What should I feed my Parrot and Is this food OK to give to my parrot?

What should I feed my Parrot?

What should I feed my Parrot?

What should I feed my Parrot? and Is this food OK to give to my Parrot? are the two most common questions I get asked from existing and new customers of Parrot Essentials. Food is the single most important element of keeping your parrots healthy. What should I feed my Parrot? is a question which we should ask before even deciding on what parrot to get as a companion.

PARROTS & FOOD

Parrots are extremely intelligent and they apply this intelligence to every aspect of their life including food.

Based on years of personal experience I am sad to report that most of the companion parrots are either over fed or fed the wrong diet all together. This approach to feeding is very damaging to their health, can lead to string of illnesses and worst of all a bad diet can shorten the life expectancy of your pet by half or more.

How to tell if you are over-feeding your parrot?

Use this very simple method to find out if you are over-feeding. Fill the bowls with food in the morning. At around 7pm check if there is still food in the bowl. If there is any food left uneaten you are over feeding. If there isn’t, then you may be under feeding. This should include all the food offerings, not just the seeds or pellets. If you are offering fresh mix, fruit or veg this should also be accounted for.

By feeding the right amount you will keep your parrot in optimal health and safe money too by not wasting food.

How to choose the right diet for your parrot?

WHAT SHOULD I FEED MY PARROTIn our store you can shop by Shop by Parrot Species. Find yours and look at what is available and recommended.

If you are not sure and still have any questions, please post it on the website or give us a call on 0800 327 7511.

 

parrot diets

Complete Parrot Food

The complete parrot food is in the form of pellets and each pellet contains the exact amount of nutrients, vitamins and minerals for a healthy and balanced parrot diet. When using a complete parrot food, you do not need to offer anything else as part of the diet. However, a lot of people like to give a little bit of fresh fruit and veg. That is fine if the fresh offering does not exceed 10% of the daily intake. If it does, then the diet is no longer complete.

Seed Based Parrot Food

Seed mixes for parrots should not be high on sunflower seeds or other fatty nuts and seeds (for example peanuts). The occasional fatty seed or nut is OK but it really should be used only as a treat and not on a daily basis. This is especially important for parrot who spend most of their time inside the cage.

Fresh Parrot Mixes

Seed sprouts, mixed with fresh fruit and veg have a higher nutritional value compared to non-sprouted seeds. The mix is tasty and readily accepted by most companion parrots. This type of parrot mix can be easily adapted to mimic the food your parrots will consume in the wild. Here is a link of how we make our Fresh Sprouted Mix. We came up with this mix a few years back after having a lengthy conversation with the renowned Neil Forbes (Great Wester Exocotics) about a way of feeding our birds a fresh and healthy food.  In this article we describe Step by Step of how to sprout and prepare the Fresh Parrot Mix.

Benson’ story (an example of bad diet)

This is the story of Bensons. An African Grey parrot we rescued a few years ago, who sadly is no longer with us only because she was on a poor diet. Benson’s owner (a friend of a friend) could no longer look after Benson and we were asked if we could care for her. When Benson arrived, we were advised that all she was fed during her lifetime was sunflower seed and an occasional apple or grape. Benson was 20 years old (owner had her from a baby).

As a responsible parrot owner, I immediately started the process of changing Benson’ diet to a healthier alternative. I was shocked but not surprised when she immediately started eating the new food offering and completely refused to eat sunflower seeds ever again.
Sadly, Benson had a heart attack after approximately 3 years with us and the autopsy revealed a fatty liver and clogged arteries.

I knew that she would not have a long life but I honestly expected her to be with us for at least another 5 – 10 years. My conversation with the Vet revealed that most African Greys on a bad diet do not make it past the age of 35. Just to clarify the life expectancy of an African Grey parrot is 50 – 60 years.

How to Change your Parrot’s Diet

Start by asking: What should I feed my parrot? If you think that your parrot is not eating well or is too fussy and will not eat what is good for a parrot, simply start by reducing the daily food offering. In a few days, you will see that your parrot will start trying new things.

If you think that a change of diet is what is required, choose the right one for your pet and slowly introduce the new food over a 4 – 6 week period. During this period gradually reduce the old food and increase the new food offering.

As a result, you will have a much healthier companion pet.

For older parrots and birds who have been on a poor diet over a long period I would recommend pellets, not a seed or fresh mix. You can still offer a little bit of fresh food with the pellets.

