What to Feed?
In the last installment, we talked about grit. Let's talk about the other half of the equation... feed.
Pigeons respond well to good feed and to a variety of feed. If you will be "using them up" in a week or two, just about anything will do. Corn is generally the cheapest feed and the birds like whole or cracked corn. I've found a bit more waste with whole corn as I have wire floors and they drop a lot of kernels. Scratch feed is also wasteful. Although it is generally the cheapest per-pound, the birds will often pick through the feed and only eat what they want. Again, more of a problem with wire floors.
My favorite every-day feed is a 50/50 mixture of chick starter/grower feed (20%) and cracked corn. Sometimes I may switch to 24% if I think the birds need a litte boost - especially the breeders. The birds seem to favor the corn, but the starter/grower is good for them. Because they will not gobble the chick feed down so quick, I find that I can fill the feeders with chick feed before a field-trail weekend and skip a day of feeding.
Pigeons also like other grains, especially wheat, millet and roasted soybeans. The beans cost a little more, but I rotate them into the feed about every three days for variety. It is better to rotate feeds than mix them, as the birds will often pick what they like best and waste the rest.
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How much to feed? I've heard it said that a pigeon can get along on a tablespoon of feed a day. I'm probably a little generous, especially with my breeders. If there is feed in the feeder after 15 minutes then you may be feeding too much. The coffee can in the picture will hold enough feed for about 40-50 birds. I feed daily in the morning; if its hot and dry I will water again in the evening.
Bill Fawcett resides in the Shenandoah Valley of
Virginia with his wife, Cindy, and his Smythwicks
Springers: Jenna, Beebe, Pie and Drake. He is an avid
hunter, field trialer, breeder and member of the
the ESSFTA. Bill is a regular contributor to Spaniel Journal through various articles, book reviews and his Wingtips column. Bill also maintains an extensive public ESS
pedigree database at smythwicks.org.