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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
**Title is supposed to say hand raising. Auto-correct >_>

I raise homing pigeons and somehow the pen got opened while I was gone. My adults all went out for a good fly. The reason I don't let them do this is because, predictably, one of the females never came back. I reasonably assume a hawk got her. She had 2 squabs with her mate that are about half grown. Her mate now refuses to come back into the pigeon pen (which is a large, fully-covered open-air run with a garden in it). This happened Thursday afternoon, and as of yesterday night (Saturday) he still wouldn't go back in the pen nor go into the baited live traps I have set everywhere for him. So I decided to bring the squabs indoors and take over.

They were quiet and a bit listless last night when I brought them in. I have no idea what to feed them so I put my whole cracked grain pigeon feed into a the blender with some water and managed to get a trickle into both squabs. I'm familiar with their feeding methods enough to get them to eat. I like the method I read about where you fill a small baggie and cut a hole in the bag to let them eat from it. I will try that today.
One of the squabs was really resistant and uninterested until I put them both side by side and it saw the other one eating. Then it decided to give it a try.
This morning they are both vocal and alert, looking way better. The house is ambiently 65º~F, way warmer than what they've been used to outside.

So I'm reading about feeding and all I can find is commercial formula references. We are remote and do not have access to a store to buy formula. So I need some recommendations for what to feed them. I have a goat in milk I could milk if needed; somewhere I read soaking bread in water for a feed? I can make bread or just use [wheat, millet, teff, corn, or other grain] flour and egg in with the milk...?

My first thought was to ferment some grains for them but then I read that you do NOT want feed fermenting in their crops, so I won't do that.

What would a good home-made formula for them be? They are partially feathered and have some weight to them. Like I said I'd place them around 2 weeks old. They've had only like a 1/2 - 1 tea spoon of food since Thursday at this point. I'd really like to get them to adulthood!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I had a very successful noon-time feeding. I used a small bag with a 1/4"~ corner cut off. Once they figured out how to get their beaks in there they chugged the grain down enthusiastically until their crops were full. I've read do not feed them again until their crops are completely empty, so I will go by that information. I soaked the grains I used yesterday until they were fully softened (as opposed to freshly moistened yesterday) and re-blended them into more of a puree mush with a touch of ACV. Like maybe 1/2 teaspoon in the whole batch, which they ate about half of.

I just had chicken chicks hatch, so the fresh chicks are in a brooder with the squabs, it's working very nicely for them to snuggle up!
 

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How old are they now? If older than 2 weeks, you can forcefed them frozen peas defrosted in lukewarm water. They quickly learn to eat the peas by themselves and then you can start adding seed.
 

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I had a very successful noon-time feeding. I used a small bag with a 1/4"~ corner cut off. Once they figured out how to get their beaks in there they chugged the grain down enthusiastically until their crops were full. I've read do not feed them again until their crops are completely empty, so I will go by that information. I soaked the grains I used yesterday until they were fully softened (as opposed to freshly moistened yesterday) and re-blended them into more of a puree mush with a touch of ACV. Like maybe 1/2 teaspoon in the whole batch, which they ate about half of.

I just had chicken chicks hatch, so the fresh chicks are in a brooder with the squabs, it's working very nicely for them to snuggle up!
What do you feed your chicken chicks? If it is chick starter crumbles you can add that in for the pigeons as they need calcium and protein with the grains.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the replies.

I feed only cracked raw grains to all the bird species, in conjunction with forage. Our chicks are reared on the same free-choice grains, with supplemented cooked rice and meat. I don't have any store-bought chicken feed. I don't have frozen peas, but I have peas in the garden right now, I could blanch and feed some of that.

This morning I tried a new mix of pureed bread. They didn't really want it even though they were super hungry. They liked the soaked/pureed grains better. But they're getting mostly water with that method and their crops empty very quickly (within 4 hours, seems a little fast to me but I guess I don't really know). So I cooked some rice and pureed rice and raw egg and added a few drops of lard and a sprinkle unrefined mineral salt and they went ape for it. I will blend some blanched leafy greens & peas in the next batch and start getting some real nutrition in em. That's a great idea!

The chicken chicks are 1-2 days old and not eating yet, but I have no doubt that when they start, the squabs will join in. They seem to really be enjoying one another's company. The squabs are very vocal, alert, and active now, way better than when I brought them in initially. The chicks pile under them for warmth and they seem to enjoy that. The squabs have feathered bodies and small tails but their heads are still covered in sheathed feathers.

