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Journal - Should zoo foods be chopped (macaws)

flyzipper

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Thought this was interesting (emphasis below is my own)...

Abstract
Globally, many zoological collections provide their animals with diets that are chopped into small chunks, yet there is limited empirical research to measure the benefits of this practice. Preparing chopped diets takes considerable amounts of zookeeper time, and may affect both the nutritional quality and desiccation of the food. While keepers have suggested that chopped foods could reduce aggression, recent studies have suggested that the inverse is true for a range of zoo-housed mammals. Additionally, whole food items may have benefits in terms of increased food manipulation and processing. Many food presentation studies have been conducted on mammals, yet similar studies on other taxa are sparse. To test the impact of food presentation, we provided two pairs of blue and gold macaws Ara ararauna with either chopped or whole fruit as part of their normal feed rations. Macaw behaviour was measured using instantaneous focal sampling, with continuous recording of events; fruit consumption and keeper preparation time for diets was also recorded. Overall, keepers spent significantly more time preparing diets containing chopped fruit (P<0.001). Birds appeared to eat more when provided with whole food (21.66 g) rather than chopped (15.52 g), but this was not significant (P=0.206). Macaw activity budgets remained relatively consistent irrespective of food presentation, however, a few key behaviours increased in frequency, including podomanipulation (P<0.001) and allofeeding (P<0.001) when whole food was provided, whereas resting behaviour significantly decreased (P<0.001). Not only are keepers able to save time when providing their macaws with whole food, but the macaws also appear to spend more time engaging with their meal, and therefore less time inactive. Future studies could determine whether whole foods can improve the activity budgets of other frugivorous zoo-housed birds.

(source)​
 

FeatheredM

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It makes sense, although I don't have large birds to try this on. Imagine giving a macaw a banana to peel! I guess that this just proves all the more that birds need much chances to forage.
 

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Interesting. Rosemary Low also suggests leaving food in bigger chunks/unchopped which is what I have gone back to doing. She even feeds whole celery sticks saying the stories about fibres impacting the crop are rubbish. I do find that my birds eat more fresh foods when they are in bigger chunks or whole.
 

Shezbug

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Burt isn’t keen on chop, he prefers to be given whole items or at least great big chunks of certain foods, he will only eat pumpkin seeds if he gets them out of the pumpkin himself, he enjoys being given a whole banana (skin too), I buy mini capsicums and cucumbers as he won’t touch pre chopped stuff (unless it’s to steal it off me). The more of a food there is to shred and drop the more he will eat- lucky for us mum has heaps of worms to feed :laugh:

Burt loves big chunks of food in his baffle cage, on a skewer or on the roof of his cage. http://instagr.am/p/CQKvVBoFKRn/
 

flyzipper

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I don't have large birds to try this on.
One of the reasons I posted this in Feathered Food Court rather than Macaw Motorway is because I don't see why the concept wouldn't apply to all our birds...
... no need to give a whole pumpkin to your little ones though :)
 

BirdLady13

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Thanks for sharing; it was a quick and interesting read. It made me laugh when I thought about the reaction my B&G would have if I left an entire bell pepper in his food bowl. I can picture him going over to investigate, then taking a step back and just staring at me like, "what am I supposed to do with this?" :laughin:
 

Zara

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One of the reasons I posted this in Feathered Food Court rather than Macaw Motorway is because I don't see why the concept wouldn't apply to all our birds...
... no need to give a whole pumpkin to your little ones though :)
I have spent the last year or so trying to get my birds to tackle a whole food, at first it took quite a few attempts before they would show any interest at all but now they are at the point where they will eat it which is great. I find that they spend time shredding the food, eating some, foraging around the food maybe looking for seeds inside it/on it so it´s more than just a meal, it´s a boredom buster for sure.
I can´t feed all their veg like that or there would be no variety given how small they are, but I will give a mixed veg bowl for brunch, and a whole veggie as a snack later on.
Things like strawberries, whole lettuce leaves, whole peppers, large florets of broccoli, half a large carrot (or one small one) etc I only have two birds per cage max, and they won´t all eat together and share one whole veg out of the cage or they would fight, so again, I have to be mindful that I´m only feeding two tiny birds ergo the whole pumpkin is a huge no-go :lol:


She even feeds whole celery sticks saying the stories about fibres impacting the crop are rubbish.
I remember when I was birdsitting for my friend, and she left me a tupperware with celery in it. She had cut the roots off and washed it, she told me to give them it whole. So I did, and that pair of birds demolished it within minutes. There where small beak sized chunks of celery flying all over the place. They really had a great time shredding it, I don´t know how much they actually ate of it.
 

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One of the reasons I posted this in Feathered Food Court rather than Macaw Motorway is because I don't see why the concept wouldn't apply to all our birds...
... no need to give a whole pumpkin to your little ones though :)
I often give the girls a whole chilli's,mini bell peppers,carrots cut in half,mini pumpkins on skewers.
This has always been well received by them.
Chop wise i dont chop food up as small as generally seen on pics i cut the food large enough that they can hold it when eating mostly any smaller they seem to eat less.
The size i cut the food was more by accident than design as i initially just prepared it by cutting with a knife when i did use a blender to chop finer it was less well received.
I do chop nuts quite small and add to chop as i am trying to get them to eat nut as a additional foraging option and if they get fruit this is chopped quite small as i dont want them getting to much sugar.
 

Macawnutz

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I worked in a zoo environment most of my life and now just have half the zoo in my house. Over the years I have had a bit of experience feeding parrots and have learned that overcomplicating things isn't worth it.

