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  News > Dr. Norbert Ally

Dr. Norbert Ally:
Specialized Pigeon Vet
and 1st General
National Champion K.B.D.B. 2010          

by Stefan Mertens


Click on any photo for larger version 

Dr. Ally with
Stefan & Andre'

Dr. Ally's

Dr. Ally in the
widowers' loft

Widowers were
coupled during
our visit

Dr. Ally's "Lucky"

Aarsele: It has been only a few months ago that we visited vet Dr. Ally Norbert. Then we were there to make a report about his very impressive result on Souillac national...

Souillac, 693km away from Aarsele, had in total 7,039 participants, and the Ally birds won: 1st, 2nd, 4th, 105th, 114th, 148th, 162nd, 257th, 261st, 317th, 339th, 402nd and 525th national, and this with only 19 birds in the basket. This Souillac result will be one of which Norbert and son Stefan will be proud of for the rest of their lives.

This Souillac result was the proof that the Ally birds were in top condition, and that they were making a superb racing season—a  racing season that is crowned with the general title KBDB 2010!

As already mentioned, Norbert is a specialised pigeon vet, and since we have already written in the earlier report about his method, we now asked only two questions:  which birds won the national championship, and can you give some more explanation about common pigeon diseases.


The general national championship is won with the top prizes of the 1st nominated bird, on 11 different races. These 11 races are:  two very long-distance races, three long-distance races,  one long-distance race with yearbirds,  one short-distance race with old- or year birds, one middle-distance race with old- or year bird, two races out of the four national races with the young birds, and one race (middle or short distance) with a young bird.

This is anything but an easy to win championship. Dr. Ally won with a total coefficient for the 11 races of 29.10%. Second were Schoors-De Waele (36.25%), followed by Marc De Cock (39.85%)

To win this title Dr. Ally could count on following birds:

The “Fondman” (BE06-3198070) was 1st nominated on Montauban (281st national against 6,654b.) and Tarbes (89th national against 4,576b.).  Won in 2010 also 383th national Perpignan against  7,364b. Comes out “Zoon Goeroe” (“Goeroe” won 1ste national Dax 2003 by Jacques Muylle) x “Vermandereduivin”. This “Vermandereduivin” is also mother of “Souillac Junior”!

The “Geschelpte zoon Dax” (BE08-3081180) is a two-year-old cock who was 1st nominated on Narbonne (82nd national against 6,330b.). Father is the “Dax” (won  10th national Dax ‘03, but also top as a young bird and year bird with 5th provincial La Souterraine young bird and 6th provincial Bourges yearling). The “Dax” is a cross of my own strain (“Son Wittenbuik” x “Brave”) coupled with “Fondduivinneke” (as  young bird top on Brive and Cognac -  origin 75% Norman N & F).  Mother is “Mooie geschelpte”, comes out “Son World champion” Vandamme-Boddaert in combination of a superb of own strain.

The “Dieter” (BE07-3127660) is a three-year-old cock who was 1st nominated on Brive (356th national against 16,815b.). “Dieter” was in 2009 the 7th best bird of Belgium on four national races: Tulle national 32nd against 5,676b., Souillac 67th against 7,597b. national, Limoges 209th against  11,869b. national and Brive 676th against 17,456b. national. Won in 2010 also :  Chateauroux 1st local 604b. and 6th provincial against 4,093b., Limoges 681st against 10,448b. national and Souillac 261st against 7,039b. national.

On Souillac was  “Lucky” (B06-3198226) as 1st nominated and won 4th national against 7,093b.

    The year bird who won a top prize as 1st nominated won the 385th national Argenton I against 19,816b. was the “710/09”. This year bird won in 2010 on three national races top:  Chateauroux  117th against 22,718b., Argenton  385th against 1,9816b.  (as 1st nominated), Tulle 281st against 8,323b.. This yearbird is on the father’s side a grandson of top breeder “Super Bliksem”.  Mother is direct Casaert (through Demely Liliane, Moorsele).

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Dr. Ally's "Fondman"

Dr. Ally's
"De Souillac"

The widower that won the 7th provincial Tours as 1st nominated is the best year bird of 2010, namely “Jonge Ronaldo”, BE09-3018085. He won  in 2010,  7th provincial Tours 3,085b. (as 1st nominated), but also 2nd Arras 137b., 3rd Ablis 114b., 40th Poitiers 801b., 48th1 Tours 3,501b. and 72nd Limoges against 6,810b. Is a son of breeder “Ronaldo” (so a half brother of  1st nat. Souillac 2010). Mother of the “Jonge Ronaldo” is direct Norman N&F-hen “502/08” who comes out “Nicolas” x  “Dochter Superman”. 

