Thermoregulatory and behavioral characteristics of racing pigeons housed under transport conditions

J. Gorssen

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


<p>Transport is an essential component of racing pigeon contests. Preliminary studies indicated that adverse transport conditions might contribute to the occurrence of flight losses. Flight losses consist of pigeons which do not return to their home loft. In this thesis, physical and social aspects of the transport environment were studied in relation to the thermoregulation and behavior of racing pigeons. In all experiments, the pigeons were group confined to a transport crate during at least 23 h. A combination of continuous heat exposure and water deprivation results in an increased heat production, body weight loss, and body temperature. The effect of ambient temperature on heat production varies both between and within photoperiods. Water deprivation affects this diurnal variation. Temperature fluctuations during heat exposure increase locomotor activity and body weight loss. At the space allowance levels currently used during transport, aggression related behavior is predominant within a group of pigeons. Aggression levels do not decrease with time. Aggressive interactions cause an increased activity-related heat production, and result in head injuries. Head injuries are less severe in groups of female pigeons compared to groups of male pigeons. With increasing space allowance levels, both the risk of having major head injuries and the occurrence of aggression-related behavior decrease.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Noordhuizen, J.P.T.M., Promotor, External person
  • Verstegen, Martin, Promotor
  • Schrama, Johan, Promotor
Award date1 Nov 1995
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789054854456
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • animal behaviour
  • body temperature
  • thermoregulation
  • body temperature regulation
  • pigeons
  • racing animals
  • hunting
  • working animals
  • transport of animals

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