Health Status and Stress in Different Categories of Racing Pigeons
BUBA d.o.o.-Veterinary Clinic and Pet Supply Store, Rožna dolina 5, 1290 Grosuplje, Slovenia
Institute for Poultry, Birds, Small Mammals and Reptiles, Veterinary Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Gerbičeva 60, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Department of Animal Hygiene, Behavior and Animal Welfare, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Zagreb, Heinzelova 55, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
Institute of Preclinical Sciences, Veterinary Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Gerbičeva 60, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Institute of Microbiology and Parasitology, Veterinary Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Gerbičeva 60, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: María-Luz García and María-José Argente
Received: 11 August 2021
Revised: 3 September 2021
Accepted: 8 September 2021
Published: 13 September 2021
Corticosterone is the most important “stress” hormone in birds. Stress response is influenced by different factors, such as phylogeny, feed supply, age, body condition, health status, climate, predators. Pigeon races over long distances, 500 km or more, can lead to the “exploitation” of animals if not strictly regulated and observed, jeopardizing their welfare status. Animals should be in good health and body condition, and health monitoring must be implemented. In stressful situations such as races, the possibility of infection increases. Clinically asymptomatic infections can flare up later in the breeding season and can cause high offspring mortality. For example, infections with circoviruses are particularly important because of their ability to weaken the immune system. The purpose of this work is to identify the critical stress points during the active training season of racing pigeons for the improvement of their condition and the preservation of their welfare during races. The aim of our study was to determine the serum corticosterone levels in different categories of racing pigeons exposed to severe stress factors. At the time of racing, some parameters of stress, including environmental factors, or the presence of infectious diseases or parasites, were recorded. It was found that participation in the race significantly increased serum corticosterone levels and remained high even one month after the race. Therefore, training and races should be properly managed and planned.