The International Association for Falconry and the Conservation of Birds of Prey is directed by the objectives listed in our constitution. These include the call to promote veterinary research into birds of prey.

Looking beyond this, it is our intention to establish the IAF, the globally representative organization for falconry, to be the expert organization with respect to the welfare and management of falconry raptors.

To this end we have encouraged specialist raptor veterinarians to take part in IAF at the highest level and our current Vice-president for Europe is Prof. Dr. med. vet. Thomas Richter, specialist in animal husbandry and ethology at Nürtingen-Geislingen University in Germany.

Also serving as a veterinary expert on our Advisory Committee is Dr. Ladislav Molnár of the department of Birds and Exotic Animals at the University of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy in Kosice, Slovakia.

Both of these distinguished veterinarians are falconers with extensive medical experience with birds of prey. They have kindly allowed some of their papers to be available for free download from the IAF website.

Veterinary Conference, Doha January 2014

This conference has provided an invaluable platform to further both our objective and aim. These proceedings, as the product of the conference, result from the assembly of some of the world’s leading raptor veterinarians who have been willing to share their learning and wisdom with both other veterinarians and with falconers.

Our thanks go to all the participants who contributed to the success of this event as well as to the sponsors and supporters which include the Algannas Club of Qatar, the Katara Cultural Village and the Souk Waqif Falconry Hospital. Without their generous and visionary support, this event would have been impossible.

It is our hope that this conference is just the first in an effort to promote the veterinary care of falconry birds.

Download brochure (Proceedings_Doha_Veterinary_Conference.pdf, 3.5MB) +

This is the official proceedings of the conference and consists of the thirteen papers presented by top raptor vets. It is available here for free download. To obtain a printed version please email Print and postal charges will apply.

N. A. Forbes BVetMed RFP DipECAMS FRCVS Great Western Exotic Vets, Great Western Referrals, Swindon, SN1 2NR. UK .

The aim of this paper is to review the available scientific and practical falconry text on raptor nutrition in order that vets can advise falconers on feeding regimes, as far as possible based on proven scientific research, assisted by practical information.


The argument, that in the absence of detailed nutritional data the dietary needs of any individual species are most likely to be met by feeding a diet closely approximating to that which would be taken in the wild under ideal conditions (Kirkwood 1981), can be contested. Firstly, without detailed nutritional data, how can ‘ideal’ conditions be identified? Even a relatively accurate analysis of 90% of a wild birds intake may not be truly reflective of the nutrient profile of the diet (Brue 1994). In the wild most raptors are opportunistic eaters i.e. they eat anything which is available e.g. feathered and furred quarry also insects, reptiles and carrion. Whilst some species have adapted over many thousands of years to a certain food intake, in many others the environment in which they live and hence the food availability will have altered, often at a rate faster than the birds’ metabolism has been able to adapt (Brue 1994). A totally natural diet is impossible to replicate in captivity regimes (Dierenfeld et al. 1994), particularly because a wild bird has the option of choice (even if availability determines this), (indeed choice may vary with season and breeding activity), whilst a captive bird does not. In addition, captive birds may have different inherent nutritional requirements on account of their unnatural life style (Brue 1994). Wild birds often live short lives and death due to malnutrition is the most common cause of mortality in wild populations (Keymer et al. 1980; Hirons et al. 1979; Brue 1994). In essence, the modern falconer needs to develop feeding regimes based on the requirements of captive bred, raised and maintained birds as opposed to trying to replicate the, less than perfect, feeding patterns of wild raptors. Falconers bemoan the lack of scientific research into raptor nutrition for domesticated raptors. The primary reason to study nutrition, for the falconer, should be to improve the wellbeing of the raptors in our care. There are many factors that can influence both the quantity of food required by a raptor and its’ requirements for specific vitamins. Life style, husbandry, geographical area, different stages of the life cycle, for example the stage of development, growth rate, health status and production level of our birds can all affect their nutritional requirements. Our aim should be to achieve / maintain optimal health: greater longevity (achieving the full potential [flight and breeding] life span of your raptor) may be possible by optimising the diet as some dietary components may have protective effects, for example, antioxidants are known to help reduce cholesterol levels.

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