Topics: | |
Now we come to the subject of your bird's diet. Birds need a wide variety of foods incorporated into their daily routine of feedings. Giving your bird seed alone is not a good idea because it isn't very nutritious. Just as we ourselves need a well balanced diet, so do our feathered friends. Along with their normal seed, you should also include vegetables, fruits, and cereals. You will find that your bird will usually eat anything that we eat but you need to be careful to avoid some foods.
Birds LOVE vegetables so don't be afraid to give them some on a regular basis. These vegetables should be fresh and can include broccoli, cabbage, kernal corn or on the cob, peas, green beans, carrots, banana squash, cauliflower, and so on.
All of my birds love raw carrots but will not eat cooked ones, so we give them a lot of fresh carrots. Leafy lettuce is good for your bird, but avoid iceberg since it is mostly water and contains no nutritional value. Tomatoes are okay but do NOT give your bird tomato greens as they are poisonous. NEVER feed your bird avocado because it is highly toxic.
Most fruits are a great treat for your bird. Try to remember that when giving your bird fruit, you must first remove any seeds. Many seeds are toxic, like the ones in apples which contain arsenic. So to be safe, do not give your bird any fruit seeds. Always wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before giving to your bird.
Birds also love pasta. Always give them cooked pasta however, because uncooked will expand when ingested and could make your bird ill if he eats too much. Another good food you can give your bird is cereal. They love cheerios and will even eat oatmeal. Avoid cereals high in sugar and fat. Avoid cheese and dairy products. Birds cannot digest dairy. I do give my birds macaroni and cheese once in a while but only 1-2 pieces.
There are other types of foods that you can give to your bird to supplement or, in some cases, even replace the seed that he is eating. These include the vitamin and nutrient packed pellets like Zupreem and Roudybush. Seed is not bad for for your bird. But in many cases, if seed is the sole diet of your bird, it can lead to poor health later on down the road. Seed is very high in fat and contains little or no nutritional value. This is especially bad for birds who are not very active. Just like us, without enough exercise a high fat diet could lead to obesity, even in birds.
So if you are giving your bird his fruits and vegies on a regular basis, don't worry! You are treating him to a very healthy diet.
To Your Bird's Health
AVIAN NUTRITIONAL GUIDELINES -- Revised by: Laurie Besco, 1997
Bear Valley Animal Clinic | 2021 11th Street, Los Osos, CA 93402 | (805) 528-0693
MALNUTRITION is the leading cause of disease in the pet bird. The number one cause of malnutrition is feeding a psittacine bird a simple seed or grain diet.
Birds that live in the wild have very different nutritional needs than those in captivity. The energy used to fly and search for food is much greater than that used by a pet bird. To obtain this energy, birds will seek out a diet high in fat and proteins. Pet birds will do the same with a seed diet. Seeds, although very palatable, are very low in most nutrients. They can be contaminated with dangerous fungal toxins, which can cause severe medical problems for the bird. Seeds are low in calcium and a deficiency can lead to problems such as osteoporosis, fractures and egg binding in hens. Most seeds available to birds in captivity are not natural to their native environment and, therefore, they do not meet the birds' nutritional needs but allow them to eat a diet similar to junk food for humans.
Psittacines (includes most birds with a hooked bill from a parakeet to a cockatoo) are omnivorous, meaning they eat meat as well as vegetables. Birds require a small amount of high quality protein foods to supply their needs. Protein in the diet serves as the building blocks to the birds' overall health, keeping muscle, body tissues, beak and feathers healthy. Feeding small amounts of cooked meat in the diet, or a diet based on beans, supplies a high quality protein diet for your bird. In order to ensure your bird's optimal nutritional health, the staff of Bear Valley Animal Clinic recommends that you feed a well-balanced diet consisting of a variety of ingredients.
Birds' nutritional requirements are similar to those of a healthy human diet. A diet balanced in protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals will provide a healthy life for your bird. Each of these nutrients serve a purpose for your bird's health and well-being. Their absence, as well as an overabundance, can cause serious health risks to your bird.
