Feeding pigeons, homing pigeons and young birds

A conventional diet

There are no immediate difficulties to feed your pigeons, as they granivorous. This means their diet is mainly grain-based.
The first solution is to give them pre-prepared mixes. With Gasco, there’s a wide choice, with mixes that meet their nutritional requirements, as well as more gourmet blends.
A second solution is to have a different type of grain in each feeder. Gasco offers both wheat and maize. Having an alternative encourages them to pick and choose their food and create their own mixes of grain. Choosing helps them develop their taste and links them to the concept of pleasure. It also helps reduce food waste as pigeons can pick out their own food. If you give pigeons a mix, they will eat what they like and happily leave the rest.
That said, pigeons won’t just content themselves with what you give them to eat. They look to supplement their diet with insects, worms and leaves.

The vet's advice

“The type of food is one factor, but when you feed them is another. Once again, the choice is up to you. Firstly, you can put food out in the morning and refill feeders on a daily basis. This method leaves your pigeons little freedom to eat when they want. Alternatively, you can feed them several times a day. You can feed them as and when you wish. Typically, though, two feeds a day are enough. This helps your pigeons to get to know you better. This method means you can become more familiar with your pigeons’ feeding habits and spot any bird that shows signs of any eating disorder.”

deux pigeons dans leur pigeonnier

Food for baby pigeons

When a pigeon hatches, its parents immediately begin feeding it.
You don’t need to do anything, except check that the baby bird is feeding properly and growing normally. To be sure that they are in good health, here’s some basic principles on their diet. First of all, in contrast to their parents, baby pigeons do not eat grain, but rather crop milk. This is a substance secreted by both the mother and father birds. The parents regurgitate it into the baby pigeon’s throat so that it can ingest the milk. So, you can see that the parents share the responsibility for feeding their young. Crop milk is full of nutrients for baby pigeons to grow rapidly. If you think that a baby pigeon is not growing quickly enough, don’t hesitate to call a vet, who can reassure you. The reason baby pigeons feed on milk is because they are altricial. This means that they need several weeks before they can cope on their own. When baby pigeons hatch, they are practically naked and very fragile. They can neither fly nor feed themselves. After three to four weeks, they start to grow feathers and are able to manage by themselves.

The diet of a homing pigeon, myth or reality?

There are plenty of mysteries surrounding homing pigeons and the way they live.
You should know that this advice will not provide you with an explanation on how to raise homing pigeons. It can, however, help you to understand the importance of food in their daily diet. Just like people, a homing pigeon’s diet is as important in their lives as physical exercise. They are highly active, energetic creatures with specific energy requirements. Homing pigeons are even treated as marathon runners as they only return to their loft after having flown long distances. To make up for all this energy used in flying, they need a specific diet of wheat (25%)*, maize (25%)*, peas (23%*), barley (16%)*, sunflower seeds (8%)* and rapeseed (3%)*. Only a high-quality diet will enable homing pigeons to keep themselves in a suitable physical condition where they can be active with no holds barred. If you always want to raise homing pigeons, you have to be both rigorous and attentive. Homing pigeons are the exception among pigeons.
*These quantities are purely indicative.

Water for life and well-being

Pigeons are among those birds that drink the most water. Like you, when the temperature rises, make sure your pigeons have plenty of cool water available to them. This need for water is also down to a small, but important, detail, pigeons love water. Give them a small water bath, where they can bathe and buff themselves up, as well as a water dispenser. Don’t make a bath out of a water dispenser as the water may get dirty and pigeons must never drink dirty water. For this reason, you should protect and regularly replace your pigeon’s drinking and bathing water so that it always has clean water available.