Cod Liver Oil for Pigeons

Omega-3 is as beneficial to pigeons as it is to humans and most other creatures.

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The easiest way to ensure a healthy omega-3 supplement to their diet is to spray cod liver oil onto their usual food.

cod liver oil for pigeons

This beneficial oil supports various physiobiological functions including energy production, boosts immunity and heart health, and contributes to skin and feathers condition.

What is Omega-3?

Omega-3 is a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid essential for the health of many living creatures, particularly for mammals and birds.

Oddly, though being essential, bodies cannot manufacture omega-3 – they have to be received via the diet.

There are three types of omega-3:

  1. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
  2. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
  3. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)

Plants are the major source of ALA while DHA and EPZ are found mainly in animal foods and algae.

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish, fish oils, flax seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed oil, and walnuts.

The most common way to supplement omega-3 is via cod liver oil.

The Science Of Omega-3

Omega-3 is one type of polyunsaturated fatty acid. The other type is omega-6.

There’s also a difference between short-chain and long-chain fatty acids.

In order for short-chain omega-3 to be used by the body to reap the benefits, it has to be converted to long-chain.

Plant-derived omega-3 (ALA) has to be converted to DHA and EPA to be utilized.

This is very relevant because a pigeon’s diet is plant-based.

omega-3 tablets

Most proprietary pigeon feeds are designed to meet the broad spectrum of the bird’s nutrition and are typically higher in omega-6 because they contain cereal grains, corn, and seeds.

Most feeds are therefore potentially deficient in omega-3.

The natural process in the body to convert natural dietary-derived ALA to DHA and EPA is inefficient so ALA is wasted.

When a bird has high levels of omega-6, metabolism induces the inflammatory processes.

Omega-3 is required to readdress the omega 6:3 ratio thereby triggering the anti-inflammatory processes.

What is Cod Liver Oil?

A natural product, the majority of cod liver oil is extracted from the liver of Atlantic cod although cod liver can also be ingested directly.

As well as being a prime source of omega-3, it is also rich in vitamins A and D.

How to Give Cod Liver Oil to Pigeons

You can boost your pigeons’ intake of omega-3 with any of a large number of cod liver products on the market.

The usual method is to mist a cod liver oil spray over your bird feeders at a recommended dose in the recommended frequency.

It is important to follow the directions because if you provide a healthy diet with all the vitamins a pigeon needs, the additional vitamins provided by the cod liver oil can result in an overdose.

Vitamin A is particularly tricky.

Some birds can suffer from a vitamin A deficiency but equally, over-supplementation of vitamin A has the potential to be toxic to the liver.

Preferably choose an organic cod liver oil that is free from mercury.

Avian experts suggest there are certain times when omega-3 supplementation is more beneficial than others.

These times are:

  • For at least a week after mating but up until the second egg is laid.
  • 2 to 3 days before basketing for a race
  • First months of a young bird’s life after fledging.

This article was written by our qualified veterinarian Cristina.

This is part of our commitment to providing you with the most trustworthy veterinary advice for your pigeons.

Benefits of Omega-3 for Pigeons

Overall, omega-3 positively affects health, fertility, and general condition.  

Energy: A pigeon (and any other living creature) requires biological energy for growth and performance. Omega-3 supports energy production.

Immunity: Omega-3 boosts a pigeon’s natural defenses.

Omega-3 is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Early in a bird’s life, it helps to build up a tolerance to foods and resilience against common pigeon diseases, building immunity.  

Condition: Omega-3 is essential for the maintenance of good feather health as well as keeping them shiny.

Strength:  Omega-3 improves bone strength and density by boosting the amount of calcium in your bones.

Cod liver oil is a great source of vitamin D and this is required to help the body absorb calcium so providing omega-3 via cod liver oil is an excellent idea.

Fertility: Along with selenium and vitamin E, omega-3 is a major player in the fertility of pigeons as well as supporting early development.

Cod Liver Oil Is A Great Way To Add Omega-3 To Your Pigeon’s Diet

Omega-3 is essential for pigeon health. This is applicable to pigeons of all ages and to fancy and racing pigeons.

Cod liver oil is an easy way to administer omega-3 as a dietary supplement.


Denise Bereford

Denise Bereford is a full-time writer and researcher with a long-standing passion for pigeons.

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