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

finchly

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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...
Please add have the space to do it... there are differences (I'll use my own living spaces over the years as examples) in living on a farm, where one can grow veggies and millet etc. very easily.... living in an apartment, where you not only CANT grow things but don't have the counter space to mix your foods easily... then a house with all the space but the weather doesn't allow all the things. We can't even grow dandelion greens here, it's too hot.

Also there's just the "want to" factor, I know someone who needs to grow sprouts but tried it -- ONE TIME -- and they molded so she said it's too much work. Honestly if you practice.... repetition makes it easier and faster.

<snip> 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.
Well, you assume there are no problems. Because you haven't seen any yet. Unless you've had all sorts of tests done, I don't think you can say "nothing" has happened.

I strongly recommend against ANY form of dairy for birds. They lack the enzyme to digest it, so it is completely unnecessary and possibly harmful.
 

Pixiebeak

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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.
Definitely all parrot species are unique with special niches!

I just tried to cover some basics.
 

finchly

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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
Hi, I think the only problem I (personally ) would have with this is the expense. Freeze dried comes in tiny portions for a big price. If that's not an issue for you -- great! :)
 

Aurornis

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so given the cost is not an issue, which of the products that I bought should be fed the most?

The seeds, sprouts, veggies, nuts , etc.?

I suppose the seeds and nuts will be easy...

The bird chop I have to shopping for...,and again and again..

I'm looking for companies that do bulk freeze-dried non GMO, but some of them contain onions!
 

aooratrix

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I feed my birds pellets for 2 reasons:
1) if something were to happen to me, anyone can provide pellets. My birds will have food.​
2) we don't know exactly what nutrition their biologies require, so I offer variety, hoping to at least come close​
As far as I know, there are not many food items we can offer (I have South American parrots) that are indigenous to their home ranges. I know that some SA psittacines get corn by raiding fields, but there are GMO issues with a lot of corn, not to mention the nutritional values, particularly sugar. I think that, with the limitations we have in terms of availability, we have to offer as much variety as possible. I offer whole raw, sprouts, naturally colored pellets, a dry mix I make containing seeds, grains, dried flowers, freeze-dried fruits and veggies; and nuts. I also give some things that I consider to be supplements, like certain spices, bee pollen, red palm oil, coconut oil, and spirulina.
 

aooratrix

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Feeding a lot of freeze-dried is problematic for me as parrots acquire a lot of water from food ingestion, so if you don't hydrate the FD foods, that might be a problem.
 

Aviphile

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Please add have the space to do it... there are differences (I'll use my own living spaces over the years as examples) in living on a farm, where one can grow veggies and millet etc. very easily.... living in an apartment, where you not only CANT grow things but don't have the counter space to mix your foods easily... then a house with all the space but the weather doesn't allow all the things. We can't even grow dandelion greens here, it's too hot.

Also there's just the "want to" factor, I know someone who needs to grow sprouts but tried it -- ONE TIME -- and they molded so she said it's too much work. Honestly if you practice.... repetition makes it easier and faster.


Well, you assume there are no problems. Because you haven't seen any yet. Unless you've had all sorts of tests done, I don't think you can say "nothing" has happened.

I strongly recommend against ANY form of dairy for birds. They lack the enzyme to digest it, so it is completely unnecessary and possibly harmful.
I have always fed my birds this way, every Vet that we have ever worked with knows this. There have been plenty of tests done. Maybe some education is in order :)

This information is from Dr. Peter Sakas, he is the author of Essentials of Avian Medicine: A Guide for Practitioners.

He has several articles available and here are some clips from one of his articles.

