Our practice has been to medicate the young birds as little
as possible to allow them to develop their own immune systems.
Upon arrival the birds will be put into a separate section of the loft to insure
that they are healthy, eating and drinking well. The birds will
only receive natural additives such as: vitamins, garlic, apple
cider vinegar, glucose, probiotics, electrolytes, idodized salt & nourishing tea
in the water. This year we will be using
Chisholm Trail Loft products (CTL Health Blend). In addition an
Enviro-Shield will be use as
a floor dressing to control unwanted environmental stresses. Only sick
birds will be medicated in quarantine and if not recovering in a reasonable time
they will be dealt with in the usual manner. However, if the unthinkable
should occur, that is, a mass outbreak of some disease, we will be prepared to
use the appropriate treatment. All birds will be vaccinated for PMV.
The darkening system will be used.
(note change below) Darken hours will be from 5:00 pm to 6:00 am.
Birds will be on darkening for the months of May and June. Because of work
commitments birds will be exercised once a day during the week and twice during
Training will begin in early July. Normally the birds
will receive the following training tosses: 3 x 8km, 2 x 15 km, 2 x 30km, 2 x 50
km, 2 x 80 km and 100 km before the first race. Additional tosses
may be required if the birds are not homing quickly from any of the release
points. Once racing begins the birds will only receive a couple of 80 km
tosses before the 400 km and 500 km races because of the 2 week rest period.
At tentative racing schedule has been posted. It has been my practice only
to release birds on fair weather days with the sun visible and with the
prediction that the weather for the following will be also be reasonable to
allow the late birds to arrive home. Fanciers do not spend their hard earn
money to ship to futurities that experiment with how the birds will fly under
various weather conditions. During training and a 7 race schedule enough
unexpected things will happen.
By the first of May, 29 birds had arrived in excellent
condition. New arrivals were isolated in a separate section for a couple
of days and only fed peas and corn. When I was confident that they were
eating and drinking well they were transferred to the main loft and fed 16%
mixture. Normally this takes a couple of days. This will be the
practice with all new arrivals. Below is an image of young birds patiently
waiting to be released into the main flying loft.
A few new arrivals had loose droppings from the stress of
shipping and being introduced to a new environment. Addition of apple cider vinegar to the
water has seemed to remedy the problem. By the end of
the week the vast majority of the early arrivals had adjusted to their new home and
droppings had improved considerably. The birds were quite alert, active
and had excellent appetites. They received their first bath. Note
the snow still on the ground.
Darkening began May 3rd. The birds will remain on
darkening for 13 hours a day.
May 4th to 10th
Eighty-two more birds arrived during the week bringing the total to 111.
This was quite a stressful time for me as well as the birds. Considerable
time was spent dipping beaks and "popping peas". Some young birds
arrived directly out of the nest and still had not completely feathered out
under the wing. These needed special attention and where put in the weaning
The week began with sunny warm weather and I was pleased with
look of the birds. They were active, droppings were normal and appetites
were very good. However by mid week
the weather turned to the worse. Rain was the norm for the rest of the
week and some wet snow fell during the weekend. Saturday was a miserable
day. At mid day the temperature hovered around 0 C and the damp cold made
the day very uncomfortable for the birds and me. In the morning the birds
could be seen huddled in groups throughout the loft. It was obvious they
were uncomfortable. So was I. The dampness and cold sent chill
down my back. Loft cleaning was a real chore for my old bones - not that
it ever has been a pleasant task. Droppings were rather loose but
understandably so considering the weather. However the vast majority of
birds became quite alert at feeding time. Most ate heartily. Under
these conditions I could not expect more. The loft floor was scraped and a
fresh coat of
Enviro-Shield was spread
throughout. This type of weather will put this loft dressing to the
Sunday was another miserable day. When I went in the
loft that morning young ones were huddled everywhere in the loft. Even the
daffodils huddled together and hung there heads in disbelief of the weather.
It was quite a depressing sight. But when the birds saw me enter the with
my green can of feed they became quite alert and were around my feet and at the
can. I had to tread carefully not to step on any tails. Their
behavior warmed the heart and soul but didn't do much for my old bones.
dinner time I was shocked to see the young ones trying to get into the water
fountain and take a
bath. So I gave them the real thing and they immediately went to it.
It was barely +4 C with a cold drizzling rain.
The spring has been unusually cold in northern NB. One could
easily argue that it still hasn't arrived. Even the lobster season had to be
postponed until the 5th of May because of the late ice in the Bay of Chaleur.
The weather has not been much better in many parts of the
Canada. Many fanciers have informed me that their shipments will be later
then expected. Therefore I have decided to abandon the darkening system
for the following reasons:
Only half of the birds have arrived to this point. Many
will only be shipping in the latter part of the month therefore darkening will
not be any advantage to them and more than likely a disadvantage.
The weather has been less than ideal. The average
daytime temperatures have been considerably below normal and recently sunny days
have been rare. The past few day have been especially damp and cold.
The birds are craving sun and warmth not less sun. Lack of sunny
warm days the damp cold will make the challenge of keeping them healthy that much more difficult.
It would be unwise to increase this challenge by using the darkening system.
May 11 to May 19th
The new week began the same way the old week ended. The birds woke up to 9 straight days off overcast skies characterized by rain, sleet, wet
snow and ice pellets. The weather could only be described as just "awful".
