocks that are not physically perfect if the pedigree and bloodline is outstanding. You must always pair these less than perfect cocks to perfect in every way breeding hen. Many of the babies will have the physique of the mother along with half the genetics of the sire. Mating physically perfect cocks onto less than perfect hens usually lead to less the perfect babies. The great lofts have great hens. The super hens will compensate for many flaws in the cocks.
Try wood pellets for a loft floor deep litter. One bag will cover about 5' by 7' of floor. They break down over time but are not too dusty. The also make a super compost for the garden. Use the hardwood pellet designed for burning. The pellet used in wood stoves seem to hold up better than the soft wood pellet designed for animal bedding.
If you are not able to clean your loft constantly and do not live in a very dry climate a deep litter system is the best system for keeping pigeons. The birds are very comfortable on deep litter, the loft stays extremely dry, and the pigeons stay in better condition. All beneficial to keeping healthy happy pigeons. I use straight wood pellets on my floors and sometimes mix 25% pine shavings into the wood pellets. This fresh bedding will change the atmosphere of the loft to a very positive state. You will immediately notice clean feet, clean feather, and a bounce up in health.
If you ship pigeons through the express mail in the post office or even by airline you should hydrate the babies as you place them in the box. An infant bulb syringe made of rubber in a tear drop shape will make this easy. About a half a bulb of water in each youngster as you place them in the shipping box will fight dehydration during the trip. A baby can easily take two ounces of water.
Secret 32 - Updated 8/22/2012
If you can't beat them join. This past week (July 15, 2011) I bought some rotating mechanical Dove Decoys and wind activated spinning wing Dove Decoys to place around the loft. The decoys go out when the birds are out. I am hoping when the hawks attack the young birds they may go for the easy target and hit a decoy over hitting one of the youngsters. We will, see?
Hawk attacked a Dove Decoy the other day. Will this help?? I do not know. Maybe the hawk will realize those pigeons at McLaughlin Lofts are extreme hard and tough to eat and leave the pigeons alone? We have witnessed numerous hawk attacks on the decoys.
Secret 33 - Updated 3/12/2012
It is easy to tell if you are caring for your breeders correctly. My top breeders are raising their sixth and seventh round of young feeding, driving, molting their bodies etc. and still act and handle like they did before breeding season. The cocks are highly active and are snapping their wings with that Pop Pop sound bouncing in and out of the flight pens. I attribute this health and condition at the end of breeding season not only to great pigeons but great care. Every mineral supplement is always available to the breeding pigeons. We breed right though the high heat and humidity of the summer with no ill effect. High quality pigeons combined with outstanding care should not show stress at the end of the breeding season. It is amazing to see yearling breeders mature and grow flawlessly while the entire time they are raising young. We bred until November and raised nine rounds from some of our stock pigeons with no detrimental effects.
Saw a very interesting article on the Pipa website that explained that youngsters vaccinated for Paramyxo-virus (PMV) at 3 weeks had less problems with Adeno-virus during young bird season. Some vets even claim they have less problems with Circo also. In the past I would vaccinate my youngsters for PMV about six to eight weeks before young bird season. Now I vaccinate the youngsters at weaning. I wean the babies very young. Boston has had major issues with Adeno-virus McLaughlin Lofts does not have many problems. If there is a correlation between vaccinating for PMV at 3 weeks of age and a lessor incidence of Adeno, it is well worth a try. You must vaccinate anyway. We start with new syringes and load the entire 100 dose PMV vial into the syringes. It is very easy to just grab a loaded syringe each time you wean a baby.
If you are shipping babies to one loft races use more space and larger boxes than needed. If you are going to spend large sums of money on entry fees, please do not try to save $40 by packing your babies into one small box. Think big picture. Birds that are hurt or over heated during shipping never amount to anything.
Have some of your better pigeons not performed well this past season? It may be best to have your vet test the race pigeons for Pigeon Malaria. If you have seen pigeon flies, there is a chance you loft has pigeon malaria. Moxidectin (Quest) wormer will kill the flies if the flies bite a recently wormed pigeon.
