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Our Opinion For What It Is Worth! - Vincent Schroeder




Our opinion for what it is worth!

There always has been and always will be, pro‘s and cons surrounding vaccinations in the pigeon sport. Real or ima­ginary advantages and disadvantages regarding vaccina­tions determine the opinion of the fancier. In this regard, the opinions of the pigeon fancier are often extremely sub­jective, which is completely understandable. Often vac­cinations are only administered once an "epidemic“ has broken-out.

A few examples:

1. Late bred young birds did not receive any vaccinations and became ill due to Paramyxo, resulting in half of the youngsters dying.

2. A number of new acquisitions were added to the bree­ding loft. Weeks later, salmonella was detected in the bree­ding loft, as the bacterium was “purchased”as well.

3. An iodine product was used prophylactically against pigeon pox during the young bird season - until pox bro­ke out and the youngsters education had to be postponed. This was the end of the iodine “fairy tale”... etc. etc.

4. We could quote pages of similar examples, as we expe­rience them almost weekly in the clinic. As a result our opinion is particularly shaped by the pigeons suffering, although at this stage the fanciers misfortune is also a fac­tor.

It is also incomprehensible if some veterinarians today still express a negative opinion re salmonella vaccination. In our opinion, this is not an objective statement. Many subjective reasons for this exist, which we will not delve into in any great detail. A salmonella vaccine cannot be replaced by a course of antibiotics, which can at best be a useful accompaniment.

To vaccinate against Paramyxo, either a clear watery vac­cination such as Colombovac (0.2 ml) or a milky, oily one such as Nobilis (0.25 ml) can be used. The oily vaccination often causes adverse vaccine reactions in the neck, parti­cularly in winter, if the vaccination is administered cold. Combination vaccinations (Paramyxo+pox) are unlikely in the near future. Residual quantities were only available in England. A Paramyxo+herpes vaccine is also availa­ble.

This is used more often as a prophylactic herpes vaccine, but must be administered twice. Various myths currently abound regarding the purported protective effect against diseases in young birds. We have grave doubts about this, though. Experiences with vaccines are too limited to be able to make statements such as these.

Herpes infections increasing frequently. If they do howe­ver, they normally affect young birds. Individual young pigeons can die from herpes without others in their envi­ronment being affected. We only recommend vaccination of diseased stock using Columbi 2 and an additional treatment with antibiotics for stabilisation in the case of widespread death of young birds from herpes, which however seldom occurs. The success of this measure can be directly observed after a few days.

The second vaccination is administered 3 weeks later. The affected breeder should then also use a prophylactic Paramyxovirus vaccination for youngsters in the years that follow. How do you detect herpes in youngsters?

Affected birds often wheeze through their beaks. Initially, the beak is only slightly open, but this increases on a day to day basis until the young bird dies from suffocation. Moist eyes are an indicator of a herpes infection, although this is not normally fatal for the birds. Incidentally, the wet eyes symptom occurs more frequently during moulting.

We have already expressed an opinion regarding salmonella vaccination in this text. We support an annual vaccination of the entire stock against salmonella without: “ifs and buts”! However, the decision as to whether to use an antibiotic pre-treatment before vaccinating depends on various factors. Breeders often start vaccinating their stock when problems with salmonella have already arisen. In this case, it is clearly essential to use an antibiotic before vaccinating. This naturally also applies to problem stock.

Breeders who have healthy stock, or breeders who have been vaccinating against salmonella for a number of years do not require this.

Unfortunately, the reliable old Intervet pox vaccination no longer exists. This was a live vaccine that also put pigeons in good shape. This follicle vaccine yielded small follicles, which cannot be expected from follicle vaccine available today. Ugly, thick growths can develop from today‘s vaccine. Consequently, we recommend relocate the pulling of the feathers to the inside of the legs. Pox vaccine through-out Europe is available from Pharmagal (Slovakia). The vaccine can be applied in two forms: firstly by injection and secondly using the follicle method. The follicle me-thod has been shown to be far more effective in the last few years, despite thick follicles. Pox vaccination is cur-rently indispensable, as evidenced by the massive pox out-breaks all over Europe.

We have had a coli vaccine available for a number of years. This is also used for in-house stock. We were practically the first in the field of pigeon sport to administer this, and consequently have the most experience with coli vaccine.

