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Wilmer J. Miller
23 October 2000

By minerals we mean the (biological available?) calcium and the granular salt fortified with the trace elements such as cobalt, iodine, manganese etc. Such salt with granules only slightly larger than table salt is available in the feed stores as livestock salt. Most often it is colored red.
The Iowa Limestone Company, among others, crushes native limestone rock into granules of various sizes from 3 mm to nearly dust sizes. Locally this is called granular F, but may go under different names elsewhere in the USA. Its composition as listed on the sack is


Iowa Limestone Co. [They sell only to feed stores or wholesale clients.]
Des Moines 50313
Guaranteed Analysis
Calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate minimum 95%
Calcium maximum 40%
Calcium minimum 38%
50 lbs. net wt.
22.7 KG

Other calcium sources can be just as good, but not nearly as inexpensive. The granular F currently costs about $3.17 per 50 pounds. The salt is much the same cost.


The ringneck doves, Streptopelia risoria, prefer it to other calcium sources I have tried, mainly chick size oyster shell. [Canaries and other finches as well as diamond doves use it as well.] Along with the salt it seems to be necessary for continuous production in doves and finches. It is given to the doves at liberty in ceramic dishes originally used in the laboratory for mouse food dishes. These round dishes are one and one half inches high and 3 and 3/8 inches in diameter.

The fortified salt is sprinkled on top of the granular F as about 2 pinches worth or about 1/3 ml. (?)-- perhaps 1% of the volume of the one ounce granular F give. Doves deficient in the salt will eat more of the salt until they reach more of an equilibrium in their taste needs.

There is very little wastage of these minerals unlike the seed that they throw around with their bills in search of somewhat better seeds, or perhaps in some cases, to make the seeds more obvious and available for their squabs that are learning to eat. When the dish is down to 10 or even no grains of calcium left, it is refilled with 30 ml (one ounce) of the granular F and salt sprinkles. This is the amount in the volume of an ordinary film canister for the 24 or 36 roll of film for the currently common 35 mm camera.

Calcium especially is necessary for egg laying and more so for the growing squabs. I have been told that the parents physiologically will remove calcium from their own bones to feed the growing squabs. So, if they are deficient, eating only grains, they will stop at two clutches of young until they can replenish the calcium deficiency.

In my cage set-up, I place the ceramic dish in the corner of one 18" cubic wire cage (one by two inch welded wire mesh on the 6 sides) so that the doves in the adjoining cage can easily reach through and also eat the minerals in the ceramic dish.

The timing of when the two producing pairs in the side by side cages need more minerals is quite indicative of the amount ingested per unit time, which may average 10 days with replacement sometimes as often as within 4 days or up to 20 days during a cycle. More exact measurements follow in Table I.

I used 5 paired mating cages, totaling 10 cages. I recorded the date the dishes were filled and the interval between filling. Remember that these doves were not short on calcium, but that this represents a continuing filling of the dishes.

There are 24 interval entries. If my calculations are correct, the average time between refilling was 10.7 days (median 10 days). The standard deviations of the samples and population are close to 4.6 .

Perhaps I’m a little lax in my experimental set-up. I’d like anyone else using the granular F, or any quantifiable calcium source, to replicate this effort.