The continual damp cold weather began affecting the bird’s health. Wet
droppings that wouldn’t dry were everywhere. Continually scrapping the
loft floor and spreading Enviro-Shield throughout was a never-ending task. I
feared the worse if this unseasonable weather continued. For a while it
looked like it might happen. A handful of birds vomited and a dozen birds
spent 3 to 4 days in sickbay. Only 2 did not recover. One arrived sick and
had to dealt with.
The decision was made to treat all the birds for canker with
Apo-Metronidazole (Flagyl) and Poly-Tonine Super Booster was added to the water
for a period of 4 days.
Finally by Thursday afternoon the weather changed dramatically. The sun came
out and temperatures went from 10 C below normal to 10 C above normal. The
Victoria Day holiday ended with the high for the day reaching 29 C in the shade. The look of birds improved dramatically and
the droppings became acceptable. Needless to say, I was relieved. And the
daffodils perked up.
Friday was bath day. The birds were a mess. Margie suggested I
use a toddler’s swimming pool instead of cat litter pan and dish washing pan. I
laughed at her, which didn’t go over very well. She being a stubborn woman
came home with one and insisted I try it. I slightly modified it by
lowering the sides. And guess what? It fit perfectly in the trapping
aviary and the birds loved it. Why is it the wives are always right and get the last laugh?
Saturday was reserved for receiving more birds therefore a trip was planned to
pick up about 50 more in Moncton. When I arrived at the airport at 12:00
I was immediately informed of the bad news. Only half the birds arrived
and the rest were not expected for another 9 hours. They missed their connection
in Hamilton because of heavy fog was the explanation??? Waiting was out of
the question because of other commitments that evening. So off to Moncton
I drove again Sunday morning at 4:45 am for another 5 hour round trip.
It was not a pleasant drive. Besides staying awake there were other
concerns. I encountered 5 moose within 30 minutes of leaving the Bathurst
City limits. The first one being slight suicidal decided to cross the road
and I almost had to come to a complete stop to avoid hitting it. The
second one was a bit wiser and crossed the road several hundred feet in front of
me. The third one must have been a genius because it totally ignored me
and remained in the deep ditch grazing. Now the 4th and 5th
moose really surprised me because the first three were on the right side of the
road. I didn’t notice the cow and her yearling calf on the left side until
I was almost even with them. Fortunately for me the cow with strong
motherly instincts remained in the ditch with her calf obediently by her side.
Some pigeons do peculiar things. When I picked the birds up in Moncton on
Saturday I immediately took them out of the shipping box, dipped their beaks in
water and put them in a training basket with food and water. Ed White’s
shipment was of particular concern because they had been at cargo pickup since
the morning before. He had asked me to pay particular attention to one
bird. As I picked up the box I could hear a young one squeaking loudly.
I immediately new this was the young bird so I grabbed it first and dipped its beak in
the water. Boy did it drink.
When I got home and as I removed the new arrivals from the basket I dipped
their beaks in water again. Ed’s little bird didn’t change his behavior.
Soon as I picked him up he began squeaking again and only stopped when I dipped
his beak into the water.
That evening I went back into the loft and as soon as I stepped into
holding section the little fella was at my boots squeaking away again. I
picked it up to see if his crop was full of grain and it was so I dipped his
beak into the water. After it finished drinking I placed it by the water
fountain. It looked up at me with its head cocked back and wings half
fluttering as if to say – thanks and again please. I looked back and
thought – now you’re on your own little fella.
Now every time I go to the loft this little brown bar pied hen is at my feet still
squeaking away. I know she is eating and drinking on her own but I still on
occasion pick her up and dip its beak in the water just so she wouldn’t forget me.
We have become quite good friends.
Monday was another extremely hot day. The thermometer read 29 C at 4:00
pm. I decided this would be the day to let the birds out for their first
time. Hoping the hot weather would make the them slightly lethargic I let
them out a 5:00 pm and on empty stomachs. Things went fairly smoothly.
However the birds were much more active than I expected. Quite a few went
up for short circles and flew down on the ground and as usual decided to land in
some unusual places. By nightfall all were in.
May 20th to 31st
The last week of the month ended with another period of damp, cold and
rainy weather. The young birds were once again put under more stressful
environmental conditions that were not conducive to their good health.
Since the first arrivals 6 weeks ago, ten young birds have succumbed to young
bird sickness. At first glance this seems like a large number. But
considering there are over 200 entries in the loft, these losses are less than
5% of the total. Looking at this positively over 95% of the remaining
birds are in good health which is exhibited by their droppings, activity and
appetite. The remaining 5% are of a concern but are not in critical
condition. They are eating well however their droppings and behavior
suggest that they have health problems. Hopefully these are only temporary
and things will improve shortly. Our goal is to get 90% of the entries to
Several hawks have been seen flying in the vicinity of the loft but all of
them have veered away and gone elsewhere. I would like to think that the 6
owl-eye contraptions that are on the loft are responsible in deterring hawk
attacks. Time will only tell.
Ed White's brown bar pied is still up to her tricks. When I enter
the loft she flies up to my shoulder and when I am bent over scraping the
loft floor she will perch herself on my back. Last Sunday to Margie's
surprise she found a more comfortable perch.