I managed to catch their papa yesterday, but I don't want to risk putting them back in the nest only for him to not care about them anymore. They'll stay with me until they're fledglings.
 

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Don't give them bread and rice, not very nutritious. You can blend the grains and add to that blended peas (the frozen type defrosted in lukewarm water), that ought to keep them going until they are bigger. If you think the crops are a bit slow, you can add some human baby applesauce. That will help with digestion.
 

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Grains lack calcium, pigeon young are one of the fasted growing animals on earth, they need calcium for bones , feathers , digesting.. protein for feather formation..

Get some dry kitten food, grind it up with what you are giving, as they mature the kitten kibble is usually a size they would pick up and eat, like a pea.. the kitten food has plenty of protein and calcium. I would give as about 1/3 of their food, when adults they will not needs as much.

I’m hoping and assuming you have a market where pet food is sold.

If you can’t do that add boiled chicken eggs with shell...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'm trying to feed a pea mash with eggshell and grains this morning and they will have nothing to do with it. They refuse to eat it :/ I'll keep making different mixes so I can get something down em.
 

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The winning combo this morning was grains, eggshell, rice, tuna fish, lard, salt, leafy greens. I tried 2 other combos and they refused to eat em.
May not be perfect, but I think you got it covered! Good luck ! Give The Whole egg not just the shell. Leave the salt out it can dehydrate. Hydrate with just giving defrosted green peas if you have them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
May not be perfect, but I think you got it covered! Good luck ! Give The Whole egg not just the shell. Leave the salt out it can dehydrate. Hydrate with just giving defrosted green peas if you have them.
Thanks. I forgot to mention ground millet. I'm using ground millet (millet flour) to thicken the soup so it's not just "water and solids" but more of a runny batter. I didn't have any more eggs this morning otherwise I would've added it. The chickens will remedy that today :) Also the cracked/ground grains I'm using are a large percentage field peas.
The salt I'm using is just a dash of unrefined raw salt; so it's got scores of natural minerals in it. It's not sodium chloride. But if that's still a threat of adversely affecting the squabs I can leave it out!

One squab was bigger than the other when I brought them in, and still is. It's probably 10% bigger and eats almost twice what the other one eats! The smaller one seems to want smaller meals more often, and is 'worse' at eating. It's struggling with the bag a little bit, it still wants the familiarity of a beak. The bigger one is a ravenous eater and has mastered eating from the bag. It's also eaten a bit of solid food alongside the chicks (moist grains). But both seem alert and energetic. They walk around the brooder and look strong. Fingers crossed!

Is what I've read about not feeding until their crops are totally empty correct?
 

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Still curious for input on the goat milk. I also have liver (and other organ meats) I could throw in! That sure would be nutritious! Thoughts?
Absolutely not. Pigeons are granivores, they are not equipped to digest animals. No bird is equipped to digest milk. Feeding such an inappropriate diet will cause diarrhea and eventually death.

ETA: they should be old enough to just feed them small, dry seeds with the plastic bag method. Teach them to drink by dipping the tip of their beaks in water. Seeds and maybe some bird vitamins for vitamin A, D and calcium are all they need at this stage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Absolutely not. Pigeons are granivores, they are not equipped to digest animals. No bird is equipped to digest milk. Feeding such an inappropriate diet will cause diarrhea and eventually death.

ETA: they should be old enough to just feed them small, dry seeds with the plastic bag method. Teach them to drink by dipping the tip of their beaks in water. Seeds and maybe some bird vitamins for vitamin A, D and calcium are all they need at this stage.

Interesting! Many of the homemade recipes I've found call for chicken baby food, fish oil, fish meat, yogurt, cream, milk, etc. Just trying to find that balance of fats, proteins, and minerals based on what I'm reading.

I've been trying to encourage them to feed with the chicks but they haven't really picked up on it. The best I've managed was holding grains in my palm and getting them to nuzzle into my fingers for food and nip up a few grains in the process. They didn't like that surprise very much.
Should I withhold the semi-liquid feed to any extent to encourage scrounging for food with the chicks?

