Creep Feeding
Lamberton Racing Pigeons

Loft Management Series

"Feeding In The Nest Box"

By the time young birds are two weeks old, their eyes are open and they are very aware of their surroundings.  Consequently, they are actively learning and absorbing everything they experience through their senses on a moment to moment basis.  They are watching, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling through their skin.  Two week old youngsters watch their parents come and go in the next box.  When their parents are fed in the nest box, their youngsters learn how to eat by watching their parents and modeling their behavior.  By creep feeding high quality grains or pellets in a small bowl in the nest box, youngsters will also eat from the small bowl.  Modeling the behavior of their parents, youngsters will leave their nest - walk over to the small pot - and begin to peck the grains beginning at about two weeks of age.  When youngsters eat a high quality feed at a very early age in addition to the grain they receive from their parents, they will grow faster and stronger than youngsters that do not eat creep feed at an early age.  Another benefit of creep feeding is that it reduces the stress of feeding youngsters upon the parents when youngsters are allowed to continuously eat a high quality feed in their nest box by themselves. Since their parents are not the sole source of the young birds sustenance, the stress of feeding youngsters is reduced on the parents.  

When we place food into the small pot in the nest boxes, we use a soupspoon to gradually and gently add a few grains at a time to the pot.  As we add a few grains at a time to the small pot, we verbally "call" to the breeders and youngsters the exact same way that we call the race team into the loft after a training exercise. We gently but firmly repeat come - come - come.  We believe that two week old youngsters in the nest are very capable of learning to "come" to our call when we feed them.  It is not necessary to wait until youngsters are weaned or even later to teach them the skill of coming when called or signaled.  By 25 to 30 days of age, youngsters have already learned many behaviors that will have to be retrained and relearned upon weaning if they are not taught correct behaviors beginning at two weeks of age. 

Why?  Because youngsters are continuously learning as they mature in the nest.  Waiting another two weeks until they are weaned to begin to teach them important commands and expectations is a waste of time and is ultimately much harder to teach than if these commands are learned when youngsters are old enough to waddle or walk in the nest box.  After youngsters know how to eat in the nest box from a small pot, try feeding them by hand.  This process will tame and gentle your youngsters and initiate a healthy positive relationship between you and each youngster that will pay great dividends when the youngsters are old enough to take a nest box of their own and begin to learn the fundamentals of the widowhood motivational system.

In summary, creep feeding energizes youngsters and reduces the tremendous stress of feeding youngsters upon breeders by encouraging youngsters to begin eating at the earliest age possible.  In fact, we know a very prominent Belgian fancier who begins force feeding his youngsters grain after they are about a week old.  He believes that this feeding method strengthens the youngsters and saves the breeders from feeding their young by themselves.  While it is very hard to argue with this fancier's phenomenal race results, we wait one more week to begin to creep feed until the youngsters can walk out of their nest bowl and eat on their own.