Nutritional Recommendations for Pigeons & Doves
In addition to a high-quality seed diet, there are a few things I feel are crucial to maintaining optimal bird health. The first is a good multivitamin/multimineral supplement, containing calcium and vitamin D3. Indoor birds, and even outdoor birds who get limited direct sunlight, are often deficient in vitamin D3, which can lead to myriad problems in the long term. Without D3, birds cannot properly use calcium, even if it is plentiful in their diets, and this can lead to problems with brittle bones, the production of soft shelled eggs, and neurological problems. Vitamin A deficiencies are also common in birds who eat seed-only diets, and can cause major health problems if not identified and treated. A good supplement can prevent problems before they start.
A product that I favor is Lambco “Ultra Vitamin and Mineral Super Supplement,” which can be purchased through New England Pigeon Supply. This is a mixture of seeds, plant extracts, nutritional oils, and additional vitamins and minerals that can be sprinkled on top of the bird’s regular feed. I do this three times a week. My birds love them! (Please note that the birds’ droppings will appear a bit red the day after eating this mixture, due to the beet powder contained in them.)
For optimal intestinal and immune health, I feel that probiotics make a tremendous difference. I like a product called HealthGard, which can be purchased from Siegel’s pigeon supplies. It is added to the drinking water, and leaves no residue whatsoever. I use probiotics three times a week all year long.
To help maintain healthy digestive system, organic apple cider vinegar is a winner! Any unfiltered variety that contains the “mother” (the nutrient-rich sediment) works well. I purchase mine from Vitacost, and the price can’t be beat. (2 tsp per gallon of drinking water once or twice a week).
I also recommend a garlic supplement, which is fantastic for feather health, digestive health, and overall immune function. You can purchase either garlic oil (added to feed) or garlic juice (added to water.) My personal favorite is the garlic juice made by Dr. Pigeons, which can be purchased through New England Pigeon Supply. One capful to a gallon of drinking water, once or twice a week, is sufficient.
As my very wise grandmother used to say, “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.” I’ve certainly found that to be true where health is concerned, for birds as well as for people.
Questions? Ask Zoe
By Zoe Martell, Bird Health Care Coordinator, Palomacy Pigeon & Dove Adoptions