Pigeon food: barley, corn, millet, wheat

I will give a concise description of the main pigeon foods and their most striking properties. Firstly we have the cereals which are rich in carbohydrates and only contain little to very little crude fibre.

The cereals are generally readily eaten, they are they are rather low in protein and moreover they are of a lesser quality. The cereals are not rich in vitamins, they contain hardly any vitamin A, contain practically no vitamin D, they do however contain quite a lot of vitamins B1 and E, but on the other hand they don’t contain much  vitamin B2. They are not rich in phosphor and there is hardly any calcium. The energy-richest and most important cereals for the feed are corn and wheat. 


In contrast to some colleagues I don’t consider barley as pigeon food, neither for breeding nor for during the season. It can however be of use to clean the intestines immediately after the race and as an easily digestible element during the winter. Why is there a difference in opinion?
Barley contains quite a lot of crude fibre; the pigeons don’t really like to eat it, at least not as much as other cereals. The crude fibre is indigestible for pigeons and this is seen in the droppings when they are given a lot of barley. The fibres can be seen with the naked eye, they are passed through undigested. Apart from its crude fibre, barley is also not rich in other nutrients. Its protein is biologically poor, barley contains hardly any fat or vitamin A. Barley only has a calorific value of 75% of second choice corn. It has also been proven that giving breeding pigeons more than 15% barley slows down the growth of the youngsters. Pigeons which are given a lot of barley during the winter and are given more than 15% barley don’t raise good youngsters. Widow hens which are given too much barley become short of breath, and have trouble laying if they are not given a good breeding mixture in time .

Barley reduces the presence of trichomonasis for the good reason that it is not even good enough to feed the bacteria. The modern medicine for this sickness means that excess use of barley is needless. It is, also for our sprinters, advisable not to give more than 10% barley during the first days of the week. Corn and wheat are better grains for out pigeon food .


Corn is undeniably one of the best pigeon foods, it is low in crude fibre, easily digestible and one of the fattiest of all the grains. The pigeons love it in all shapes, sizes and colours. The main thing is its hardness. Corn should rattle with dryness. Corn is poorer in protein and above all inferior in quality due to the absence of two essential amino acids, namely tryptophan and lysine, which is in too small a presence to be of any importance. The various sorts of corn are not much different in their nutritive value, except that red corn contains more vitamin A. Corn should them make up 25% of the feed .


 Also known as sorghum contains more protein than corn, but significantly less fat. For the rest it has the same nutritive value as corn and can also make up 25% of the feed .

Red millet

The pigeons love to eat wheat. It is just as good as corn, because although it contains less fat, it is richer in protein, which is not better biologically. Wheat is also rich in sulphur and therefore highly recommendable during the moult. Wheat may never be given directly after it has been harvested as it has to sweat out. My late grandfather used to spread out a layer of about 20cm in the attic and regularly turn it over with a wooden shovel before giving it to his pigeons.
Wheat can make up 25% of the pigeon food, more is not recommended as wheat can cause the pigeons to gain weight. This last remark for the sprinters who have to avoid their pigeons getting fat, but on the other hand it is interesting for the long distance men who can use wheat to help their pigeons recuperate after a difficult race .