The season 1999 has almost finished, so this is the perfect time to assess our performances. Can we call the season a success ? If yes, then we can stand back for a moment and relive those wonderful moments. In any case, it will be useful to make an analysis and to examine why it was good so that we can reach the same or even a higher level in the future.

Of course this analysis will be more important if the results were not good enough. There can be a number of reasons why the season was not as expected. Did we select the right pigeons for the right races. Were the pigeons good enough? Were the pigeons in good condition, if not, why not?

There can of course be many causes, and we will look at these in later articles. It needs hardly to be emphasised that it is very important to make an exact analysis and diagnosis. Now we are going to examine one of the many possibilities that can cause a poor build-up of the physical condition of a racing pigeon, namely ornithosis. I want to be clear: there isnít any point talking about conditioning products if the pigeons arenít healthy to start with.

Why are we starting with this disease? Because itís one of the most common diseases amongst pigeons. From enquiries, we know that almost every loft is infected with ornithosis, of course, that doesnít mean that the pigeons are ill or it effects their performance. It does mean however that the pigeons have been in contact with Chlamydia (this is the source of the disease) and have now recovered completely or they havenít shown any symptoms of the disease so far. So what is the problem then? Generally speaking, we can say that winter, when moulting has finished, is a period when we encounter very few, if any, diseases, also there are very few diseases during the breeding season. Once the racing season starts however, the bacteria which have been dormant, become active. Why is that? Because it is caused by all kinds of stressful-situations like difficult training flights, cold and wet weather conditions during the races, temperature fluctuations, overstocking, and general hygiene, etc.

The bacteria multiplies at that time inside the cells of the intestines, the respiratory airways and other internal organs. Most of the time fanciers bring their pigeons for examination, always with the same complaint Ė poor results. That is why it is, in my view, necessary to give a preventative treatment on a regular basis against ornithosis and most certainly at the start of the season. You must note that some pigeons are more susceptible to ornithosis than others. If there is no response to the treatment you need to look more closely for other reasons such as loft construction.

When pigeons show lack of form, the most likely problem would be ornithosis. Other less frequent signs and symptoms of ornithosis to look for are general tiredness and little inclination to exercise, swollen intestines, watery droppings and in the case of young birds, slow or retarded development.

Dr. Carlo Gyselbrecht

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