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A few facts about aflatoxin and soybeans

Any fancier, interested in feeding his pigeons peanuts, should familiarize himself with a few more facts about these nuts. When you buy them, you always have to make sure that you get first quality peanuts, peanuts that have been approved for human consumption. The feed supplier should have been able to give you such information, because the European Economic Community (EEC) has enforced strict guidelines concerning quality rating.


Why?? When errors made during the process of harvesting and storing the peanuts, the chances are great that they have become infected by a dangerous mould(Aspergillus Flavus). Inside the peanut this mould produces aflatoxin a very strong liver poison. It is impossible to discover from the outside if a peanut contains aflatoxin. Aflatoxin was not discovered until 1960, after the sudden death in England of about 100.000 turkeys, who had been fed with peanuts. For the protection of animals the EEC has implemented guidelines concerning the percentages of aflatoxin in the feed. The latest EEC guidelines, implemented in 1981, allow a percentage of 0.05 mg/kg when peanuts are retailed loose.


In a previous article "Unroasted peanuts a secret weapon??" I have given you a detailed explanation of what the advantages of peanuts are for our pigeons. After I came to realize personally that the pigeon engine during the races runs on fat only, I decided that in the future I was going to concentrate even more on how to use peanuts, oil containing seeds and soybeans most effectively. I used peanuts for the first time in 1981, and only for the young pigeons. Once I sent them on their way with a tank full of fat, overall results indicated that no harm was done. What I found more important than anything else was, that on the last race, and it was a very difficult one, on the average my youngsters came through quite well. Just a few went down, while other lofts had to cope with extensive losses.


Peanuts can be very beneficial to our pigeons, and for the fanciers that are planning to take advantage of this, I am going to complete this peanut story by playing special attention to the last part of the table, the part that indicates calorie values. Lots of people try to keep their weight under control, and to do that they know they should not eat large portions of high calorie food. For the same reason we should feed our pigeons less grain when we give them high calorie peanuts. As the table shows, peanuts have a calorific value that is about 75% higher than that of the average feed ration. We do not want to overfeed our widowers during the racing season, and spoil their appetites. Therefore we should feed 1.75 gr. less ration for every gram of peanuts. The exception to this rule is the very last feed before basketing. This time we feed plenty of peanuts, because they will fill the tank with the right type of fuel. This is something pigeons will surely appreciate, especially when the race turns out to be a difficult one.


The soybean


is another excellent type of feed for our pigeons. It is the most valuable legume we know, and 60 million tons are harvested yearly(66% in the United States and 33% in Eastern Asia). Although for decades the soybean, with a protein content of 38% and a fat content of 18% has been on the top of the list as a valuable feed for cattle and pigs, up till now(this article was published and written in 1982; after pigeon feed firms read this article the soybean was introduces to the mixtures) it has never been fed to pigeons. The reason for this is that raw soybean contain trypsine and another substance, both making digesting the bean very difficult. When you heat the soybean, however, these substances are destroyed, or the so-called urea level is kept down to 0.5 mg, which gives the bean a higher grade of digestibility. This roasting of the soybean results in the beans losing size; they become too small for pigeon feed.


At present other procedures are used to rid the beans of the negative qualities of the raw stage. When you microwave them, the substances are gone, while the bean keeps its size. As a result they can now be used for pigeons. In Holland hardly anybody is familiar with using soybeans for pigeons. This is different in the countries located east of Holland, there the emphasis is much more on professionalism in the sport. The German feed company Hopermann of Oberhausen has marketed the soybean already since 1980 under the name of 'soyaform'. When visiting some of the top lofts in that area, I discovered what the content was of their super quality rations. My conclusion was that 'soyaform' should also become available to the Dutch fanciers. Hopermann has let me know that in the near future their product will be sold in Holland as well, which would be really nice for the oncoming racing season.


As mentioned in the previous article about peanuts, the published table shows some interesting comparisons between corn, wheat, peas, soybeans and peanuts. It also shows the excellent qualities of the soybean. It has a protein content almost four times as high as that of corn and wheat and double that of peas. Soybeans rightfully deserve the name of miracle plant, because the ratios of fat contents are 18:1 with peas, 18:4 with corn and 18:2 with wheat, 57% of a soybean consists of proteins and fats, 25% of carbohydrates. The remaining 19% are less important; these are basic matter, raw fiber's and water. The table indicates how high the calorie value of the soybean is: 426. The reason why it has an 18-30% higher calorie value than corn, wheat and peas, is its fat content, because the combustion of a gram of fat results in the release of 9.3 calories, while carbohydrates and proteins release only 4.1 calories.


Another valuable fact about soybeans is their high percentage in lecithin, 2.5%. Lecithin is an important substance on the nervous system and is very valuable in psychological terms. It plays a significant role when much is asked of the body, as is the case with our pigeons. Since it has now become possible at present to feed soybeans to our pigeons we should remember that this feed, beside being high in energy, is also a rich source of lecithin. After returning home from a very difficult race, our pigeons can regain strength by being fed soybeans. Especially when the birds have lost weight, and you want to get them back to ideal weight and form in a very short time, soybeans are the answer.


Some very interesting scientific research, involving racing pigeons has been done over the past few years by the German biologist H.J. Rothe at the University of Saarbrücken. It was proven that during the races, the pigeons get their energy solely from the combustion of fats and not from the combustion of carbohydrates(glucose) as was previously believed. Such scientific data, discovered in the wind tunnels of Saarbrücken, is totally new, and very surprising to the average fancier.


In a future article I will provide more detailed information. This scientific experiment is backed up by tables and by written text. My opinion will always be that scientific knowledge should not stay amongst the scientists, but should be shared with the ordinary person as well, the reader these Internet pages for example. It is my intention to present you shortly with an understandable version of the experiment.


The data pertaining to this subject I received from the German biologist Dr. Arno Meyer. With sadness I report to you that Dr. Meyer, a top scientist and pigeon fancier, with a great personality, died January 31, 1992 at the age of 68. Once again the European racing pigeon society has lost one of its most prominent members. All those who, like me, considered themselves his personal friend, have lost a fascinating companion.

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Steven van Breemen