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Parrot Nutrition, Diet and Feeding Discuss parrot nutrition, diets, foods and feeding.
Thread Description: For my lil GCC and also any food recommendations

 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-24-2014, 12:01 PM Thread Starter
 
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Best Pellet Food

I'd like to know what pellets are considered the best, healthiest, etc. I have a variety of food that I feed Jack. I want the best for him of course.. Strictly speaking on pellets he gets zupreem avian entree which he'll eat if he has to lol. He likes to take one run up to his water bottle, wet it, and then nibbles on it. I also feed Hagen lifetime tropican that he loves. I can see him holding his lil Cheetos shaped pellet happily munching away at it lol. This is second only to the seed mixes lol. I have heard of Harrison's and Roudybush.. What are your experiences and opinions on high quality pellets to buy? Which would you suggest and why or why not? I know just like dog food there is a large difference between brands whether they heavily advertise or not.

Also I thought about buying a human grade dehydrated veggie mix that I can rehydrate for him since it would be easier. We don't eat as much veggies as We should at least not consistently , and don't want to buy veggies that will go bad quickly. Or is frozen better for him? Fresh just isn't viable, if I had more birds to feed maybe. Of course if we have fresh by chance he can get that.. More often he gets tomatoes since it's the most available consistent one in the house lol.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-24-2014, 12:07 PM



 
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If you're going to feed pellets, feed certified organic pellets. The best are Harrison's (Fine or Super Fine size for a GCC and the high potency is a vitamin OD waiting to happen so I'd avoid it, even though they recommend it to change over) OR Totally Organics. I think my birds have found Totally Organics more palatable. If you're going to go with TOPs, get the crumblets

The best diet, IMO, is the natural diet though. Feeding seeds and nuts etc. is not as awful as it's made out to be. In fact, it's natural. Pellets, even organic, are not natural. Food alone can be enrichment, so I think it's important to take that into consideration when we feed our birds. I recommend looking into chop. You make it and freeze it for daily use. That way you're not wasting all of your veggies. I wouldn't feed too much tomato though. Too much of only one thing can be detrimental. I only use them as a snack myself (for me and the birds haha, I probably eat a lot more of them!)

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-24-2014, 12:41 PM


 
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The very best are TOPs, human grade organic ingredients (the only pellet that offers this), cold extrusion, no soy and food derived vitamins and minerals (again, the only one).

Personally, I don't think that pellets are the best dietary option for birds, I feed cooked whole grains and pulses mixed with veggies, raw produce and a small amount of seeds for dinner (and always a low protein mix).

For variety in daily raw produce for a single bird, try getting single servings of different items from the salad bar at Whole Foods. (like a couple of leaves of romaine, a couple of chicory, etc)
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-04-2014, 09:20 AM
 
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My favorite pellet brand is Harrison's. My boys love it and they don't have to eat much to fill up because it's so loaded with nutrition.

I tried TOPs in the past, they hated it. I also recalled seeing information a long time ago about TOPs lacking some important vitamins and minerals due to the way it's processed and the ingredients. No idea how true that still is though, I'm sure they've fixed it by now. It's been years since I read that.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-04-2014, 10:53 AM


 
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From everything I have read and been told by vets etc., Harrison's and Roudybush are the best. TOPs and Zupreem natural are also supposed to be very good. The one caution though is that if you choose to use Harrison's, the regular adult maintenance is the safest because there have been a lot of articles that talked about hypervitaminosis and specifically referenced Harrison's high potency as being very dangerous with its levels. So I would steer clear of that--unless maybe if the bird was breeding.

Having said that, I tried all of those brands mentioned above as well as Goldenfeast G'nobles and Zupreem fruity pellets, and the only pellets that all three of my birds will eat is Roudybush. They tried the Harrison's but would just drop them--I noticed that their pellets are really hard. The wouldn't even try TOPs or the G'nobles. It takes several months, but they eventually start eating them on their own as long as I keep the seed at a slightly reduced daily amount and keep the pellets up high and the seed down low. I was told by a vet though that since all pellets can meet nutritional gaps, the most important thing is to give them the one they will eat.

In regard to veggies, I think dehydrated would be fine, as well as frozen. I use frozen and just put it in a tupperware in the fridge with a few days portion at a time. Another thing is that when I buy fresh I make it into a mash in the processor and then freeze it in ice trays, put into a freezer bag, and then take that out in portions as well.

