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National Pigeon Association


Advice that will aid and guide you in your chosen hobby.  

Welfare issues with regards this absorbing hobby covers aspects ranging from what is required from juveniles and adult new comers right through to what is expected from experienced fanciers. All of this information, in detail, can be found by accessing the DEFRA website, or by contacting the NPA Secretary who will put you in touch with the right people.                                                                                                          

What the Animal Welfare Law requires however, in all cases, is a bottom line of welfare of the livestock involved, in our case fancy pigeons.

At its base level the law demands that small live stock, as a right, must be given the essentials for a healthy and contented lifestyle.
In the case of our fancy pigeons it is accurate to say that without those two ingredients, ie health and a contented environment, success whether it be in the breeding pen, the show pen or in flying performance will never be fully achieved.
There is little point in these few notes to give in depth information on aspects such as feeding, loft management and construction, show preparation etc as all of these items, and many other considerations, will vary depending on what variety (type) of fancy pigeon you have decided to keep.

The three commandments however are good food, clean water and dry, draught proof housing. Within those three items the variations are infinite.

As an example heavily muffed or very ornamental breeds have different housing requirements to clean legged or flying breeds, whilst short faced birds will have a completely different set of 'dietary rules' to those of the blowers (croppers/pouters). The best option is to obtain a comprehensive list of do's and don'ts either from the source from which the birds were obtained or from the secretary of the relevant breed club. (listed elsewhere on this site). As a general rule the 'provider' should offer you a list of requirements for the upkeep of the birds being supplied. In an emergency do not panic. Almost any combination of corns or seeds and a supply of clean water will get you and your birds out of trouble. Short term a couple of birds can comfortably be housed in a rabbit hutch with wood shavings or straw on the floor.

Look after your birds properly and the world can become your oyster.

Welfare - NPA Committee

How to introduce a new pigeon to your lofts?

All of us at some point need to introduce new stock to our lofts or maybe want to start keeping an additional breed. So we contact a fancier and seek out the new stock we require, whether from here in the UK or abroad.

But how many of us know what we should do when introducing new stock to our lofts and how many of us remember to maintain good bio security or think ‘oh it will be ok’? The last thing we want when we bring in that new pigeon that affects the health of our current stock. So here are a few reminders of the best practice;

  • Source new stock from a reliable source.
  • Where possible find out the health regime and if the pigeons have been vaccinated.
  • Quarantine/Isolate the new stock for 2-3 weeks
  • Give new stock vitamin supplement for first few days in their holding area, due to stress.
  • Maintain good biosecurity – feed these pigeons last and wash hands after handling.
  • Check new stock daily for signs of good health, if in doubt droppings samples can be sent to your vet for analysis.
  • New stock should not be exhibited without ensuring the pigeons are healthy and have been isolated for the 2-3 week period.

When importing from abroad please follow the DEFRA guidelines and procedures. With this in mind it is worth remembering that around the world and in our own country are some nasty bugs which can affect our life times work. Over in Australia at the moment they have confirmed out breaks of Reno virus which is resulting in 70% losses in lofts and in America they have an unknown disease which is having similar effects.

If you are fortunate to be bringing birds in from around the world, please follow all quarantine procedures for that country, not only do you have a legal requirement to do so you also have a moral obligation. Cutting corners may lead to problems in your own lofts and ultimately to other fanciers lofts.

We would also ask you to think carefully about vaccinating for PMV, of course it is your choice whether to vaccinate your birds or not, but for a few pence per pigeon to vaccinate it not only gives you piece of mind but it also helps to stop the spread to other fanciers birds, obviously it is your choice but we can only offer advice

We want everyone to enjoy their birds and we want you all to have healthy birds therefore please follow all the guidelines.

Welfare Notes, February 2016, John E Surridge (NPA Welfare Officer)

