News and Updates
BIRDS FINALLY CHIPPED
We chipped a little over 600 birds. I put a call in to Terry Gilmore to assist us in moving this hand scan through TAURUS over to Wincompanion so we can use it as our first inventory which would be more accurate than running them out of the loft and having them trap and scan. Once this inventory is posted we will do Loft Flying Inventories periodically until we start training down the road. Trailer is supposed to be here next week so if the weather is good we may jump start our training, however WE do not really need to start road training until 1 March since our first race is not until the first part of April. We have had the worst winter in 10 years, finally is starting to melt off a bit starting today. If the roads clear up and it warms up we may start a bit early.
After you the breeders see which birds you have, or do not have, you will invariably have questions. Do not hesitate to contact us.
Remember, if you have a bird missing when this first inventory is posted you get a FREE perch next year. No we are not happy about the loss of any birds, but we do offer FREE perches.....how many offer that???
Rick & Olga Mee
BIRDS BEING CHIPPED THIS WEEK
After a rocky start due to equipment problems we were able to start chipping the birds today. We weren't able to get the equipment working until later in the day so were only able to do 28 birds total. Now that we have the kinks worked out, thanks to help from Terry Gilmore no less, we should be able to make good progress tomorrow. Hopefully by this weekend we will have our first inventory posted.
We are having one of the worst winters in at least the last 10 years. It keeps snowing and the temps have not risen above freezing for several weeks, so of course the snow just keeps building up more and more. We were hoping that the snow would melt by 1 Feb and provided our trailer arrives on time, we would get a jump on training which is actually scheduled for 1 March with races in April. Now that we have decided to not accept birds this year in preparation for a young bird race in 2018 and will start accepting birds again next February with races in September, we have lots of wiggle room for training and races. In other words, if we have to wait a few more weeks or even a month to start training due to weather we will still get the races concluded in April or May.
Today while handling birds we found the birds to be in great feather condition with a full wing. Even though there are MANY struggles in hosting a late hatch race in comparison to a young bird race there are a few benefits to the birds and you the breeders. The birds have a full wing, a mature body, which will equate to a more even race than that of a young bird race where the older birds usually have the advantage.
Hope you all are staying warm, we are freezing our butts off!
Rick & Olga Mee
LAB REPOT IN
Below is the lab report.
01/04/17: This confirms my telephone report and extensive discussion about disseminated protozoa, Trichomonas infection. Is an incredible case and I have seen this only other time before but it was in a feral pigeon. There are different strains of Trichomonas sp. some of which are very virulent or pathogenic. They cause necrosis and ulceration of the oral, esophageal and crop mucosa, from there they gain access to blood stream and disseminate to various organs like described in this case. Some times the protozoa even invade the brain and causes severe encephalitis resulting in neurological signs and death. I am doing immunohistochemistry to confirm Trichomonas sp. which is just a formality. The birds have no underlying viral infection like herpesvirus, adenovirus or circovirus.. The birds are negative for salmonella and chlamydia. If you have any questions please give me a call.
I called the doc and we had a very long discussion. I was quite surprised that it was simply a form of canker because the birds have been acting weak and lethargic for weeks and nothing seemed to work. It was only after recollecting on last year's birds and remembering that some birds were acting the same and showing the same symptoms and using Acidified Copper Sulfate did clear it up, so I decided to give it a try again. I assumed it was pigeonherpesvirus because the batter in the throat did not look the same as canker I had seen in the past, most who died just had fluid in the throat, and other symptoms led me to believe that it was some sort of yeast infection. Good thing I decided to put them on Acidified Copper Sulfate because ACS is a cure for not only the pigeonherpesvirus, it also is very effective on canker. So even though my diagnosis was incorrect, at least I had started them on the right stuff to start clearing it up. Today there were zero losses in the loft. It got down to around 0F last night with wind chill, strong north winds coming out of Canada. It is supposed to be 0F again tomorrow with more wind. If the birds can make it through the next few days, then they are hard as nails!
