Maintaining or restoring the health of tissues such as the muscles and tendons as well as the inner organs, the blood and liver is our second priority in the course of the week.
Therefore, it is of utmost importance to feed readily dige- stible protein in substantial amounts on the day following a competitive ight. Aside from observations, there are also scienti c data on the protein metabolism in pigeons. They were gathered by Professor Haas from the University in Kiel (Germany). On the day after a competitive ight, analyses of pigeon blood reveal a marker for the catabolism (decomposition) of muscle tissue. This marker is not present immediately after the competitive ight, i.e. muscle tissue (protein) is not catabolised during the competition. However, on the day after the competitive flight – when the quickly replenishable energy reserves (glycogen) are already lled up again – some kind of ‘metabolic review’ takes place in the organism of the pigeons. As part of the musculoskeletal system regeneration the body renews the structure of muscle bres. To accomplish this, the body needs available amino acids (AAs) to serve as building blocks. The different essential amino acids must be available in properly balanced and suffcient amounts. Still, this complex requirement can be easily met. The best suited protein sources are animal protein or mixtures of plant and animal protein with those amino acids added, which limit the protein biosynthesis.
Under no circumstances should you feed large amounts of protein on the day the pigeons fly. In such a case, the metabolism would first generate the required energy using the protein. Protein cannot be completely metabolised. This leads to the accumulation of considerable amounts of ammonia Since ammonia is cytotoxic, this leads to a condition often referred to as ‘blue blood’. The body eliminates ammonia by turning it into urea and uric acid, which will be eliminated via the urinary tract. These pro- cesses require energy and are therefore an unnecessary burden on the metabolism. Longer recovery periods will be the result. These counter-productive processes can be avoided by implementing the recommendations for the energy recovery phase and the protein recovery phase in the above time sequence.
Feeding electrolytes and shortchain amino acids is yet another way to speed up the recovery. Elec- trolytes are essential for the acid-base balance and they furnish needed salt. Since pigeons like other birds do not have sweat glands, electrolytes are not depleted in flight. Therefore, electrolytes are more important in the preparation for the next competition starting about midweek until the end of the week.
The scientific literature con rms the importance of amino acid (AA) supplements in the recovery process. In contrast to feeding protein-rich grains or ‘modern’ protein powders, the respective supplements merely provide specific AA and/or short-chain AA compounds, which are often given in the drinking water. In flight, the latter supplements do not stress the metabolism like the supplementation with protein. Instead, these AAs and short-chain AA compounds support the reco- very after stress and lighten the load for the liver.