It is now the first day of March and until a few hours ago it appeared that, with just a couple of serious exceptions, it had been another good year for UK fanciers in general as far as any major pigeon ailments were concerned, sadly, I have now learned, via the world of electronics, that Country wide, more than a few very good fanciers have fallen foul of what is currently a very worryingly serious and at present unidentified disease problem, some with a reported devastating number of fatalities. A couple of studs have been completely wiped out, whilst some others have experienced major devastation. To some of the current range of medications the birds have been seen to be non responsive. It would seem that whatever the problem is it could most probably have been picked up very late in the season, or is possibly airborne and also quite possibly transmitted via purchased birds or the show pens. Equally important is not going in to other fancier’s lofts nor letting others visit your birds, at least until the problem is resolved. Diseases can easily be transmitted on your clothing or your shoes. I am told that at least two of the fanciers have already been advised to contact a veterinary professional. As I have previously indicated, that advice should be the first port of call for any fancier unlucky enough to have their lofts stricken by this or any other any major health problem. Guessing what the problem may be often leaves it too late for a correct diagnosis or a successful remedy.  Fortunately healthy pigeons do not easily catch diseases, but it is well to remember that they are still subject to any relevant DEFRA controls if the problem is major, it persists or it is proved contagious. If you have any pigeons in your loft looking unwell or off colour please do not risk passing anything on to other fanciers, just leave your entire show team and sale birds at home. Winning that bit of card or making a few pounds, is not worth taking the risk.  We are now finished with our show season so even in a worst case scenario we should escape any catastrophic results of any remotely possible major outbreak.  Sadly I know exactly how these fanciers are feeling, as those who know me will recall that I went down the same dreadful path some years back when I started off with 300 birds and finished with 5. It took me a lot of time and effort to get back to being remotely close to where I was, stud quality wise.  Without trying to advertise anyone it could be well worth a phone call to Libby at Retford Poultry Partnership (01777 703011). From personal experience I know that these are specialists in sorting out pigeon health problems, but of course, around the country there are many very good veterinary  practices.                                                                                                                                               Bird Flu was reported in a couple of Scandinavian countries during the year but fortunately does not appear to have ventured our way. The Flu itself does not affect our birds, but DEFRA’s reactions most certainly could. Other than that we appear to have been relatively free from reported diseases, apart from the usual odd outbreaks of the often mistakenly identified Young Bird Sickness and the rarer lumps and bumps of Paratyphoid (Salmonella) or of the twisted necks of Paramyxovirus, long may that state continue, but always remain alert.  As I stated earlier, if you do get a serious number of birds going off-colour or dying, do not try guessing what is wrong, it really is advisable to get some early professional advice

before treating them. Your Family strain and all the many years taken in developing it, is worth a lot more than the few pounds a vet will cost you. If you need to visit a vet try to get in touch with one who specializes in or who has good experience with birds.

Import of Pigeons From EU Countries

DEFRA - import of Pigeons from EU Countries
(as published at 20 Jan 2012) – John E Surridge - NPA Welfare
Contrary to misleading rumours that appear to be doing the rounds pen-side at some of the shows suggesting that the Health Certificate form currently used when importing birds from EU Countries is no longer required, these forms, though very rarely scrutinised by Customs, are still a very much a required piece of documentation, as is the continuing necessity to hold and follow the Licence rules for shows.
Conditions for Importing/exporting birds between UK & EU countries are:
a) The birds should come from/go to registered premises. (how many NPA Members actually have Registered Premises??)
b) The birds must come from or go to an area that has been clear of Avian Flu and/or Newcastle Disease (PMV) for the past 30 days.
c) They must not originate from a loft/area which is subject to any Ministry restrictions applicable in the Country of Origin.
d) The birds must not show any signs of sickness/disease on the day of import/export.
e) The importer must obtain from the exporter a completed and signed statement to the effect that the birds are healthy etc. (our Certificate of Health form covers this)
This statement which must be signed should include the exporters Name, full Address inc Country of Origin, and ring numbers of the birds. All of this information is required for traceability in the case of sickness, deaths or notification of a contagious disease of any of the birds. If birds are purchased at a show all the required details are obtainable from the Show Catalogue and a signature to the effect that they were purchased from the show can easily be obtained from a show official. (birds are all ‘vetted’ in to an EU show).
It is the importers responsibility to obtain this information and it is the exporters responsibility to supply such information. It is most likely that the Health form will NOT be required unless stopped by Customs and Excise at which time it can become vital – even more important than the birds themselves.
All of the above criteria are covered on our current Certificate of Health form. It is no use trying to bluff your way when/if stopped at customs. This form does NOT cover the import of Poultry. For information on these please contact AHIT at Chelmsford or Carlisle or your local Animal Health Offices.
NB: The importer (in the UK) must inform their local Animal Health Office with notification, in writing, of the intention to import birds. This notification must be received by that office at least 24hrs (exc weekends) prior to the arrival of the birds in the UK.
The transfer of birds from/to non EU Countries is covered by a completely different set of rules, these can be obtained direct from DEFRA. Birds from non EU Countries are subject to 30 days quarantine.