Diet is one of the most fundamental parts of keeping birds. As Aviculture has evolved, so has our knowledge about feeding requirements. With that knowledge, diet raises a lot of questions:
What is the best food for my species of bird?
To get the ball rolling on this question, here's a short video from ZuPreem:
Effectively, for Parrots, utilising a pelleted diet is the greatest option available for maintaining a healthy diet. The evolution of pellets has meant that there are now a number of brands available, all sitting at different price points. Cost is often a deterrence to some people to feed pellets, but it shouldn't be!
When you weigh up reductions in waste and improvements in health; cost becomes irrelevant. However, even with pellets, it is best to offer a range of foods. Fresh produce (some fruits and mostly vegetables), native vegetation (eucalyptus, grevillea, seeding grasses, bottlebrush etc.), nuts, and some seeds are a great addition to a balanced diet.
For Nectarivores, there is a wide range of diets available. The importance is the ingredients, and trying to find a product that is lower in refined products. Then comes the questions around how to offer Nectarivore diets - wet or dry? This often arrives at preference and/or convenience. Some of the best products that we sell, and that are some of our most popular amongst Nectarivore keepers, include Passwell, Wombaroo, and Vetafarm. We also stock our own blend of Nectarivore diet.
It is always best to research your bird thoroughly, especially if you're unsure about the best diet. Speak to quality breeders, companion bird owners, and veterinarians about your new bird; find out what is the best diet available. For example, Eclectus Parrots do far better on a diet high in fresh produce as opposed to one dominated by pellets.
What is the best brand of food?
This is a tough question to answer. It comes back to the individual. Most bird keepers will prefer a particular brand of diet. Two of the premium diets that we offer at Parrot Supplies Australia are HARI (Hagen Avicultural Research Institute) and ZuPreem. However, some bird keepers prefer diets from Roudybush, or Vetafarm.
Whichever you decide, again ensure you do the research amongst individuals with experience keeping the particular species of bird you're enquiring about. Many bird keepers will have their own preferences, but it's also important to listen to their results. If they're birds are in great condition, and producing healthy juveniles, then it is relatively safe to say that their diet preferences work.
Are there foods I should avoid?
Absolutely. The majority of 'human food' is really not what you should feed your feathered friend. This is often a complication for companion parrot owners, and it is an important one. The high levels of unhealthy fats, preservatives, refined sugars etc. can be very dangerous to birds.
There is also plenty of native and exotic flora to avoid. Click the link here for a quick guide on the species that are great to provide, and the ones which aren't.
On the fruits and vegetable side, there are some to avoid. Alliums, Avocados, Mushrooms, and parts of the Nightshade plants. Nightshades include Tomato, Chilli, Capsicum (Peppers), and Potato. Whilst feeding the Tomato, Chilli, and Capsicum fruit to your birds is fantastic in the diet (especially Chilli and Capsicum); the stems and leaves from these plants are toxic. In regards to Potatoes, there is no nutritional benefits to feeding it to your birds. It is also toxic raw. Sweet Potato is a much more nutritious option.
What else should I be doing to keep my birds diet healthy?
General hygiene is also vital. Don't leave old food sitting in dishes, and make sure that birds receive quality fresh drinking water. For Nectarivore keepers, especially those who feed a dry mix, it is important to monitor water cleanliness as this group of birds love to mix their feed with the water. This can harvest bacteria, so extra efforts have to be taken to keep those dishes clean. This is the same for those feathered friends who love to bathe!
For bird keepers living in warmer climates, it is often better to feed food that can spoil easily in the afternoon and change/remove the next morning.
For further clarification on your bird's feeding requirements, speak to an experienced bird keeper or better yet, an Avian Veterinarian. Click here to find your local Vet.
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