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Parrot Diet – Feeds, seeds, and health needs

Parrot Diet

Feeding a healthy and balanced parrot diet is one of the most important tasks for keeping healthy pet parrots. You don’t want to be the cause of any unwanted sickness and you don’t want to be the cause of any overfeeding. A large number of illnesses in pet parrots can be directly linked to incorrect parrot diet and overfeeding. In this blog we will provide you with the basic understanding of seed and complete diets for parrots and help you choose the right one for your feathered friend.

SEED VS COMPLETE PARROT DIETS

First and foremost, if you’re feeding your parrot a mixture of seeds, fresh fruit, and vegetables you are on the right track to keeping your parrot healthy.

FOOD TO AVOID

Toxic Parrot FoodsThere are kinds of foods you must avoid feeding your parrot to eliminate the onset of unwelcome illness. These foods include high-fat junk food (obviously we know this, but not uncommon), avocado, chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, fruit pits, persimmons, table salt, onions, apple seeds, and mushrooms. Many of the afore mentioned foods are primarily what humans eat, and we strongly urge you not to feed your parrot processed or cooked foods on a regular basis – as a treat every now and then is fine, however we recognise this as the first step towards poor health for your parrot. Processed food is bad for humans and twice as bad for pet birds. When was the last time you saw a McDonalds or Kebab shop in the jungle?

PICKY = OVER-FEEDING

What we all need to keep in mind is that parrots can be very picky when it comes to food. If you give them too much choice of different foods and large quantity of it, they will only eat what they like the most and waste the rest. Leading to not so healthy food regime despite the high quality ingredients you may be using. Almost 90% of the parrots in captivity I have come across are over-fed.

SEED PARROT DIETS

Tidymix Seed Parrot DietWhen considering seed diets, make sure it is low in sunflower seeds, rich in nutrition, and keep feeding to the appropriate quantity – make an effort to recognise when you’re over feeding. If you are not sure how much to feed your parrot, try this simple technique – In the morning feed your parrot as normal. In the evening (around 8pm) if there is still a lot of food in the bowl or uneaten food on the bottom of the cage and floor then you are over-feeding. Start reducing the amount of food you deliver by small fractions until you notice that by the evening all the food has been finished and there is hardly any waste.
For those of you who prefer to feed twice per day we would suggest that you get the right amount first, using the method above and then simply split it in two.
Here is a link to our range of healthy seed diets suitable for all parrots:
http://www.parrotessentials.co.uk/seed-diets-for-parrots

COMPLETE PARROT DIETS

Harrison's Organic Parrot DietFeeding on a complete parrot diet is of course very different. Complete diets contain everything that a bird needs when it comes to nutritional value, vitamins and minerals. This means you can feed your pet only on the pellets and nothing else. This will deliver the best possible diet to a pet parrot and it will most certainly keep them in top condition.
Many parrot owners are not happy explicitly feeding strictly pellets and prefer to give fresh fruit and vegetables too. That is fine, but then a complete diet becomes incomplete again. Still 100% better than a bad sunflower based seed diet. Right? If you are going to add a fresh mix to a complete diet you need to make sure that it is not more than 15% of the daily food intake.
Here is the link to the complete parrot diets in our store: http://www.parrotessentials.co.uk/complete-diets-for-parrots

Let’s take a look at potential causes of illness for your parrot and the optimal diet for your parrot.

POTENTIAL HEALTH RISKS & THE OPTIMAL PARROT DIET

Intuitively and factually it makes sense that the main causes of illness in parrots is due to poor diet, and poor environment. Other causes include trauma but is not as prominent as the above mentioned. Optimising diet and environmental conditions are the key steps towards avoiding the many problems that avian veterinarians identify as avoidable. Poor or inadequate diet is the number one culprit causing illness. Dietary deficiencies cause a wide range of diseases such as poor feather colour, feather picking, severe upper respiratory infections, and even egg binding when laying eggs.

Very often Avian vets will recommend switching from a seed parrot diet to a complete parrot diet if your parrot has been on a poor food mixture regime over a long period of time, that is mainly consisting of fatty nutrients, or if your parrot is showing signs of the aforementioned health deficiencies. If switching is required, it should never be done overnight, and if there is evidence of a medical condition consulting an avian veterinarian is of the utmost importance prior to doing so.

