How do we keep our pigeons in tune?
When providing multiple supplements, a sure consistency is needed. It sometimes happens that in a particular season, for unclear reasons, disappointing results are obtained. It is then wise to first go to the vet to rule out diseases. Sometimes the vet can't find any clinical indications, and nothing has changed in terms of nutrition etc., and still, it doesn't work like the good last season. We must not forget that the metabolism from which the condition originates is highly complex (really hundreds of thousands of biochemical processes swarming through each other). Sometimes there are also subclinical abnormalities which (the word says it) the vet finds very difficult to observe or cannot determine.
Furthermore, as part of a swarm, our pigeon is an absolute champion in hanging on to it to survive. In cycling terms, we call it a "flandrien". She is stubbornly able to go over the limit in the most extreme circumstances and still maintain herself - although in the tail of the swarm. Indeed, the prices aren't there. These fanciers are permanently open for a better care system with new things. They mostly use good advice, often several products (sometimes double use), observing the pigeons to find the desired effect or improvement. Unfortunately, many fanciers -and that's understandable- don't see the wood for the trees in the current range.
When COMED went to the trade fairs in the '80s, about ten well-known (pigeon feed) companies marketed food supplements. They called them by-products. They weren't a specialisation like today, but a supplement for extra minerals, because the food quality wasn't always consistent. We talk about pecking stone, grit, brewer's yeast, wheat germ and garlic oil etc. Today, the range is extensive, and science has thoroughly explored it for years so that a lot of health and fitness can be achieved with it.
However, it is not easy to judge and make the right choice in this enormous range. Coincidence can't permanently be excluded, e.g. because of climatological circumstances or bad performances. Sometimes the fancier goes far in his observations and analyses. Sometimes he looks for it where it isn't and where it is, he doesn't look for it. The loss of youngsters is, for example, very frustrating. It causes doubt and a persistent deep state of unhappiness. Despite all the effort, money, and hope, everything that was expected is gone, most of the time without explanation, which is the biggest frustration.
Survival of the fittest.
According to the resistance selection logic of COMED, you can conclude that pigeons that are not able to do it are better off left behind. But only if they got a fair chance and we didn't overlook anything. It is evident that in such a situation, one desperately looks for new blood. We often notice that when we buy new pigeons, little attention is paid to the quarantine rules. Indeed, each pigeon has its ecosystem of thousands of different kinds of micro-organisms that do not correspond to the existing ecosystem of the loft. It takes time, certainly when this is accompanied by the necessary stress, to find a new balance. Compare it with the current migration problems in Europe. When there are too many migrations, you get a lot.
A loss of, e.g. 70% as they are experiencing now in the one loft races in the USA is not average. It is a demanding discipline because of the gathering of many newcomers who have to function in large structures. Herpes would be a big part of it. Vaccination against herpes at the right time brought relief. Herpes is endemic to pigeons (every pigeon is infected with it and has antibodies), and it is because of its flare-up that they get into trouble and get left behind. In these one loft organisations, the risks are very high.
It may be that with an improperly balanced natural fitness product, you get a sudden flare-up of form, but after a while, an unexplained relapse. Sometimes one is further from home than before treatment. Often, good insight is combined with patience. One has to take at least an entire season's time before one can make its account. Sometimes one uses products that are meant for other species or even for humans. Changing systems and formulas too abruptly makes new balances or overdoses arise, which sometimes have catastrophic consequences.
Developing supplements is more than traditional folk medicine supplemented with some vitamins and minerals. Today, one must be able to rely on balanced formulas and continuous quality.
The right dose of vitamins.
The overdoses mentioned mainly concern the fat-soluble vitamins A and D. The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K have a much slower metabolism and excretion (about two months) than those that dissolve in water. There are maximum doses for A and D where the risk of severe intoxication is real. In the case of vitamin D, it concerns a profound disturbance of the calcium balance, with the dissolution of calcium from the skeleton and subsequent calcification of essential blood vessels (arteriosclerosis). Sometimes the consequences in case of high overdose are fatal.
That is why COMED prescribes, when combining certain vitamin D products, to adjust the dose when these vitamins are present in both preparations. It's also not advisable to use products designed for humans with pigeons. The government has set maximum quantities that have to be respected because of the risk of accumulation. A lot of vitamin A can damage the skeleton. Vitamin E can be given in 1000-fold without danger. However, it is useless to consider doing so.
A multivitamin preparation meant for humans, given to pigeons, led to 75% mortality in which the liver degenerated due to the presence of 160 mg B6. The lethal dose for a pigeon would be 100 mg. An increased administration of vitamin B1 (100 to 300 mg) would not cause any problems. An overdose of B12 (e.g. 50 micrograms) is also harmless.
Some fanciers swear by potatoes to make their pigeons throw down. When properly cooked, there is no danger, but potatoes belong to the family of "nightshades", containing quite a few toxins. The solanine contained in the green peel and the sprouts are highly toxic.
Vicia or vetches (a legume) is very rich in protein (up to 28%). There are several varieties, but some can be very toxic (cyanic acid) with paralysis of the respiration. The nostalgic return to folk remedies nevertheless implies a specific risk. Towards the end of the year, we focus on breeding with calcium and phosphorus as the essential minerals. Fertibol is an ideal source of these minerals because, in contrast to grit, this preparation does not neutralise the protective intestinal acid.
Calcium and phosphor are ¾ of the pigeon's minerals, and together with (kitchen) salt, they are the essential macro elements. Calcium affects muscle activity and phosphorus energy generation. The eggshell contains 97% calcium carbonate. The skeleton contains 90% calcium and phosphorus. Cereals are rich in phosphorus but contain hardly any calcium. That is why the pigeons are looking for the necessary calcium by pecking in the walls and cement. The fanciers thus offer grit permanently with the food.
Fertibol as the perfect calcium source.
By administering Fertibol, an excellent source of calcium, this urge is considerably reduced. Grit, ground oyster shells, is a well-known source of calcium carbonate, although with the disadvantage of neutralising the acidity of the intestine, thus decreasing protection against infections. Oysters can sometimes be contaminated by bacteria (Salmonella E. Coli etc.) or toxic phytoplankton, which can cause intestinal and neurotoxic problems. Worse, oysters contain mercury, lead and cadmium due to contaminated seawater. These heavy metals disrupt the development of the very sensitive young, and adult pigeons are exposed to irreparable damage. For these reasons, gynaecologists advise pregnant women to eat fish at most once a week.
COMED recommends Fertibol as a source of acidic calcium, so all these risks are avoided. Those who decide not to use grit anymore may give Fertibol daily. You can add stomach pebbles to ensure smooth digestion. The buffered calcium/phosphorus ratio provides maximum absorption into the eggshell and the bones. The acid pH value in the intestine guarantees optimal protection and plays a role in disease resistance. Fertibol and Roni ensure maximum endogenous acid production in the intestine, resulting in better absorption of all minerals. Together with Winmix (total supplement) and Curol (health oil), they reinforce each other.
But also renewal.
In addition to an optimal choice of raw materials, there must also be room for innovation. At COMED, there is an endless search for improvements. The ingredients are primarily of vegetal origin, and for each harvest, there is a specific analysis of the raw materials and active ingredients. These may vary slightly from year to year, which may determine their effectiveness. The climate, i.e. the amount of rain, sun and temperature during the ripening of the plants, plays a role. It is not always evident, and thorough analyses are needed to control these factors. To this end, COMED can make good agreements to the advantage of its customers.