KEEPERS of racing pigeons rear and train their own birds and may require veterinary advice when breeding and/or competition results prove unsatisfactory. The veterinary surgeon attending a racing pigeon loft must have a good understanding of the pigeon as an athlete and the factors that affect performance, as well as the epidemiology of diseases affecting pigeons. The balance between health and disease in birds is influenced by many variables and a sound veterinary approach, building on a targeted flock health plan and working closely with the pigeon fancier, is required to achieve good results. This article discusses the key areas contributing to the health of racing pigeons, including loft management, nutrition and hygiene, and highlights the importance of preventive medicine. It also describes the diagnosis and management of the more commonly seen diseases in pigeons and their associated epidemiology to help the practitioner investigate and combat the various threats to pigeon health.
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