If hawks are a serious problem in the spring for the old birds this tip may help. Most pigeons are lost to hawks when they are out of shape and released for exercise around the loft. Do not release for exercise before the start of training. We at McLaughlin Lofts get the pigeons weight down with a mixture of barley and rabbit pellets for maybe three weeks before training. We then keep them very hungry pick a nice day and take them for a ¼- mile toss.
The object is road training so why let the hawks chase the pigeons around the lofts. Train them short and get them right in. Inch them out maybe 1/2 mile at a time. Once the pigeons are conditioned moderately from the road training, they can be loft flown. At least they have a fighting chance if loft flown in condition than loft flown out of condition.
Yesterday as I was repairing a cracked egg, I realized that maybe some do not know the proper procedure of repairing eggs. For starters eggs can only be repaired if the shell is cracked or slightly broken but the inner membrane is intact. If the inner membrane is not pierced the egg can be repaired. I have been repairing eggs with success for 40 years.
One thing to keep in mind is, the chick pecks out of the egg along the bigger end. When repairing eggs, you must try not to cover the area the chick must peck through. If you do need to cover a section of the dome the chick pecks through keep in mind it may be beneficial to remove your patch once the chick starts to hatch.
Now to how to repair an egg. In the old days we would cut a postage stamp to size and use this for a patch. Stamps no longer work for a patch because they are now made of almost a plastic type of paper. The adhesive is different, and the stamp will not mold to the egg.
What works best?? I have been using plain white copy paper and have even used newspaper in an emergency. The secret is to cut the paper a little larger than the crack. Now place the paper on your tongue and keep it in your mouth for about five minutes. The paper will become very soft and pliable. The saliva is a great adherent, and the paper will breathe identical to the eggshell itself.
After five minutes of the paper patch in your mouth place the paper on the crack and very gently smooth all the edges so the paper makes a complete seal on the eggshell. With warm breath blow on the patch until it starts to dry. Place the slightly damp patched egg back under the parent pigeon and it will finish drying under the parent.
You will be amazed at the success rate of these patches. Keep in mind that the chick will have a tough time pecking through the patch so the patch can be removed once the hatching process begins. Life finds a way and I have had chicks hatch when I expected them not to be able to hatch.
Pigeon eggs once laid can be stored for several days and maybe even over a week or more at room temperature before the incubation process begins. You must place the egg on its side and make three or four half turns each day until you put the egg under a foster parent. If the incubation process has begun, you cannot store the egg. If the egg is freshly laid you can keep the egg until you have a foster pair ready. I am doing some experiments now on how long a fertile egg can be kept and how much care the egg needs. I had an egg hatch that I kept on the shelf in the breeding loft for 10 days. I turned the egg only once a day and the temperature ranged from 45 degrees as a low to about 65 as a high. I will keep experimenting.
Dust in a pigeon loft may be detrimental to both the pigeons and the owner. The pigeon dust is composed primarily of bloom which is a powdered feather lubricant that prevents the wear from the feathers rubbing together.
An easy way to remove dust from the loft is to thoroughly clean and then use a vac to get into the hard-to-reach places. Once clean here is the little secret. Pick a nice windy day and remove all the pigeons. Put on a good dusk mask, open every window and door, and use a leaf blower in the loft until all the dust has been blown out of the loft.
The leaf blower will remove dust from the tops of beams, ceilings, nests etc. The loft will be like new after this treatment. If you really want to finish the job spray the entire clean and dust free loft with Virkon S disinfectant. Your loft will be like new, and a successful season will follow.
It is much better to wean babies a little younger than a little older. The younger babies tend to learn to eat faster, and this is easier on the parents, if they are not pumping babies extra days.
At weaning, I vaccinate for PMV and dip their beaks in the water. The next day if they are not eating, I will pump them up with a pellet soup from a large tip syringe. I do not want the babies to stress so I make sure they are not hungry. By day two after weaning, they are always eating and drinking well. Feel free to dip beaks in the water to introduce the water.
Some of the most determined and successful pigeons do not like change and this counts for babies a weaning. Do not think that because a baby does not want to eat or drink immediately after weaning that this baby is not a good one. The great pigeons do not like change and are more apt to sulk and be affected by change. This counts for babies also.
