Preventative and Curative Medicines
As a result of the much improved knowledge of pigeons and the medications now available to manage diseases, the good fancier can enjoy a loft free of disease. The common aim is to produce the healthiest and most robust babies possible by the most natural means so that there is no compromise to the youngster’s immune system. In this way, the young birds will be naturally resistant to the illnesses associated with training and racing, and thereby require the minimal amount of medication during the racing season.
Medications are used as little as possible for the healthy loft. It is very difficult for us all to maintain perfect health in the race team during the racing season and it is the good natural resistance developed during the breeding season which helps us defend the flock against illness. It is now common belief that medications are needed during the racing season if perfect form is to be maintained. However, the medications must only be used when needed. The inappropriate use of medications will in fact turn the birds “off” and break their good levels of immunity.
Nowadays, the wise use of medicines is necessary for racing success. The medicines used for racing pigeons nowadays have been researched extensively so that they rarely affect the form of the fit bird and have minimal side effects for the ill bird. The correct choice of medicines is vital if the disease is to be controlled or cured in the quickest possible time. Obviously, the complete recovery of the flock is quickest when the disease is recognised and identified early. The early recognition of the illness minimises needless race bird losses and allows the birds to return to winning ways more quickly.
The “preventative” medicines
It is common knowledge that the healthy race bird is at considerable health risk in the race basket and must be protected from the “race basket” diseases by the prudent use of medicines. Medicines used in this manner are referred to as “preventative” medicines. The tired racing bird is most susceptible to disease from the racing basket and so the best time to treat in a protective manner is soon after the race.
The “preventative” medicines protect the healthy race flock from respiratory disease, without affecting the form or natural resistance of the team. I often ask the fancier to monitor the response of the flock to the “preventative” respiratory medicines so that the best timing is assured. There are a few tricks in identifying when to use and when to stop using the “preventative” medicines for the “resident” health problem. Firstly, look for a loss of form, the most obvious signs of which are dropping changes, no powder down feathers on the droppings, dry feathers and a lazy lower eyelid. In those flocks with a “resident” health problem there will be a positive change in the birds the day after the preventative medicine is given. Look for a very marked “brightening” of the eye, the powder down feathers will return to an improved dropping and the feathers become silky. The process is repeated each week for 2 to 3 weeks then stopped when the positive changes fail to show. Then the preventative medication is no longer used until the early signs of loss of form again return. With this method the fancier himself becomes sole master of the health of the race team. This method of controlling a resident illness takes some time to master but once mastered becomes a very important part of controlling a resident health problem.
The “curative” medicines
When there is a disease outbreak during the race season then “curative” (not preventative) medicines must be used. The first signs of a serious disease requiring a curative medicine are repeatedly poor race results over three weeks or heavy losses over two weeks. The exact nature of the illness must be determined then the appropriate “curative” medicine is used.
“Curative” medicines, by their very name, imply a dose of medicament strong enough to destroy the disease involved. Curative medicines therefore are not given to the healthy flock because they have the side effect of depressing form or affecting fertility etc. They are given only when the birds have an illness or outside the critical times of breeding or racing. They are often used in pre-season race and pre-breeding season health programs. The treatment interval (i.e. the number of days the medicine is given) is longer than that for “preventative” medicines. Preventative or control medicines are given intermittently for 1 or 2 days a week, whereas, the curative medicines are given continuously from 3 days to 45 days.
Preventative and Curative Medicines by Dr. Rob Marshall