Body temperature and temperature regulation (according to multiple scientific studies).
It’s nice weather. It’s been dry for weeks and the sun is doing its utmost. When I look across the land in Odoorn, I regularly see a big cloud of dust. When you get closer, it turns out to be a tractor in it that works the country. Dry weather is beautiful for those who love it but also has their disadvantages. And then we soon get out to our pigeons. How will they perish during transport we sometimes wonder….
Birds and therefore pigeons are “endotherme organisms”. That means that body temperature can be kept quite evenly and constant. The skin or the surface temperature is always lower, depending on the ambient temperature. The average body temperature in birds is at 41 degrees, making them feel warmer when we take them in hand.
At peace, the temperature of our pigeons drops to about 37 degrees (maintenance metabolism process) if the temperature is not lower than 20 degrees. We call that the “thermoneutral zone” and it is between 20°C and 28°C. Within this zone, body temperature remains constant. This can be the pigeon, by influencing insulation, blood flow of the skin etc. without more energy.
Below the 20°C, the pigeon must produce more heat. And that costs more energy. If the temperatures above 28°C, the pigeon must also use energy to cool. Cooling is very important for pigeons because 46° is described as critical and thermal maximum for pigeons. To cool people can sweat. Pigeons don’t have sweat glands. By opening the beak and breathing at high frequency they can lose a lot of heat.
Moisture loss during the flights.
A lot of heat is produced while flying. At a speed of 70 km per hour, 20 x as much heat is produced in peace. In the case of moisture loss of around 4 % of body weight (13 ml-18 ml) the pigeons stop flying. Other studies show that in moisture loss of 4 %-5 % all pigeons will drink water. 10 % moisture loss of body weight is a lethal amount.
At an ambient temperature of 22°C, the pigeon average drinks 41,5 ml of water. This is influenced by the supply of food. At an ambient temperature of 24°C, the average need rises to 63 ml. That’s not bad. At low temperatures the need is 15-30 ml. This is partly removed from the nutrition (approx 15 ml). Transport.
The temperature in the transport truck is therefore extremely important when it comes to the care of the pigeons. At 22°C, the pigeon needs 1,7 ml of water per hour. If the pigeon is on transport for 10 hours, it loses 4 % of its body weight. At 24°C the water needs is 2,6 ml per hour. During 10 hours on transport, the pigeon loses 8 % of body weight. That’s already very close to the fatal border. Oh… ever thought about it? It will be clear to every unloading responsible how important a good water care, especially during transport is for the viability and flight performance of the pigeons.
In addition, many pigeons have not had any water available well before hiving in the truck. Also showing the hen shortly before the baskets has major consequences for the water intake. The metabolism is thus increased and the need for drinking water is rising. But most lovers often hive them directly, without letting the pigeons drink. Then the ride comes to the inkorfroom and the waiting hours that follow to finally be able to hive them in.
We can quickly conclude that water during transport is a must. The best thing is to hive at cool temperatures. If the outdoor temperatures are very high, inhives should be avoided. Transport temperatures above 30°C is too large heat load for the pigeons. Transport at night and waiting in the shade during the day for the unloading seems to be the best solution.
The brain only function if sufficient fluid is supplied. If this is not the case, the orientation capacity will be as good as failure. The thing is: big losses of pigeons, angry and frustrated lovers, bad media messages and fewer pigeons offered for an upcoming flight in the next few weeks.
If after an hour of flying, the pigeon has completely switched to fat burning, he or she from the chest muscles can count on at least 7 grams of fat. The total usable fat stock is 10 x as much (70 grams). The pigeons must keep their relatively high body temperature equal. That temperature remains constant (to be measured in the cloaca), they can definitely remove the heat caused by the metabolism. At high outdoor temperatures, not only polished their feathers stronger, but also use their legs as wind coolers. At high temperatures, the legs hang steep down in the wind, the toes spread greatly. Although the air resistance is so much higher, the pigeons increase it on the buy. (However, in cold air, the legs disappear completely into the feathers, so that optimal aerodynamics arises).
In addition, the pigeons open the beak in very warm weather. Only when they have to breathe, they stop the flying. We know that not only the fat stock is important. At least equally important is the water housekeeping. By burning fats, moisture is added to the body.
From testing in the wind tunnel we know that pigeons can fly unlimited long at temperatures of 5°C. At 10°C, this is already limited to 15 hours, at 15°C to 7½ hours and at 25°C at 2 hours (with a wind of 12 m per sec. ).
In the wind tunnel. In the practice of flights under warmer circumstances, we must note that not only sufficient fatty acids but also sufficient water is particularly important. It’s even the limiting factor. Pigeons have to drink somewhere if their body loses more than 4 % to 5 % moisture. They’re looking for the optimal temperature for the moisture balance and flight speed. They adapt to the slightest energy consumption in time and distance. Pigeons aren’t that stupid. We must therefore act responsible during transport with flying pigeons. Therefore make sure the water tanks are filled with fresh water and clean them regularly, so that we can enjoy pigeons that arrive fit and vital at home costs.
Good luck with that.
With permission of Steven Van Breemen