I hear all the time that it is better to let a hen mature before breeding her. This is nonsense. Nature will tell you when a pigeon is old enough to breed. If a hen mates and lays she is mature enough to breed. Breeding young hens or cocks is not detrimental to the pigeons in anyway. The first two eggs a young hen lays are pure gold. If she is ever going to raise a one in a million champion it will probably be from one of the first two eggs she lays in her life.
In my individual breeding pens I feed pellets to the mated pairs until the young are being fed pellets for two days. Once they have transitioned from pigeon milk to pellets, I add in a high protein high fat grain mix and always keep pellets and the grain mix in front of them.
I feel it is easier on a baby pigeons’ digestive system to go from pigeon milk to pellets and then to grain. Nice smooth transition for optimal growth and no stress. Always keep the minerals and grits in front of them.
In the breeding pens that have more than one pair at different stages I keep all the pellets they want in one feeder and add a grain mix to the other feeder several times per day. I like to use a good 16% protein large corn mix and add about 30% safflour.
I heard a great tip at a seminar last fall. Dr. Weir said nearly all adult pigeons carry Herpes Virus. Youngsters must be exposed to build immunity. Problem is they have their parents’ immunity when they are being reared. Once weaned they do not get exposed if they are kept with only other young pigeons. Here is the tip. When you wean your babies keep a couple adult pigeons in the section. I have two old dropper hens that live with my youngsters.
Exposure to herpes virus when there is no stress leads to an immune response and immunity. Exposure to herpes when they are stressed from shipping, a new loft, a few days missed feed or even extreme heat can lead to sick babies.
Better to expose your young to adult pigeons when there is not any stress. They build immunity and they will not ever have an issue.
Pyrethrum is a natural insecticide made from the flowers of chrysanthemum. It can be bought on the web and diluted to the proper dose. I am using it full strength from a tiny 1/2-ounce pump spray bottle that contained bug repellent in the past. Seems to work very well on lice. I give one quick spray under each wing and by the vent.
The least number of strong insecticides we use the better. When I was a boy, my father used to give me DDT, Chlordane, Malathion and numerous other pesticides for minor insect problems. I have wanted to stay away from harsh chemical ever since. Please do not confuse Pyrethrum with all the similar sounding chemical versions. Pyrethrum is the chemical version certainly works better and lasts longer. Supposedly is very safe.
Need to settle a strong flying pigeon. Buy some Super Hold Hair gel. Spread the gel along the last six primary flights of each wing. Let dry. Flights will look like quills. Pigeon will fly very little. Maybe from floor to perch. Let the pigeon get used to the new wings before allowing the pigeon outside. After a week of walking around the loft and going in and out, rinse off the gel with water. Wings will be as good as new. This tip came from Joe Perrello.
If a Coopers hawk attacks and kills a pigeon and is scared off the kill, the hawk will always come back to the kill. It may take up to two hours, but the hawk is coming back to feed. We have witnessed this over and over. By removing the dead pigeon, the hawk is going to come back looking for a live one.
We have updated our worming protocol. Mainly because this should be the first approach to pigeons with loose droppings. We have been using Moxidectin exclusively for many years. If you have been using Ivermectin for pigeon worms, you are not killing the round worms. Everyone goes crazy reaching for antibiotics when pigeons especially old pigeons have loose stools.
After years of using Quest Horse Wormer, we now feel that alternating Antelcide EQ and Quest every 12 days for 60 days will eliminate worms. (See pictures below, we buy them at the feed store). We use both products the same way. One tube will make 7 US gallons of water. Measure out what is needed in the tube using the dial, whip up in the blender using a few ounces of water and pour into the desired amount of water. Start the process with Antelcide EQ.
We usually to keep things simple and mix 1/2 tube for 3.5 gallons of water. Give this to the pigeons for 48 hours. Please clean thoroughly after each worming. Round worms reach maturity in 21 days so by removing litter and hopefully most of the eggs you can break the cycle. Disinfecting will not kill the eggs. Be careful if you use a flame to kill the eggs.
Ivermectin is nearly useless in killing roundworms. Ivermectin is great for lice in the bath water but not a good choice for worming the pigeons. It does not work well dogs anymore either. Please see Secret #2 for more info on Quest and Quest Plus.
Worms irritate the intestine and produce toxins causing excessive water intake. Keep it simple and eliminate the worms first. If the the loose stools do not disappear you must look at Canker as being the possible problem.
