Articles

Pigeon Loft Biosecurity


Hello, I’m Dr. Philip Nelson, small animal
veterinarian. I’ve been a veterinarian for 44 years. I’ve had racing pigeons since
I was a child. We’re here today to talk about biosecurity in pigeons. Biosecurity
sounds a little scary, but it’s really not. It involves many
things that you are already doing if you have pigeons in your loft. There’s
nothing scary about biosecurity. It really involves keeping the birds
healthy. That means free of contagious disease whether it be caused by bacteria,
viruses or parasites. If they’re not healthy your birds are not going to
perform well or show well. It’s very important that you maintain a loft and
surroundings in such a way as to prevent anything from affecting their health. So,
that’s what biosecurity is all about and as you will see it involves many things
that you’re already doing that you haven’t thought about in this way before.
One of the things that you should notice here is that there is a fence around the
majority of this yard. Now fences… you’ve never thought about it…. but fences are
biosecurity. What fences do is prevent people and animals from entering an area
you’re trying to control. Look at where the loft is placed and look at the
construction of the loft. It’s placed in an area where for the pigeons there’s no
wires, there’s no trees, it’s open. The loft should be built in such a way to keep
predators out. There is aluminum on the columns so that things like raccoons
cannot climb up and get access to the upstairs loft. Windows have wire behind
them to keep animals from penetrating through an open window.
And the exterior of the loft is maintained in such a way to keep away
rodents. Rodents are a problem in spreading disease. Anything you can do to keep weeds down, keep the building in repair so that nothing can enter into it
is going to enhance biosecurity. Posting signs on the property that clearly state
environmental controls are in place and enforced is biosecurity. It informs
visitors that there are processes in place to restrict the transmission of
disease. It also informs visitors that they need permission to enter the
property. When entering the loft, a foot bath to disinfect your feet is
biosecurity. In this case, it’s a simple floor mat that has diluted chlorhexidine
poured into it so that when you step onto it it is moistening the bottom of
your feet with the disinfectant. You can get chlorhexidine at any feed store, Fleet
Farm, any type of a place like that. Generic stuff is fine. Dilute it out. Put it
in the mat. It’s changed a couple times a week. It’s particularly important when
visitors come when you don’t know where they’ve been or where they’re going. You
could also use a conventional foot bath which would be a pan to step into.
Plastic booties are good too to have on hand. Anything to prevent contamination
of the shoes and then leaving the premises with something on the bottom of them. Hand sanitizer or washing your hands is
biosecurity. You don’t know where other people have been that come to your
loft or where they may be going afterwards. Part of biosecurity is
maintaining a visitor’s log book and a health record, basically, of what happens
in the loft where you would record medications that are given or other
products that may be given to the birds to enhance their health and performance.
We require that all visitors to the loft sign their name. It is possible then to
trace back and see if something happened did it come from this loft and move to
another loft. So, just something as simple as keeping track of who comes and goes
at your loft is biosecurity. Lofts should be kept as clean and tidy as possible.
We’re working with birds. It’s not possible to keep it real clean but you
want to keep it as clean as what is reasonable. In the outside space here
it’s pretty easy to keep it clean. It’s almost impossible to keep rodents out of
a building especially where you have animals and where you have feed. But
there are preventative things that you can do to keep them down. Preventing
rodents is biosecurity. water should be kept clean and changed regularly. If
medications are in there you may have to change it a little more often. Probiotics
kept in those waters does leave a scum in there so they do have to be washed
every day or two. Otherwise there will be a scum in there. Another thing that we do
need to talk about is ventilation. You need to get air flow into the building.
We have to change the air out in here. So, on the bottom of the loft is an air
intake and on the top of the loft in the ceiling is a grate for the air to go out.
Getting sunlight into the loft helps keep the loft more healthy. Pigeons are
going to do best if they have access to the sun and they are kept dry. Sunlight in and of itself kills many things. So sunlight getting into the loft
is also biosecurity. Biosecurity is trying to keep your birds, and in general
your loft, having a healthy loft and keeping the spread of disease down.
In the case with pigeons what we’re mainly interested in is maintaining the
health of the entire loft of birds. Thank you Dr. Nelson for sharing your insights today on biosecurity for pigeon lofts. Biosecurity is the set of measures that
you will participate in in the management of your birds.
These are simple and inexpensive practices such as hand-washing and
rodent control. While many of you probably do these things each day in
your loft, it is important to remain conscious of the risk of disease and to
use common sense in order to enhance your biosecurity. It is essential to the
health of your birds to practice biosecure protocol each day in the
management of your pigeon loft.

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