The main reason I did not even believe it could be canker was because I had run the entire loft on Berimax in October for 10 days, followed up with probiotics. They looked great and have been flying great, that is up to just a few weeks ago when all this started. I did have a feral pigeon get in to the loft about 3 weeks ago which may of been carrying canker, possibly infecting the race birds. This was also about the same time that it got severely cold here, thus the perfect storm for a pigeon disease to pop up, makes sense.
We apologize for the loss of some of your birds, believe me we lost a lot of sleep over it. At least now we know EXACTLY what it is and can treat accordingly.
Remember, we are different than most One Loft Races out there. If your bird does not make it to the first training toss, you get a free perch the very next year.
Thanks to all of your for your thoughts and prayers through this ordeal.
Is anyone crazy enough to start a One Loft Race?
Rick & Olga
The Acidified Copper Sulfate definitely is doing the job. The last few days has been the worst weather we have had with incredible winds blowing out of the north with snow and the coldest temps we have experienced this year. Today even with this recent weather we had zero losses in the loft and none of the birds look like they are having issues and they are currently out enjoying their free time out of the loft. Finally I believe we are done with this crud!
The lab report should be in today, patiently waiting by the phone. We do believe it is/was pigeon herpes virus but still want to hear from the experts.
Thanks to those of you who have caught up on your perch fees. I sent out emails last night and a few have already responded. We will give the remaining breeders who have not paid their perch fees until the 15th of January to do so, after that date if they are not paid the birds will be removed from the bird list and the breeder will no longer be able to enter the ACYC in the future.
Rick & Olga
BIRDS DID GREAT TODAY!
The Acidified Copper Sulfate seems to really be having a positive affect on the birds. Today was a nice clear day, when they were let out it was hovering around 30 F and now is in the mid 30s. The birds are really enjoying themselves and flew for a very long time, didn't even want to go back in the loft. When we get the lab report back we will medicate as suggested, but until then we will keep doing what we are doing because it seems to be working.
Some of you still owe perch fees. We sent out invoices in the mail a few weeks back and only a few of you paid, or acknowledged that you received them. We will send out emails in the next day or two, those who choose to ignore us will simply have their birds removed from the bird list. When we go through the birds and chip them we WILL NOT CHIP your birds if they are not paid for and they will become our property, no exceptions. Next time we host a race we will require that your perch fees accompany your birds, if they do not then your birds will not be put in the loft. We plan on putting chips on the birds when they arrive next time and this is very time consuming, however much easier to do the day they arrive since we are taking them one by one out of the box. We will not put your birds in the loft and have to catch them all up and chip them, which is what we are about to do.......not going through this again and not going to have to chase down breeders asking for them to pay what they know they already owe.
Everyone have a great New Year, do not drink and drive!
Rick & Olga
LATEST ON SICKNESS
We sent 3 birds off to UC Davis yesterday, hopefully next week we will get an answer.
Last year we had a few birds who showed the same symptoms, also when it got cold and was damp out just like this year. We used Acidified Copper Sulfate and it cleared up, so we started the flock on it yesterday and fed them very lightly yesterday because some birds had regurgitated feed up in the loft so we wanted to clear them out a bit. Today they flew better and longer than they have in a long time. They were lively and many of the cocks were up on the roof acting like they were ready to breed. Every little bird that flew by the birds were back up in the air and would fly way out and eventually land back on the loft again. In other words, they looked great today!
We should hear back from the lab at UC Davis Tuesday, they are closed over the weekend and Monday is a holiday. Until then, we will continue to leave them on Copper Sulfate because it seems to be really helping.
Spoke to the company constructing our new trailer and they say it is scheduled to be done 1 Feb, but they may get it out as early as mid Jan. Providing these birds are back on track health wise, routing and feeling good, we will hit the road as soon as we get the trailer. Promise to get a couple inventories, hand and loft flying done before we ever start down the road.
