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All material Copyright © 1996-2014 by Silvio Mattacchione & Co. unless otherwise noted.

A Preventative Medication Program That Works

by Silvio Mattacchione

Health or its absence is the key to all results, good or bad! Regardless of the quality of your pigeons, if you are unable to keep them healthy they are doomed to perennially poor results. I believe it is safe to say that the person who has pigeons of lesser quality but has learned to keep them close to the top of their health cycle will outperform a group of superior pigeons whose critical health is little understood and has, unfortunately, been allowed to lapse.

Though this definitely is true, most fanciers haven't a clue as to what does or does not constitute good health. Good health in a racing pigeon is a 365-day activity. The old adage is in fact true: "You only get out what you put in!"

Most fanciers get excited prior to racing old and young birds. Once this is over, the birds take a back seat until next spring. Ah, yes, there is always next year! Hope springs eternal. or does it?

Well, in fact it doesn't! Unless these fanciers have a massive overhaul of their attitudes, they do not have any chance at all of ever improving. Pigeon keeping (all bird keeping, no, the keeping of all living animals) is a hands-on activity. You learn by doing, first and foremost. You also learn by listening, by reading, and by observing; but I guarantee that you never learn by talking, and harping, and pontificating. You know the guys I mean! They let you know that they have forgotten more than you will ever know. Well, a sieve has really never been my idea of the perfect repository of the world's knowledge on racing pigeons! My partner, Jim McLean, always states that unfortunately, "You become what you are around." How can such a simple statement be so profound! Here is a very simple rule to live by: If you cannot say something good, bite your tongue and refrain from saying anything at all!

Our topsy-turvy world has always gotten things confused and it's no different in our own pigeon sport. We always assume that those who do the best also know the most and can teach the rest. This is rarely the case. In the real world, the great coach or teacher is usually the man or woman who could not physically achieve perfection, but who in turn strove to learn all they could so that they could pass it on to all those who did have the ability and could benefit from their own efforts.

In the past I have assisted many fanciers to achieve better results than had, for them, hitherto been the case. Very few ever acknowledge where the info originated, and like the sieve, they have a tendency to lose what it is that they are supposed to hold.

They Must Be Kept Clean

First and foremost your birds must be kept clean. Scrape the loft at least once per day and if you can, twice. The loft must be dry. It must be free of vermin, all vermin. If you can smell mouse, you have already lost! The loft should house less birds, never more. The loft should be adequately ventilated. The water should be changed ever day. Feed should never be present after the birds have eaten. Adequate quantities of minerals, grit, oyster shell, salt, etc. should always be present.

Stop Exchanging Birds

Health cannot be achieved if you are constantly exchanging pigeons with all and sundry. Once you have a colony of birds, work with them and avoid the temptation of always bringing in other birds. The constant exchange of birds is a sure-fire way to insure disaster. Remember that everyone thinks their birds and management are excellent, but the reality is that they have not got a clue. In most cases, the greater the pomposity, the less the ability. Actually, in most cases it's an inverse proportion!

Bio-security is a Must!

Keep visitors out of you lofts. Who knows where they have been and what they will expose your birds to? As simple as these concepts are, they are in fact the key to any bio-security system.

It really is hilarious to imagine that the average chicken farmer (either layer or grower) goes to a greater extent to protect his flock from contamination than most racing pigeon fanciers do!

Pretty easy concepts, don't you think? Keep them clean, keep them fed and watered, keep them free of contaminates, do not trade birds, keep your colony isolated as much as possible, keep visitors out of your lofts. You are 90% of the way to success.

Drug Versus Antibiotic

Oh, let's not forget that we should also understand the difference between a drug and an antibiotic. Yes, yes, I can already hear the smart remarks. Well, an antibiotic is by most considered a drug, but a drug is not necessarily an antibiotic! An antibiotic works by suppressing the immune system, a drug per se does not affect the immune system at all. So you see there is a real difference. There are hundreds of fanciers misusing antibiotics like Baytril. They attempt to use this 3rd generation antibiotic as a performance enhancer. That is, you use the product, it suppresses the immune system, then as the birds come off it there is a slingshot effect as the immune system seems to go beyond the norm, and bingo, super health. Or is it? No, actually a sure-fire ticket to disaster! Do not use these mega antibiotics unless you have done adequate testing with your avian vet! In most cases less extreme older antibiotics will more than serve your pigeons' health needs.

Keep Canker and Cocci Under Control

Generally speaking, you need to keep canker and cocci under control. You will find that by treating your birds every 6-8 weeks throughout the year (you need not worry if the parents are pumping youngsters as it will in no way harm them), neither of these two conditions will ever be of concern again. Ridzol will take care of the canker and Amperol will more than suffice for cocci. These two products can be safely used together. The dosage is 1/2 teaspoon of Ridzol plus 12.55 cc of Amperol per gallon of water. You would use these together for 3-5 days depending on the original count. Remember that both of these organisms are always present in the pigeon. The point is not to eradicate but only to keep at a manageable level that does not adversely effect performance. Remember neither of these drugs are antibiotics.

Internal and external parasites can easily be controlled with Ivomec. Three drops down the throat and no more problems with either.

Sixty days prior to races you can treat the entire race team with Amoxicillin capsules, dosage 5-8 500 mg capsules per gallon of water for a full ten days. The change in the birds is exceptional. This is an especially good idea if you are handling a large number of out-of-area birds for some race or another. Yes, this is the same antibiotic that your children often take.

If the need arises, Vetisulid can be used to treat for E. coli. The dosage is 1/2 teaspoon per gallon of water for 3-5 days. 2/3-3/4 teaspoons for 7-10 days also eliminates cocci. Often an elevated E. coli count will certainly mean reduced performance from your birds.

Once Races Begin

You will find that once the races begin that most really competent flyers treat their birds every week during the races. They treat on a 3-4 week rotational basis as follows.

Week One

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday after the race treat for canker and cocci.

Week Two

After the race treat Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday for E. coli.

Week Three

After the race Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday treat for respiratory. As regards respiratory you can use Doxin-WO or any combination of Doxycycline plus. You can use Doxycycline at the dosage of 1500 mg per gallon and Tylan at a dosage of 3000 mg per gallon.

Next Race

Begin again as in week one. You will continue this program for the 8-10 weeks of both your old and young bird programs.

There are a thousand other things that you can do including the use of DMG 2000, Carniplex,, Red Cell, wheat grass, citric acid, etc.

365 Days of the Year!

The reality is if you can keep canker and cocci under control 365 days per year. Keep the birds clean and dry and treat as directed during the races, and you will improve considerably your performance (regardless of the quality or lack of same) of your birds. Give it a try. You will notice the difference immediately.

Racing Pigeons Section Contents

Ashdon Farms

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 pigeons.

Pigeon Books

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 Shannon Hiatt.

Pigeons For Sale

Some of Silvio Mattacchione's own winning stock is for sale.

Pigeon Consulting

Sivio 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 possible.

Charity Events

Good causes supported by Silvio and the racing pigeon and parrot communities.


Clever pigeon pictures constructed of keyboard strokes by artist Jerry Downs.

Pigeon Links

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!

Contact Us

Silvio's e-mail, mail, phone, and fax contact information.

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