What to do and not to do for a successful moulting

– by Dr. Sara Dias from Elite Pigeon Center Portugal

Why is moulting so important

Moulting season is the time when the pigeons completely change their feathers, or it should be, because we happen to encounter problems that prevent moulting, which is not normal. Now is the time to change the future of a pigeon that didn’t perform well due to incomplete moulting. There is a great connection between a good moult and racing performance in the season. We can start again with a good moult even if we had a bad season with that pigeon.

If we don’t have a good moult, we can’t expect good performance in the future. That’s for sure! Even if the pigeon is a good pigeon, he can be even better if the moulting is perfect, if the feathers are shiny, good-looking and healthy. Without these few aspects, the pigeon cannot perform in competitions.

During this time many breeders are on vacation and sometimes forget about pigeons but this period is very important for the next season. If breeders knew this, they would pay more attention in the future. The racing season is the mirror of last year’s moult. When I look at some pigeons in the season and open their wings, I can see that moulting was not successful and this leads to bad results.

Moulting and treatments

Ideally, before moulting we should do some tests or treatments to make sure the pigeons enter into the great moult in perfect shape. If the pigeons are sick during this period, the moulting will not be complete or the feathers will not be shiny and the racing season will not be a good one. Any disease can compromise the absorption of nutrients in both the crop and intestines.

The moulting program, like the other programs of the year, is divided into two stages. The first stage is the preparation for moulting in which we make sure that the pigeons do not have intestinal worms, coccidiosis or trichomoniasis.

If we have the opportunity to test the crop and feces, then we can treat according to the result. If we cannot examine, then we should make a treatment for coccidiosis, intestinal worms and triomoniasis with Ambronil but, be very careful, use Ambronil 5g in 4 liters of water, in order not to affect the feathers as in the case of the normal dose. With this dilution (5g/4l) there is no risk. 2-3 days before moulting, and if a trichomoniasis treatment is needed even during moulting, use the same dosage.

Of course we must avoid the administration of drugs, if there is less than 5% of the flock sick, we can treat them individually. If they do not react to treatment in 4-5 days, they must be eliminated. If more than 5% are sick, we must treat them carefully, to not compromise the feathers.

Enrofloxacin, sulfamides, dimitridazole should always be avoided, not to develop problematic feathers. Of course, if we have a problem a veterinarian should be consulted.

We can use Tricoplus and Ambronil (5g/4l). Ronidazole is a safe substance that can be used once a month. Then, we can maintain the health of pigeons with Tricogo and Sanocest. These products help fight bacteria, fungi and viruses.

Another important aspect, after performing the treatments before or during moulting, we must disinfect the loft because worm eggs and coccidia may still be present. To stop reinfection we must always disinfect.

Moulting and reproduction

If we want to reproduce then the moulting will be delayed. But, if we talk about breeders there is no problem because we can extend the moulting period as much as we want but we must be careful because both reproduction and moulting consume a lot of energy, minerals, vitamins and amino acids, and so we must increase the dose of supplements to avoid any problems.

If we are talking about reproducing the racing pigeons, in Portugal, for example the season starts in February, the preparations start in December, the moulting must be completed at the end of November for the beginning of the trainings. If the moulting is not completed and we start training, we can compromise the feathers. So, with flyers, is not a good idea to prolong the moult.

Food and supplements

This period consumes a lot of energy, there are important needs that we must ensure, the pigeons must receive minerals, vitamins, amino acids and good balanced food. Minerals, vitamins and amino acids are vital for the development of feathers. If the body does not have these elements, it cannot produce good, strong and shiny feathers. The pigeons fly with their feathers. If they don’t have good feathers, they can’t fly well.

The most important amino acid during this period is methionine, which we find in Vit Amino, Amino Forte and Sedo Plus. These 3 products are very important and, from my point of view, the most important. They have an essential composition and together with quality food thus ensure good health and moult.

I mentioned Sedo Plus, Vit Amino, Amino Forte, which are very important, Healthy Oil is also very important for energy intake. Regarding food, there are many good brands on the market, we just have to choose one that contains good seeds, because the composition may be good but if the seeds are not of quality it is not ok.

Most brands have special blends. Normally we need food with high energy, many calories and fats, but it all depends on the pigeons. If we are talking about adults, we must use the mixtures designed for moulting. But if we are talking about youngsters, we should use mixtures designed for reproduction because they need more protein than adults. If they no longer receive protein, we can compromise their development. For a good moult we must have a daily plan, a good preparation, good food and a good loft. In Portugal the weather is different, in the south the weather is very beautiful, dry and there is no need to close the loft. In the north, where we live, the night is very cold; we have to be careful because it rains more. This summer was not too hot; we had autumn or spring like temperatures. Every year we have to pay attention to the weather and the loft, and try to do what is best for the pigeons.

In conclusion, for a good moulting we should pay attention to first stage, which means making sure the pigeons enter the great moulting in perfect health if not, treat possible diseases before they start moulting. In the second stage, the actual moulting, we supply with necessary products which contain methionine, vitamins and minerals. Together with the supplements we must procure good moulting food with quality grains. By doing all this we increase our chances for the next racing season.