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Feeding pigeons part 2 – Feeding schedules

There are many feeding methods and many ways that lead to Rome. I am sure that there are many methods that work, but I’ve also encountered feeding systems that had no scientific foundation, and some were actually really weird.

Some feeding systems include strange ingredients that rather prove harmful to your pigeons, like mixing the feed with ‘healthy oils’, or even pulverized vitamin pills. Just to make sure: yes, oils are healthy and so are vitamin pills, but they’re no good to your pigeons. The human intestines can handle more than those of pigeons. Some oils will greatly affect your pigeons digestive system and not in a good way. Your pigeons will have constant diarrhea. As for vitamin pills, you’ll be overdosing your pigeons. Those pills are meant for humans, who need much larger amounts than small pigeons. So please, don’t provide your pigeons anything that is not meant for pigeons.

In my experience, there are two methods that are actually proven to be successful. They include feed that is actual pigeon feed, and these methods are more about the amounts you administer, than adding ‘helpful stuff’. I mention these methods, because they are proven in practice. Warning beforehand: feeding pigeons is sort of a rocket science.

Feeding pigeons

Feeding Method 1

This first method I kind of ‘stole’ from a good friend. This feeding method was invented by Rik Ros (father in law to Jan Ouwerkerk, both well-know pigeon fanciers in the Netherlands). Feeding pigeons this way is very easy and I use it especially during the nesting period.

The basis of this method is the actual feed. The feed is a mix of various proteins and high-fat seeds. Some of the barley, though, is kept slightly poor for the relatively shorter flights. Feeding pigeons this way will not give any digestive problems during the flight, and the pigeons will actually be able to get a lot of energy. Shorter flights require fast and intense combustion and thus a short but powerful energy boost. Recognize that feeling when you’ve eaten an apple or cucumber before going out for a run? Yes, that feeling when it comes up and you have to keep swallowing in order to keep it in your stomach, accompanied with constant burping. That’s what your pigeons get from rich barley on short, intense flights.

This ‘Rik mix’ has the following composition:

  • ½ part sweet seeds;
  • ½ part P40;
  • ¼ part hemp;
  • 2 parts mix flight/sport;
  • 2 parts breeding mix;
  • 2 parts barley.
Feeding pigeons

How to use the Rik Mix during the flight season

First we must consider the difference between old and young pigeons. Older pigeons have a stronger stomach and are able to handle more than young pigeons. Also, older pigeons have already been trained and conditioned, while the younger pigeons must still be conditioned. The feed actually has an influence on whether they listen or not. Just as with humans, the food you eat can influence your mood. Food that provides you lots of energy will make you both energetic but also unruly. Think of young children that eat too much sugar. They become very jazzy, but don’t listen too good anymore. Feeding pigeons greatly affects the way you raise them. Think of Pavlov’s experiment.

Old pigeons

After each homecoming (after a race), provide 1 soupspoon of breeding food per pigeon in their pot. Thereafter, provide only barley as much as they want during that day. That is to provide enough energy for all kinds of races, from sprints to marathons.

The days after that, provide 5 full soupspoons of Rik mix (approximately 100 grams) per 2 pigeons each 24 hours. This means you’ll only provide the feed once a day. Depending on what sort of race your pigeons need to compete in, provide the aforementioned amount of Rik mix only on the following days:

  • For sprints (300 km): Give Rik-mix, but only during the basketing day and without barley. The pigeons must eat all before they get new food;
  • Middle distance/one day distance (300-700 km): Give Rik mix, only during the two days before the race, including the basketing day. Do not provide barley;
  • For one day distance & more days distance (700-1200 km): Give Rik mix during the 3 days leading up to the race, including the basketing day. Do not provide barley, but instead apply our Omega-oil-mix. Yes, I know I just said that using oils are bad, but this oil mix is actually produced specifically for pigeons!

Young pigeons

Until 300 km, use the same method as for old pigeons (see sprint old pigeons), but only 1 soupspoon per pigeon in the feeder. I keep the young pigeons rather tight because, unlike the old pigeons, the young pigeons will not listen so well;
Above 300 km, without barley.

It is always a good idea to provide, both old and young pigeons, with peanuts and sweet seeds when they return from training. Give them around 5 peanuts per pigeon plus 1 soupspoon of sweet seeds per pigeon per day.

This works as an incentive to bring them back in their loft. After a short period of time, the pigeons will know that these delicious ‘snacks’ are waiting for them. The peanuts are really healthy as they contain healthy oils. The sweet seeds contain lots of minerals, that will help the pigeons recuperate.

Thanks to this system, the trainingschedule for pigeons that need to be trained later will not be delayed. Once the pigeons go to their baskets for a flight, I take out the food on the basketing day at 10 o’clock, if they remain in the basket for only 1 night. If they remain in the basket for a longer period, I leave the food in the feeder all day.

Feeding Method 2

If you like a more precise and elaborate program, you can follow my personal feeding programs. These schedule is created based on the mixes I described in method 1.

Feeding program until 300 km (Sprint)

Feeding pigeons sprint

Feeding programme for 300 km tot 700 (middle – day distance)

Feeding pigeons middle distance

Feeding pigeons outside the Racing Season

The right feeding schedule is also important outside of the racing season. During the moulting, breeding and winter period, your pigeons also need the right feed and supplements to remain strong and healthy. Therefor the following tips:

During the moulting period:

Provide a 100% moulting mix. Check the weight of the pigeons and do not let them gain fat. Feed them twice a day.

During the winter period:

After moulting, the food is composed of 50% breeding mixture and 50% barley. Feed once a day. You can supplement the pigeons via our winter diet.

Breeding period:

If the youngsters hatch, give them only Rik mix without barley (100%). Be generous with the food, they need to grow! During pairing and the breeding time, I provide the breeding mixture and supplement with the fertility boosters for both male and female.

Feeding partner pigeons during widowhood, during the flight season

The widows and widowers are those pigeons that stay in the loft, to wait for their partners to return. Safeguard their weight by giving them a mix of Rik mix with barley.

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