Being a host loft for a futurity race, presents unique health challenges. Birds are introduced to the handler's loft over the course of several months and each new futurity entry carries with it the risk of contaminating the loft birds with a broad spectrum of bacterial and viral infections.
Last Spring, I received a phone call from a fancier, who was a host loft for a regional futurity race. His club had never hosted anything like this before and he was concerned about the health consequences of bringing in birds from many lofts across the country. I worked out with him a quarantine program and health regime (Max Immune Plus and Show Stopper) that would offer the best protection for the birds without the use of medications or antibiotics.
The plan seemed to work and this fancier called several times to tell me how well the YB's were thriving on the program. He took exceptional pride in the fact that when other club members visited his loft they commented on how much healthier his birds appeared then the birds they had "taken in" for the futurity race.
I didn't hear from him for another six weeks and then I got a "call for help". It seems that the birds had started going downhill, they were losing their vitality, not flying as long around the loft and were starting to look dull. We talked for a while, when he mentioned that he had added several additional products to his health regime. They were all good stand alone products: healthy pigeon this, stinky pigeon that, wonder tonic this, five-in-one super something else, etc.
It seems, that this fancier was the victim of his own success. The accolades that he was receiving on the health of his birds was going to his head and apparently, he was enjoying the praise of his club mates so much, that he felt the need to supplement his birds with additional health products. It is an easy trap to fall into, more must be better!
I instructed him to stop using all the other products and return to the regime we had implemented earlier and that had worked so successfully for him in the past. I told him that those other products were fine, but he was over supplementing his birds and this was overtaxing their liver, kidneys and other organs. I explained to him that my products contained most all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, probiotics, etc that the birds needed as well as the exclusive sources of antibodies and immunoglobulins, not found in any other products.
His birds were getting to much of a good thing and their internal organs were stressed trying to flush these excess supplements out of their systems.
I told him to return to our original health program and when the loft health returned to those earlier levels, then he could (if he felt the need) add one other product at a time so that he could see what, if any, additional benefit that product might offer. He took my advise and stopped all the other products and soon afterwards, overall good health returned to his birds. He has never given any of the other supplements to his birds since and he is happy with the results.
Let me repeat, all those other products were excellent stand alone products and have their place in the racing pigeon community. However, we need to be vigilant that we do not overstress our birds with excess supplementation.
Let me give a practical example: Several years ago, in preparation for what proved to be a hard 500 mile race, one of the fanciers in our club gave a large dose of vitamins to his birds on the day of shippping. He figured that since the birds would have an extra day on the truck, that everything would be ok. He results were disappointing and after he had talked to a couple of friends in the sport, he realized that he may well have overstressed his birds with all those vitamins at the absolute wrong time.
Normally, the primary vitamins are identified as vitamin A, D, E, K, C, and the B complex. Of these, A, D, E, and K are the fat soluble vitamins, while Vitamins C and the B complex are water soluble vitamins. The water soluble vitamins are not stored within the body except in small amounts , whereas the Fat soluble vitamins are commonly stored in special fat storage cells called lipocytes.
Excess Water Soluble vitamins are flushed out of the system through the gastro-intestinal tract. The body uses stored water reserves to flush out these excess Water Soluble vitamins, via the gastro-intestinal tract. This of course can leads to dehydration and stess on the internal organs, specifically stress on the liver and kidneys.
In and of itself, having excess fat soluble vitamins stored in special fat storage cells called lipocytes, is not a bad thing, but on the longer races, after all the easy energy has been "burned up" by the muscles, then fat is broken down to supply energy for muscle exertion. When the fat is broken down, the excess fat soluble vitamins (and other supplements) contained in the fat are then released at the absolute worse possible time, that is during the hardest part of the race.
Not only is the bird dealing with the toxicity of all the muscle waste product from the many hours of long hard flight, but now all these excess vitamins are released into the liver and kidneys when these organs are already working at maximum capacity trying to remove the muscle breakdown product from the body. Under this senario, these vitamins become toxins and instead of helping the bird, they hinder it by interfering with the removal of muscle cell waste production. By slowing down removal of the waste product several things happen, oxygen levels in the blood decrease, toxicity and waste product increases in the blood, body temperature rises, and the muscle function decreases. Not the formula for a successful race result.
Whatever you do, my advise is to refrain from giving vitamins late in the week. If you are using the Max Immune Plus and Show stopper products, you already have most all the supplementation your birds will ever need, and these products are given in small quantities earlier in the week, so that the bird can normalize itself before being shipped to the race. If you desire to use a vitamin mineral pack, do so early in the week so that the excess, if any, can be processed out of the bird before basketing. I also recommend that if you are using my products and want to also use some other vita-mineral complex in addition to my products that you do so at half the recommended dosage "only once" during the week, the earlier the better.
There are many products on the market today that promise health or superior performnace. Unfortunately, these products often overlap each other in the supplementation they provide. Fanciers who practice the "More must be better" theory, often "inadvertently" interfere with the overall peak performance and health of their birds.
Simplicity is best and the fancier that finds simplicity in their health routine, often times do so by learning that, "Less is More".