In most cases 4 – 6 weeks is plenty of time to change from one diet to another. Start by introducing the new food in small quantity and increase the amount offered every 2 – 3 days. At the same time decrease the quantity of the old food by the same amount.
The Optimal parrot diet is something all parrot owners need to consider, given that we all want our feathery friends to tick the boxes for healthy immune and digestive systems. The optimal diet will also promote healthy cognitive and social development for your parrot. The best way to think about this diet is to think of what food would be good for a human with a heart condition.

A mixture of pellets, fruits and vegetables are a great option. Adding multi-vitamins and supplements is a good way to boost healthy immune system activity in conjunction with the aforementioned dietary recommendations. Treats are permitted, but moderation is key! We suggest honey sticks or nuts once a month or less. ALWAYS make sure their bowl is clean and disinfected at all times! Seeds are a great addition to an optimal diet, however we will continue to stress how important it is to avoid sunflower and peanut based diets. Warning: If there is left over seeds, you are over-feeding or if your bird is overweight despite the absence of a fatty seed diet, you’re over feeding.

Avoid any infections with a clean cage at all times. Your parrots are like 3 -4 year olds – very intelligent we might add, but need that around the clock attention as much as possible. Clean bowls for both drinking and bathing are so important, and if you have more than one bird, make sure you are disinfecting their bowls on a daily basis.

Closing thoughts

Well we hope this helps you along your way to caring for your feathery friend and keeping them happy. Parrot diet is one thing, but optimal parrot care comes down to a holistic approach, coupled with the utmost attentiveness. Remember; your parrot is like a young child, treat them like one, observe them like one. Always consult your nearest avian vet if you identify any irregularities or signs of disease. We know your parrot will be happy and healthy if you are considering all needs across the board.

Fresh Parrot Diet as recommended by Parrot Essentials

fresh parrot diet

How to make our Fresh Parrot Diet

fresh parrot dietMany people have asked us how we prepare our fresh parrot diet, so we decided to put it on the web for everyone to read and use. We hope you like it.

The measures below are for one large parrot such as an Amazon or African Grey and should last for three to four days. For smaller parrots such as conures you may want to halve the proportions and for larger parrots such as macaws or large cockatoos you may want to double them.

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Soak 50g of Tidymix Pulse & Rice soaking mix for at least 6 hours.
  2. Drain and rinse the mix well.
  3. Spread the mix evenly on a tray. You can use any tray as long as the seeds don’t dry out but for best result you should use seed sprouter.
  4. Keep the seeds in the seed sprouter for 24 hours and rinse them 2 – 3 times during this period to keep them moist.
  5. Put the sprouted seeds in a plastic container (that has a secure lid).
  6. Boil 50gr of brown rice and let it cool (we add the dried chillies from the Tidymix seeds to the rice while boiling)
  7. Mix the rice and sprouted seeds together.
  8. Chop the fruit and vegetables into small pieces and add to the mix (They should be the same size as the rice grains when chopped).
  9. Mix all well and keep refrigerated.
  10. If not used by day four discard any leftovers.
  11. Start preparing a new batch two or three days after the first batch.
  12. It is as simple as that to prepare your fresh parrot diet and we hope your parrots will enjoy it as much as ours.

IMPORTANT

  • Never make drastic changes to your bird’s diet, especially if the bird is not used to eating fresh parrot diet.
  • If your birds is unwell or on medication always consult your avian vet before changing its diet.
  • If you have been advised by your avian vet to keep a specific diet please stick to it.
  • Our fresh parrot diet is not a solution to any medical problem but it will certainly assist in providing your bird with its daily quota of fresh fruit and veg.
  • Never keep this fresh parrot mix for more than four days.
  • Always consult a avian vet if the bird displays any unusual signs.

You can find a list of vets on our website but our preferred vet is Neil Forbes from Great Western Referrals.

Parrot Diet – What shall I give my Parrot to Eat?

healthy diet

Parrot Diet and Nutrition. What’s the best diet for parrots?
There’s no proven scientific answer. Pellets? Seeds? Homemade?
Maybe as many interesting combinations as species of parrot? There is no 100% agreement on parrot diet and nutrition in captivity. There is no scientific evidence that any one diet produces Healthier parrots but plenty of evidence that poor diets result in bad health. (obesity, poor feather quality, Aspergillosus, gout, stroke – a dismaying list) No one has yet made a controlled experiment with three matched groups of parrots: one group fed on junk food; one group on pellets and fresh food and one group on a seed diet with fresh additions. How long would that have to be carried out to be valid? 5, 10, 15 or 20 years? In the absence of accepted scientific proofs how can the conscientious caregiver choose?

