Food is, for every living creature, the most important thing, next to oxygen and water. Oxygen and water are necessary to live, but food is also necessary to develop. And development is one of the key aspects in pigeon racing. The quality of the pigeon feed is therefore essential.
Reasons for this serie
At Travipharma, we develop medicines, vaccines and supplements for poultry and pigeons. That makes us experts. We are also pigeon fanciers ourselves and attend many races and events. However, we constantly run into international pigeon racers (even established ones), that don’t know much about the right feed for pigeons.
We encounter a lot of ignorance about the importance of food. But it is the feed you provide your pigeons that help them live and develop. It is the feed that compliments the training. The feed is what builds your pigeons body.
Top athletes don’t eat fastfood everyday (although some do): they eat healthy and what they eat is finely tuned to their training.
That’s why we want to create awareness about the importance of food. That is why we’ve written this series.
In this article we’ll focus on the reasons why good pigeon feed is of the utmost importance for your racing pigeons. In the next article (in december) we’ll focus on what pigeon feed you should use.
Reasons to eat
Pigeons are grain eaters and have a high metabolism. Just like us, the food they eat is the fuel that gives them heat and energy. For combustion, they need oxygen that goes from the lungs into the blood. The pigeon needs food to:
Gain building material for their body;
Change the dead or unusable cells (proteins), and;
To produce heat.
Which is, in short: basic metabolism.
I’ve mentioned the heat twice now, and for good reason! A pigeon has the exceptionally high body temperature of 42 °C!! To keep up this temperature, the pigeon will need lots of (good) food and oxygen. This temperature is used for several things:
To bring up youngsters (to warm their nest and protect against low temperatures);
To perform (just as with humans, the body temperature increases when performing at a high level);
When humans get ill, they usually have a fever. The fever, a rise in the bodytemperature to 40-41°C , makes it ‘uncomfortable’ for bacteria and viruses. The high body temperature of pigeons is preventive, as bacteria and viruses can’t survive such high temperature.
When humans (or other creatures) need to achieve/perform, their body temperature rises. The blood starts running faster, muscles are activated, oxygen intake is increased and a lot of friction is created by the movement of the body. To improve the quality of the chemical processes that take place, the quality of food is very important. To have a car run smoothly, the right fuel and oil are inexpendable for a better performance.
You get the point by now, the feed is extremely important because the feed fuels the temperature and the temperature is important for health and performance.
Feed for racing (pigeons)
What we’re most interested in, of course, is the feed for racing pigeons. A good feed is important for a good performance. You’ll catch professional athletes always 1. eating a lot and 2. eating very specifically. Their diet is matched to how they want to develop themselves. Some athletes want to gain a lot of muscle volume and get really big (like wrestlers), others want to get a lot of functional muscles and remain small and light (like runners).
Runners, to which pigeons can be compared the best, come in different classes. There are sprinters, endurance runners, tournament runners etc. Each need a different training and different food.
Training your pigeons is something you’ll have to do yourself, with the feed we can help. What feed is the best for your pigeon will be explained in the next article. For now, we’ll provide some general information about the pigeon and the food. We did, however, already create a feeding schedule for you pigeons during the winter.
Quality of the pigeon feed
First of all, manage your food! A racing pigeon will eat an average of 20 to 35 grams (a soupspoon) of mixed grains twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. The amount deviates due to the size and training of the pigeon. The amount may even increase if the pigeon must achieve a high flight performance or if the pigeon needs to bring up its youngsters. The pigeon will usually need more fats and proteins.
I said manage your food, because that is really important. It’ll be better for your pigeons and better for your wallet.
I’ve encountered pigeon fanciers that buy in bulk. They buy loads and loads of feed, simply because it’s cheaper in high amounts. The problem, however, is with the durability of the feed. It won’t stay good forever. Feeding your pigeons feed that’s overdue will not benefit them, quite contrary.
Buying in bulk may seem cheaper, but your pigeons health will decrease, making it more vulnerable for diseases, and its performance ability will decrease as well. So tip number 1: make sure you buy in manageable amounts. The right amount to feed your entire colony right until the feed goes over due. This prevents the risk of having to throw away the feed.
How do you check the quality of the feed and whether it’s over due or not? Here are some tips:
It must look good, meaning there shouldn’t be black spots and the form must be whole, shiny and smell fresh. If there is a musty smell do not feed it to your pigeons;
Make sure there are no insects or small animals in the feed (feed mites). This is a clear sign your feed is overdue or infected. These feed mites are microspopically small and therefore impossible to notice. Make sure the feed is kept in sealed boxes where these mites can’t reach;
If the feed feels damp or moist, it is probably infected as well with fungus and bacteria. This is hazardous to your pigeons health.
Make sure that, once you’ve emptied a box, you clean it real good before putting new feed in there. Make sure you dry the boxes well after cleaning.
Wondering which foods or medicines to give your pigeons? Need more information about supplements? Welcome to our webshop. There you’ll find our carefully developed products that will help you improve your pigeons’ health, condition, cure diseases and find information on a variety of bird-related topics.
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