High Lighted Nutrition-in-Pet-Birds_Page_1.jpg
High Lighted Nutrition-in-Pet-Birds_Page_3.jpg
High Lighted Nutrition-in-Pet-Birds_Page_6.jpg
Here is a link to the full article https://nilesanimalhospital.com/files/2012/05/Nutrition-in-Pet-Birds.pdf and a link to all of the other articles for anyone interested. Avian Articles

The following is from Avian Medicine 3rd ed by Jaime Samour Avian Medicine: 9780723438328: Medicine & Health Science Books @ Amazon.com

Avian Medicine 3rd Ed cover.jpg
Avian Medicine 3rd Ed chapter 3_Page_01 crop.jpg
Avian Medicine 3rd Ed chapter 3_Page_02 crop.jpg
Avian Medicine 3rd Ed chapter 3_Page_04.jpg
Avian Medicine 3rd Ed chapter 3_Page_05 crop.jpg

This is how I feed my birds and I have been doing so for more than 30 years. If you need more resources please don't hesitate to let me know because I have them, I have a robust library of 450 to 500 Avian books.
 

Aurornis

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Great article, but how about Omega Fats, pellets, even if they have them, when opened will oxidize, just like kibble, plus many pellets have coloring and processed, so then vitamins have to be added back, which will not make them as bio-available. I can see the value of pellets, but I'm not sure that's the way to go when it comes to comprehensive nutrition. So far, Dr. Crean's nutrition advice makes the most perfect sense to me from all the info I've seen.
 

Aurornis

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Great article, but how about Omega Fats, pellets, even if they have them, when opened will oxidize, just like kibble, plus many pellets have coloring and processed, so then vitamins have to be added back, which will not make them as bio-available. I can see the value of pellets, but I'm not sure that's the way to go when it comes to comprehensive nutrition. So far, Dr. Crean's nutrition advice makes the most perfect sense to me from all the info I've seen.
But I will definitely look and seek all...
 

Aurornis

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My plan was to feed freeze-dried (sprouts, fruits, veggies), organic mix seed, and at least fresh food once or twice a week, and TOPS pellets twice a week.
 

finchly

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I have always fed my birds this way, every Vet that we have ever worked with knows this. There have been plenty of tests done. Maybe some education is in order :)
What tests, specifically, have you run? How have you proven your theories? Can you show us?

However these articles do not state that feeding dairy is useful, in fact the opposite.

I use a diverse whole food raw diet ( with a few cooked exceptions because some nutrients are better absorbed this way). I like how @aooratrix outlined his birds’diet.

I only addressed this because I don’t want newbies to read your comments and think it’s a great idea to feed their birds a lot of dairy. I stand by my statement.

PS I’m the last person who need “education “ on the topic of feeding pet birds. You just never know who you’re talking to on the internet. :)
 

Tyrion

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I have to agree with finchly feeding dairy is not something I would feed or ever recommend :)
 

rocky'smom

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I agree with no dairy. Rocky ( bird in the picture)would sneak a bite or two of yogurt, if I left the room. But I would never give to him period. Bebe gets both pellets and seeds 60/40 percent. He get a warm breakfast every morning of cooked cereal grains, veggies both whole and mashed occasionally almond sliver or a cashew chuck no peanut or grapes or raisins.
 

Aviphile

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I feed my birds pellets for 2 reasons:
1) if something were to happen to me, anyone can provide pellets. My birds will have food.​
2) we don't know exactly what nutrition their biologies require, so I offer variety, hoping to at least come close​
As far as I know, there are not many food items we can offer (I have South American parrots) that are indigenous to their home ranges. I know that some SA psittacines get corn by raiding fields, but there are GMO issues with a lot of corn, not to mention the nutritional values, particularly sugar. I think that, with the limitations we have in terms of availability, we have to offer as much variety as possible. I offer whole raw, sprouts, naturally colored pellets, a dry mix I make containing seeds, grains, dried flowers, freeze-dried fruits and veggies; and nuts. I also give some things that I consider to be supplements, like certain spices, bee pollen, red palm oil, coconut oil, and spirulina.
I use to consume Hawaiian brand Spirulina and I gave it to all the birds. I never noticed any great benefit in myself while using it and I can’t say I saw any real benefit to the birds either. That is not the reason that I stopped the use of it though, I stopped taking after I went to the doctor for feeling so run down and when my labs came back my iodine was high and I mean extremely high. I don’t really remember what the normal range was but mine was close 3000 way above the normal, I’ll see if I still have the labs. I wasn’t taking anything else with iodine so the only source had to be the Spirulina. I wasn’t taking any huge dose either but I was taking it daily. I stopped taking the Spirulina and 2 weeks later I was retested and my iodine was back in the normal range. Needless to say I haven’t taken it since.

