Parrot Nutrition

Nutrition is one of the key factors in the general health, longevity, and the well being of any animal, whether we talk about cats, dogs, birds or any other pets. In today's world, we are becoming more conscious of the effects of the environment and are constantly researching to enhance our knowledge. Avian science has many issues to deal with such as pollution, dwindling natural habitats, declining species and more recently, the avian flu.

One of the most common mistakes is failing to provide essential dietary needs to our birds. But when they are met, you have a healthy bird with stunning colorful plumage, a happy song, and a great activity level.

Birds are natural foragers and it is important that they taste and enjoy variety daily. In the wild, the parents will teach their young the correct combinations and types of foods which are available to them. In captivity, we as owners need to provide all the essential nutrients to achieve optimum health.

People try to understand the differences between seed and pelleted diets. Of course one of the obvious differences is the mess and the waste of the hulls from the seeds. Seed diets can work if you augment with other foods, fruits, vegetables and add fiber, vitamins, minerals and water. You have to remember that on a seed diet the birds are hulling husks from some or most of the seed and loose nutrition in doing so. Seed diets tend to have excessive fats due to "oilseeds" such as safflower. This leads to low water intake as water is a by-product when fat metabolizes. Also stools tend to be smaller and more compact.

Formulated pelleted diets have more correct balances of nutrients to meet the life cycle of birds. Formulated diets have proper balance of fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Some examples of additives such as chelated minerals, which absorb into the system better or using beta-caroltene which can be converted into vitamin A as needed by the bird.

There are many formulas on the market such as Zupreem, Harrisons, Rowdybush, and Tropican just to name a few. As a bird owner, you have to look at and evaluate the value of each brand in relation to your individual bird and see what works best. Every brand will have good nutritional value, but not work best for every pet bird. Most companion birds tend to lead a sedentary life, compared to their life in the wild, so it is important to watch they don't get overweight, which can easily happen as their food source is constant and always there, compared to the life in nature.

I work for Rolf C Hagen and so will speak a bit about the Propican/Tropimix line. Tropican was developed at the Hagen Avicultural Research Institute, which is known as HARI and is located near Montreal, Quebec.

It was started in 1985 and in under the direction of Mark Hagen who has a masters in agricultural science. Their goal is to promote health in birds and they study breeding and maintenance. They have approximately 300 breeding pairs of over 60 species, which allows them extensive results. They do publish papers on their research and this research is available upon request.

Tropican is a blend of 8 grains, nuts and rosemary which is full of antioxidants which help detoxify the cardio vascular system. It is fortified with vitamins, minerals and amino acids which are crucial for feather and muscle growth. It is a good conversion diet for a seed eating bird to get familiar with an extruded diet.

They then developed Tropimix which is a blend of Tropican together with fruits, nuts and vegetables. There are 5 blends available.

  1. Egg Food mixture for finches, canaries and budgies;
  2. Cockatiel and lovebirds blend;
  3. Small Parrots;
  4. Medium Parrots;
  5. Large Parrots.
We feel the formula offers natural ingredients, good digestibility, nutrition and palatability.

They also have Premium and Gourmet lines which are a seed mixture.

Another product is the Prime line which is a supplement which contains 14 vitamins and 9 minerals along with extra Vitamin C & E and a fruity flavoring. Added to this is Lysine and methionine which are amino acids for digestion. Also included are probitics which beneficial bacterias need for the digestive tract to work effectively. It was designed as a supplement with nutrient on a basis of need.