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Natural Non-Pellet Diet for Birds - Is it too much work?

Aurornis

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How can you get a balanced diet with as little work as possible without feeding pellets?

I mean, in their natural habitat, they don't have bird pellets. They have seeds, nuts, buds, fruits, etc.

If you give them mixed bird seed, nuts, fruits and veggies - is that enough (assuming you also research the specific needs of each specie of bird)?

Any specific vitamins one would recommend that's really good for feather growth and quality?
 

Tyrion

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I have fed my birds a whole food diet for 10 yrs and everything has been good with blood work ect. ..But I mix my own seed/nut mixture and feed a veggies mash and fruit ..I have recently added a small amount of TOPS pellets in the seed/nut mixture just incase I was missing something ..I also feed boiled egg every month ..it takes allot of work to make the mash and seed/nut mixture I normally do it for 3-4 months at a time :)
 

Mizzely

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People assume that wild = best. That's not always the case. Birds eat what is available. Their lifespans in the wild are shorter, just like most animals. In the wild, they fly many many miles a day and spend most of that time looking for food, vs in most homes where their activity levels are no where near that.

That's not to say pellets are best, or that whole food diets are bad. It's just that the wild vs captive diet debate is a lot more nuanced than that.

I do feed pellets because my bird sucks at eating veggies :lol: But if I had a good eater I would probably do a wide range of veggies, grains, some nuts, a bit of fruit, a bit of egg, and do a Vitamin D3/Calcium supplement.

You may like to read some info from Jason Crean. :) Avian Raw Whole Food Nutrition | Facebook
 

Aurornis

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True, birds do live a shorter life span but that's due to predation or lack of food, but surely a species-appropriate food based on where the birds are found locally, sometimes endemically, would prove superior to a general diet, assuming those foods are available. Fasting is also good for many mammals...I'm not sure for birds; it's a proven life extension.
 

Aviphile

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How can you get a balanced diet with as little work as possible without feeding pellets?

I mean, in their natural habitat, they don't have bird pellets. They have seeds, nuts, buds, fruits, etc.

If you give them mixed bird seed, nuts, fruits and veggies - is that enough (assuming you also research the specific needs of each specie of bird)?

Any specific vitamins one would recommend that's really good for feather growth and quality?
I don't find it work at all. Full disclosure I do have one hyacinth Heidi that still eats a few pellets but everyone else eats real food. If you have a pretty good understanding of nutrition then you shouldn't have any problem. I normally don't give my birds vitamins unless there is some reason for me to, most of the time problems can be corrected with the right foods.

Want them to have great feathers, feed them eggs. Mine eat scrambled and boiled on a regular. Mine also get small amounts of animal protein. I make sure they get a little each morning and a little each night. They don’t always eat it but it is there if they want it. In the morning its usually one of the following, eggs, cottage cheese, cheese or plain greek yogurt. In the evening it is usually whatever meat I am preparing for supper. The size of the bird determines the portion, they don’t need a whole lot. My birds eat dairy all the time, cottage cheese, cream cheese, hard cheese, yogurt, kefir, butter, pudding (occasionally) and on occasional sip of milk from a bowl of cereal.

I sprout all kinds of things I buy spouting blends off Amazon, the health food store along with mung beans and popcorn right off the grocery store shelf. I put sprouts and veggies in breads I make for them. There are books on sprouting for parrots I have a couple if you do a google search they should come up.

All my birds have good feathers, they don’t have any health or behavioral problems and all are sexually mature yet I have no egg layers or hormonal problems.

Love Dr. Jason Crean here is his website Welcome


Another favorite of mine on nutrition Dr. Robert Lustig

 

Tyrion

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As much as I am for feeding whole foods I do not feed dairy or meat ...dairy is hard to digest for birds and meat can be as well..there is a place for eggs in the diet but not as a staple food ..I feed eggs maybe twice a month and only boiled eggs... I would not recommend dairy at all ..birds are veggie ..fruit..seed and nut eaters they would never come in contact with anything dairy if it wasn't provided by humans ..I'm glad your birds are doing well eating dairy and meat ... hopefully they continue to do so :)
 

Aviphile

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As much as I am for feeding whole foods I do not feed dairy or meat ...dairy is hard to digest for birds and meat can be as well..there is a place for eggs in the diet but not as a staple food ..I feed eggs maybe twice a month and only boiled eggs... I would not recommend dairy at all ..birds are veggie ..fruit..seed and nut eaters they would never come in contact with anything dairy if it wasn't provided by humans ..I'm glad your birds are doing well eating dairy and meat ... hopefully they continue to do so :)
We have never had a problem with either and my birds will catch grasshoppers, praying mantis and the little geckos and eat them while they are in their outside cage. Check this out....
IMG_0683.PNG
 

Tyrion

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Insects are different then meat like chicken or beef ...and feeding insects is recommended by people like Jason Crean but I have never heard him recommended dairy ..I fact he does just the opposite..and I should have clarified that meat and dairy aren't recommended for parrots :)
 

flyzipper

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Whether a task is too much work can only be assessed against the knowledge, skill and motivation of the worker -- "too much" is relative.