Then I started researching Spirulina and that is when I started coming across all the negative and warning articles. Articles talking about all the heavy metals like lead, arsenic and mercury found in Spirulina along with mycrosystins Microcystin - Wikipedia
The words like cytotoxin, high iodine and liver damage, well I just no longer felt comfortable taking it or giving it to the birds.



 

Aviphile

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Sorry for my delayed response, I have been swamped with work, computer problems, car problems and renovation delays.

Theory? I merely stated what I feed my birds and will continue to feed them.

I am afraid that we are in a disagreement over the articles. I do believe that Dr. Peter Sakas article was pretty clear and easy to understand.

C. Protein Supplements

Supplementation with proteins of animal origin can compensate effectively for the deficiencies of seeds. Pet birds can be fed such foods as meat, fish, cheese, milk and eggs. Birds can digest these foods well but do not feed any particular food in excess.

There has to be at least 6 entries on this forum that I have come across stating that they took their bird to the Veterinarian and was told to give them yogurt … So trust them if they agree with you and don’t trust them if they don’t, is that correct?

I am also familiar with the “they aren’t mammals” argument. No they aren’t and no they most probably wouldn’t eat it in the wild but that argument also extends to most of the foods that they are feed in captivity. Peanut are grown underground therefor they wouldn’t be in their diet either, along with sweet potatoes, carrots, beets and so on. Pellets, crackers, pizza, pasta and thousands of other processed foods wouldn’t be in their diet either. Soy, wheat and corn are the basis for all processed foods herein the U.S., all are carbohydrates and are converted into sugar after you digest the. Ultra processed foods have very little if any real nutritional value they are high calorie malnutrition foods. Thiamine Deficiency Disease, Dysautonomia, and High Calorie Malnutrition a book by Chandler Marrs and Derrick Lonsdale an awesome book by the way.

This is their website just in case you are curious or want to check them out. Hormones Mattter



Raw Soy beans are TOXIC , “soy beans contain lectins, glycoproteins that bind to carbohydrates(sugars) in cells. This can damage the cells or lead to cell death in the gastrointestinal tract. Lectins may bind to the intestinal walls, damaging the cells and affecting nutrient absorption as well as causing short-term gastrointestinal side effects. Unlike most proteins, lectins aren't broken down by enzymes in the intestine, so the body can't use them. Lectins can affect the normal balance of bacteria in the intestine and the immune system in the digestive tract.” This is a direct quote from the following link. What Happens if You Eat Raw Soybeans?

Corn and soy make up the bulk of every pellet on the market. Not to mention that parrot pellets aren’t made off of any legitimate parrot research they are based off of poultry research. The poultry that is used in our food supply, so let’s see a broiler chicken’s life span is 7 weeks, laying chickens 18 months, turkeys 5 months and ducks depending on what they are used for 7-20 weeks. So they based the diet of a parrot that can live anywhere from 15 years to some well over 50 years on what they feed to birds that have a very short life. WOW! Mind blowing or what?

What do these animal proteins contribute to the diet? They have a complete amino acid profile and are filled with vitamins and minerals here are the nutritional profiles (amino acids, vitamins and minerals) for whole milk.