Here are some useful questions to ask yourself?

  1. What is your species of parrot and what would it eat in the wild?
  2. Does the parrot have plenty of exercise or is it largely sedentary?
  3. Will using commercial pellets save you time and money?
  4. Will using a commercial seed mix suit you better?
  5. Have you got reliable sources for fresh food and vegetables?
  6. Can you source wild foods from countryside gardens, friends etc?
  7. How many and what sort of nuts does your parrot need and enjoy?
  8. Are you willing to make a mash diet and freeze portions?
  9. Will you add sprouted seeds and legumes to the diet?
  10. How to evaluate your diet? Will you monitor the weight, the feather condition and bright eyes of the healthy bird?

Let me answer my ten questions with reference to my birds and my friends’ birds.

1. What is your species of parrot and what would it eat in the wild?Delicious
I keep a multi bird household. Seven indoor birds, two cockatoos hens an Umbrella and a Lesser sulphur Crested, three African Greys, 2 aged wild caught Orange winged Amazons and 20 mixed species of parakeet in the aviary. Wild cockatoos habitats range from dry bush land in Australia to humid forests in Indonesia and the Philippines. Therefore their diets can vary considerably, consisting of fruit and fruit seeds, nuts, flowers, corn where they can find it. African Greys feed mainly on the palm nut, a food high in fat. In the wild, Amazons will eat things like larvae and adult bugs, fruits, berries, harvest grains, nectars, eggs, .etc. Surprisingly, it has only recently been discovered that SOME species of wild amazons and large parrots do NOT have seed in their diet. My sun conures originating from South America like their wild cousins prefer fruit. Australian parakeets eat a lot of grasses and of course insects.

2. Does the parrot have plenty of exercise or is it largely sedentary?parrot
Wild birds need a high energy diet because they fly long distances. Our birds don’t. An American vet wrote saying that 80% of his cases were poor nutrition. Obese parrots like obese people have been eating too many calories. Captive birds might need the same volume of food as free flying birds but with lower fat content, so unless they take plenty of exercise they need the fat content of their diet restricted. As with all animals the more physical activity the more fuel is needed. Also temperature is a factor. I live in East Anglia and the parakeets are outdoors 24/7. I increase the fat content of their diet when the barometer drops. I top up with added sunflowers and monkey nuts in shell and weekly cooked chicken bones. In the below zero temperatures on recent winters I have never lost a bird to cold.

Bobo my rescue umbrella is a thin cockatoo. She has had a traumatic life and after two years here still has a picky appetite. If allowed she would live on chocolate biscuits and pizza but she is NOT. Although she does get tiny treats of what must have been her favourite foods in a previous home.

3. Will using commercial pellets save you time and money?
Oh dear, what an overwhelming choice! According to the blurb on each brightly coloured packet, the contents provide the best for your bird. Many pellet diets have been developed by avian experts. And it would seem a good choice for those of us who are busy out at work. A word of caution here – you get what you pay for. The cheaper brands contain too much fillers, colourings and chemicals that would never wish to feed. I tried different brands of pellets but never managed to get my birds to accept them willingly. Even Harrisons organic with its superb reputation as the best of the best is tossed out of the bowl by my Greys. Baby birds who are weaned onto pellets appear to accept them more easily.

4. Will using a commercial seed mix suit you better?
It is generally accepted that seed mixes are not a complete diet for parrots, even though they look more appetising than brown nuggets. You can of course buy the ingredients of a commercial seed mix separately and make up your own. It’s cost effective but it takes time. Bear in mind that the cheaper mixes are dusty and too bulked up with sunflower seeds. I saw a good example of that recently. A friend took in a pair of Umbrella cockatoos that were fed principally a cheap mix of sunflowers and little else. A year after she changed their diet to a healthy one, they have produced and fledged a healthy chick. Their feathers are magnificent. When they fly around the aviary she has built for them they are like angels on the wing.

