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Pigeons and Doves
Checking the Crop
The crop is where the food is ground up
to a fine paste.
It is a
muscular organ and in adults contains grains of grit to help break down
You can check if there is food in the crop by holding the pigeon and
gently feeling the chest
below the neck and above the keel, or breastbone.
Using the thumb and forefinger, delicately feel for any grain or
If it contains food the crop will feel like a partly deflated soft
It takes experience to judge, but if you can't feel anything, the bird
will need a feed.
When very young, pigeons and doves must
be fed by a tube into the crop
or by moist
pellets of food placed on the back of the tongue.
Kaytee Exact or a
food is recommended but in an emergency, Ready Brek or soaked porridge
oats with a tiny
of Avipro and/or a vitamin & mineral supplement can be
Measure the tube against the outside of the bird, to get an idea of the
tube length needed.
Gently wrap the bird in a small cloth to restrain the wings and make it
easier to hold.
Take great care; open the beak very carefully and introduce the tip of
Holding the beak open with the fingers of one hand, gently pass the
tube over the tongue and down the gullet.
It should go smoothly down, but do not
to force it too far down into the crop.
The tube should reach from the tip of the beak, down
the length of the neck to about an inch below the base of
This should be about halfway down the crop.
If in doubt, do not insert all the tube and feed slowly, making sure
the mix is not regurgitated.
You can gently feel the crop to check it is not too full.
Tiny pigeons and doves
Feed 2 hourly from 8am to 8pm if very
young, giving 1-2 mls in each
Always check their crops
each feed; if the crop is not completely empty, try slightly more
water in the feed; if this
does not work, lengthen the time between feeds.
They must have warmth, quiet, and regular feeds.
e.g. Kaytee Exact. This must be
mixed up freshly for every
A very small amount can be made up freshly for each feed (e.g.half a
15ml scoop is
enough for two 50g squabs)
Use hot, previously boiled water and let the mixture stand for a few
minutes to thicken and cool to blood heat.
It should be the consistency of double cream but if the crop is not
completely empty you may be making it too thick;
make it the consistency of single cream for one or two feeds, this
should make it more digestible.
Use a clean syringe and tube for each pigeon.
Afer feeding, wash the tube and syringe well in hot, soapy water; rinse
and place in sterilizing solution.
150g dry chick crumbs
420ml hot water (previously boiled and slightly cooled)
Soak chick crumbs in hot water for at least 15 minutes
If for immediate use: add 300ml hot
(boiled) water and after 5-10 mins soaking, add 120ml cold boiled water.
After mixing, proceed as follows:
Mix well, liquidize for at least 30
seconds then spoon into a sieve.
Push the mixture through the sieve using a large rounded spoon.
Do not contaminate the sieved mixture by putting the spoon used for
sieving into the finished mix!
Keep sieving until the mixture has virtually all disappeared into the
It takes time, but if this is not done thoroughly you will not get an
The finished product should be thick and creamy, and will easily draw
up into a tube and syringe.
If it doesn’t then repeat the liquidising and sieving stages.
Store the mixture in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
small Squabs: 1-2 mls in 2-3 hourly feeds
3-5 mls in 3 hourly feeds
5-10 mls in 3-4 hourly feeds
pigeons or doves / wood pigeons: 10-15 mls in 3-4 hourly
Remove an estimated amount from the bowl (depending on the number of
birds to feed) and warm up over hot water or in a microwave.
After feeding, throw away any left over mixture.