In case of Emergency… Break Glass! Here is a list of emergency medications/supplies a fancier should never be caught without. If your best pigeon is sick, you do not want to waste time placing an order. If you need to hand feed a youngster, please be prepared.
Live Saver Capsules or Tony’s Treasure Tablets http://www.vitakingproducts.com. These capsules work when all else fails. I start with Baytril and or Amoxicillin and if an immediate improvement is not seen begin the Lifesaver Capsules. You can also follow up a treatment with the Lifesaver capsules. This product tends to bring the pigeon around and eliminate the problem.
Amoxicillin Powder 10% If I pigeon looks extremely sick and listless, mix 1/8 teaspoon in one ounce of water, and use the bulb syringe to fill the crop of the pigeon. You should see an improvement the next day. Do not offer feed or water for 24 hours after treating. Give the same dose on the day two if you see an improvement. Continue treatment for up to ten days going to 1/16 of a teaspoon of amoxicillin to one once of water each day. Let the pigeon eat and drink normally after the first 24 hours of treatment.
Metronidazole Tablets usually, if a pigeon does not look well, I give it a tablet of metronidazole and then start using the baytril or amoxicillin immediately. If you eliminate canker and then start treating for salmonella and ecoli you should cover and cure the major diseases.
Baytril Liquid, you must ask the supply house for this. They do not advertise. Seven tiny drops each day down the throat for ten days. Can be used in place of the amoxicillin or if the amoxicillin shows no improvement use the baytril. I use tiny drops off a small syringe that I use to vaccinate the pigeons. LA 200 Keep an injectable antibiotic on hand for any one eye colds, rattles, or respiratory issues you may have. We use LA 200 an oxytetracycline. Inject 0.4cc at the base of the back of the neck and in two to three days all the symptoms will be completely gone. Buy a very small bottle of LA 200. It goes a long way.
Infant Bulb Syringe at the pharmacy. Great for giving babies water or using with baby parrot food below.
Kaytee Exacta Baby Parrot Feed. This is amazing stuff. You can feed a baby or a very tired dehydrated pigeon. Great to have on hand. Highly nutritious. Mix with warm water to the consistency of ketchup.
Breed from the Crosses! Breeding top performing racing pigeons takes some skill, some luck and some excellent stock. With that said, many US fanciers are always on the quest for pigeons that are pure, inbred, line bred, straight etc. Many here are looking for endless generations without the introduction of a cross.
What do the real champions do? The greats in a sport keep a line of related pigeons and constantly cross in the blood of other superstar pigeons. If these crosses win in big competition the cross is then used for breeding and the line continues. Do not be afraid of breeding from the cross especially if it dominates on the race course.
What do the following sport changing pigeons have in common?? Kleine Dirk, of Koopman, 178 and Den Dikke 584 of Engels, Invincible Montaubon and Bronze of Casaert, all the famous original Meuleman pigeons, Bliksem of Vandenabeele, Daniel and Dikke Prinz of Van Reet, Shadow of Myrtle Lofts, Dromer of Sablon etc etc etc. These pigeons were all total crosses, and all started a legacy of champions in our sport.
Sure there are plenty of inbred pigeons that have become famous breeders, but I bet there are more crossed pigeons that have had a bigger impact. Next time you are contemplating on breeding from a cross, please think of the above list.
Sometimes I feel our pigeons are more likely to train us than us train them. An example of this is how quickly they learn to act very hungry at feeding time. They can put on such a show of starvation when they may not be hungry at all.
One trick I use to keep feed consumption down and make sure the pigeons are fully satiated in the winter, is to add 25% high quality rabbit pellets to the mix. The pigeons will eat the rabbit pellets if they are truly hungry. In the winter I feed until there are a handful of rabbit pellets left over in the feeder after the daily meal. Grain costs will drop drastically because the pigeons will eat noticeably much less when rabbit pellets are in the mix.
The rabbit pellets are highly nutritious and provide greens in the form of nutrient rich alfalfa. The rabbit pellets will help with fertility and fill in the micro-nutrient gaps only to be found in vegetable matter. 2-5% rabbit pellets year-round in the mix will provide all the greens pigeons will ever need. I buy rabbit pellets that have the #1 ingredient as alfalfa or alfalfa meal. 50lbs of rabbit pellets will be less expensive than the low-cost grain blends. Mix in the rabbit pellets, your pigeons and your wallet will be thankful you did.
