Small deficits, big impact.

More isn't always better.

Nutrition is very complex, and it is our most significant concern, or rather our profession, to constantly refine our knowledge accordingly. We are increasingly experiencing that providing supplements must be done with care and that it is not enough to supplement as much as possible. But nothing is what it seems.

During the breeding season, everyone does their utmost. The fanciers often show diligence and dedication, but they do not succeed despite the hard work. The urge for perfection can blur judgement with the risk of overfeeding. In this blog, we emphasise the importance of proper dosage of vitamins, especially vitamin B6, and the dangers of high dosage.

Supplements are far more complicated than people think!

In addition, there are trace elements. They are minerals with a small catalytic effect (hence the name oligo-elements/trace elements). They will start or maintain essential chemical processes, which the metabolism does not absorb. Due to their relative toxicity, they are already strictly regulated for use in food.

In most cases, the pigeon feed consists only of grains in which the content of trace elements from nature is within limits anyway. Which is in contrast to prepared animal feeds (e.g. extruded pellets, flour) etc.

Research on zinc

Zinc is involved in the formation of several enzymes and the embryo. Deficiency in young pigeons causes poor feathering, weak growth, scaly skin.A shortage causes reduced laying, thin eggshells, and poor hatching in adult pigeons. Zinc works best when it is biochemically bound to the amino acid methionine.

They carried out tests on 180 young pigeons to monitor the influence on their growth, immune system and intestinal flora up to the 28th day of life. In this test, they received a low dose of zinc methionine of two mg per day per pigeon, a high amount of ten mg per day per pigeon and no zinc at all. The first observation was an improved growth in the group that got zinc, compared to the control group that did not receive any zinc. These youngsters also had a heavier spleen, -thymus gland and - Bursa of Fabricius, three critical organs of the immune system. Also, maternal antibody levels (Newcastle haemagglutination inhibition and alpha-naphthyl acetate esterase) were significantly higher in the group of zinc-supplemented youngsters. Moreover, the group with the 2 mg of zinc methionine had higher populations of good gut microbes (Bacillaceae, Lactobacillus, Enterococcus and Bifidobacterium) on day 14 and day 28. Still, lower pathogen Escherichia coli on day 28 compared to the control group. In contrast, the Lactobacillus, Enterococcus and Bifidobacterium populations were significantly lower with the 10 mg zinc supplement on day 28. This study, therefore, shows that supplementing with zinc methionine has a positive effect on growth, the immune system and intestinal flora in pigeons. A dose of 2 mg is better than 10 mg.


  • Zinc 50-70 mg per kilo feed.
  • Toxic from 1,000mg.

Selenium research

The test consisted of three doses of selenium. The pigeons got 0.5 mg, 1 mg and 1.5 mg sodium selenite per day per kg dry food.

The group of

  • 1 mg had significantly higher fertility, more eggs, more hatching and less sperm mortality.
  • 1.5 mg increases the concentration of selenium in various parts of the body.
  • 0.5 mg increases enzymatic activity that protects against oxidative stress.

So again, too high a dose of selenium is disadvantageous as the surplus accumulates unnecessarily in various organs. In combination with vitamin E, a synergy can partially flatten this disadvantage. Here again, the importance of a well-balanced approach with supplements is apparent, and the importance of a regular daily dose is illustrated instead of alternating days.

Further data of other oligo-elements:


  • 50 mg per kilo of feed.
  • Contributes to the synthesis of enzymes.
  • In case of shortage: typical leg deformities, such as turning outwards in young pigeons (perosis).
  • Reduced egg-laying.
  • Toxic at a dose of 1,000 mg per kilo.


  • 4 mg per kilo of feed.
  • It is present in every cell, especially in the liver and nerve tissue.
  • In case of shortage: low growth, increased mortality, haemorrhaging.
  • Toxic at a dose of 25 to 500 mg.


  • 3 mg per kilo of feed.
  • It is a component of the thyroid gland that interferes with the entire metabolism.
  • The thyroid gland hardens and swells up in shortage, and hatching is complex.
  • Toxic at a dose from 45 to 150 mg per kilo.


  • No data is known if needed.
  • It is part of vitamin B12 (hence the name: cyanocobalamin), activating several enzymes.
  • Toxic at a dose of 4 mg per kilo.


  • 200 mg per kilo of feed.
  • Component of haemoglobin (red colour of blood).
  • Ensures the transport of oxygen and is involved in respiration.

Because "I give this or that a few times a week" is still very much alive among the fanciers, we emphasise again that COMED's breeding schedules are inspired by research and tests with a daily dose as the basic rule. It is better to give half a dose every day than a large dose twice or three times a week.

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