Fields and racing pigeons
A few weeks ago, a fancier wrote to me “my pigeons rush to the field as soon as I give them freedom. Impossible to stop them, of course I give unlimited grit, pecking stone, greenery, brewer’s yeast. I do not know what to do! Why do pigeons go to the field if not to look for what they cannot find in the loft. Of course, over the years, basic food and food supplements have been perfected. If this is enough in the vast majority of cases for widowers or separated pigeons, the needs become enormous when there are pipants on the board. It should be noted in passing that the same is true for leguminous seeds: in farms where the seeds are served separately – wheat – corn – peas – and at will in hoppers, the consumption of peas varies from simple to triple between brooding and the force-feeding of the young, in particular from the 8th day.
The young body needs, to form in the best conditions, various minerals. First, calcium: it is provided in the form of carbonate of lime from oyster shells ground more or less finely in grit and various salt blocks. His contribution, barring unpardonable negligence on the part of the breeder, is therefore almost always sufficient. But this calcium is nothing if it is not associated with phosphorus.
Indeed, the bones contain a very high proportion of tricalcium phosphate. It was considered until now that the supplement of phosphorus was sufficiently provided by the phytin of the seeds. It is a complex phosphorus (inositol hexaphosphate of lime and magnesia) brought, more or less, by the seeds and more or less assimilable according to the content of the seeds in “phytosis”. It’s complicated and let’s say that wheat phytin is easily assimilated while those of corn and legumes are very little. Still, recent experiments have shown the great interest of a substantial supply of phosphorus compared to calcium, in the diet of pipants on the plateau. Tablets with 10% phosphorus for 20% calcium have been shown to be much better than others with 4% phosphorus and 24% calcium.
This is a first element for a possible search for the cause of the “field”. Many fanciers put a small pot of salt in the loft. It’s very good, provided you put it regularly.
If there is a shortage for a few days, the pigeons rush to the filled pot again and some get sick from it (kidney poisoning) and even can die (5 g of salt kills a pigeon). And you should also know that there is no salt in the grit or in the salt blocks. The pecking stones contain a little but not enough to meet the needs of breeders. A good way is therefore to add 15 g of fine salt per kilo of well-mixed grit as needed.
It is an obligation and a fortiori for pigeons kept constantly in the aviary.
I had to know a similar case in a large breeding of broiler pigeons: spaced laying, poor growth of the youngsters, low but constant mortality among the breeders. No disease detected. Question, after much research and reflection:
“Is your grit salty?” No. So, try putting 10 g of salt per liter of drinking water for a few days”. And everything went back to normal as if by magic.
The need for the “field” may also be due to a deficiency in certain (animal) proteins, therefore essential amino acids. This results in the search for small snails, generally quite large insects (type cockchafer). This also explains the infestation – admittedly rare – of these pigeons by tapeworms (of which these snails are intermediate hosts). The contribution of yeast compensates for this lack of amino acids.
Finally, there are trace elements. If we know better and better the needs in mammals (zinc = sterility – cobalt = anemia – selenium = muscle – magnesium = musculature etc.). For birds, it is not so clear and a fortiori for sport birds. Also, a complex of trace elements combining various salts (sulphates-iodides) is used. The general action is good, although we know very little about the balance between these minerals: an excess of one risks causing a deficiency (a lack) of another associated with it! It is comparable to what happens between phosphorus and calcium. An excess of one causes a lack of the other (you need one part of phosphorus for three of calcium. If there is too much calcium, there is therefore a lack of phosphorus). On these bases, I advised this amateur to give a few days salt water at 10 g per liter with a good pinch of trace elements added. Continue the distribution of yeasts. And I had the pleasure of receiving a letter announcing the success of the method. Thank you, it is always interesting to know the results of what we have advised.But so few know how to write!
Dr. J.P. Stosskopf
- A pigeon that finds quality mineral vitamins, grit and a good pecking stone during the breeding period in the loft will not feel the need to go to the field to get what it needs at this time. These products, accompanied by a breeding mixture rich in protein, are sure to raise very good youngsters.
- There are still pigeon fanciers who do not know or forget that once the parents have youngsters, they leave the maize. When the phenomenon occurs, these amateurs believe that the quality of the corn is in question. This is obviously not the case because this is due to the fact that parents instinctively know that their young, especially from the 8th day onwards, mainly need protein: ie. peas, vetches, field beans.
[ Source:Article edited by Dr. J.P. Stosskopf – PIGEON RIT Magazine]
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