5. Have you got reliable sources for fresh food and vegetables?healthy diet
Fruit and vegetables do not come cheap, do they? But they’re essential. There is no expert disagreement on that. Debate about whether vegetables are much better than fruits because of fruits high sugar content is ongoing. I err perhaps in giving too much fruit. I ensure that at least 40% of the diet is composed of fresh ingredients. I try for organic where possible. I go to the market at the end of the day when the stall holder will reduce prices. Casper Grey and Artha Grey came from a reputable breeder and were hand reared and then weaned onto seed mixture and fruits and vegetables. My vet recommended pellets. His opinion was that non professional caregivers could not easily make up a good diet with every vitamin and mineral added. Artha and Casper are healthy. I buy Tidymix. It is costly but it so obviously clean. Then I add chopped fruits and vegetables each day. I sprout legumes and seeds on a three day rota and everyone gets a portion each day.

6. Can you source wild foods from countryside gardens, friends etc?6.  Birds on harness eating hibiscus flowers
This is one of my hobby-horses. I believe that green fresh garden produce and certain weeds are closer to a wild diet. Chickweed, dandelions, blackberries, sloes, hawthorn berries, plantain. Fat hen, cotoneaster berries –  it’s an endless list. And add fresh flowers,too. If you gather from an unknown source, give  a quick wash in a weak antiseptic solution in case of pollutants. No cost involved and healthy time in the open air. I also grow sunflowers and sweet corn for the parrots. Lists of poisonous flowers and trees are available on the internet.

7. How many and what sort of nuts does your parrot need and enjoy?Lena the Amazon ate a nut
Cautious people do not feed monkey nuts because of the risk of Aspergillosus. I buy human grade and take that risk. The Alexandrine parakeets who have bred 2 years successfully consume vast quantities in cold weather but are less enthusiastic in warmer months. Nuts are too high in fat for overuse but they’re marvellous for training treats.

8. Are you willing to make a mash diet and freeze portions?1 Naomi feeds Fuchsia12credit Habie Schwarz
There is not space here to give details of the home made mash diets. They are an interesting development. The Circus diet developed by Steve Hartman is well known in USA. As a breeder over 4000 birds in 20 years, Hartman has shared his expertise on his website www.parrotuniversity.com. Steve remarks that many parrots are picky eaters so advises food is cut into pea sized pieces. He says, “Small particles mixed together have residue from all the other pieces on them, making it impossible for a bird to avoid any food so their brain is quickly programmed to eat all of the items. Once a birds’ subconscious and conscious brain is programmed to eat a large variety of foods, it’s much easier to change their diet.” He gives the quantities of food offered daily.

Parrots                   Circus             Diet Treats
Small                     18 gms                 4 gms
Medium                32 gms                 7 gms
Large                     90 gms               20 gms

Portion size is crucial for captive birds. Never offer more than 10% more food than the bird will eat. Remove the very small uneaten portion the next morning before offering more food. Portion size will vary for each species, each individual, seasonal moulting, and breeding cycles.
Shauna’s mash is another development that is gaining in popularity in USA and becoming known about in UK. You can find out how to prepare different versions of this mash from one of the finest bird nutrition websites https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/FeedingFeathers/info?yguid=159082813

9. Will you add sprouted seeds and legumes to the diet?
Germinating and sprouting seeds and selected beans like chick peas and mung beans releases nutrients that are especially valuable. Sprouts can be fed on their own or as a part of diets like Saunas’ mash or the circus diet. Sprouting turns a seed into a high quality growing vegetable containing fat as an energy source, which continues growing as long as it is moist and at least room temperature. All seeds benefit from sprouting. The quality of the seeds you use can be determined by the percentage that sprouts. You should expect at least 90% to sprout within 3–5 days. Once you get into the habit of sprouting it is not much of a chore. There are commercial sprout mixes. Tidymix do a good one as do Haiths.

10. How to evaluate your diet? Will you monitor the weight, the feather condition and bright eyes of the healthy bird?
Simple daily observation shows you a birdAfrican Greys in the kitchen who eats well has bright eyes, shiny feathers and an active posture. Weekly weighing if you are so inclined. My Greys have kept the same weight for over ten years give or take a few grams.
Bobby arrived as a rescue to some friends. He was plucked, nippy and shy. Several years later he is almost fully feathered, doesn’t nip and responds to visitors. How much was the improved diet and how much the improved, enriched environment? Both I bet.
Cooking for birds is not truly essential but it is so much fun. Another time I‘d like to share some of the recipes I have collected and the birds have relished.