Milk-whole vitamins.png Milk-whole minerals.png Milk-whole  Amino Acids.png


Show me 1 just 1 legitimate research article that says birds can’t have milk, just 1. Yeah I have read ‘birds can’t have milk’ and it ALWAYS make me laugh! It just does not compute. What is lactose, besides a milk sugar? Lactose is a disaccharide made up of glucose and galactose (two monosaccharides). Can a bird digest glucose? Can birds digest galactose? Which one of these would be the problem glucose or galactose? Glucose and galactose are found together in so many foods, foods that they eat all the time. Glucose and galactose are together in sweet corn, a lot of fruits like peaches, pears, papaya, cherries, watermelon, cantaloupe, dates, figs, and bananas I could go on. Galactose is in bell peppers (all colors), peanuts, sweet corn, celery, basil, olives, tomatoes, and a variety of beans and a lot of herbs and spices. With corn and peanuts being the main ingredient in most pellets how could it be something that they can’t digest. If they can eat all of these other foods with the same sugars tell me why wouldn’t they be able to digest milk? The logic doesn’t make any sense. If a bird is malnourished and lacking in what is needed to have good digestion (vitamins and minerals) then yes they might have problems with digestion in general, having nothing to do with milk, milk just took the blame!

There are some people with rare genetic mutations that can cause them to have Galactosaemia due to their inability to metabolize the sugar galactose. They don’t have to just avoid milk /dairy they have to avoid other galactose containing foods as well. There are different genetic variations that determine the severity of the disease and that in turn determines how much galactose containing foods they have to avoid. Galactosemia: MedlinePlus Genetics

There are a growing number of medications that a person can take that can and do cause gastrointestinal distress. There are a number of reasons why that happens too, nutritional deficiencies play a big part. Take any of the tetracycline antibiotics, they can cause any number of gastrointestinal problems and when I have taken them they really do make you think that you are unable to digest any milk or anything to do with the whole dairy department and for me it did not matter if I used it in cooking it still made me sick! Several years back (2017) a lot of commercial milks were found with high levels of tetracycline in them and I am sure this wasn’t the first time. https://www.nmpf.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Tetracycline-FAQ-Sheet.pdf

I provide a wide variety of foods to my birds. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, spouts, as well as animal proteins and that does include meats, fish (salmon) eggs, cheese, greek yogurt, kefir, butter, ghee (clarified butter) and occasionally some milk and pudding. I also give them goat’s milk and goat cheese. Coconut milk is also popular around here.

I chop up the fruits and vegetables and I arrange them and all the foods in the bowl in little piles then I wait to see what they eat first, for Mandy it’s the eggs. I don’t force my birds to eat anything, they eat what they want. You hear people say that they will only eat their favorites. Haha Yeah that isn’t exactly true. They may eat that food for a while then one day just up and stop and not touch it again for a long time. Their favorite will change on a regular and you will be shocked when you see it for yourself. They really do seem to know what they need when it comes to nutrition, now that isn’t to say that they don’t eat some foods just because they like them.

It has never been my nature to tell someone what to think or what to do. I will share with anyone what I know and what has worked for me. What they choose to do with that information is entirely up to them. It would be my hope that someone new to birds would assess all options in feeding their birds. What area does the bird originate from? What foods are native to that area? What foods are people feeding and what problems are associated with the parrots eating them? I hope that they would read some books and learn what they can about nutrition. It would be a lot more informative than just repeating the same old dogma that the pet food industry started to scare people into the feeding the foods that they were trying to sell. There are a lot of good resources on food nutrition out there; website, books and documentaries. If you need help finding some good books please let me know. Pet Fooled is a good documentary about pet foods. The Truth about Pet Foods website Truth about Pet Food - Knowing the truth can save your pet's life Fat: A Documentary and Fat: A Documentary 2 are both worth the time spent watching them.

Here is another article about Feeding Birds for Optimal Health by Janine Perlman, Ph.D.


I find it ironic that I read all the time not to give a bird apple seeds or pits from fruits because they have cyanide in them. Why worry about that cyanide and not all the cyanide in the manmade B12 supplements added to the pellets, you know the pellets that they eat day after day. Oh yeah the cheap B12 that is used in all the processed foods both pet and peoples is cyanocobalamin. 1 molecule of cobalamin bound to 1 molecule of cyanide and yeah it’s that cyanide. Why worry about an apple seed? Where is the outrage over that cyanocobalamin? Cyanocobalamin - Wikipedia

I am surprised that the statement “supplement calcium and D3” didn’t draw the wrath. Why should you never supplement calcium and vitamin D3 alone? They don’t work well alone is why. They both need their cofactors and calcium that the body isn’t able to use usually ends up in joints and tissues (brain, heart, muscles) causing problems.



