Q: My birds' skin is a dark color. What can I do about that?

Dark color in birds is a dilemma most pigeon flyers encounter sometime during their flying season. The reason for the dark color is either too much work with no rest or the bird is forced to eat something that makes him toxic. The most common problem is no rest and the overabundance of protein derived from peas, vetch, etc.

I take it you are racing these birds at this time. The ones that have come home from the race and look purple, lock them up this week. Do not road train them. If you let them out around the loft, they will not want to fly anyway. What they need is light feed and no peas.

However, another good way to accomplish this without being too scientific -- give them a full trough of feed and let them eat what they want. After 15 minutes, remove the feed, pour it in a bucket or bag, and then use it to feed your young birds or your breeders. Give your race birds fresh feed in this manner twice a day. I would also add some safflower to that feed.

Another thing you may want to try to help them is to give them some Brewer's Yeast. Either purchase this from a pigeon supply house or better yet, stop in at a health food store. The health food store will have some large flaked and some that is more of a powder. The powder would be preferred. Moisten your feed with an oil such as safflower oil, canola oil, or corn oil, the kind used for cooking. Then sprinkle the brewer's yeast on and mix it in until it is dry. You cannot overdo this.

Something else that may help is using some garlic in the water. Just cut it up very fine and put it in the water. Again, you cannot overdo this. There is also garlic oil on the market that you can buy to moisten your feed and then apply the brewer's yeast.

Be sure you are not giving the birds some sort of additive in the water such as Red Cell or some other iron product. Many people force their birds to drink an exotic supplement and create a problem without knowing it.

Hope this helps-