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Weaning young birds???

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Re: Weaning young birds???

Postby Kastle Loft » Sun Jan 19, 2014 9:51 am

Mikev wrote:Hi Southtown and John

20 years ago I also use to wait 28 days to wean the youngsters. Then I started to notice that the better, more modern fanciers in the combine, particularly the young bird specialists, were weaning at 20 to 21 days. I also started to notice that the top lofts in Europe were recommending early weaning on the video tapes that were becoming so popular at that time, so I decided to try it myself.

The bottomline is, I have done it both ways. Many years on both systems. I can assure you, it is far better for both the youngsters and the breeders to wean at 20 to 21 days.

Have you tried weaning at 21 days? If not, what are you basing your opinion on?

Mike


I can see an argument that it can take a load off the parents by weaning babies sooner. But how is it possibly better for the babies to wean at such a young age? It certainly doesn't happen naturally and for a reason.

My opinion of a 28-day age-at-weaning is based on personally witnessing some young birds stressing out because they don't know how to pick up grains. They don't eat. They lose weight and mental faculties. They try to get other babies to feed them and they huddle in a corner confused. How can that be good for development?

I simply don't see a reason TO do it, but many reasons not to. So what's the advantage? I open to learning (I mean that sincerely).
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Re: Weaning young birds???

Postby raftree » Sun Jan 19, 2014 10:41 am

I vaccinate for PMV when they're about 25 days old then give them a Canker pill a couple days later then wean them at 28-30 days old. I'm sure the vaccinating is a bit of a stress so they need to be with the parents for bit after that. I put them in the YB loft and give them open bowls of water plus the drinkers for a few days along with open bowls of safflower and peas. They've been getting feed in the nest box so they're used to eating....they just have to figure out where to look for it. I dunk everyone's head in the drinker when they first go in. I also have a shelf I put on the floor of the breeder section for them to hide under if they go to the floor so they don't get scalped. I'm considering giving them a Coxi/Worm pill at some point or replacing the Canker pill. It's kind of like the superstition thread...I've always given the Canker pill with real good luck so I hate to make a change.
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Re: Weaning young birds???

Postby Mikev » Sun Jan 19, 2014 11:07 am

Hi David

I can see an argument that it can take a load off the parents by weaning babies sooner. But how is it possibly better for the babies to wean at such a young age?


It is better for the youngsters for several reasons. Nature has programmed them to progress at a particular rate of develpment. If that development is delayed, if the window of opportunity is slow in opening, it retards their development. In other words, if they rely on their parents feeding them for too long, they find it much more difficult to wean off the support and start to stand on their own too feet. To put it in modern jargon, they develop a culture of entitlement.

Another great reason of why it is benefital to the youngsters is that the amount they get feed is not based on what they want/need, but what the adults are willing to pump into them. The longer the youngsters are in the nest, the less keen the parents become in pumping them. This is particularly true in later rounds. Not all old birds have the same keenness to feed. If the adults start to back off, the young bird suffers and has no away to make up the difference of what it needs. If it has free choice to the feeder and can eat as much as it wants, it will not be deprived, so keeping the youngsters in the nest too long can actually be the cause of retarded development, not the other way around.

If you are relying on putting extra feed in the nest box so the youngsters will pick up the difference, why not just put them into the young bird loft and let them eat the entire meal themselves? To me, it is leaving them in the nest once they start picking that makes no sense. Why ask the old bird to do for them what they can do for themselves and why rely on the old bird to feed enough, when the hungry youngsters is pefectly capable of deciding that for itself?

It certainly doesn't happen naturally and for a reason.


What are you basing this conclusion on? In nature, city pigeons leave the nest in 20 days or less, and they have a much more difficult time finding food and water than domestic pigeons in a loft. If you are talking about letting nature take it course in the loft, the youngsters will stay in the nest until the adults quit feeding them and starvation drives them to the floor looking for food. Even at that, if old birds are willing to keep pumping them on the floor, they will accept the charity for as long as it is offered, 30, 35 days old or more. Most creatures are willing to accept a free handout if offered. That does not make it healthy or beneficial.

My opinion of a 28-day age-at-weaning is based on personally witnessing some young birds stressing out because they don't know how to pick up grains. They don't eat. They lose weight and mental faculties. They try to get other babies to feed them and they huddle in a corner confused. How can that be good for development?


