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The Metabolic System...
Author: Bob RowlandTitle: The Metabolic System
Date: 2002-09-08 19:39:58Uploaded by: webmaster
Part 1 of 2, Bob Rowland

On 18 Jun 2002, I wrote an article entitled "Scientific answer about flying in the heat".

This article included the following equation:

Total heat load = environmental temperature + body temperature + UV thermal Load

If you change any one of these variables you change the total metabolic rate of the bird which corresponds to high energy demand and there by higher consumption of minerals, fat, and other vitamins. After this brief formula, the following response came back to me and I would like to take this opportunity to respond to it. The response was: The formula I knew already. Some very interesting remarks came on this from you and others.
Now we are here can we take another step.

What will happen to birds:
          -inside a transporter
          -badly ventilated
          -with no access to water

What metabolic processes will occur and what will happen to the birds. This is what is puzzling me and I would like to know more about.
I think if someone could describe the metabolic processes in such a situation maybe we could get more to stand up for the sport.

I responded with this statement:

  Anytime you put any type of stress to the pigeons, you are taxing the
  metabolic system and forcing the system to consume their required
  nutrients. In addition, should the temperature get too high, the birds
  can die from their inability to relieve the heat stress. This is just a
  brief overview and further down in this article, I give some greater
  specifics about this statement.

Going back to the basic formula shows that an increase in any one of the 3 basic items increases the stress load dramatically. An example of this is when we hear about people that have left a pet in a closed vehicle on a hot day and come back to find the animal dead.

We all have limitations to what we can handle just as your auto needs a radiator to keep the system at the proper temperature. If you overheat the auto, it will soon quit working and damage will be done. The same is true for our pigeons. In so many cases, those not taking the time to understand the problems that overheating will create are doing our pigeons an injustice and are also affecting their ability to win against competition that does take better care of their pigeons while transporting.

Now let's take the different parts of the equation and talk about the effects:

   The environmental temperature is one that we have no control over once
   the pigeons are turned loose but we have a DRAMATIC IMPACT TO
   IT WHILE THE PIGEONS ARE IN OUR CARE.

An example of how we could benefit is to have a loft that will ventilate properly so that the temperature does not get too high. Each and every time the temperature increases, SO DOES THE DEMAND FOR WATER.

I have been making several studies on this to see just how much water each pigeon will consume at what temperatures. Knowing how much water your pigeons are consuming can greatly benefit you as to what condition your pigeons are in. Pigeons in high form will require less water and when you monitor this, you have some good ideas as to what is happening in your loft. Understand that a pigeon does not excrete water unless there is a problem. Their droppings when they are healthy are very tight and the white cap is uric acid crystals. They do not excrete urine so when you see wet droppings, it indicates a problem.

If a pigeon is not feeling well and even running a fever, you will quickly see that their demand for water goes up. Knowing this will also tell you the same is true in reverse. So if pigeons in top form require less water at a certain temperature, why not know this and use it to help you determine if they are fit to win?

The different types of pigeons have different metabolic rates so there is no hard and fast rule for your pigeons as to what the magic number is. You will have to do your studies and chart the information that is relative to your location, your particular pigeons, and also how you feed and how the proper minerals and fats are in your pigeons.


The Metabolic System (Part 2 of 2) From: Bob Rowland

As soon as your pigeons get out of balance, then their balance of electrolytes can get way out of whack. A great mistake we do is to allow our pigeons to bury their head in the water as soon as they get home on a hot day. By doing so, the balance of electrolytes can be thrown totally out of proper balance and to give you just a few brief but very fatal possibilities, consider this:

    Heart attacks or strokes are very real possibilities should your
    potassium or magnesium levels get out of normal ranges.

    The depletion of zinc can cause infections to have a free run at taking
    over the system and if you have rapid changes in the ph levels, proper
    nerve conduction can be seriously jeopardized.

These are just a few of the more serious problems that can happen with dehydration and/or excessive temperatures.

Now we have the UV thermal Load to consider.

Ultra violet rays are micro waves! Plain and simple and how the micro wave cooks our food is by creating rapid movement within the cells of the item you are cooking. The higher the level of microwave, the faster the molecules move back and forth causing friction to occur. Our simple school classes taught us that friction creates heat and eventually if the heat stress becomes too much, things break down.

Now imagine your microwave oven is set at the lowest setting for heat and the time limit is 1 hour. Certain items will barely cook as the friction created at this setting is not greater than what the item is capable of withstanding or cooling.

The same situation with the same item at the same time level except now we are at the highest setting on our microwave. In most cases, if the time level is too long, the item will be burned or even blow up as the molecules could not withstand the temperature this new setting created.

Both of the above scenarios happen on our race course at one part of the world or another. A simple review of the UV levels along your course will show us in advance how tough the competition may be for that day. In actuality and also logically, we find the highest UV Rays closest to the equator and the further away from the equator your races are, the less effect one generally has from the intensity of the UV Rays.

Here in Florida, we refer to the sun as brutal during the summer but this is not until about 10 AM in the morning. Prior to that time, the effects of the sun are more tolerable. Interesting enough, we have UV Rays in the upper levels most of the year while the places that have the colder winters have considerably less levels of UV Rays. This is why we do not race our pigeons during the summer as we wait until September before we begin the young bird races as this is also when the UV Rays have become less intense.

For my friends in Belgium and Holland, this is very hard to comprehend as their strongest days of UV Rays, even in the heat of their summer, is still no where close to the effects of the UV rays in the areas closer to the equator.

Finally, we have the effects of the body temperature. Our birds can handle a certain amount of body temperature provided they are not crowded too closely together. The closer we pack the pigeons, the faster the environmental temperature will climb and as this increases, so does the body temperature of our birds. Crowding them too closely in the heat can create the metabolic imbalances we spoke about earlier and any or all of the previously mentioned health hazards can become a reality.

It is our responsibility to treat every animal or human being in a humane way and if we believe it doesn't make a difference how we treat our birds, then I suggest we ask those that believe this way to pack their self tightly into an unventilated container and place it in the sun and see how they survive. I, for one, would never volunteer to be part of such an experiment but then we ask our feathered friends to try to perform this task and we expect them to be in front of our competition that has taken all these things into consideration. I know which team I would bet my money on to be the early arrivals from the competition.


Hope this helps and makes our sport one of better competition levels through improving the care we give.

Bob Rowland



Coo time for a brew!...Where next?
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