Pigeon Feeding – Feeding to Win
During the racing season, the main function of food is to provide the fuel for flying. Our common aim is to provide the racing pigeon with the best fuel for race day. To do this consistently we must have a good understanding of the food itself. The following paragraphs will introduce you to the science (or theory) of feeding, but for racing success you must also become expert at the practice (or art) of feeding. Only practice and observation can teach you the art of feeding, but hopefully the methods of feeding described here can help you find the pathway to feeding success.
We can only begin the art of good feeding when both the quality of the food is guaranteed and the flock is healthy. A healthy bowel is required before we can test our feeding systems, because an unhealthy bowel fails to deliver the fuel of good grain to the pigeon’s body. Bowel diseases such as E. coli, coccidiosis, worms and wet canker all decrease the amount of nutrients entering the body.
By using the best quality grains and with a healthy race team, the fancier can now think about a racing mix appropriate for his particular family of birds and training methods. The mix chosen must provide a good balance of protein (amino acids) and for this to be achieved at least 8 different grains must be used. After this balance is achieved, the energy content of the mix becomes the most important part of successful feeding.
The feed system provides the race team with the correct energy levels for training and racing. The goal of feeding is to provide the training and racing pigeon with exactly enough (not too much and not too little) fuel (energy in the food) for sustained flight (loft exercise or racing). Of course, the fuel requirements of the training pigeon vary enormously from day to day. It is the constantly changing energy requirements of the competition pigeon that makes feeding such a challenge to even the best fanciers. The competition pigeon will not perform to its fitness level when the “energy balance” is incorrect. The “energy balance” must be assessed short term (daily) and long term (weekly) with fit flocks during the race season, because the fitness level will drop both when too much and too little energy is supplied. During young bird training special attention must be made to prevent depletion of the energy reserves in the liver and muscle.
Overfeeding relative to workload (positive energy balance) renders the race team less competitive because of excess baggage (“leady”). Excess energy is stored as fat with subsequent loss of buoyancy and fitness. It is well to remember that the excess energy of mixes which are too high in protein (legumes) relative to the work load will be stored as fat.
Underfeeding relative to workload (negative energy balance) renders the race team less competitive because of “depowering”. Feed systems low in energy relative to the workload of the race team will result in the depletion of the energy reserves in the liver, fat and muscle.
The fancier can recognise a race team that is in a negative energy balance by the following signs:
- No wing flapping in the early morning or after feeding.
- Disinterest in leaving loft or toss basket, lower lid laziness etc.
- The race team in negative energy balance (inadequate energy intake relative to the workload) is susceptible to illness, especially “respiratory” diseases.
Most fanciers understand the importance of buoyancy for success, but few understand the best way to achieve this in their race teams. Buoyancy is best achieved by supplying the flock with enough feed (a positive energy balance) to promote vigorous loft flying (or tossing) in order to maximise lean body mass (i.e. muscle) and minimise body fat. Instead many fanciers believe that the best path to buoyancy is to restrict caloric (energy) intake (feed less) in order to lose excess weight and thereby produce the buoyancy that we see with top form. However, buoyancy is not only weightlessness, but also power, and the buoyancy of fitness only comes when lean body mass is maximised. The restriction of calories in an effort to produce buoyancy in fact lowers the fitness level of the flock and renders it susceptible to illness. Severe caloric restriction will cause a loss of not only body fat but also lean body mass (muscle) with the accompanying loss of fitness and power.
I’m sure you can see by now why feeding and nutrition is so importnat to your birds, if you would like to get access to our own personal feeding and nutrition program which will show you in-depth how to seperate yourself from your competitors with proper feeding and nutrition and give your birds a head start in their next race then => click here.
Pigeon Feeding – Feeding to Win by Dr. Rob Marshall
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60 thoughts on “Pigeon Feeding – Feeding to Win”
I am so sick and tired of being the only flyer shipping birds which are not buoyant. I have my own share of winning from 200 to 400 mile races.
I believe the credit is 80% to the quality of pigeons. Vermazzas 180 hen and Lumachi best. including the red poot.
I tried to feed barley for three days after the race. last two days give them all they want followed by all the peanuts they want.
Thanks sir for this great information..
train your pigeon hard and give them as much food as they want,a fit pigeon will only eat as much as it needs to,if you don’t give them enough food they will be heavy in weight and you wil be 5minutes of pase each week
Hi Chris i use barley the first three days for the short races in old birds and for the longer
races a good mix the same for young birds after they are up flying Brad.
Good advise on feeding Chris. The amount of feed you give your birds also depends on how hard you work your birds by road training and weather conditions. I think the main problem comes during the moult by over feeding the birds and they become very fat (inner body fat). Not very easy to break down those inner body fat and by the time they reach their prevered wheight,you already rank low on the scoreboard. The saying is “you already win the races during the moulting “. I however like to read all those comments and find it very interesting. Regards.
I would like to ask a question, my cousin tells me to put water into the food of my pigeons, just like the way they feed their chicken. is it healthy for my pigeons to eat wet seeds/food?
For starter your pigeon is not a chicken . just stick to dry seeds and the best seeds by me is corn . corns make the pigeon healthy and big. but if you want the best try pigeon food yeah … and its not healthy for your pigeon that you keep feeding them wet food .. wet food may lead your pigeon have worms inside on its big tommy!!! .hehe and make shore your pigeon is healthy and maybe buy some vitamins for them .. so that you may race them .. sorry a got carried away from all that but keep your pigeon well……. that all thank you!!!
pigeons don’t mix the water with food they feed the youngsters of there own made crop milk it is not till the youngster gets older that the stock birds feed grinded down normal seeds food etc this is due to digestion and gut reasons etc just like young babies cant eat hard foods at a very early age solids, and no don’t put water on the food of the seeds as this can cause bad bacteria that thrive of damp wet seeds causing cocci etc just stick to water separate with minerals and vitamins in, and keep the feed separate bone dry but note you can mix brewers yeast with water as a paste but you have to let it dry out first before putting over the corn mixtures, and you can also use lemon and garlic liquid form over the food this is all good for blood lice cocci etc.
No do not feed your birds wet food use flax seed oil and pro-vital get it from Foy’s. mix the oil in 1tb then mix the pro-vital in till it is dry 2 times a week hope this helps
Hello Sir thanks for good tips satpal
i would just like 2know, how do people get it right 2get ther pigeons loft flying for +- 1 hour? my pigeons do a 5min then they all down panting like crazy..according 2my knowlegde, they healthy and the droppings are nice..could it be my feed? im currently feeding them peas in the morning and barley and sunflower for evening feed(i believe they overweight).because we starting with our racing season in june, iv treated my birds for kanker and im currently busy with cocci treatment.. any advice??
Yes your feeding is incorrect. Go to a more commercial base feed that contains about 35% corn/maize. Give them herbal teas to break down the fat and about 2 teaspoons /l water lemon in water every day for about 2 weeks.Then deworm them, some of the commercial dewormers don’t treat gapeworms. They need more carbohydrates in the morning and please don’t feed so much sunflower seeds.
Great to read this about feeding ,i never been much good with feeding so might learn something here.
Fantastic article on feeding as to achieve efficient loft training and ample body mass. I like to remind fanciers not to allow immediate drinking after hard excercise as such practise will harm form and can result in serious set backs. In most part after drinking pigeons are mostly interested in small grains, and it is your management which can allow for balanced intake of grain.