I am not surprised that you have witnessed this. That is exactly what happens when you wait too long to wean. They have missed the important window and become dependent on getting fed instead of figuring it out for themselves.

If you wait until 28 days to wean, where have you seen this happen with 21 day old babies? Like I said, I weaned at 28 days for 20 years and then saw the light and have weaned at 21 days for the last 20 years. In my experience, early weaning is light years superior.

I simply don't see a reason TO do it, but many reasons not to. So what's the advantage? I open to learning (I mean that sincerely).


The only hard and fast rule in pigeon racing is that there are many road that lead to Rome. People can find success in the hobby employing many, many different methods. Unfortunately, the hobby is also fraught with a culture of sacred cows, myths and lore that is groundless and often harmful and can keep new fliers spinning their wheels by buying into these bogus beliefs.

I have found that it is best to look at the empirical evidence. What the old guy at the club that hopes for a smash because that is the only time he shows up on the sheet tells you, is often just a relic of the distance past, before the internet, before free long distance calling, before the honest and generous masters of the sport from all countries committed their methods to tapes, CVD's, seminars and the discussion sites.

We no longer need to trust our instincts on what sounds right or the word of any one person. Techniques are so easy to research and confirm these days, it amazes me how some of these old beliefs continue to hang on.

When it comes to weaning youngsters at 21 days, if you haven't tried it, it is difficult for me to understand how you can knock it. And I mean that with no disrespect. The beauty of this hobby is that every single participant is lord and master within their own lofts and we all need to do what we feel is right. In the meantime, it never hurts to verify.

Mike
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Re: Weaning young birds???

Postby slugmonkey » Sun Jan 19, 2014 11:29 am

I have tried both and my birds do better with more time I wait until mine are eating and drinking on their own .... and capable of flying back to the nest ....
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Re: Weaning young birds???

Postby Mikev » Sun Jan 19, 2014 11:32 am

Hi Raftree

I vaccinate for PMV when they're about 25 days old


According to Dr. Botha, the circo virus first infects youngsters between 37 and 50 days of age. Once circo virus infection occurs, vaccination loses its effectiveness because the circo virus works by suppressing the immune system. A suppressed immune system cannot develop antibodies and therefore the vaccine does not take.

In unaffected birds, the vaccine takes about 14 days to build an immunity in the bird. For this reason, he recommends vaccinating at 21 days of age and revaccinate with the booster injection 2 weeks later. This time frame allows the antibodies against PMV to develop before the circo virus infection hits at 37 days and the immune system becomes suppressed and it is too late.

During his seminar, he shared the solid scientific data that he had collected on which he was basing his recommendations. It made very good sense to me.

If you are getting out breaks of canker or cocci in your young birds, I would be willing to bet that it is because you have treated with antibiotics and wiped out the birds natural immunities. If you are not getting outbreaks of these diseases, why treat for them? It is not only a waste of money, but if you believe anything that John Vance wrote in the "91% We Don't Know" article, you are playing with fire and likely creating health issues, not preventing them.

Mike
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Re: Weaning young birds???

Postby Kastle Loft » Sun Jan 19, 2014 11:42 am

Mike,

You make a great argument. I can't say I'm not convinced 'cause I just about ran outside to put my 21-day old birds in their new section. But I caught myself still wondering: Tell me again HOW weaning at 21 days is beneficial? To be clear, I am in no position to say you are wrong. I'm just the kind of person who has to know the how's and why's before I take something as truth.

It is better for the youngsters for several reasons. Nature has programmed them to progress at a particular rate of develpment. If that development is delayed, if the window of opportunity is slow in opening, it retards their development. In other words, if they rely on their parents feeding them for too long, they find it much more difficult to wean off the support and start to stand on their own too feet. To put it in modern jargon, they develop a culture of entitlement.


But I don't have problems weaning at 28 days. Their sense of entitlement is overcome at 28 days just fine. or 30 days. or 35 days. I've never had a bird that failed to be weaned from it's parents, including birds I have raised for stock and left in the breeder section with their parents for a year. The ones in my loft that have had trouble have been simply too young IMO (younger than 28 days). How is it better for the baby to overcome it earlier? Are you saying that their physical and mental development is retarded by staying reliant on their parents too long?

