So many times I have encountered people that were
having problems with their dove... poor feather condition, illness,
infertile eggs and so on. When I ask about what they feed their
birds, I am always amazed.... usually that the birds are even alive.
The other day someone said, "Oh I just feed wild bird seed and that's
all." First of all, wild bird seed is great -- for wild birds.
You have a captive creature that is totally dependent on you for all of
their nutrition. At the very least, give them a variety of food.
A dove's diet should consist of a mixed grain
that might contcain wheat, milo, rice, millet,
cracked corn, vetch, chopped peanuts, safflower and little back sunflower that is high in oil. There is less waste if these are not mixed,
but it is hard to find many of these grains separately. If you can't
find a dove mix, use a finch mixture as a base and then add other grains
as treats. But be careful,don't overfeed! Extra feed on the ground
may spoil and cause illness. But having said that, don't underfeed.
Just because the food dish is full, does not mean that the dove is eating
enough. Put you hand on the breast and if you feel a sharp bone (the
keel) down the middle of the breast, your dove is too thin.
Pigeon pellets or the smaller 18 to 20% protein
game-bird pellets, or even "crumbled" poultry feed might be acceptable,
and certainly is good as a supplement. DO NOT feed a 18 or 20
percent protein as a staple only. That is too rich for doves and
will damage their kidneys. Formula A offered for sale at
is a good vitamin-mineral-protein supplement. Pellets will supply
vitamins A and D3. The D3 is necessary if direct sun is not available.
Provide extra calcium in the form of crushed eggshell, or oyster shell, or
a special pigeon grit. Livestock salt with trace elements such as iodine,
cobalt, manganese, and other minerals is also good as a supplement. This
extra mineral supplement is especially necessary if the doves are raising
young. Green leaves such as dandelion leaves or spinach are enjoyed, but
they are not necessary if pellets are given. Be sure that the leaves have
not had herbicide sprayed on them if you gather them in the wild.
Fresh water is a must, and it should be in a bowl that is at least and
inch deep because doves drink water like pigeons - in a continuous
draught that they suck through their bill. One big drink per day is minimal, but morning and evening drinks
or free choice is much better. I like to add a tablespoon of apple cider
vinegar to a gallon of water and give this to them at least once a week in
place of plain water. The acid is terrific for their crop.