The Pro’s and Con’s of Feeding Racing Pigeons Pellets by Barry Wilson
Since my early days of keeping pigeons I have always had to allocate a portion of my income for my pigeons. Back in 1964, that income came from mowing lawns each summer. I would stretch the money out all year long to support my bird hobby. In retrospect, it was good training in financial discipline then and now. Plus I learned that if I could increase my number of customers then I could afford to buy more pigeons.
I’m not sure how long pigeon pellets have been around, but I remember buying a bag to feed my birds in the late 60’s. The birds (then Rollers) did not like them. Today the pellets still look the same, even though I’m sure the analysis of ingredients has changed. The bottom line, however, is still the same, pigeons still prefer grain to pellets.
The point of this article focuses on the reactions of feeding pellets that I initiated 8 months ago. I had gone to my feed dealer to pick up my usual 400 pounds of grain, a brand that I had fed since ’64 (when it was $2.80 per 50 lb bag). The price had recently climbed to $12.50 for 50 lbs of all purpose mix. Grain prices along with the volume I was using were beginning to stretch my feed budget, which had been borrowed from a few months earlier for the increase in gasoline, which was now being reconfigured for the increase in home heating fuels. So at this point I was very much aware of how much I was spending on the birds each month, and it was too much!! When my feed dealer began explaining how my usual brand of feed was switching to new 40 pound bags for $11.50, I quickly calculated that not only was I now getting less feed per bag, but I would be paying more per pound too. Not fair!! So after a few minutes of venting my frustrations, I settled for buying up all the old 50 lb bags still in stock. At least I felt some sense of victory, short lived as it was. I had seen the ad in “Pigeon Debut” for the Kent brand of pellets called “Showtail”, and eventually went back to my dealer where I was able to get more information. The ingredient analysis looked good with protein at 18%, fat 4%, fiber 5%, plus the usual calcium, phosphorus, salt, and vitamins A, D, and E. Best part was the price at $7.20 per 50 lb bag!! So I ordered a ton and soon began blending pellets into grain over a 2 week period. Now the results, the pro’s and con’s of pellets:
- It is still cheap, even now at $7.30 for 50 pounds.
- Some dust residue, but very little bag waste and almost no uneaten pellet waste.
- Easier than grain for parents to feed; fuller crops in youngsters.
- Nutritionally complete. Squabs have excellent weight and health.
- Grit, about a 90% reduction; more money saved.
- Sparrows and mice….gone!! They don’t seem to like pellets much.
- Any grain (corn, safflower, etc.) offered makes the birds flock to you!
- Birds will starve themselves waiting for grain treats if offered too often. I have learned not to offer the feeders any treats in the breeding season.
- Increased water consumption; at least 30% more water.
- ‘Caking’ of soft pellets on the beaks, face, and wattle of short faced squabs beginning around the age of 3 weeks. Also occassionally in the roof of mouth in older birds.
- Very moist droppings; slow to dry up and tends to collect on the feet and toenails unless popular perches are cleaned daily in the winter. Birds that get “bombed” perching below others are quickly a mess in the winter.
- More (lots more) droppings = more cleaning. And with the extra moisture, weekly cleaning is almost mandatory unless a clever loft/perch design is well thought out. A related problem for me this last winter was where to put all the extra loft litter. We had had large amounts of snow this past winter that remained until spring making it a real chore to maneuver manure around the yard.
- Young seem a little slower to eat on their own. Separating them and blending safflower with pellets helps get them going.
- Dirty muffs. If muffed birds spend much time on the floor, even a daily cleaning won’t keep those muffs clean in the winter. Getting the birds to use individual perches really helps.
- Wet nests. By the time the squabs are 3 to 4 weeks old the nests are a wet mess and must be completely cleaned. This moist environment probably added to the mite population explosion this year.
In conclusion, if given a choice of what to feed without concern for price, I would feed grain again. But with the present volume of birds I now keep, that is not an option. But with a better loft design, floor, and/or perches, pellets would be a good choice, especially for short face squabs because of the feeder’s ability to better fill the crops with pellets. I guess my number one complaint with pellets is the increased amount of time it now takes to clean. It’s overwhelming!! (Although my gardens are doing really great this year!!)
The Pro’s and Con’s of Feeding Racing Pigeons Pellets by Barry Wilson
The Leading Online Pigeon Racing and Racing Pigeons Magazine – The Pigeon Insider
12 thoughts on “The Pro’s and Con’s of Feeding Racing Pigeons Pellets”
A good summation. You noticed some things I have not. Some friends feed there breeders pellets saying it really fills there young birds up and puts more meat on them.
Hi guys, in my area I can’t buy single grains. So I buy a 75 lb of roller mix for $26. 11% has wheat milo and peas. I also buy a bag of nature wise multi flock mini pellets 40 lb 20% for $17. During the breeding season I mix this at 2 to 1. I’m not a fan of corn during this time. I hate to see 2 week ago youngest with a crop full of corn. Once the young are weaned I only feed the grain mix until they are trapped trained and flying well. Once they are going for training toss I’ll start adding some pellets. If your going to feed pellets, try to buy the mini pellets.
In my area a 50 lbs bag of green pellet cost $30.00, even more than some mix of grains.
thanks f0r inf0 ill stick t0 grain im a big pea feeder
I like pellets i feed them first to the parents with no grain after the pellets are gone they get
there grain i do this every day and once the young are weaned i put a small amount in there
mix even during racing with no problems.
I’ve been using a mixture of Purina Nutriblend Green and Gold pellets for several years and have had excellent results. I have about 40 homers and the birds love them. I actually have less poop to clean up. Absolutely no waste of feed and I don’t mix any grains with it or for treats. They are well trained and trap quickly. I had lots of waste with the grains and way more poop. It’s easy to mix red cell and probiotics with. That’s been my experience.
To me it’s unnatural. I will stick to grains.
i am an old fancier, i tried a lot of grain mixtures .now a days i feed my own mixture.these last 3 seasons my racing pigeons were fed on a mixture of 2parts maize, 1 part barley & 1 part pellets.
my breeders are fed on same mixture plus some extra pellets. by the way i do not use pigeon pellets but i use pig starter pellets.some club members do not believe me when i tell them what i feed.
my results are satisfactory.last season one of my birds won the bestbird long distance, best bird overall distance,flew over 5070klms. flying 10 long distance races, always placing. i am more than satisfied.
hi victor, can you tell me some more about your feeding methods Mike SA
are you still using pig pellets. The one with or without medication. thanks mike SA
To be truthful, I’ve never had much luck with feeding pellets. Maybe if you left the birds to get soooo hungry that they’d it “anything”, you could get ’em to try!! But, who wants to that?!? I believe Mr. Lucero, I’ve thought the same thing too! I’m sure they are loaded with a proper balance of protein & minerals, just getting the birds to eat them seems tough for some of us!
h,ithere freind,i’m feeding pellet to my breeder and it works wonder..i also urge my partner to feed our flyer pellets.the brand weare using is CJ Bonbon pellet.it costs P32.00/kilo here in our place.analysis are crude protein 18%,crude fat min.6.0%,crude fiber min.5.5% and it also contains some of minerals like you mention.i’ve just placed as 4th over-all in a summer derby usingo only the said feed…..lets see/wait about this coming North derby starting this month,Oct 12….