I honestly couldn’t say what tests that the Vet ran last time they were there, I’m sure they were whatever she felt were necessary. Whatever tests (blood, poop, swab) were taken this last visit the only info that I have was a voice message that all the labs were normal. My birds have never had to go to the Vet for any illness, feather, hormonal problems or egg laying and none except Levi has ever taken any medications for anything. The only time I have ever requested any testing is after acquiring a new bird and that was to make sure they aren’t carrying anything before they are brought around my other birds. All of my bids have been tested for Chlamydophila, Beak & Feather Disease and Avian Polyoma Virus and all lab tests came back negative. All of them have been micro chipped and outside of that they only have their yearly trip for a checkup. They are all metabolically healthy, of good weight and in good feather.

If you are implying a cholesterol problem they don’t have that problem either. In fact the cholesterol guidelines here in the United States aren’t based off of any research at all. It is all medical dogma, all of it and the poor people who follow the guidelines end up being the ones the most sick. Don’t believe me google the Minnesota Coronary Experiment (1968-1973) so you can read the research yourself. Here is an article from Diabetes.co.uk that is short sweet and to the point J Rediscovered study from 60s Minnesota shows up 'heart healthy diet’ myth - Diabetes

First chance I get I will show you photos of feathers from Heidi and Amanda to show you the difference the diet changes made to them. Levi and Zack has always eaten this way.

I’ll be in and out as time permits.
 

Sparkles99

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Wow. This is quite a detailed post! I just wish I could get my birds to eat any of the foods various people recommend.

The food I find it particularly bizarre to feed most bird species kept in captivity is egg. Just seems a bit odd to me. Most of ours aren’t egg eaters in the wild.
 

aooratrix

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I've had or worked with birds since I was 15; I'm 53 now. In that time, I've seen a lot of changes in fads and trends for parrot diets. I fed whole raw before their were internet communities to discuss parrot diets. I made chop but called it salad. I remember when we soaked monkey chow and offered that to birds and used it as a base for hand-feeding formula. I remember the big push to feed diets based on rice and beans. What a drag that was, soaking beans on the regular. I fed pellets when they came out, although most of them were dyed. When natural pellets became available, I switched to those. The one thing I've NEVER bought into is feeding birds dairy. Why? Their biologies are not designed to process dairy. Do some birds enjoy yogurt, cheese, etc. Sure. I enjoy sour cream and onion chips. Doesn't mean I can eat as many chips as I want.

Lactose Intolerance. World Parrot Trust (I am not suggesting that parrots are lactose intolerant. I didn't title the response)
Dairy Products and Birds

I could find more articles and/or copy and paste, but I have better things to do. I don't care if 6 vets recommend feeding dairy. Most vets have little more than basic dietary education. Whatever nutrients you're sourcing in dairy, you could find in foods parrots are designed to process. For example, if you want to ensure that your beds get calcium, offer sprouted seeds, almonds, beans & lentils, and dark, leafy greens. The older I get, the more I see that the Golden Mean has almost universal application. Almost everything is okay in moderation. If you want to feed dairy, knock yourself out. However, don't imply that birds should be getting dairy. There is NO environment on Earth in which wild psittacines feed on dairy.

My birds' feathers are shiny and beautiful, too.
 

expressmailtome

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I remember the big push to feed diets based on rice and beans. What a drag that was, soaking beans on the regular.
I still do this for a small part of Michael's diet as his veterinarian still says that in her experience it is very healthy, but I agree that it is a pain.
 

Xoetix

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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....
View attachment 417591
I know this is nearly two months later, but it’s really not recommended for any “pet” animal to eat something from outside. Insects and geckos (and pretty much anything else outside) could easy have ingested something that will make the eater sick, or walked through insecticide, come into contact with another creature’s feces, has an unknown parasite, etc.

I have both reptiles and arachnids, and would never feed either something I caught outside. The risk is too great for something like that.
 
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