Super Feather Usually Equals Super Pigeon: One thing that is a constant amongst the greatest pigeons in our sport is they all have super feather quality. It is tough to describe the amazing feather quality of National Ace pigeons. I once compared trying to describe what the feather feels like on one of these elite champions to describing the aroma of fresh baked bread. Once you handle the pigeon or smell the bread you just know what it is. I was in the pigeon sport for 15 years, when I first traveled to Belgium and Holland. That was the first time I handled a pigeon with elite feather quality.
There are many great pigeons with excellent feather quality but very few have feather quality that is freakish in nature. These freaks are so few and far between. In most cases they can never breed a pigeon to compare to themselves. This might be because it is nearly impossible to find a mate that will be equal. Cherish the pigeons winning in major competition that have elite feather quality.
Feather quality definitely offers a competitive advantage but more likely this outstanding external quality is a mirror of the outstanding internal quality. If you are selecting pigeons start by selecting the pigeons from a long line of champions with incredible feather.
Secret 53 Liquid Death
Rodents can be quite the problem for many pigeons’ lofts. We are not sure if they give Salmonella to pigeons, but they cannot be good soiling grain and drinking our pigeons’ water. Rodents especially mice are nearly impossible to keep out of most pigeon lofts. Bait stations should be maintained year-round. Not only do the mice look for grain they also will crawl into and drink from your pigeon’s water. Mice and rats will look to drink in the lofts after a meal or when water is not easy to find. In the winter when all water is frozen you can set up low containers of antifreeze in the aisles of the lofts. You must be certain your pigeons or pets cannot reach this dish of antifreeze. Placing a milk crate over this liquid death will do the trick. Antifreeze is sweet tasting and smelling to animals and a deadly poison. This liquid death antifreeze drinking stations can be used in high heat areas and summer where water is also scarce.
Please be very careful your pigeons, children or pets do not encounter the antifreeze. Mice and rats will die from this poison.
Salmonella Vaccine: There is a new Salmonella Vaccine that has been recently approved by the USDA to be sold throughout the US. This vaccine is light years ahead of the old Salbac we all used in the past. We are finally going to increase the health of our pigeons with a dependable Vaccine. For more info and ordering instructions Click Here:
Vaccination schedule starting at weaning:
24 days old vaccinate for PMV
31 days old vaccinate for Salmonella
46 Days old vaccinate for PMV
53 days old Vaccinate for Salmonella
Three weeks before the beginning of training Vaccinate for Pigeon Pox
30 days prior prior to breeding vaccinate for PMV
21 days prior breeding vaccinate for Salmonella
Old Bird Race Team:
30 days before the beginning of training Vaccinate for PMV
21 days before Training Vaccinate for Salmonella
Pigeons that are being bothered by some type of illness will increase water intake. If the pigeons look healthy but water intake increases drastically give ½ teaspoon of Virkon S to the gallon of water for five days. After the Virkon S treatment add one once of Apple Cider Vinegar to the gallon along with probiotics in the water every day for three weeks. You can alternate Apple Cider vinegar one week and Van Beeks Avian Solution (oregano) the middle week and then back to apple cider vinegar. Mix all with probiotics.
This jump in water intake is either in increase in wet canker, or possibly a mild gut bacterial infection or a combination including a mild case of young bird sickness. Let this run its course and the pigeons will recover and go back to normal without antibiotics if you use the apple cider vinegar and or Avian Solution. Whatever is causing the increase in water will make the babies stronger if you can stay away from antibiotics. If the young start to look and act sick, start to die and or stop eating with continued increased water intake, you can mix doxycycline with the Avian Solution together for ten days. This will block and stop the problem in its tracks. Only use the antibiotic if many pigeons become very sick.
Duct Tape Cures Everything: Living in New England, deep freeze causes pigeon waterers to crack and break. If you have plastic waterers that are cracked, they can be easily fixed with duct tape. I buy Gorilla Brand. Very stong stuff. Clean and dry the plastic and place a few layers of tape overlapping like shingles on a house in all directions. Waterers will be good for a long period of time.