Rick & Olga
HEALTH OF THE BIRDS
We advertised that toward the end of our acceptance period in September we had a PMV outbreak. We got this under control pretty fast and losses were at a minimum, somewhere in the neighborhood of 60-70. Everything went back to normal toward the end of October then when it got cold we started loosing a few birds off the perch here and there, nothing serious and indicative of every One Loft Race out there. Well, recently all hell has broke loose. We are experiencing temps below freezing for several days in a row which is out of the ordinary for central WA here in the Yakima Valley and it is obviously taking a direct hit on the birds. We noticed about 10 days back that some of the birds were not trapping on command, just hanging around outside and acting lethargic. Someone inexperienced would probably jump to the conclusion that this is a bacterial issue, but the droppings do not indicate this and the symptoms are not the same as ecoli or Salmonella. We are going to have a bird posted for a necropsy and post the results of same. We feel this is most likely a viral issue, in fact we would bet that farm that is exactly what this is. As most of your know, there is really nothing you can do to treat a viral outbreak other than just support the birds immune systems with additives through the water, disinfect the loft and keep it clean, and believe me we have been doing this. At this point we have to let this virus run it's course, hopefully this issue will work itself out quickly and we can sleep better at night. We have mentioned it several times, trying to keep these birds healthy over the winter is the real challenge with a Late Hatch race. We have decided to change our format for next year and host a Young Bird series with more traditional dates. This will make things much easier for us insofar as keeping these birds healthy and getting the predominance of the inventory to the first race, this Late Hatch thing just is not working. It has it's plusses to you the breeders, but to us the negatives far outweigh the positives.
Now we know everyone wants every single one of their birds to go to the first race, we are no different when we enter races. Just remember our very generous perch fee policy, if your bird does not make it to the first inventory right before training then you get a free perch the very next year.
Also, we want to quickly address ship dates for next year and the concern that if we start racing in Septembrer the birds will be too young. If we feel the birds are not ready than we can push the race dates back a bit. Our weather is USUALLY pretty good late October to early November so we can go that far in to the fall if need be. Our suggestion is to just breed your birds a bit earlier and do not be afraid of sending birds out here next year that are a bit older than you are used to sending. We are WIDE open and have a very easy time settling birds. We will have birds left over from this current series and they will be used to settle new arrivals. If you send birds a bit older than they will be older when we start racing. We have flown 5 month old birds out here and flown them as old birds and won races out to 350 miles. In fact, Mee Family Lofts have won the 350 5/6 times at the combine level in the Columbia Basin Combine, check it out.
Sorry for the bad news folks, but we feel that bad news does not get better with time so might as well lay it out on the table right from the get go. Hopefully we get through this quickly and we can start training on time.
Rick & Olga Mee
Merry Christmas everyone, hope all are enjoying the holidays and spending time with friends and family.
This is our second winter with the Apple Cup birds. We can tell you all this, trying to take care of these birds and keep them all healthy from the time we stop accepting birds until our first training toss over the winter months is the main challenge in running this race. With most One Loft Races birds are accepted in the spring, a few months later the birds are being trained and races commence in the fall with birds being mailed back before the weather changes with winter setting in. With a Late Hatch race like ours and races finishing around the first part of May we can not start accepting birds until May at the earliest. Here in Eastern WA we have cold winters and hot summers. This means if we continue to do things the way we have been doing we will continue to accept birds during the hottest time of the year, then try to keep them healthy through the winter before the first races even starts 5 months later. Olga and I have compared the differences between a Late Hatch series and a Young Bird series......the benefits of hosting a Young Bird series FAR outweigh that of hosting a Late Hatch series.....it is finally time to make a change so that we can hopefully maintain our sanity.
We are currently scheduled to finish our last 350 mile race the end of April next year. We will be accepting new birds next year 1 May through 15 June only, races will start mid September and finish mid October.
In 2018 we will accept birds 1 Feb through May, possibly through 15 June depending on how the birds perform next year after accepting birds through 15 June.
If you get free perches from us for this current series they must be used next year, that is 2017 not 2018.
We know we still owe you breeders a loft inventory. Every time we get ready to accomplish this something comes up either on our end, or on the end of our nephews who help us in conducting hand scans and the loading of the birds once we start training. We promise, doing everything we can to get this done ASAP. We do not start training until around 1 March, however still want to get the monkey off of our back with posting our first loft inventory.
So please put the word out folks, acceptance dates next year are 1 May through 15 June.
Merry Christmas and happy New Year to all!