Give yourself +1 for each of the following, where you...
  • have the knowledge of general nutritional concepts (what carbohydrates, fats and proteins are, plus how they're used by the body)
  • understand the specific nutritional requirements of your species
  • have the funds to acquire the necessary fresh foods
  • have the time to shop for and prepare the food
  • portion appropriately based on base metabolic needs +/- changes in daily activity
  • have the husbandry habits to serve and remove the food so that it doesn't spoil
  • pursue a regular visit to an avian vet for blood work so adjustments can be made based on the bird's lab results
  • have a willingness to modify your approach based on learning new information
  • bonus - you successfully do each of those steps for yourself (healthy body weight with no lifestyle diseases).
 

Aurornis

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I've studied animal nutrition for dogs (raw feeding). The best supplement I served them was Colostrum, by a mile. Compared to milk, it contains way less lactose, and although not parrots, they have scientific studies pointing that poultry given Colostrum supplement were healthier and grew even faster. I've used Colostrum to treat birds I have fostered in the past; i just add it to the feed, and I have actually done a mini experiment; noting that the birds I fed Colostrum recovered and gained weight faster (mostly with Cockatiels, Linnies & Lovebirds). I would not feed regular dairy products, just Colostrum, and in small amounts; they have also proven that Colostrum can be beneficial to any species of mammals, but not enough info on birds, though; the only studies were with the chickens.

But this is just my experience.

Here is an article on dairy:

.

On Colostrum with Poultry:
 

Sparkles99

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bonus - you successfully do each of those steps for yourself (healthy body weight with no lifestyle diseases).
I'm glad someone mentioned this. I find it very sad when people have animals in perfect condition while neglecting themselves. People are worth it too. :)
 

flyzipper

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they have scientific studies pointing that poultry given Colostrum supplement were healthier and grew even faster.
Be sure to keep appropriate outcomes in mind.

It's one thing to feed with a goal of maximum growth for high yields in slaughter (commercial poultry), and quite another to maximize health and quality of life over multi-decade lifespans (companion parrots).
 

Aurornis

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Be sure to keep appropriate outcomes in mind.

It's one thing to feed with a goal of maximum growth for high yields in slaughter (commercial poultry), and quite another to maximize health and quality of life over multi-decade lifespans (companion parrots).
Yes, for sure. I did only continue it coz my fosters, especially the ones that were sick, got better faster and better feathers, just using a minimal amount in the feed, which does not surprise me coz it's also my number one supplement when I used to do dog rescue, literally recovering parvo, kennel cough and canine influenza within days if not overnight.

I also used it topically for wound care, since it has the ability to assist in skin-cell regeneration.
 

Aurornis

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What I would really like to see or read up upon is species-specific nutrition. I have many Lovebirds, and not all of them require the same blanket nutrition in order to thrive (not survive). Abysinian's, for example, require a higher fat content compared to the eye rings. Since I keep multiple species, I will welcome any available resources and comparisons, if it exists.
 

Nnbal

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I think pellets are a great savior for birds that don't eat vegetables, grains etc. If Pasha does not want to eat the food I have prepared one day (I hope that does not happen), then pellets should form the basis of his diet.
Pellets do not form the basis of Pasha's diet. He loves food such as cereals, vegetables, eggs. I also like his varied and colorful diet.

Yes, it's a bit of a hassle, but I really enjoy it.
During the day, there is definitely pellet food in his feed bowl.
Bamboo (my budgie) definitely doesn't eat vegetables and grains (he just likes parsley and spinach). That's why the basis of his diet is pellets
 

Dewdrop

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If your birds get unfiltered sunshine regularly then it’s nothing to worry about... but if your birds live indoors and can’t be taken outside to get sun regularly year-round, then getting them enough vitamin D3 can be kind of tricky. D3 is also necessary to absorb calcium. Some people use UV bulbs, but the info I’ve seen about them seems mixed.
Many pellets have D3, but if you aren’t feeding them pellets with D3, you’d either need to buy a liquid/powder supplement that includes it, or, according to Dr. Jason Crean, you can buy live mealworms, expose them to UV light so they synthesize D3, and then feed them to your birds.
I believe he mentions it at about 59:50
 

Aurornis

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Wow! That video is educational! Thank you!

Fortunately, I only served TOPS. However, i still have the same problem. I am REALLY a kitchen klutz and every time I prepare food I either cut myself or forget even I had food on the fridge and go bad (lol), plus I have no time to go the grocery store (I eat out everyday or have the food delivered).