A young hen 2010 won three prizes as 1st nominated young bird which could be used for the national championship:  17th Blois 1,701b., 138th provincial Bourges 3,459b. and 225th Argenton 3,105b.. Father is “672/04” (one of the best birds in the period 2004-2008). She comes out “Zoon Wereldkampioen” Vandamme-Boddaert x “Dochter Zorro” Norman. Mother is “Fannie” (was 6th provincial ace fond young birds KBDB in ’05). Comes out “Kleinzoon Ronker Vandenabeele” - wins 5th provincial Angouleme – coupled with “Toursduivin” (2x1st prize Tours as young bird).

And then we still miss a prize with a 1st nominated bird on a short-distance race. This prize has been won by widower “Guldensporenbliksem” (son “Bliksem” Vandenabeele x “Bieke”:  2nd provincial  ace) in combination with “Sister Schumi” (180/06), a full sister of 1st provincial ace “Schumi”. She won also 14/253 Clermont,  46th Brionne 703b. and 52nd Blois against 3,683b.

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Dr. Ally's
"Souillac Junior"

Dr. Ally's

Dr. Norbert Ally

Antibiotics: “The more you use it, the more you lose it!”
We are aware that our most-beloved pigeon racing sport has greatly evolved in the last few years. Success in pigeon racing as of today means that one must invest a lot of energy, time and also some money in the hobby. A number of fanciers have stopped along the years. But there is an increasing number of others, the so-called “profs,” who due to their large number of pigeons have turned their hobby into a fulltime job. Fortunately there are still the many enthusiastic “smaller” fanciers who are still up front fighting for the honor of our sport.

A good pigeon fancier must therefore be a passionate fancier possessing the skill of bringing his talented pigeons in the required condition for the start of the race.
Being informed on the chief pigeon diseases is hereby indispensable.

There must also be a simple but effective caring system. However one should remember that every loft, every pigeon, and even every racing season is different, and as a consequence as far as medical guidance is concerned, it is impossible to establish a concrete fixed schedule that guarantees success in all circumstances.

Medical guidance can only be efficient when the established infections are purposefully treated following regular controls on the loft. Sometimes it is only necessary to treat a few specific pigeons, and sometimes group treatments are more advisable. Obviously some preventive measures (not necessarily medicinal) should be taken, with examples being adjusting the surrounding climate, decreasing population density (by selecting and removing weaker birds), and observing strict hygiene.

Every cause of exhaustion, for example a strenuous race or an attack of trichomoniasis, can temporarily suppress the resistance level so that pathogens, which are omnipresent, have little trouble causing an infection. A first physical depression is often established shortly after weaning at the age of four to five weeks (with as a consequence snot, ornithosis …) and a second problem period at the age of three to four months (adeno-coli-syndrome) when first in contact with the shipping baskets.

I doubt if the less capable racing pigeons are also the most susceptible to disease. This does not mean that one must have compassion for those who are frequently ill. But a little patience can often be rewarded afterwards.

What are now the most frequent problems occurring in the racing season which can have such an effect that they can damage the condition and as a consequence inhibit talented pigeons from performing at their best capacity?

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For young birds:

            1. Adeno-Coli syndrome
            2. Trichomoniasis
            3. Ornithosis-complex

For old birds :

            1. Respiratory disturbances (‘Head disease’)
            2. Trichomoniasis
            3. Chronic bacterial infections (paratyphoid, streptococci)

These afflictions will now briefly be discussed.


Everyone is familiar with this disease and imposes a regular treatment. Yet it has been established that the parasite forever returns to some lofts. There are various phyla (kinds) which can cause more or less serious problems. Young pigeons are the most sensitive but also for older pigeons trichomoniasis keeps on influencing the performances negatively.

Contrary to most viral or bacterial infections, this parasitical infection leaves practically no antibodies. After every recovery therefore the doors are open for a following infection. Therefore we must be forever vigilant and carry out regular check-ups. Place new acquisitions or latecomers first in quarantine and give them a preventive treatment.
It is recommended to administer during brooding in winter breeding and before the start of the racing season a correct treatment (at least one week and at least 200 mg ronidazole per liter of water or per 0.5 kg feeding).

