Many species of birds kept in captivity must be rendered flightless to prevent escape from open enclosures. In this study, we evaluated the use of diode laser and cryosurgery as methods of ablating primary feather follicles in domestic pigeons (Columba livia). In group 1 birds (n = 6), primary feather 10 of both wings was treated with the diode laser (10 W, 2 seconds) and primary feather 6 was treated with the cryoprobe (5 seconds, 3 cycles). In group 2 birds (n = 6), primary feathers 10 and 6 were treated with the cryoprobe for 20 and 30 seconds, respectively, for 3 cycles. In all birds, primary feather 8 on both wings was manually pulled as the control follicle. Results showed that in group 1 birds, diode laser ablation prevented feather regrowth in 83% of follicles, however, freezing with the cryoprobe for 5 seconds did not prevent feather regrowth. In group 2 birds, treatment with the cryoprobe prevented feather regrowth at 100% and 42% of the treated sites (treatment times of 20 and 30 seconds, respectively). Significant tissue swelling and edema were observed in all group 2 birds. On histologic examination, follicle damage was most severe at the laser-treated sites in group 1 birds and at the 20-second freezing sites in group 2 birds, which correlated with the prevention of feather regrowth. The control follicles and follicles adjacent to treated areas in both groups were histologically normal. Feather follicle ablation with both the diode laser and the cryoprobe are effective in preventing feather regrowth; however, success with the cryoprobe depends on the ability of the probe to directly contact the feather follicle. Diode laser is a superior technique because it is faster, easier to perform, and causes minimal tissue damage.
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Vol. 20 • No. 4