Feeding Foreign Doves & Pigeons

Seed-Eating Species

In my 25 years of experience of keeping the foreign exotic species of seed-eating doves & pigeons I have tried many different commercial seed diets or mixed my own blend. I also tried the "pelleted" diet made for the pigeon fancy. One thing all the commercial diets had in common was that the seed mix contained several varieties of "PEAS". 

It is stated over & over that PEAS are the most nutritious part of the seed mix; this may be quite true, but over 90% of the foreign species I kept would not eat the "peas". Even today, the peas are the main seed item left in the bottom of the feed dish. I throw these leftovers to the wild birds. All the wild doves or feral pigeons consume these left over peas from the bird feeder or off the ground.

A good, clean mixture of seeds; including peas if your birds will eat them is essential. Adding mineral and vitamins supplements (powdered or liquid) either to the seed mix or water is a good practice to acquire.

Supplements such as "gamebird crumbles" either fed separately or mixed in the seed mix is used by many fanciers. These type of feeds are many times a "medicated" feed & is a preventive for several diseases the doves & pigeons can pick up.

Feeding the "pigeon pellets" to the exotic doves and pigeons can be easier then a seed mix. The bird's dropping change on an "all pellet diet" and many times it is hard to get the birds to switch to the unfamiliar pellets. Slowly add the pellets to the seed mix over a month or two, if you want to convert only the pellets. A mix of the pellets of 1/4 to 1/2 of the mix makes an excellent diet The pellets can be fed separately or mixed with the seeds...ensure the placement of the "pellets" so they are not contaminated or become wet.

When setting up your aviary; even the small cage for your pet dove kept indoors; ensure that the feed and water dishes are not below a perch and are protected from inclimate weather and the bird's droppings. Wet or dirty seed can and does breed bacteria which can cause sickness.


There are many different seed mixes available from as many dealers. Surf the internet for the pigeon suppliers and check out the seed mixes they may offer. The big commercial seed distributors have web sites and many will supply you a list of dealers for their products in your area. 

I personally use the dove mix from Bay-Mor. I purchase the mix in the 50# bag. To this mix I add a 5# bag of safflower. A red mineral grit; aids in the grinding of the seeds in the doves/pigeons crop; is available at all times for all the birds in my collection. A liquid mineral/vitamin supplement is added once a week to the water. Breads are fed about once a month to all the birds. Many of my seed-eating species also have access to a soft mix which is fed to the fruit-eating species in my collection.

The information listed below is taken directly form 50# bag of the mix which is fed daily to my collection of seed eating species of exotic doves/pigeons. I have been feeding this seed mix from it’s inception by Bay-Mor (the main list of seeds was supplied by IDS members to Bay-Mor). The only thing I do is add more milo & safflower, approximately 5# of each to every 50# bag of the dove mix.

I also ensure that the seed containers are not directly below a perch or nest and that rain or other sources of water cannot get into the seed. I use a 12 ounce plastic cup/mug for measurements of the seed mix. The amount is adjusted to each flight.


For the daily feeding of most dove species.


Crude protein (Min.)…………….. 11.0 %
Crude Fat (Min.)…………………… 3.0 %
Crude Fiber (Max.)………………… 6.0 %
Moisture (Max.)…………………… 12.0 %

White Millet, Milo, Wheat, Canadian Field Peas, Red Millet, Canary Grass Seed, Popcorn, Safflower, Oat Groats, Ground Yellow Corn, Ground Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Wheat Middlings, Dehulled Soybean Meal, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Beet Pulp, Soy Oil, Salt, Fish Meal, DL-Methionine, Brewers Dried Yeast, L-lysine, Choline Chloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Carbonate, Zinc Oxide, Riboflavin Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of Vitamin K activity), Ethoxquin (a preservative), Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Copper Oxide, Vitamin A supplement, Cholecalciferol (source of Vitamin D3), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Moninitrate, Calcium Iodate, Cobalt Carbonate, Folic Acid, Biotin, Sodium Selenite.

Feeding Instructions: Provide approximately at a rate of 1 ounce per dove per day. Adjust according to bird requirements and season.

Seed Diet for Doves and Pigeons
John Pire

With the exception of the fruit eating species most doves and pigeons are very easy to feed in aviaries.

The smaller species such as Diamonds, Zebras and Capes do well on a mixture of small seeds. A quality finch or dove mix will suffice. Using white millet and milo as the basis for a mix and then adding other small seeds can also be an option for the fancier.

For Ringnecks and other medium to large doves and pigeons with non-specialized feeding habits the following mixture will prove quite adequate. A commercial "dove mix" can be used instead of mixong your own.

3 parts plain canary seed
3 parts milo
2 parts yellow millet
2 parts white millet
1 part split maize
1 part buckwheat
1 part safflower
1 part groats

For Nicobars, Crowned Pigeons, Bronze-winged and other large species, wheat and other grain should replace the smaller millets. Note: many fanciers substitute a quality pigeon mix for these larger species.

Spinach, lettuce, cress and other green food should be offered to all these birds. Many enjoy small amounts of wholemeal bread. Some fanciers also offer gamebird/turkey crumbles to their birds. Raw peanuts, hulled sunflower hearts, popcorn, whole yellow corn and other seeds can be added at the fanciers discretion.

In addition to multi-vitamin preparations, salt blocks and mineral mixtures are important for the long-term health of these birds. The latter are sold for racing pigeons and are a valuable addition to the diets of exotic species.

Pelleted Diet
Click on the link above and see the NutriBlend Green Pellets and read the information from the manufacturer.

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 Diets for Fruit-eating Species

Handfeeding Formulas

Easy To Make handfeeding Tool

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