Pigeon health

   stress - good or bad?

10. 12. 2007.
What is stress and what is its effect on our pigeons?
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Stress is a collective term, by which and in association with which we can list a large number of things. If we do however try to provide a brief definition of what we mean by stress, we would state that stress is the aggregation of the effects produced by intrusions on the body.
The causes of stress also include useful intrusions to the body! For let us just think of sunshine, air, drinking water, feed: without all of these, living beings would not exist. But we must be aware that these factors also carry with them the potential for adverse effects. Overly strong sunshine causes cancer, as well as leading to hormonal problems; fresh air can be harmful, if it moves too quickly or happens to be too humid; drinking water that is too cold can indirectly cause illness; ingredients in feed represent a burden and potential danger, and certainly effort for the body before it has digested and excreted them.
So, among the causes of stress, we can list all the stimuli the outside world presents – so we have to find some kind of basis of comparison to decide whether they are useful or damaging for the body.
That is to say, we need stress, and without it we would not have life; everything around us acts as a stressor, a cause of stress. Whether a stressor is adverse or beneficial is decided by the body’s reaction, which in turn is determined by the stressor’s magnitude. It is highly likely that this is the point of reference which can help us find our way in the labyrinth of stress.
Let us take a look at an example! Let us imagine someone sitting in a comfortable armchair positioned in the middle of an empty room, and observe their behaviour as we play them some pleasant music. Provided the music does not exceed a certain volume, it has a pleasant, that is good, effect on the listener. But if we turn up the volume from the speakers, the music will eventually lose its pleasant effect, and become increasingly uncomfortable: there will be too much of it. If on the other hand we turn the volume down too low, it will be impossible to enjoy it, as it will not reach the necessary stimulus quantity needed to elicit a pleasant response. If we turn the music off completely, it elicits no response at all, and sooner or later it will be precisely the stimulus-free environment that will stimulate our imagined experimental subject.
We can conduct this experiment with everything that surrounds us: noise, light, food and drink, medicine, sport, even a relationship with a person of the opposite sex. The result we get is the same: stimuli from the outside world are essential for an individual to survive, but in excessive quantities they are just as damaging as if insufficient or absent.
We can take an example from the field of diseases: the continual presence of a small amount of pathogens is useful for the immune system, because it keeps it in a constant state of awareness, of “being prodded”. When attacked by large numbers of pathogens, however, the immune system is exhausted, while the defence apparatus of a pigeon kept in sterile conditions for a prolonged period will become lazy to a dangerous degree. Similarly, an underdose of a vitamin or mineral substance is equally capable of causing illness or death as is an overdose of it. To take a ready example: if someone is kept on a stringent diet free of common salt, after a certain period their body risks disease or even death if it is not provided with enough chlorine and sodium – but if fed 200 grams of common salt, they would die within hours.
 
 
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