Many fanciers continue the treatment in the racing season by applying a ‘mini-treatment’ every third week for a period of two days. However, a dosage too low or too shortly given will only remove the most sensitive tricho-phyla, while the less sensitive phyla receive a selective advantage and keep returning. As a consequence, one is now regularly confronted with very annoying phyla which become more difficult to eliminate with a normal dosage.

Adeno-coli (also called young pigeon diarrhea or adenovirosis)

This viral disease crops up every year especially in April and May, and this often after the first stressful transports with the shipping baskets. The initial symptoms are less-readily listening to the entry call, little appetite and slower crop emptying, vomiting, and yellowish green stinking droppings. Condition level remains low for a couple of weeks. Within the week, the virus has spread throughout the loft attacking all the youngsters.

For this first attack, quarantine is not advisable. Thorough scrapping and cleaning either, because the quicker all pigeons are infected the quicker their resistance will be built up and the quicker the racing condition of the whole loft will return. Not the virus itself, but the after-effects of the disease due to bacteria (especially Coli), to hexamitiasis or tricho, must be treated with antibiotics. Further, a rest period and a light menu are recommended. The loss of fluids through dehydration should be compensated with electrolytes.


Respiratory disorders, sometimes combined with inflammation of the conjunctiva, remain a frequent cause for bad performances in racing pigeons; for the seniors perceptible in many different individual ways and in young pigeons even more so. It is often a combination of pathogens: viruses, chlamydia, mycoplasms and bacteria. Many of these pathogens are present in our lofts in a number of infected but still apparently healthy pigeons.

There is a certain ‘unstable balance’ between the natural resistance of the pigeon on the one side and the power of the pathogen(s) on the other. Several factors determine if this ‘balance’ will turn to this or that side.  In other words, will the pigeons clearly develop injuries, or will they have sufficient resistance to suppress the infection?  In this respect we often speak of ‘factorial disease’ The approach to such factorial disease will not be purely medicinal.

In some lofts more serious problems keep appearing, and within a group of pigeons some may be more susceptible than others. The health situation of the pigeon which is in an unstable equilibrium can be simply represented by a balance:

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I: the weight on one side is determined by the natural resistance of the pigeon, which in turn is influenced by the following factors;

a) age : young pigeons are more susceptible, in this case we often speak of ‘infant diseases’ such as the ‘conjunctiva’, the adeno-complex and the circo-virus.
b) condition : parasitical diseases, for example certain kinds of trichomonads, unbalanced nutrition too limited in variation (a deficiency in some amino acids and vitamins) undermine directly or indirectly the immune system. Also exaggerated medication can have harmful side-effects.
c) stress : a certain amount of stress factors are inevitable in the racing season, but some combinations like for example: weaning and early vaccination against pox, and vaccination during learning tosses enhance the stress even more. Other stress factors are unfavorable climate in the loft, draft, large temperature fluctuations, humidity, torrid temperatures, over-population, and uneasiness due to external parasites.
d) hereditary factors : strict selection with respect to natural resistance.

II : The weight on the other side of the balance is determined by the pressure the pigeon endures through pathogenic agents of:

a) different nature : viruses, chlamydia, mycoplasms, bacteria and moulds
b) different pathogenic capacity (pathogenity) and resistance
c) in different concentrations (‘infection density’)

There are no anti-viral medications for the treatment of viral pigeon diseases. Fortunately there are some effective vaccines, for example for pox and paramyxo. For other viral infections the body’s own resistance system must step in.
Infections with chlamydia, mycoplasms and bacteria can well be treated with antibiotics. The choice of antibiotics is determined by the nature and the seriousness of the infection.
Outside the racing season, antibiotics will only be administered in extreme cases because the stress factor is much lower then and the pigeons have the time to build up their own immunity.


Coccidiosis is often established after a microscopic examination but that does not mean that treatment is always necessary.  In the racing season, treatment is applied only in cases of strong coccidiosis infection. Coccidia survive longer in humid surroundings and are mostly insensitive to disinfectants.

Often I establish that in frequently humid weather conditions, it is practically impossible to keep the lofts dry by natural ventilation. Especially in those wooden garden lofts where the population density of young pigeons is usually dense, the infection pressure runs high.

A severe coccidiosis infection can result in loss of fitness and bad performances and can moreover add to the development of paratyphoid or salmonella.

Sulfamides are coccidio-static measures with temporary restraining power. These are of course meaningless if the measures for re-infection are not followed: frequent scraping and cleansing and keeping the loft dry. Disinfecting with the blowtorch burner is the only efficient method.