Listed below are examples of health problems that a bird maintained on a poor diet might suffer:
1. Poor feather quality
2. Bacterial or fungal infections
4. Dry skin, scaly feet
5. Fatty liver disease or kidney disease
It is important to know how much your bird should weigh and how to monitor the weight. Birds will eat what they are familiar with unless encouraged to eat other things...so it is important not to overfeed. Your bird is like a 2-year old and will eat "junk-food" over a balanced diet if it has a choice.
In order to ensure that your bird has a wide selection of healthy foods that are low in fat, we have compiled some sample ingredients to create a healthy avian diet.
Bean Mix Recipe
|Assorted Bean Mix
||Dry bean soup mix - Trader Joe's has the best deal in town.
||A mixture of a variety of grains available at most feed stores - not pet stores.
||Such as Harrison's, Roudybush, Zupreem, Lafeber or Exact. We use Harrison's in our mix. It is an excellent diet for birds with natural, healthy, low-fat ingredients.
||Such as carrots, corn, broccoli, sweet potato, squash, peas, green beans and even onion. Avoid using any type of canned vegies due to high sodium content. Frozen vegies work great and require less chopping!
||Although fruit should be fed, it is better to give it fresh daily as it has a poor freezing quality.
||USED IN SMALL AMOUNTS, is okay to add to your mix but, due to high fat content, avoid feeding seed if your bird suffers from a weight problem.
Amounts of Ingredients:
As far as the amount of ingredients, it will depend on how much you want to make. We recommend making a large batch and freezing it for more convenience.
With your main ingredients of bean and pigeon mix, a mix of 3 pounds pigeon to 2 pounds bean is a good blend. When mixing in the fruits and vegies you'll want them to be evenly distributed throughout the mixture, giving the bird every opportunity to have a little of everything.
Mix your uncooked beans and pigeon mix and place in a large stock pot. Cover the mix with water and let soak for 24 hours, changing the water frequently. After the 24-hour soaking is done, rinse the mixture one more time and add just enough water to cover. Cook on low heat for one hour or until most of the water is gone. When cooking the mix it will expand, so the pot should be no more than 3/4 full prior to cooking.
While the bean mix is cooking, begin to cut up the vegetables you will be using. Some vegetables such as carrots, beets, squash, etc., can be cut up first and added to the pot halfway to 3/4 of the way through, cooking them slightly but still keeping most of the vitamins and nutrients intact.
When your bean mix is cooked, drain it and let it cool. Now comes the fun part which, unfortunately, can get messy! In a large tub or mixing bowl, mix the cooked mixture with the pellets you will be using and all other ingredients. We usually mix one 16 oz package each of corn, mixed vegetables and peas with a 5 pound bag of Harrison's. You can also add a bit more variety by adding low sugar cereals, cooked pasta, cooked egg, or any other lowfat, healthy food that your bird enjoys.
Now that all your ingredients are mixed, bag them up in one gallon freezer bags. Don't overfill them. Once they are full you can easily flatten them out and store them on their side in your freezer. Depending on the number of birds you are feeding, take out enough food to feed for 4 days and keep it in your refrigerator. Another suggestion is to take frozen mix out and thaw it in your microwave. CAUTION!!!!! Make sure that there are no hot spots in the food and that it has cooled sufficiently before offering it to your bird. Serious injury can occur from food that is eaten before proper cooling.
This mix should not remain in your bird's bowl longer than 24 hours due to bacterial contamination. Fresh food and water should be provided in clean bowls daily.
We recommend that you give your birds either bottled water or water from a reverse osmosis unit to lower the risk of bacterial and protazoal infection.
Bean Mix Recipe Feeding Guide:
||Quantity (Bean Mix)
||1/2 - 3/4 cup
|Amazons, African Greys, Mini Macaws
|Conures, Cockatiels, Love Birds
||1/4 - 1/2 cup