Slow the molt on the last few primary flights. If you remove a tiny tip off the last three primary flights the pigeon molting process will slow for those flights. Let me explain. For example, in nature if the birds body thinks the ninth flight is broken the system will want to grow the eighth flight out completely before dropping the ninth flight. 1/32 of an inch off the tip of the flight will do the trick.
Pigeons desire peanuts more than any other feed. Once a pigeon gets used to eating peanuts, they will do about anything for peanuts. I like to call peanuts “Pigeon Heroin” because they are so addicting. Want your pigeons to trap fast, place a peanut on every nest box after a toss or race. Want your pigeons to land on the scanner pads upon returning from a race. Place a few peanuts on the pads after every toss of race. A few peanuts go a long way so keep the treats to a minimum. I personally do not use peanuts and think they are over used in the sport.
Reward or not reward. Animals if rewarded every time they complete a task will stop performing that task after a few times in a row when no reward is offered. Now if you reward, reward reward, do not reward, reward do not reward and so on, rewarding two out of three times over a period. Now if you stop the reward the pigeons will continue to do the task over and over and over even though there is no reward. For example, widow cocks’ home and the hens are waiting. Next time hens are waiting then home no hens, then hens, then hens, then no hens. Now they will rush home over and over and over even though there may be a hen occasionally. Same can be applied with peanut treats. Peanuts are waiting for them some of the time and they will run in all the time. Sporadically rewarding a pigeon is more beneficial than rewarding every time.
Pigeons Recognize Faces: Studies have shown that pigeons recognize faces. They know you from your neighbors. Pigeons certainly know strangers in the loft and combine this with an incredible memory of traumatic events. Keep this pigeon memory in mind whenever you decide to do something very upsetting to the race team. Also keep in mind the pigeons know you.
When you bring your race team to the club on shipping night never ever let anyone handle your pigeons no matter how proud you are of the health and condition. Passing pigeons around the clubhouse causes much stress and immediate dehydration. I do not even want to handle my own pigeons when I go to a convention race. The convention handlers like to show off the job they have done but you handling the pigeon only reduces the chances of success. Handling by strangers in a crowded room greatly decreases the pigeons’ chances of success. It also greatly increases my chance of success when my competitors are showing off their pigeons on shipping night.
Keep a pair of shoes strictly for the clubhouse and do not wear those shoes in your loft. The clubhouse floor can harbor all kinds of virus and bacteria that you will not want to introduce to your own pigeons off the bottom of your shoes.
Do not have an extra pair of shoes? Keep a can of spray disinfectant outside the door of your loft and spray your shoes before entering the loft anytime your shoes may be contaminated. This is also a quick fix for the bottom of all visitors’ shoes. I will regularly disinfect my shoes before entering my own loft.
Lasota Vaccine is a chicken Newcastle Vaccine that offers temporary immunity for our pigeons to PMV. Many have trouble injecting Paramyxo vaccine, so Lasota offers an easy option. I inject all my babies at weaning and also vaccinate by injection one month before breeding and or one month before the race season for the race team.
Several times per year I will use Lasota vaccine as an insurance policy against PMV. I bought a new garden sprayer and added 1/2 gallon of Distilled water and one vial of Lasota Vaccine. Shake and spray all your pigeons with a fine mist trying to mist the pigeons in the eyes. I mist everything from day old squabs to 15-year-old pigeons. I mist until the pigeons are a little damp.
This is an easy way to treat a team of youngsters before shipping to a one loft race. Most pigeons are vaccinated upon arrival to a one loft race, the spray misting of Lasota one week before shipping will give your pigeons a nice short-term immunity to PMV. One loft races should mist the pigeons regularly with Lasota to be safe even though they were vaccinated for PMV with the injectable vaccine. Not every pigeon injected with the vaccine for PMV has immunity to PMV. Some studies show that only 80% of the pigeons that were injected with PMV vaccine have immunity to PMV.
I keep Lasota at all times. Whenever I hear of a person that may be battling PMV I spray mist everything on the property with Lasota.
Perch Oil is used to kill lice and mites on pigeons when pigeons are sitting on the perch. Please please never use this perch oil. There is a chance that the pigeons breathing these strong fumes can suffer some kind of brain damage. Do not take a chance with strong fumes when lice and mites are easy to control.