Rick & Olga
PS: There are a lot of things we feel we can do better, like with any business you learn as you go along and try to get better every year. Two of the most common comments we have received from those who support our race are the breeders like the frequent updates, also the hard training. We will continue to do both, and we promise to make this race one of, if not the best in North America in the next few years to come. Thanks to all of you who have supported us thus far, and to those of you who will in the future. Lets work together in making this the biggest and best One Loft Race in North America!
Typed up a long update yesterday and for some reason when I hit send I lost everything, got frustrated and went on to other things. Here is the abbreviated version.
Finally let out the last group a few days ago. They know how to go through the traps now, pretty easy training them since they have such a big mob to show them the ropes who already have our system down pat. They all get put out of the loft every day for a few hours while we clean the loft, change water, scrape perches, the normal pigeon chores we are all too familiar with. It snowed last night so the birds will get their first taste of loft flying with a white blanket on the ground and on the roof of the loft. If you are a friend of ours on Facebook you will enjoy the pictures and possible video that we will take of the birds while they are out doing their thing today.
The cold weather is great for purging the loft. If there are any truly weak birds, they will surface when the temps drop. This just means that come spring when we start road training the birds who have made it through the winter will be ready and capable. Now do not worry, we do not have birds dropping off the perch left and right, but we have lost a handful and if you have had a bird die lately you would of already been notified.
Now that all of the birds are out of the loft and reentering through the traps it is finally time to put chips on all of them and start running loft flying inventories. This is something that we stress about every day because so far everything has went pretty well, other than a brief scare with PMV where we lost 60 some odd birds, and we want to accomplish this before Christmas because we know you the breeders want to see if all your birds are still here. We can't make any promises, however we are going to do everything we can do get this done as soon as possible. We have went in the loft in the dark and tried to count heads and we really are not down that many birds. If we deduct the number who died from PMV then this means we have lost very few through settling.
We sent out invoices to all of you who still owe perch fees. Please, get these perch fees in to us as soon as possible. We hate to struggle with breeders to get them to pay their perch fees when it should of been sent with the birds in the first place. Next year we will amend the rules to state that your perch fees must accompany your birds and if they do not your birds will not be added to the bird inventory list until your fees are received.
Probably mentioned this in the last update but since we are pretty excited about it, will mention it again. Our new trailer is being constructed in NC and is supposed to be here in January. It has 18 large crates per side making 36 total. There is a walkway down the middle to water and feed the birds, lights, fan to cool the birds, everything. Then we have the truck mounted release we used last series which holds 12 more crates, same size as our new crates we have coming. This means we can hold, if we use both simultaneously, 2,000 birds. Our first year we brought in over 500, second over 1,000, so why not try to double it again!
Recently attended the annual Greater Salt Lake RPC show and auction, Alex Bieche was the guest speaker. Got to meet a lot of old friends and make some new ones, many who will be entering the Apple Cup next year. Alex, Brad Hogan and I spoke about running a OLR which all of us have or have had. We all agreed, hardest part is keeping the birds healthy. Get past that and all is gravy. We also all agreed that if someone has never brought in a couple hundred birds from a couple hundred different breeders than they should before being too critical of how a OLR is run. I can personally say that we felt kind of guilty accepting money for something we love so much when we first started. Now that we have been at this for awhile we can tell you this, we earn every penny and only a mad man or woman would attempt to run a One Loft Race.
Olga and I are not the kind of people to start something and not finish it. Our goal was to put on a great race and to do some things differently that One Loft Races we have entered fell short in. Now that we have a "feel" for what is expected from our customers and have a slight handle on how to do that, we want to grow this race in to the largest OLR in North America. We are well on our way thanks to all of you!
Oh, almost forgot. We donated some perches to the Gala Day that are currently on iPigeon.com. Also, we donated 12 perches to our club auction which is listed at the vey bottom of the list on iPigeon.com under Yakima Valley Racing Pigeon club. Remember, we charge 100 a bird but give you a discount if you enter 12 or more. 12 are 1,000 and with that if all of your birds are lost before the final than you get that number of birds FREE the very next year. These 12 perches were added to the auction late so there are not too many who know about it. If you plan on entering 12 or more next year than please jump on this because you may get 12 perches for less than we get ourselves, great deal!
Rick & Olga Mee