The more recent medications such as Baycox are more effective because alongside the coccidiocide (coccidia-killing) effect they also have an aftereffect  so that it takes longer (4 to 5 weeks) before re-infection can occur. This may prove interesting for large groups of young pigeons, who reside for example on a bed of straw, to keep them free from coccidiosis by administering Baycox the first 2 days of April, May and June.

Beside cleaning and disinfecting with the blowtorch burner, you may consider installing grated floor coverings so as to reduce contact with the droppings and therefore also reduce intake of oocysts, worm eggs and viral or bacterial intestinal pathogens.

The excretion of oocysts (‘OPG’ = amount of Oocysts Per Gram droppings) is a good indicator for the actual condition of the pigeon. This can vary greatly even in a few days and can also vary greatly from pigeon to pigeon on the same loft. A strong positive result (++++) of a mixed dropping sample can therefore be caused by a few individual pigeons and does not automatically mean that the whole loft will show low performances. If the mixed sample is positive, it might be a good idea to test some individual samples of certain top pigeons and as such apply a correct individual treatment or keep those few infected birds home from the race.

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A check-up after the competition can show that some pigeons having scored a good result still have high OPG values.  This is because the strenuous efforts delivered during the race have brought the resistance level of the pigeon down. This may lead to a false conclusion from the pigeon fancier: ‘severe coccidiosis barely affects performance capacity.’

By on the one side drastically decreasing the infection level (by good hygiene and good ventilation) and on the other side keeping the resistance level high, one can minimize important infectious attacks. This strategy is certainly significant because there are no adequate vaccines, and the use of medication can be limited to a minimum.

Paratyphoid or Salmonellosis

Paratyphoid has been attacking pigeons for several years now and often causes vague long-lasting symptoms such as loss of weight, fluid droppings, sudden death and wing paralysis (swollen elbows), bad fertilization results during the breeding period, and death of youngsters.

Most attacks occur in the autumn. In infected lofts there are often a number of healthy but infected pathogenic subjects who maintain and circulate the disease with a rekindling in the moulting or breeding season.

The important thing to know before starting a treatment against the paratyphoid problem is to know if the loft is completely infected, or if it concerns only a certain section. Mixed dropping samples of the various sections of the loft taken over a period of five days are the most sensible technique for group diagnosis. Obviously, a sample must be taken of the most suspected pigeons (temporarily lost but returned pigeons, pigeons who have visibly lost much weight with abnormal droppings, breeding pigeons with decreased fertility, etc.).

Blood tests are less trustworthy. Healthy carriers or recuperated pigeons are in fact sero-negative (no antibodies left). Furthermore, vaccinated pigeons can have antibodies that make a blood test false positive.

Especially in the moulting season, it is important to check for paratyphoid, because paratyphoid reveals itself mostly with:

  • the accumulation of consecutive infection risks in the shipping baskets (especially where long distance is concerned)
  • the loss of germ suppression after the frequent antibiotic treatments during the racing season
  • the weakening effect of moulting

A positive result requires besides decontamination of the loft (eliminating obviously affected pigeons), strict hygienic measures and medicinal treatment, and various necessary controls (after one month and six months). With the next positive result all treatment procedures must be repeated all over again.

For Paratyphoid a preventive antibiotic treatment is meaningless because antibiotics have no preventive action on absent germs or on germs in ‘dormancy’ (so as in germ-carrying healthy pigeons). Unfortunately there is as of today no effective vaccine against Paratyphoid.

The hidden form of Paratyphoid:
The paratyphoid fever bacteria can actually hide itself in the pigeon’s body, namely in certain white blood cells, called macrophage. In this manner the bacteria stay “protected” for the administered antibiotics.

After the treatment, the Salmonella secretion often begins again and the surroundings and other pigeons are again infected. Moreover the germ can live up to two years in, for example, the droppings. The disease is therefore very difficult to eliminate completely from the colony

As a veterinarian, I often establish that most pigeon fanciers expect too much from antibiotics as well as from medication in general. Moreover, by lavishly and unreasonably using antibiotics, a number of bacterial infections become steadily harder to treat. Often also the duration of the treatment is not respected and the dosage is too low (among others because the pigeons drink too little of the water to which medication has been added, and especially when it is cold). This is clearly destructive because in this way the lesser sensitive phyla receive a selective advantage and as such resistant germ groups can be developed.

Antibiotics: The more you use it, the more you lose it! Medication should be applied purposefully and correctly. They are not like sugar clumps in a cup of coffee!

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