Watching the video, he stated that 95% of nutrients are retained in freeze-dried. Hence, is it possible to just feed healthy pellet-mix and freeze-dried furits/veggies, etc.? Cost is not the issue as I have small birds only...

This was what I was planning:


So I think I covered pretty much seeds, legumes, sprouts, veggies, fruits and nuts...and I can probably throw it the whole Parsley and Wheat Grass once a week...my questions are:

1) will this provide close to complete and variety?
2) which do I feed more?
3) Anything I'm missing?
Thank you for all the input

My birds are mainl African Lovebirds and Australian Parakeets
 

Pixiebeak

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How can you get a balanced diet with as little work as possible without feeding pellets?

I mean, in their natural habitat, they don't have bird pellets. They have seeds, nuts, buds, fruits, etc.

If you give them mixed bird seed, nuts, fruits and veggies - is that enough (assuming you also research the specific needs of each specie of bird)?

Any specific vitamins one would recommend that's really good for feather growth and quality?

Awesome thread, and Awesome replies and information!!!

Nutrition, im always reading up on. But then I have to read again as not all stays in my head!

Things I find helpful to keep in mind..

Know your burds weight and track and log weakly..a 3% change in body mass investigate, a 5% change investigate and seek veterinarian care, 5%-10% quickly get to veterinarian. Plus 10% body mass loss asap veterinarian and you are going to have to supplement, support, I use baby burd formula.

Sub adults are still going to bulk up as they reach maturity, so keep that in mind. Species specific. I know for my weaned green checks there was 10-14 gram gain change to adult 2 plus year age. For my weaned quakers there was an increase of 10-25 grams change till 2 years , both of these species seemed to stabilize at 2 years.

You will also pick up hormonal weight gain this way, females are going to increase slightly in breeding season this is normal . Researching breeders also found this to be true in what they see and expect. A big jump and you know they are carrying eggs. Sometimes a slight environmental intervention at this time and you may get lucky and they will re absorb eggs and not go into production. Like moving cage, re arrange, light cycle change, reducing fatty foods , temporarily stopping offering any warm foods.
I only had experience with one male , and his weight increased slightly during each spring breeding season as well. I wasn't able to find information on male hormonal weight change..

What you offer isn't always what's consumed.

Majority of parrots evolved in biological rich environments , with a lot of Nutrition options. Food is readily available, or some species move to follow seasonal availability.

Parrots have a relatively simple quick moving digestive system. You've noticed all the poops ;)
Evolution because of readily available abundance..and as a flighted prey species. They can't be gut loaded down and still fly off quickly..

Parrots didn't evolve to carry a lot of fat stores. Yes some species in captivity can get chubby, Amazon, budgies, cockatiels come to mind..But most Parrots species didn't evolve to carry subcutaneous fat stores or large fat stores. Not needed as stable temperatures environment (most) and because of food availability. This is also why they can get in trouble quickly they live a thin metabolic line, high metabolism, high body temperature, quick moving digestion, little place to store fat.

Caloric need isn't static. A 5 degree drop in temperatures ( American so im talking Fahrenheit, yep sucks at metric) increases Calories need. Xtra stress, activity. Molt is a big one! I've read several studies , eye opener on what's going on in their bodies at this time!! Plasma volume increases even doubling, internal organs are temporarily changed either shrinking liver or increase liver size, immune system changes and more. Molt can increase calories needed by 25% to even 3x the base normal! Usually more protein is also needed at molt. A scruffy look during molt isn't normal. As a community wouldn't shouldn't accept this and validate it. You can make diet changes and you will see a difference. Except for our flock members dealing with chronic health issues, like heart, liver, kidney, advanced age...because molt is so hard on them you might still see some scruffiness .

All of that is important information to keep in mind when thinking about Parrot nutrition.

You might research elclctus parrot diets , as many owners go all fresh. But eckkies are a little unique with slower digestive systems. Maybe evevolved with less abundance. Ok not getting off track on them. But it's a good start point..they still have to include some fats and carbs.

And look into balanced chop recipes. I read a good article from Pamela Clark. Many others out there.

Good old vitamin D, not a lot of diet options to get outside of pellets. So natural unfiltered sunlight exposure. No idea how much is needed ? Daily/weekly/ monthly i don't know. I try and have mine spend time outside safely when I can..

My feeding is something I'm always thinking about and evolving. Currently I'm heavy on the fresh stuff, with seeds and pellets as well.
 

Aurornis

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I have an Abysinian Lovebird, and according to the people who breed them, they need a higher fat diet...maybe because they live up high in the mountains in cooler weathers..supposed to be able to tolerate up 5 celsius, but my apt. is normal temperature.
 
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