We recommend vaccination with a coli vaccine for fanciers who experience serious outbreaks every year with young bird sickness. For many fanciers, this is a great help, for some the problem is managed and a few see no improvement whatsoever.

For some breeders, their young pigeons suffer so severe­ly from young pigeon disease syndrome that they can not participate in races without a coli vaccine. These days, we vaccinate our young pigeons with coli vaccine straight af­ter weaning.

Streptococcus, staphylococcus and coli are always found in a smear test in the beak of a pigeon. This is by no means an indication that the pigeon has a disease. These bacteria are always found in the beak of a pigeon, and can also be found in the mouths of every dog and cat. This is also by no means an indication that the dog or cat has a disease.

If you send a pigeon to a laboratory for section, and these bacteria are found in the lungs or liver, then we can speak of a health problem. The test smear in the beak of a pigeon alone does not say a great deal on its own. For this reason, we recommend that breeders who experience a number of problems with their stock send one pigeon to the la­boratory for section in spring. We work together with a Belgian laboratory that has had a great deal of experience with pigeon examinations over the years. Not many labs specialise in pigeon examinations, and some even refuse to perform these examinations. An additional advantage is that we deliver the birds to our Belgian laboratory in a living state. The examination options in the lab are greatly enhanced by having the pigeons live as long as possible. Normally, pigeons are always put down by the veterinarian and then sent on to the lab in this state. Before the journey, we recommend a normal stool investigation (bacteriolo­gical, parasitological and mycological) as well as a crop smear (trichomonades) and, essentially, a quick chlamydia test as well. In the last few years, when sending pigeons to the lab we have noticed increasing numbers of breeders have stock that have chlamydia. This result is also confir­med by the quick chlamydia test.

One cannot detect it in older birds, but despite the appa­rently extremely good state of health, the racing results just aren‘t there - no peaks and no percentages.

In many cases, examinations reveal the presence of chla­mydia. Treatment of chlamydia is however often an extre­mely lengthy process. The antibiotic (Orni-Chlam) must often be administered for 12-14 days, and the loft must be disinfected thereafter. This is almost impossible during racing.

The same applies to young pigeons. They also appear to be in top condition. No symptoms of young pigeon disease syndrome can be detected. But if significant losses occur during the young pigeon race, the alarm bells should start to ring. Chlamydia is an ornithosis disease, and can lead to loss of orientation in young pigeons. Part of the high losses of young birds across Europe can certainly be attributed to chlamydia infections. As a result, it would be important in future that a chlamydia test be performed before the young bird races begin.


Important thought from Vincent Schroeder, veterina­rian!

I have worked in a laboratory for two years, and conse­quently am well acquainted with lab diagnostics. Unfortu­nately I need to dedicate a great deal of time every day to explaining that test smears in the beak of a pigeon do not permit the correct diagnosis of staphylococcus, strepto­coccus or coli diseases. Even the much vaunted resistance test is often overrated and is superfluous in many cases. The evaluation and objectives of a resistance test are in most cases misunderstood by fanciers. A great deal more explanation from us veterinarians is consequently required as to the topic of a resistance test.

One example:

A resistance test is not possible in the case of a chlamy­dia infection!

Why ? Ask your veterinarian!

I severely doubt however that I should have to examine the throat of every pigeon by means of an endoscopy, and that this is the only manner in which to provide a precise dia­gnosis of respiratory diseases. A general practitioner also says to a patient “please open your mouth”, places an oral spatula on the tongue, inspects the throat and diagnoses a throat infection.

I see 10 to 20 pigeon fanciers per day, and in peak times up to 30, among them many top fanciers. So I hold a number of birds in my hands every day, and examine their beaks. What I see then allows me to provide a diagnosis, in a similar manner to the example of the general practitioner I quoted above. Naturally, my experience in dealing with a large number of pigeons on a daily basis plays a signifi­cant role here.

Our advice for all pigeon fan­ciers:

Only breed from good stock, retain the best birds and select out the bad ones! We wish you every success for the forthco­ming breeding and racing sea­son. If we can be of assistance, we will gladly do so.

With sporting greetings,

Vincent Schroeder

Specialist Racing

Pigeon Veterinarian


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