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A Pigeon

Specific infectious diseases

The role of viruses in diseases of young birds

For a number of years there have been growing indications to suggest that different types of viruses proliferate in young pigeon flocks which are capable of triggering a wide variety of symptoms and resulting in considerable squab mortality. The cause of death usually tends not to be the virus itself, but the so-called secondary pathogens such as coli bacteria or protozoa.

Can young pigeons be protected against viruses?
Like newborn mammals, nestlings possess only very limited natural resistance. The critical time for the squabs is around weaning. It is during this phase that they are most vulnerable, partly because this is when they have to learn how to feed independently and partly because weaning causes stress among the squabs in the new loft. Stress promotes the spread of viruses and other pathogens. This is why it is advisable to vaccinate the squabs against paramyxovirus infection prior to weaning in order to guard against outbreaks of paramyxovirosis.
No vaccines are yet available against other types of viruses (e.g. herpesvirus, adenovirus, circovirus, etc). The only possible means of prevention is by boosting the squabs’ natural resistance (also referred to as its immune system).

Natural resistance - can it be improved?
An important factor in the development of the squab’s natural resistance is their environment, i.e. the loft and its equipment. The loft must not be too densely stocked, since this causes stress in the birds. It is vital to ensure good ventilation and extraction of waste air. The loft should be clean and dry, but must not be sterile - i.e. constant disinfection prevents contact with micro-organisms, against which the pigeon’s body should learn to defend itself.
Micro-organisms multiply rapidly in warm, humid conditions. Infective pressure increases with the number of pathogens. Disease breaks out when the quantity of pathogens surpasses the pigeon’s capacity for resistance. In this situation, disinfection is absolutely essential in order to reduce the number of pathogens in the loft.
If possible, squabs should have access to aviaries so that they are always able to breathe oxygen-rich air, expose themselves to sunlight and clean their plumage in the rain.
Healthy squabs should never be given antibiotics as a preventive measure. The active ingredients in antibiotics disturb the development of the immune system, producing the opposite effect to that which is intended: natural resistance is not enhanced, but weakened.

The following measures are recommended in order to withstand the critical phase around weaning:
Administration of adenosan via the feed and livimun® via the drinking water:
adenosan contains ingredients derived from various plants belonging to the Crucifer family, together with immunoglobulins (IgA, IgG, IgM). The plant-based components possess a broad spectrum of activity against bacteria, viruses and fungi. The immunoglobulins enhance immunity within the gut itself, thereby protecting the intestinal mucosa against pathogen attack.
livimun® contains extracts from the red, narrow-leaved coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia), hemp-agrimony (Eupatorium perfoliatum), wild indigo (Baptisia) and ginseng root. These plants are known for their stimulant effect on the immune system, i.e. they activate the natural defence mechanisms.

Fortification of the body and thus of the squabs’ natural resistance to disease during the growth period:
The need for essential substances (minerals, trace elements, vitamins, amino acids) is especially great during the growth period. To avoid deficiency symptoms, which likewise weaken resistance, the squabs are given vitin® and miral throughout the entire growth phase (see Annual Preventive Plan).

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