Diet is a crucial factor in the health and longevity of any animal and the homing pigeon is no exception. A healthy bird starts with a diet that consists of foods that are not only safe for the pigeon to eat, but also support the general health and happiness of the bird. So what do homing pigeons eat?
Here, we will go through all the safe foods that homing pigeons can and should eat and in what amounts to ensure their health and longevity.
What Are Homing Pigeons?
Homing pigeons are pigeons that fly in one direction, and that’s home. These are the birds that were used to send messages over long distances. They knew their way back home. These birds were trained to fly long distances. Since ancient times, they are fed properly so they can fly miles without getting tired.
What Homing Pigeons Can Eat
Firstly, you must know what they can eat. Scientists figure this out by finding out the specific needs and portions sizes of an animal throughout the stages of its life. There has not been an overwhelming amount of research and science put towards the specific portions and foods of the homing pigeon, as they are not livestock or producers of a type of food.
However, feeding companies have done feeding trials that show pigeon enthusiasts the proper foods and serving sizes.
These feed companies have pre-mixed feed blends that encompass all of the necessary nutrients for a homing pigeon. In these feed blends, you will often see the same seeds and grains.
Homing pigeon feed consists of corn, safflower, barley, peas, raw peanuts, milo, and a variety of types of seeds. These all have different purposes for being in the feed. Different types of feed have different ratios of these grains and seeds, so you can tailor the feed to what your pigeon needs.
Homing pigeons need lots of protein to perform their best and feel healthy. Proteins are turned into carbohydrates during the digestion process, which becomes sugar. This sugar is burned as energy during flight or other activities.
The majority of what a homing pigeon needs to eat is protein-based. That is why you see so much safflower, corn, and milo used in high-protein homing pigeon diets and feed blends. Peas are also one of the most popular options for high energy-yielding homing pigeon feed, as they have lots of protein.
Feed blends are often labeled “heavy” or “light.” This is about the amount of protein in the feed. “Heavy” blends are higher in protein and lower in fiber, while “light” blends are lower in protein and higher in fiber. \
Fiber is another important element of the diet of a homing pigeon. Fiber is what helps promote healthy digestion, gut health, and helps keep homing pigeon functions in check.
Barley is one of the leading ingredients in homing pigeon feed blends for fiber. It is fairly low in general nutritional value, except for its incredibly high levels of fiber.
This grain is very important when it comes to the feed of performance pigeons because it helps the pigeon to digest its food quickly and maximize every single calorie so it can get as much energy from the meal as possible. That means the pigeon can fly faster for longer periods.
Why Is Protein So Important For Homing Pigeons?
Protein is essential for building muscles and repairing tissues. After long flights, pigeons need to rebuild their strength and their muscles. Fibre also plays an important role here. Thus, protein and fiber work together to keep pigeons healthy.
Pigeons in the wild eat a variety of foods and fulfill the deficiency of protein. Pet pigeons require special care. You need to be very attentive to their food. If you are breeding them, the diet becomes more crucial.
How Much Protein Do Homing Pigeons Need?
There is no scientifically declared amount that you should give to your homing pigeon, but a proper intake regularly is vital. A homing pigeon requires 20% protein in its diet. This is more than what a pigeon needs typically. A pigeon, on average, needs 5g of protein. During winters, this quantity should be increased to 15%. Breeding pigeons require 20% protein which is found abundantly in nuts.
Include healthy nuts in your homing pigeon’s diet. You can buy a protein-rich feed from the market or make a seed and nut mix at home.
During molting seasons, pigeons require more protein which can only be ensured by giving them a variety of foods.
Composition Of Homing Pigeon Diet
Readily available pigeon foods are available in the market in great varieties, and they are nutritional. But it is not wise to depend entirely on them. You can create a healthy pellet for your pigeon at home as well. The pellet should contain protein and fiber-rich ingredients. If included in your homing pigeon’s diet, the following foods will help it gain strength and live a healthy and long life.
- Beer yeast: 45%
- Linseed: 24%
- Beans: 26%
- Wheat: 13%
- Corn: 9%
- Vetch: 30%
- Sunflower seed: 28%
- Peas: 22%
- Rapeseed: 20%
- Hemp seed: 18%
- Barley: 11.5%
These seeds and grains contain all essential nutrients. Apart from these, seasonal fruits and vegetables build the immunity of the pigeons and keep them away from any illness.
Feed The Right Amount
Feeding right should start from birth. Babies rely more on their parents during this time. Both male and female pigeons generate crop milk and feed it to baby pigeons. This milk contains everything a baby needs. When the baby starts eating seeds, you can offer them different varieties. The adult pigeons having babies should always have access to food.
They eat more food this time. They need to be infection-free to keep their babies safe. 30 grams of food twice a day is best. Their eating starts in the morning. You can offer them some seeds as tea-time snacks as well.
Do not overstuff your pigeon. Yes, they need muscle strength, but overfeeding them can cause indigestion and other problems. Give them a balanced diet depending upon their physical exercise.
Homing pigeons, once mature, can live off of simple grains such as wheat. In the wild, homing pigeons would often be eating a variety of seeds and grains that are native to their environment. However, domesticated, young birds cannot live off a simple diet like a simple grain, and need the vital nutrients that are provided in a varied diet so that they can develop a healthy body