Another great reason of why it is benefital to the youngsters is that the amount they get feed is not based on what they want/need, but what the adults are willing to pump into them. The longer the youngsters are in the nest, the less keen the parents become in pumping them. This is particularly true in later rounds. Not all old birds have the same keenness to feed. If the adults start to back off, the young bird suffers and has no away to make up the difference of what it needs. If it has free choice to the feeder and can eat as much as it wants, it will not be deprived, so keeping the youngsters in the nest too long can actually be the cause of retarded development, not the other way around.


This makes sense, but for the fact that I have feed in the cups in the nest box.

If you are relying on putting extra feed in the nest box so the youngsters will pick up the difference, why not just put them into the young bird loft and let them eat the entire meal themselves? To me, it is leaving them in the nest once they start picking that makes no sense. Why ask the old bird to do for them what they can do for themselves and why rely on the old bird to feed enough, when the hungry youngsters is pefectly capable of deciding that for itself?


To me, I consider it a transition. Sure, maybe they can eat on their own, but I still can't see the harm given that they can eat if they are hungry and the parents have backed off. And I certainly haven't been convinced that there is a benefit to moving them out before they have picked at grain.


If you are talking about letting nature take it course in the loft, the youngsters will stay in the nest until the adults quit feeding them and starvation drives them to the floor looking for food. Even at that, if old birds are willing to keep pumping them on the floor, they will accept the charity for as long as it is offered, 30, 35 days old or more. Most creatures are willing to accept a free handout if offered. That does not make it healthy or beneficial.


And exactly how is it unhealthy to be fed when you're weak, susceptible and unlearned?

Like I said, I weaned at 28 days for 20 years and then saw the light and have weaned at 21 days for the last 20 years. In my experience, early weaning is light years superior.

When it comes to weaning youngsters at 21 days, if you haven't tried it, it is difficult for me to understand how you can knock it. And I mean that with no disrespect. The beauty of this hobby is that every single participant is lord and master within their own lofts and we all need to do what we feel is right. In the meantime, it never hurts to verify.


I can't argue with experience. And I'm not knocking it - I'm just not convinced yet. Your statements above have me convinced that it is possible to wean at 21 days, but you haven't convinced me that it is better for the baby. Perhaps I simply need to try it and see for myself. But with the birds being at such a young age, I think being guarded is appropriate.
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Re: Weaning young birds???

Postby Mikev » Sun Jan 19, 2014 11:46 am

Rocky's comment makes me realize that I should post a note of caution here. My birds follow a pretty strict routine. My birds are prepared for mating starting in July the previous year when they are all premated the way they will be paired the following year. When I pair up in the new season, all birds lay within a day or two of each other and I get close to 100% fertility. I don't float eggs, all pairs cycle naturally and lay every 30 days. This means that my rounds are all the same age. I can see how a loft weaning youngsters at all different times might benefit from waiting a little longer, unless a weaning pen is used.

We all have different situations and therefore different techniques might also be required to accomadate these differences. When it comes to Rocky and I, I would say that we are absolute opposites in how we manage our lofts and how we think.

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Re: Weaning young birds???

Postby Sho-Time Loft » Sun Jan 19, 2014 11:51 am

I don't even keep track how old they are when they are weaned because they wean themselves, if they come down to the floor I let them stay there for 4 or 5 days then I move them to the young bird section. Sometimes I notice the birds are quite big and not leaving the nest so I do put them on the floor. On the floor I notice that they eat and drink more so than they get fed by their parents, but I think it is good to let them be there for a few extra days just in case they need to get fed by their parents. I do feel that because I take this course that it does slow down the birds on laying the next round.
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Re: Weaning young birds???

Postby Mikev » Sun Jan 19, 2014 12:01 pm

Hi David

But I don't have problems weaning at 28 days. Their sense of entitlement is overcome at 28 days just fine. or 30 days. or 35 days.


My point is that when they are weaned at 21 days, they never develop a sense of entitlement in the first place. They just continue to progress as nature intended.

The ones in my loft that have had trouble have been too young IMO (younger than 28 days).


In that case, definitely stick with your method of weaning at 28 days. I have observed the opposite, but everyone has a different situation and different birds.

Mike
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Re: Weaning young birds???

Postby slugmonkey » Sun Jan 19, 2014 1:06 pm

I think when nature progresses them they jump from the nest and the parents quit feeding them ... I think that the more nourishment they can get from the parents the better ... every gullet full of food they get from the parents has antigens as well as broken down proteins from the parents as well as the parents digestive fluids ...this has got to be good for the babies .....
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