I used to spend hours preparing chop mixes. Most of this applies to veggie chop mixes as my guys eat very little fruit. I'd wash, peel, cut up and mix together a bunch of veggies, maybe a few days worth at a time as my flock won't eat "few day old OR frozen/thawed" anything. I really loved making it and would change up every batch making sure everyone's favorites were rolled in often. Even though one bird would hate something I would still throw it in thinking maybe they would try some someday. Fresh yummy chop served daily for years...

You know what it got me? Lots of food on my floor. Yes they ate it. They all ate pieces of sweet potato, snap peas and corn. Some of them ate a little squash or the base of a broccoli. No one touched kale or carrot or the billion other things I would put in the chop. It got to the point that I would watch them all eat the favorites, then they would fly around to others bowls to pick out the favorites that those birds didn't like than push the food out the bowl and on the floor. Why did I do all that work when everyone ate one or two things?

In comes a slurry option.... Well, if they were only going to eat a few of the items why not mix it all in a blender so they get the varied diet? Just as much work but in my mind better for them, right? ( my handfed babies loved this mush stage LOL ) Some of them ate it IF you made the majority base a favorite taste BUT.. they didn't eat much. They spent the most time trying to remove tiny blended pieces of kale or a pea skin off their tongues and being cautious about something not blended enough. ( of course stick it in a syringe and the babies loved it! ... BUT alias I couldn't feed Korbel ninny forever ;) )

Korbel was the one that taught me I was doing it all wrong. Hands down the best eater I have and will at least "try" everything. There is very little he won't eat and because of that I would hand him things that I was using for dinner but no one else really liked. For instance a top to a bell pepper is his favorite. Well you can't hand one bird an item without everyone thinking they want it also.. 7 out of 8 birds now eat bell peppers. When I did smaller whole bell peppers I only had maybe two birds that needed me to break it open a little so they could taste the inside was edible. Carrots... OMG they ALL hated them, never once ate them in chop. Hand them a whole unpeeled carrot snapped in half and 6 out of 8 eat carrots. :cautious: WHAT? What was happening in my flock that I didn't understand?

So, I learn to test my new theory. Korbel was the only bird to eat zucchini BUT I did know that in the chop he only wanted to eat the pieces WITH the skin on. In comes large chunks of zucchini and again... most of them love it. I believe giving them a large chuck of something with the skin intact makes a big difference. It's like they now know which part is the part to eat and which part is the throw away when the skin or stem is left on. They also try an item when it's the only item they are handed and see the other birds eating it. Sometimes I do cut whole foods in half just so they can see/taste the difference between the exterior and interior but other than that I don't cut much up anymore. I pick a few fresh foods in a day and hand everyone a big chunk. :laugh: This really seemed lazy to me at first but I have fabulous eaters now. Not just pick out your favorites until I'm full birds!

Also to be clear my flock has pellets available 24/7 so they are not starving to eat the carrot. :rofl: If they are hungry and don't like what I'm serving they can eat pellets if they prefer.
 

Kassiani

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I'd love for my boys to just eat whole veggies. I've tried in the past with no luck, and they are not interested in anything I'm preparing for myself. I'll keep trying, though, because I do think that it would be much better in terms of foraging for their food!
 

Macawnutz

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His face Shawna.... :rofl: It's like a sad "She doesn't love me" or "I may have to rummage on the floor and find old food" face.
 

LovieLouie

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great discussion! Thanks for posting flyzipper! And also to everyone who has shared their experiences and how they do things.... I’ve taken a lot away from this :smuggrin: I tend to be a creature of habit, Dwayne eats his veggies and like Wardy I cut them up to a size he can hold because that’s what he seems to like -but I’ve been doing that for a while not wanting to mess with things (if it ain’t broken don’t fix it lol) forgetting that maybe this gets boring for him and he is missing out on some foraging opportunities. So today he got a skewer with some big chunky and leafy veggies on it :D
 

macawpower58

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Chaos's favorite whole food is cutie oranges. He loves to peel them and/or dig out the fruit.
I've also offered whole 'small' bananas totally in skin.
Fat sugar snap peas are another favorite.
The seeds inside peppers are what he eats before any of the pepper flesh.
I think it's the 'work' involved they love.

I've never tried whole zucchini.
Sounds like something he might like.
 

Mizzely

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Okay this might be a fluke. However, before and afters:



PXL_20220326_130400723.jpg PXL_20220326_182332371.jpg

He ate all of the center of the pepper/seeds, most of the cucumber, and 2 grapes.

I've also learned blackberries are terrifying :lol:

He's currently eating a piece of sweet potato I microwaved for a bit.

PXL_20220326_182418561.jpg

All I'm saying is... I've tried to get this bird to eat veggies and chop for almost 3 years and besides the orange and blackberry, he actually ATE. I'll be pickup up more whole fresh veggies to try with him this week!

I feel like I just went to a different dimension.
 

Wardy

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Okay this might be a fluke. However, before and afters:



View attachment 405011 View attachment 405012

He ate all of the center of the pepper/seeds, most of the cucumber, and 2 grapes.

I've also learned blackberries are terrifying :lol:

He's currently eating a piece of sweet potato I microwaved for a bit.

View attachment 405013

All I'm saying is... I've tried to get this bird to eat veggies and chop for almost 3 years and besides the orange and blackberry, he actually ATE. I'll be pickup up more whole fresh veggies to try with him this week!

I feel like I just went to a different dimension.
That looks positive
 
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