Pigeon health

   apple cider vinegar

15. 04. 2012.
What is your opinion about organic acids? One of my friend uses them, first of all apple cider vinegar, every week. Is he right?
Undiluted organic acids (acetic acid, citric acid, lactic acid etc.) have adequate disinfecting powers in and of themselves, but they are dangerous and highly corrosive, and so must not be used in undiluted form. They perform a fine service when diluted, however. The use of apple vinegar is the most highly recommended, which as a natural substance is not in the right concentration harmful to pigeons or to their environment; indeed, if it enters the pigeons’ bodies it is an important source of organic acids and trace elements.
Real apple cider vinegar is a natural substance, but only if from a bio farm. It strengthens the immune system, as it is an excellent source of trace and micro elements. However, this is only true of vinegar derived from apples grown in a natural (e.g. grassy) environment free of chemical fertilizers and insecticides. An apple that is artificially cultivated does not undergo real ripening, and so does not contain the biologically complete stock of micro elements and organic acids of which it is genetically capable.
Apple cider vinegar is an ideal source of organic acid. Organic acids help digestion and the breaking down of food intake, and thus prevent the development of illnesses caused by undigested food.

Infected water is one of the most common ways for pathogens to pass from one pigeon to another. If an infected pigeon drinks from the drinker, pathogens flow into the water from its beak and buccal cavity, which survive and spread, eventually infecting the entire flock. It is widely known that acidity prevents the spread of coli bacteria and salmonellas. These pathogens like a gently alkaline environment in which they can really start to proliferate. Apple cider vinegar mixed in water prevents salmonella from spreading in the waterer. Its acidic effect continues to restrict pathogens, even in the pigeon’s intestines.
The acidification of drinking water is an economical procedure, allowing us to spare ourselves a lot of antibiotic treatment, which is not only beneficial financially, but also environmentally and from the perspective of our own health.
We can use apple cider vinegar for the disinfection of objects, or more precisely for the subsequent acidification of a sterilized set of trays. This prevents the spread of salmonellas in the outside world.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that whitewashing is not an adequate means of disinfection! Firstly, lime has little effect on certain pathogens; secondly, after a time the whitewashed surface will be weakly but continuously alkaline, and a weakly alkaline environment is particularly favourable for the survival of salmonellas and coli bacteria! These bacteria like precisely this gently alkaline environment, while in acidic conditions they decay quickly. For this reason – alongside the acidification of drinking water – systematic cleaning of the loft, or spraying the walls with slightly vinegarish water, can prove extremely effective. This is a very useful and very cheap method.

What is less well-known is that apple cider vinegar can be life-saving. Many have found that in hot weather pigeons’ rate of breathing can increase, dramatically if it is very hot, and pigeons breathe rapidly with their beaks open. On such occasions the increased exchange of air causes more carbon dioxide to leave the blood than normal. This leads to acid deficiency, and so the blood becomes increasingly alkaline (breathing alkalosis). Initially this process generates bad disposition, dizziness, then nausea, and, if it becomes more extreme, death. In hot weather we pine for soft drinks with lemon and carbon dioxide in order to compensate for the acid deficiency. If at such times we give our pigeons water with apple cider vinegar, we can save their lives.
In prolonged heat we can achieve even more with a little apple cider vinegar than this. For in addition to the changing pH of the blood, potentially fatal processes are taking place in the digestive system.
Heat is a powerful stressor, but is bad for digestion in and of itself, as the vessels in the skin, lungs, etc. expand, while the vessels supplying the digestive system contract. Thus in hot weather consumption of food declines, meaning that good intestinal bacteria do not have adequate nutrition, and so the acid they produce also decreases. Meanwhile, as we have seen, the alkalinity of the blood grows, which is life-threatening. Simply put, the body attempts to compensate for this by taking acid away from the digestive system, further increasing its alkalinity. As the heat stress has already reduced the resistance of the digestive system, all these factors mean that conditions are ideal for the fast proliferation and spread of salmonellas lurking in the intestines.
Thus in hot weather there is every chance that a paratyphoid epidemic will flare up. In most cases, all this can be prevented by a simple acidification of drinking water with apple cider vinegar.

Like anything else, apple cider vinegar can be overdosed. In too great a quantity it can even damage good intestinal bacteria. The high quantity of acid absorbs calcium (lime) and removes it from the system, which results in motor and reproductive problems. So overdoses of apple vinegar should be avoided. The dose for 5% apple cider vinegar is 4-8ml per litre of drinking water, 1-3 times a week. If we administer it more regularly, e.g. in prolonged hot weather, we should choose a lower level of concentration.
We use a slightly more concentrated solution to clean the cage, but if we sense a pungent smell, we should not forget to ventilate.
Some fanciers recommend disinfection of drinking water with bleach (sodium hypochloride), using a concentration of one tablespoon of hypo for each five litres of water. This can cause concern, however, for it is precisely the salmonellas that cause paratyphoid that are principally transmitted orally, and it is gently alkaline, watery environments that they like the best – in such circumstances they are even capable of growing. And bleach and similar compounds leave an alkaline pH level in their wake. It seems much more logical to treat drinking water with organic acids and vinegars, and practical experience bears this out.
We can use many kinds of drinker for providing water. Metal drinkers can be easily and effectively disinfected, but they also have a disadvantage: certain types of liquids can dissolve metal ions from them, whose effect can be harmful. We should be aware that even weak acids like apple vinegar solution can chemically react with metals, which can cause an adverse level of metal intake through the drinking water. Particularly dangerous from this perspective are brass drinkers, for copper can have a very adverse effect on the liver. If metal trays are used, then, we recommend ones that are zinc-plated, or, ideally, enamelled.
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