The larger squab eats a whole bunch and then is good with just 2-3 feedings a day. The smaller squab eats just a little bit and has an empty crop every 2-4 hours and wants another small portion. I'm wondering if the eggs hatched several days apart? Maybe the smaller one is just behind a bit developmentally. I don't know, I don't micromanage my pigeon broods.
 

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Interesting! Many of the homemade recipes I've found call for chicken baby food, fish oil, fish meat, yogurt, cream, milk, etc. Just trying to find that balance of fats, proteins, and minerals based on what I'm reading.
Where are you finding these recipes? Are they specifically for pigeons? Some people have weird recipes based on... I don’t even know what that they’ve been using for years and swear by them. They also have birds dying from hyper or hypovitaminosis. A good rule of thumb is to feed as close to their natural diet as you can, plus supplements for what they often become deficient in. For pigeons that’s grains, vitamin A, D and calcium.
You need to take even the most experienced rehabbers suggestions with a grain of salt, there isn’t a lot of research done on bird and wildlife nutrition. Finding reliable sources can be tough.

They sound too young to be eating on their own, don’t try to wean them yet. I’m just saying you probably don’t have to grind everything up to a mash; at 2 weeks the parents are feeding them whole seeds from their crop, not crop milk.
 

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Interesting! Many of the homemade recipes I've found call for chicken baby food, fish oil, fish meat, yogurt, cream, milk, etc. Just trying to find that balance of fats, proteins, and minerals based on what I'm reading.

I've been trying to encourage them to feed with the chicks but they haven't really picked up on it. The best I've managed was holding grains in my palm and getting them to nuzzle into my fingers for food and nip up a few grains in the process. They didn't like that surprise very much.
Should I withhold the semi-liquid feed to any extent to encourage scrounging for food with the chicks?

The larger squab eats a whole bunch and then is good with just 2-3 feedings a day. The smaller squab eats just a little bit and has an empty crop every 2-4 hours and wants another small portion. I'm wondering if the eggs hatched several days apart? Maybe the smaller one is just behind a bit developmentally. I don't know, I don't micromanage my pigeon broods.
The whole egg gives good protein. And yes milk products can cause digestive upset as they don’t have the enzymes to digest it well. But truthfully that is why humans drink goats milk , because they can’t tolerate regular cows milk, so the goats milk is an unknown with baby pigeons. At least for me..lol..

Your doing good with the smaller one in feeding it less but more times a day. If you get a smaller one in the nest it usually means the parent birds started incubation on the first egg laid, instead of waiting to incubate only after the second is laid, so it gets a head start and they grow so quick that the big one can easily nudge out the smaller and get more crop “milk”, and grow twice as big in just a few days. As I said pigeon squabs are one of the fastest growing animals on the earth, so they need all that good stuff you are giving,
 

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I'm going to jump in and ask if kitten food is a good source for calcium for grown pigeons as well (even though they contain ingredients made from animals, like fish oil, chicken flower, fish flower, chicken fat, etc.)? I'm asking because it is hard to find pigeon grit and vitamins around here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
OKay, thanks for further input.

Having a very frustrating afternoon with the squabs. They chugged down a breakfast of millet, mixed grains (including peas), lard, egg + shell in a runny batter consistency. This afternoon they refused to eat that same mixture. So I dumped it and made a new one as per someone's advice here; just water and finely cracked grains/peas (I also threw in an egg with shell), and they refuse to eat that too. Should I withhold food until the little boogers will eat what they're offered? Burning through eggs and flour for the picky eaters here. I thought maybe it was how runny the grain/water mix was, but they still rejected the same breakfast they loved this morning :/ And yes, they're screaming and begging for food and enthusiastically shove their beaks into the bag, only to pull their head out, spit out the mix, and pry my fingers around looking for something different. Their crops are pretty empty at the moment.

I've also tried dipping their beaks and they will have nothing to do with the water dish. I've been trying to get them to eat some solids with the chicks and they will have nothing to do with that either. At what age or stage of development do you call for tough love? I've watched how the pigeon parents ween their screaming, begging children- children that run around BEATING their parents for food. The parents just run away. lol.

Yes, it's amazing how fast they grow. They're much larger already than when I brought them in a few days ago. They are pretty much fully feathered up to the neck, where, as I said, the remaining feathers are still sheathed. They're walking around the brooder and have a good time beating one another with their wings at feeding time.
 
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