in aviculture since 1973

 Diet Recommendations

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Read the articles linked below for more information about avian nutrition and
why it is so important to your bird's health!
The DNA of antioxidants
11/17/05 Read this article about how nutrients can actually affect the genes!
excellent article on pelleted diets
article re: aflatoxins in foods

Feeding YouFeeding Your Bird for Health (article by David McCluggage, DVM)hÓ
the importance of phytonutrients

This plate of food contains sprouted seeds and grains, chopped leafy greens (kale and dandelion), beets, carrots, yams, celery, green beans, green peas, broccoli, cucumbers, okra, and some dry seed. This is how our basic diet typically looks, although the exact ingredients vary from week to week, depending upon what fresh produce is available. This dish of food is bursting with phytonutrients!

Our philosophy regarding diet is to feed as natural a diet as is possible in captivity. In the wild, exotic birds have access to a large variety of nutritious fresh foods that vary as to season. We cannot duplicate the diets that various species would eat in the wild but feeding a large variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, and grains comes the closest to this. We are often asked if we recommend either a seed diet or a pelleted diet and the answer to that is neither. Instead our diet is based on sprouted grains and seeds and raw and cooked vegetables with some fruits also.

We feed all of the ingredients in one dish mixed together. This is fed once as early as possible in the morning. I recommend feeding slighty more than a bird will consume in a 24 hour period. For most species, about a half cup of food is adequate for a 24 hour period. Watch your bird's daily food intake and feed slightly more than birds like to eat small meals throughout the day.

We feed very limited amounts of processed food (i.e. pelleted diets) to our birds and therefore do not recommend that a pelleted diet be fed as a primary diet for psittacine species.
excellent article on pelleted diets
In particular, Eclectus Parrots can be very sensitive to processed foods and we do NOT recommend feeding a pelleted diet to Eclectus Parrots. Please read this article regarding the possible consequences of feeding processed food to Eclectus:
Toe Tapping from the Combined Perspectives of an
Eclectus Owner and an Avian Veterinarian

We sprout a large variety of grains and seeds on a daily basis. We use the sprouting kits sold by China Prairie Company as a basis for our sprouting regimen. Two types of kits are available, AFD-Psittacine and AFD-Micrograin. We use the AFD-Micrograin and add additional grains to the mixture. AFD-Micrograin is comprised of triticale, rice, millet, alfalfa, fenugreek, buckwheat, fennel, flax seed, dill seed, sesame seed, amaranth, quinoa, mung bean, radish seed, and red clover seed. We add hulled sunflower seed, corn, garbanzo beans, red peas, lima beans, white beans, red wheat, lentils, and other varieties of pulses to this sprouting mixture for larger species. China Prairie Company provides an additive named Fresh Stabilizer that is added to the soaking water of the sprouts to prevent fungal and bacterial growth. Included also is a powdered additive named Fresh Addition that is chock full of nutrients. It contains spirulina blue-green algae, barley grass, alfalfa leaf, kelp powder, and a number of other ingredients that provide 88 trace minerals. If the weather is too cold for proper sprouting, this grain and seed mixed can be boiled about thirty minutes instead of sprouting it.
Another quality company that sells sprouting kits and mixes is Beane's Birds:
tip: In warmer weather/climates a cooked mixture will spoil much faster than will properly-sprouted seeds and grains.

Please direct any questions regarding China Prairie's sprouting kits to China Prairie Company.

To the sprouted grains we add a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits in season. These vary due to availability and season. Fresh vegetables that we recommend include broccoli, peppers (hot peppers are ok), green beans, peas, celery, cucumber, corn on the cob, squashes, and okra. Thawed frozen vegetables are a close second to fresh, if fresh ones are not available/possible. Recommended fruits are apples, papayas, mangos, oranges, pomegranate, platano bananas, cactus fruits, grapes, berries, and figs. Please do not feed dried fruits out of a package to your birds and think they are getting all the nutrients that fresh ripe fruits provide! Dark green leafy greens such as kale, mustard, dandelion, Swiss chard, arugula, escarole, turnip tops, and beet tops should be fed often. We boil root vegetables such as beet roots, carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, and turnips for about thirty minutes, cool, and then chop into small pieces. Boiling these roots increases their digestibility and palatability.
tip: The darker the color of a vegetable or fuit, the more nutritious phytonutrients it contains! For example, a leaf of Swiss chard or mustard greens is MUCH healthier to eat than iceberg lettuce. A ripe strawberry is healthier to eat than a white grape. A yam is healthier to eat than a white potato.

