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 The Racing Pigeon Diet – Optimizing Nutrition with Supplementation Part 1 & 2

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rene
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PostSubject: The Racing Pigeon Diet – Optimizing Nutrition with Supplementation Part 1 & 2   Thu May 12, 2011 8:15 pm

The racing pigeon diet has evolved over time as research has revealed the specific nutritional requirements for optimal breeding and racing performance in the racing pigeon. No longer is the diet of 30 years ago, a diet of just peas and wheat, sufficient. Even a bird diet of multiple seeds will not provide the necessary nutrition, even with the addition of a large variety of grains. In this three-part article series we will focus on optimizing our birds’ nutrition with supplementation.

Importance of Nutrition

Every fancier possesses the basic knowledge that nutrition is important. Good nutrition not only enhances the competitive performance of the racing pigeon but it is also necessary for successful breeding and survival of the offspring.

Inadequate nutrition will:

•Result in poor health
•Lower resistance to disease
•Compromise growth
•Prolong recovery from exertion or illness
•Decrease reproductive performance
Seeds are the basis of the balanced diet

The foundation of a balanced diet in birds is seeds. Seeds provide protein, carbohydrates and fat. But seeds alone cannot meet the nutritional needs of the bird and, even with the addition of grains, must be supplemented.

Seeds are deficient in the following nutrients:

•Vitamin B12
•Vitamin A
•Riboflavin
•Niacin
•Folic acid
•Vitamin K
•Vitamin E
The following amino acids

•Lysine
•Methionine
•Tryptophane
The following minerals

•Calcium
•Manganese
•Sodium
•Copper
•Zinc
•Iodine
•Selenium
The informed fancier knows the necessity of nutritional supplementation and will proceed with caution, avoiding the “backyard potions” that provide no benefit and considering that some of the older methods of supplementation are quite effective.

When supplementing, ensure that the supplements are actually digestible and in a form that the bird can assimilate. Another important consideration is palatability. It doesn’t pay to add foul tasting albeit healthy ingredients. Always make sure the feed is delicious enough that the pigeon will race home for it.



Last edited by rene on Wed May 25, 2011 11:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The Racing Pigeon Diet – Optimizing Nutrition with Supplementation Part 1 & 2   Wed May 25, 2011 11:15 pm

The Racing Pigeon Diet – Optimizing Nutrition with Supplementation Part 2

Vitamin B12 is low or even absent in most plant foods. The most popular and effective form of supplementation is with yeast, such as Baker’s or Brewer’s yeast. Another source is inactivated yeast supplements such as the Australian Pigeon Company’s ID Yeast. All yeast contains not only Vitamin B12 but also additional micronutrients. And birds love the taste.
Another required supplement is Vitamin A, which is found in greens, such as silverbeet, spinach, and carrots. Pigeons love a plate of mixed chopped greens and diced carrots. Vitamin A can also be provided with diluted carrot juice. Vitamin A in the plant form carries no risk of toxicity as it is technically beta-carotene, the natural precursor to Vitamin A.
Cod liver oil is also a good source but it does contain gizzerine, which is associated with the development of stomach ulcers. Also, cod liver oil will rapidly become rancid if exposed to the sunlight. Rancid oil can lead to a Vitamin E deficiency.
Riboflavin needs to be added to the diet and this is also found in yeast. Yeast supplementation is recommended by incorporating an inactivated, or sterile, dry yeast, such as ID Yeast, after pre-moistening the seed with seed oil. The dry yeast adheres to the seed and is easily consumed.  
Also found in yeast is the vitamin, niacin. Niacin is also in sunflower seeds, however, sunflower seeds, unless purchased from a reliable source and stored properly, is easily contaminated with an unhealthy fungus.
 
Supplementation of folic acid is necessary. Folic acid is found in yeast products and wheat germ or wheat germ oil. Wheat germ is often the base of the better conditioning oils such as Polyseed Oil.
Wheat germ oil is great as a pre-moistening oil for grains and seeds to prepare them for the addition of a yeast powder.  The recommended amount is 0.5 to 1.0 ml per kg of grain. Birds love the taste and get excited when they hear it being mixed.
 
Vitamin K is actually two—Vitamin K1 found in green, leafy vegetables and Vitamin K2, produced by the normal bacteria in the bowel. Both need to be supplement. K2 levels can become deficient with antibiotic use or if the birds are not allowed to eat their own droppings.
 
The final vitamin needed to be supplemented is Vitamin E.  A good source of Vitamin E is vegetable oils. 
 
Amino Acids
Supplementation of the amino acids lysine, methionine, and trytophane are necessary. All of these are found in yeast products and wheat germ oil. Lysine is also found in legumes such as peas. If your feed mix is comprised of 30% or more of peas, then lysine deficiency is not a concern.
 
Mineral Supplementation
Calcium is a necessary addition and can be found in a range of soft grits such as cuttle fish, sea shells and calcite. Always have a blended soft grit and pink mineral mix available to the racing pigeons.  
Sodium, an ingredient of salt, must be added.  Sodium is also found in some grits and pink minerals. If fed grain only, pigeons will ‘crave’ salt and eat sodium-containing supplements voraciously, putting themselves as risk for dehydration if there is no free water available.
Make salt a part of the optimal diet for racing pigeons. A good amount is about 0.1% of the total diet. These are the amounts in the better brands of pink mineral. PVM Powder is a good source of salt, containing 11 grams per one kilogram.
The additional minerals you need to add are manganese, copper, zinc and selenium. These are all found in yeast products.
 
The amount of iodine available in the seed mix varies, depending on the amount in the soil in which the seed was grown. Additional iodine can be found in yeast and in water supplementation.
For water supplementation, Lugol’s Iodine is recommended. Using Lugol’s Iodine, make a concentrated solution of 2 ml. of iodine to 30 ml of water. Then add four drops of this concentrated solution to each liter of drinking water.
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