This is undoubtedly the most crucial and demanding period of the year. Any deficiency will leave a lasting mark on the plumage of our feathered friends until the next moult. Here are some guidelines for this important stage.
We should, of course, opt for mixes labelled as “Molting.” However, one can indirectly choose other mixes for this purpose. For a straightforward, affordable, and quick assessment, consider the following values on your sack’s label: analytical composition.
- Crude protein: 15%
- Fat: 8%
- Crude fiber: 6%
- Carbohydrates: 55%
The label will also mention the levels of lysine and methionine, two major amino acids. If I were to suggest figures, I’d say 0.65 for the first and 0.25 for the second. However, these values can vary significantly depending on the mix’s composition. These amino acids are present in seeds in varying quantities, which affects the analytical composition. For example, there is twice as much methionine in striped sunflower seeds (the classic variety) compared to wheat. It’s also worth noting that there’s a “dilution” effect; the higher the crop yield at harvest, the lower the amino acid levels. Therefore, grains from farms outside their “freshness” in regions with high potential (like Hauts-de-France) will have lower richness.
For those who are using up their stocks from the sports season, it’s wise to add a significant portion of flaxseed and striped sunflower seeds, up to 5% of each. However, sports mixes are not a panacea either, but for a few weeks at the start, they can suffice. Nevertheless, they are a bit “short” on protein (11/12% compared to the recommended 15%). I give or used to give a teaspoon per 3 pigeons before providing their daily ration. This way, their absorption is optimal, as these two seeds are crucial for successful moulting.
I recommend feeding in the morning, allowing the pigeon the whole day to ingest its ration and choose the seeds it prefers to eat first. The preference for seeds may vary from one pigeon to another based on individual needs. That’s the beauty of a single distribution of the supplemented daily ration; in the evening, any leftovers can be collected.
Ensure that you provide an adequate amount of grain but never feed pigeons ad libitum! A ration is only truly balanced if it is entirely consumed. Molting mixes can be even more dangerous when they are “loaded” with oilseeds, especially with lower-quality mixes that include canola. No, the overconsumption of small seeds won’t lead to their demise, but they will insidiously poison the liver and gradually disrupt the energy metabolism. Of course, a course of detoxifying herbal tea or MAPP hepatodraine will quickly resolve the issue, but that’s a story for another time…