Feed, Grit and Water
What kind of body would you have if you only ate cake? It certainly would be fun for a while, but you soon would get tired of it. Worse, you would soon have an unhealthy body and not very much pep and energy.
Pigeons are seed eaters. Like you, they need a balanced diet. Eating just one kind of seed will cause them to become sick and weak. Many feed dealers have pigeon feeds that are already mixed with a proper selection of grains. If your feed store does not have pigeon feed, you might be able to order it. Many companies like Purina sell pigeon feeds and they usually have dealers in or near many cities. If you cannot find anyone that handles pigeon feeds, you could mix whole corn, wheat, milo, and chicken laying pellets together and have a balanced feed mix.
Pigeons also like greens. During the Summer, they can get their greens outside while exercising, but during the Winter, greens are not available. If your birds are always kept in the loft, then, they never have any greens. This problem can be solved by chopping a few leaves of lettuce, spinach, or cabbage. Sometimes a little salt sprinkled on it makes it a little more tasty.
Store your feed in a place where it will be protected from bugs, mice , and water. Insects will lay their eggs on your feed, and when the eggs hatch, your feed will become wormy. Mice will leave their droppings in the feed and spread diseases such as paratyphoid. Wet feed gets moldy and causes other pigeon diseases.
Pigeons should be fed in or on some kind of feed trough. Could you imagine what would happen to you if you always ate food that fell on the floor? You may not always get ill from this, but sooner or later you would get sick. Pigeon droppings fall on the floor. So, you should not expect your birds to eat their food after it has fallen on the soiled floor either. Feeding from a trough reduces the risk of having your pigeons catch diseases.
If you feed your birds from an uncovered feed trough, remove the trough when the birds are finished eating. This prevents the pigeons from soiling the bottom of the feed tray. Never leave food in the tray when they are finished eating. Pigeons will knock the uneaten seeds on the floor and trample them into their droppings. Know how much your birds eat each day and feed them no more than that amount. Over fed pigeons waste feed, are expensive, difficult to train, and get fat and lazy.
Besides feeding time is one of the most important times of the day. It is a time to get acquainted with your birds. They will walk between your feet while eagerly waiting to be fed. They can be trained to eat from your hand. They will learn to trust you. Feed them in small amounts so that they have to eat all the seeds. It you pour a whole bunch of feed in the trough at one time. They will pick out only what they want to eat and thus not get a balanced diet.
Pigeons do not have teeth or stomachs. They have gizzards. The gizzards grind up the hard seeds so that the food can be digested in the small intestine. Pigeons need to eat grit. Grit is nothing more than small stones that the gizzard uses to grind up the grain. Your feed dealer probably has some grit. Commercial grit may contain minerals and salt. It you do not have an opportunity to buy commercial grit, you can make some yourself. Take a piece of concrete and break it into pieces about the size of small peas. If it is too large, they will not use it. If it is much smaller than that, the birds will continually be eating grit because the gizzard is breaking it down too quickly. You may add a little salt to the grit, but do not add too much salt. If you have too much salt in their diets, it will cause them to drink constantly. Oyster shells can be added to the grit. Pigeons use the calcium from the shells to make strong bones and firm eggs. Charcoal bits can also be added.Grit should be kept in a covered trough so the pigeons cannot soil it with their droppings.
Pigeons need fresh water. It should be changed at least once a day. Some fliers add a teaspoon of Clorox bleach to a gallon of water. The bleach does not give the bacteria a chance to multiply so easily. Even if the water looks fresh the next day, it is not. Bacteria is so small that you need a microscope to see it. Just take a little extra time and pour it our and get some fresh water. Water should be changed just before you feed the birds.
Many fanciers keep their waterers off the floor because as the pigeons fly around the loft, their wings stir up dust. The dust may carry bacteria which will contaminate the water. If you put the waterer off the floor, you reduce the amount of dust which may fall into your water.
Wherever you place your waterer, make sure that it is covered. If the birds sit above an uncovered waterer, their droppings will fall directly into the water. It the openings in your waterer are to large, your pigeons will continuously e in the water taking a bath. Waterers can be bought from pigeon supply companies. You can also make your own from a gallon milk jug or a Clorox Jug.
After several weeks, you will notice a slick feeling slime on the bottom of your waterer. This is a microscopic form of algae. This algae also helps trap and hold other forms of bacteria, which might cause an illness in your pigeons. It is very easy to get rid of this slime. Just put a small amount of Clorox bleach in the water and wipe the waterer with a rag. Many top fliers wash their waterer with a disinfectant every day.
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