– Its veterinary care, management and cultural history
Dr Colin Walker BSc BVSc MACVS (Avian Health)
The knowledge available to pigeon fanciers has just jumped forward over a decade and a half. Well-known international identity, Dr Colin Walker, has again put pen to paper. Colin Walker is a qualified avian vet who has raced and exhibited his pigeons for over 40 years. He runs a bird-only veterinary hospital in Melbourne, Australia, has lectured at the University of Melbourne, and examines the final-year veterinary students in avian medicine and surgery. He has won many races and on five occasions has been either his Federation Champion Flyer of the Year or runner up.
His first book, The Flying Vet’s Pigeon Health and Management, published in 2000, was regarded by many fanciers as the best pigeon veterinary book ever written. It was translated into several languages and sold around the world. The new book is a massive 650 pages and is illustrated with over 1,250 magnificent full-colour images. Two hundred pages of the earlier book have been updated and modernised and an incredible 450 pages of totally new material is presented. The new book is a stunning update of modern pigeon veterinary knowledge, written in an easy-to-read manner, with an accent on real information that any fancier can use. Much of the information presented to the pigeon fraternity is totally new, much of it only being discovered in the last decade. There are photos taken looking down the microscope, during autopsy, looking into pigeon throats and also into the back of the eye – images not published before.
The book provides a succinct summary of the common diseases and discusses the intricacies of racing including how to develop race fitness, the selection of birds for the race team, race preparation and recovery protocols, disease control during the racing and breeding seasons and also the causes of poor race performance. The interpretation of physical changes observed in the birds, together with changes in the birds’ behaviour and droppings are discussed from both a management and veterinary point of view. Chapters on loft design discuss how to achieve the temperature, humidity and air flow necessary for true race form. Computer modelling is demonstrated and used to take the guess work out of nutrition. There is an extensive formulary listing all of the commonly used medications, their dose rates, methods of administration, uses and side-effects. How to get an accurate diagnosis, even if you are literally hundreds of miles from a qualified avian vet, ‘one-loft race’ health protocols, doping and problems of the breeding season are all discussed. Veterinary knowledge about pigeons advances every year and yet dissemination of information throughout the pigeon community is notoriously slow. Just in the year 2013, work has continued on a mycoplasma (respiratory) vaccine, new antibody/antigen tests have become available, new fertility medications have been released, the function of the Teichman gland in the crop has become more fully understood, the development and persistence of PMV immunity has been examined, and the understanding of paratyphoid transmission has been reviewed. All are covered.
In addition, there are chapters addressing the concerns raised by councils about pigeons, quarantine, pigeon orientation, race losses and the history of pigeon keeping. One fascinating chapter titled ‘The Diagnostic Pathway’ discusses all of the modern diagnostic tests, including blood profiling, specific DNA testing, bacterial culture, etc., and are all illustrated with beautiful colour photos.
The book is a stunning modern update of pigeon knowledge in the early 21st century that can be used by every fancier to enhance his birds health and lift performance.