The sprouted grains and seeds and raw and boiled vegetables are mixed together and occasionally, a small amount of pelleted avian diet (we like Mazuri and Apple Jungle by Marion Zoological) is added to the mix. Pellets are only a small percentage of the total diet. We do not recommend processed food (pellets) to be the basic diet for parrots. excellent article on pelleted diets
Dry seed such as sunflower or safflower and/or nuts for macaws and African Greys or small millet for small species can be added as well. We also add a dicalcium phosphorous powder to the mixture. Currently we are using the powder made by
Omaha Vaccine. We also use the following powdered vitamin-mineral mixtures: Avia, Vionate, and Fresh Addition (by China Prairie Company).


 Our fresh diet is fed once a day
in the morning in one dish as shown.
Some species require additions to their diet. For example, macaws require a lot of fat and oil in their diet. Therefore we provide mixed nuts in the shell for large macaw species. Hyacinth Macaws eat these nuts as a major portion of their diet and are also fed fresh coconut. Nuts that we feed include Brazils, almonds, pecans, walnuts, macadamias, and filberts.
tip: An occasional treat of a salted nut is not detrimental, but a bird should not be allowed to eat a large amount of any salted food.

African Greys are fed some dry sunflower seed as they benefit from extra oil in their diet. Most cockatoo species do best on a lower fat diet, therefore oil seeds and nuts should be very limited in their diet.

Human table food such as pasta, scrambled eggs, rice, cooked beans, crackers, for example, are ok if fed in small portions. Too much animal protein in the diet is NOT GOOD so feed SMALL AMOUNTS of egg, cheese etc. A small amount is the size of a pea or nut. Birds cannot properly digest milk products so feed these sparingly, if at all. Never feed avocado (guacamole) or chocolate to birds.
tip: We do not recommend that meat of any kind be fed to most psittacines. Chicken or beef that is not thoroughly cooked can transmit dangerous (if not fatal) bacteria such as Salmonella and E.coli if fed to a bird. Also, too much animal protein in the psittacine (very large majority of species) diet is NOT GOOD.

Lories eat a specialized diet of course. We use Cuttlebone Plus' Lory Life products for our lories. We also feed shredded fruits and vegetables to them. Many lories species will also enjoy very ripe sweet fruits such as figs, papaya, berries, cactus fruits, grapes, pomegranates, mango, etc.
tip: Buy fresh fruits in season and vary them to give interest to your lory's diet!

Softbilled species such as mynahs, touracos, thrushes, hornbills, pekin robins, mesias, and chloropsis require specialized diets. We feed a wide variety of fruits such as papaya, melons, apples, figs, berries, platano bananas, plums, oranges, and grapes to our softbills. Kaytee mynah pellets and Reliable Protein Products low-iron softbilled diet are also fed. Some species eat insects, so we provide mealworms, jumbo mealworms, crickets, waxworms, and fruit flies for these species. Scrambled eggs (thoroughly cooked) are also enjoyed by many softbilled species. We use the Lory Life nectar products as well for species such as Chloropsis.

We recommend open water crocks or dishes for birds to drink and
to bathe.
We do not recommend water bottles for birds. These are for rodents, in my opinion! A drinking bottle is totally unnatural for birds. Birds should have the opportunity to access open water for bathing and, yes, food dunking if they want to do so. If not cleaned frequently and correctly, such bottles can harbor bacteria that can be very dangerous to your bird! Putting water soluble vitamins in the drinking water is not recommended as these can grow bacteria in the water quite rapidly. Clean water dishes thoroughly every day; if you detect a slimy feel in the dish, it is NOT CLEAN! Occasionally using a light chlorox solution on water and food crocks/dishes will greatly aid in elimination of harmful bacteria and fungus. Leaving them to dry completely in the bright sun for at least fifteen minutes is an excellent sterilization technique, free of disinfectants or chemicals. A regular light washing/scrub with regular liquid soap and water is fine for most maintenance days. Always rinse well!
tip: If you keep two sets of crocks/dishes, you can more easily maintain a clean set, ready to use!

Our baby birds are weaned onto a fresh, natural diet. If you purchase one of our babies, please continue to feed a healthy natural diet and do not feed it a main diet of processed pellets or just seed. Fresh vegetables and fruits, sprouted seeds and grains, and other whole foods will keep your baby as healthy as when it left our facility!e
tip: Don't be discouraged if your bird does not immediately eat a new food.
Keep offering the food and try eating some yourself in front of the bird while showing your obvious enjoyment!
althy ones as "dessert".

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