By Silvio Mattacchione
year I was very distressed to find that one of my hens seemed unable to
properly stand on her legs. What could possibly be wrong I thought? I
watched her intently for sings? Any signs, any clues to what was going
on. She was bright, in good weight, clean white wattle, no vertigo, no
wrenching of her neck, no looking skyward and falling back, no nothing.
Yet she was clearly not right.
Almost instinctively I went for the calcium pills. Put
two down her throat and gave her some water.
The very next day she seemed better. A few days later another hen .Now
I was concerned no symptoms of any sickness or ill heath yet clearly she
was having a problem standing on her legs and to say the least she had
An epidemic in the making? I didn't know and I was not
going to wait and find out. I needed to be proactive, get the best minds
immediately working on this problem .I called and emailed a highly respected
vet .We chatted and though he was baffled he sought other international
vets for advise .It is great when professional people are ready and willing
to help at a moments notice. I waited and soon I had some feed back. They,
these pigeon vets in two countries, were all somewhat baffled and essentially concluded
that this was possibly the beginning of Paramixo virus or heaven forbid
paratyphoid?. On the face of it you might come inevitably to this depressing
conclusion. It is difficult to diagnose a bird at a distance by phone
or email, but they certainly thought the worst. I knew that this info
was wrong and I was not going to react in haste and without being convinced
of what specific action was required for the safety of my birds. Most
people might have erred on the side of supposed safety, needle them first,
treat them first worry later. But not I as I have seen only too much over
the past decade in the field of "modern medicine".
Other than the weak legs there were no symptoms and as
such I was not about to panic regardless of what anyone might think, pro
or not. More research was in order and so I began to seek the answer.
Where would I find it? Where would I look ?I thought about it for a time
and began reviewing old pigeon books and magazines.
My collection of books includes many from the 19th century.
Surely I would find something, or at least I hoped I would.
In the mean time I received a panic call from one of
my club mates who oddly enough had the exact same symptoms in several
of his hens and more surprisingly in one of his cocks! What was going
on? He spoke to an MD in our club who suggested calcium immediately. Still
it bothered me greatly. I have grit in the loft, oyster shell, wheat grass
, pick stone. It had to be more than just the calcium. Possibly something
gone wrong with the birds ability to utilize calcium? Yes that might be
it! But what? Why? Finally how to resolve , if a resolution was even possible.
As usually happens when you least expect to find something
important you often stumble upon it. So it was that late into one night
as I was reading some old correspondence from Dr. W.F. Hollander I came
across an old spiral bound copy of "Pigeon Science: Popovers" edited by
Dr. W.F. Hollander in 1987.
A book dedicated to open minded fanciers ( Is there such
a thing?) and especially the up and coming younger generation( that must
mean us old guys now!). It had been Dr. Hollanders intention to start
a dialogue with intelligent, curious active minds, to present new and
old information and to initiate trains of thought ( so many times I feel
like the train has already left the station and is long gone).
Men of science take note of this simple definition of
science from Dr. Hollander science is "organized knowledge" this includes
both old supposedly familiar knowledge and new knowledge. So here I am
in the 21st Century working on a series of observations and
problems that were in fact and deed solved long ago. I just did not know
it, nor did my exceedingly helpful men of science.
On page 2 of the aforementioned book I saw a brief article
entitled , " Hen Down, What To Do?".
Yes I quickly read it and started to laugh. Here it was in a nutshell
in an old book , mystery solved long ago. Why do we always have to repeat
our errors, why do we never learn from the supposed
old knowledge? I do not know and I guess that is why my motto as well
as suggestion to all of my readers has always been, " read , read everything,
read what is good, read what is bad, read what is old and what is new
for only by reading and discovering for ourselves will we be able to serve
our own best interests and insure that we do not repeat so many errors
from long ago.
Take note 21st men of science, fanciers and
just us common folk with a little common sense and then pass it on to
anyone who is having this problem and takes to needling his birds needlessly
( by the way I have no use for vaccinations nor for anyone who does not
take the time to research this area on his own to see what real harm he
just may be doing to his birds, himself and his family). I quote directly
Dr. Hollander from 1987: " Well, if you have Levi's book The Pigeon,
see paragraph # 380.Anyway , the parathyroid glands are essential for
regulation of calcium and phosphorus metabolism .Particularly about egg-laying
time when the hen has to mobilize large amounts of such substances. She
may deplete her bone reserves if she is not properly supplied with minerals
and vitamin D Then the parathyroid glands become enlarged probably overworked
trying to correct the upset"
Vitamin D? Though we do not fully understand the trigger
for this upset we do know ( and obviously have known for some time what
the cure is) the cure .Give the hen or hens in question a capsule of Vitamin
D down the throat and she will be fine very soon. There are a ton of brands
that you can purchase from any drug store , and all of them are just fine.
Dr. Hollander goes on to say : "well, I think the birds need a regular source of Vitamin D.It is stored
in the liver so they can go weeks on a D-deficient diet without trouble,
but instead of using pills every month I think plenty of sunshine ( not
through window glass) or feed containing vitamin D is desirable.. Pelleted
feeds are all fortified with D, but they should not be fed if gone stale"
" Hen Down What To Do? Remember , Vitamin D ,this little piece of advice -it
could save you some great hens, some bad times, possibly in some cases
some needless vet bills and a lot of heartache.
Racing Pigeons Section Contents
Background on Silvio Mattacchione, his pigeons, his loft,
and inbreeding program.
A group of articles and editorials addressing various aspects
of the sport of pigeon racing and the history of Silvio's line of Spanjaards/Janssens
Buy fantastic pigeon books online! Selections include The
Will to Prepare by Robert Kinney, Rotondo on Racing Pigeons
by Joseph Rotondo, and The Pigeon Guide by Dr. Jon Esposito and
Pigeons For Sale
Some of Silvio Mattacchione's own winning stock is for
Mattacchione offers a wide range of racing pigeon consulting services
and consults with owners as far away as Australia, Mexico, Taiwan, The
Philippines and the United States. Each consultation is tailored specifically
to meet the client's needs, and is conducted in as thorough a manner as
Good causes supported by Silvio and the racing pigeon and
Clever pigeon pictures constructed of keyboard strokes
by artist Jerry Downs.
Links to other racing pigeon sites including those of clubs,
products, and information resources. An easy way to navigate a series of pigeon web sites!
Silvio's e-mail, mail, phone, and fax contact information.