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Last edited by 4thebirds; 06-04-2014 at 10:55 AM.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-05-2014, 10:39 AM


 
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Dehydrated is OK as long as you reconstitute them (never as good as fresh or frozen), giving the birds dehydrated anything is a no-no though (too hard on the kidneys).

I don't feed pellets because I've done a lot of research on parrots natural diets and have come to the conclusion that they are not the best dietary option for them but my research showed that, leaving aside the hypervitaminosis issue, Harrison's is not as good as TOPs because:
a) they use animal feed grade (TOPs uses human grade and the USDA has different specifications for both -I was a manager in a grain company)
b) has soy, peanuts and silica (TOPs doesn't)
c) has man-made vitamins (TOPs has natural ones derived from food)
d) their products are just 'Organic' which means 95% (TOPs are 100% Organic but see below for additional information)

Note: TOPs are now going one step further by making all the ingredients Ecological (which means not only organic but without any of the synthetics that are now allowed with organics) and Sustainable (which means "an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will last over the long term" so it doesn't deplete the soil or harm the ecosystems)
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-05-2014, 05:50 PM
 
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May I ask where you get your information, Bibi?

I'm honestly unsure of what grade Harrison's uses. However, I used to work in the pet industry, and I would argue that animal grade food is more regulated than human grade, with the exception of baby products. You would be amazed if you actually tallied up monthly recalls just based on a food slightly lacking a certain vitamin. Animal products are taken very seriously, because animals cannot tell us that something tastes a little off, or they feel woozy after eating.

I would also argue that man-made vitamins are fine. You are still getting the vitamin. Naturally derived vitamins lose their potency incredibly fast. Take juicing for example. If you juice a bunch of vegetables, you basically need to drink it right away. If you store it, everything beneficial begins to break down.

While it's true that Harrison's has peanuts and soy (which they claim are highly tested), I have never seen silica on the ingredients. It's possible I could just be ignorant about that and looking over a silica derivative. Even if it does contain silica, silica is natural and from the Earth's crust, the only real danger from it comes from inhaling. But that's in regard to actual, full-blown silica dust, not a small biproduct of production.

I think TOPs is a great brand, for sure. My guys just never got interested in it. I got my boys when they had just weaned, so it was relatively easy to switch their diet around. I had two large bags of TOPS that I tried to get them on for a couple months, I gave up and bought Harrison's instead, because I knew it was a good brand and had worked with it many times in the past. They instantly loved it.

Ultimately I think pellet choice comes down to the owner. My only real advise would be to stay away from dyed products, like the Zupreem colored pellets. I have heard many, many stories of birds having horrible allergic reactions to the dye.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-06-2014, 03:25 PM


 
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I got the info on whether it's human grade or animal feed grade from their own websites. I was an Administration and Logistics manager at a grain company so I know for a fact that animal grade has lower USDA standards than human grade and, when it comes to mycotoxins this is hugely important, in my personal opinion. And, if animal products were as controlled as you think they are, we wouldn't have had hundreds of dogs dead from adulterated Chinese treats. The pet food industry is not really regulated, there is an agency that checks nutritional levels (AAFCO) in dog and cat food but it has no regulatory authority - and there are no nutritional standards for bird food so, even if the agency had authority, it would still not help at all with parrot pellets.

Man-made vitamins are better than no vitamins but we are finding out more and more that they are not as good as natural ones (see here: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/n...ural-vitamins/
http://www.usingvitaminswisely.com/n...-vitamins.html (this one is of particular importance because it mentions vit A versus betacarotene)
http://www.drheise.com/bvitamin.htm
http://www.doctorsresearch.com/articles4.html

Do you have dogs and/or cats? If so, have you ever used Missing Link? I do and let me tell you that the effect a 'regular' vitamin pill and this product has on them is HUGE!

I don't feed raw peanuts to my parrots. Period. And whether soy is tested or not is not the issue (soy needs to be processed because it's poisonous in its natural state), it's the fact that it has goitrogenic and estrogenic side effects.

Silica: Yes, it's natural but natural doesn't necessarily mean good for you (arsenic is natural, too). See on the label where it says that it contains montmorillonite clay? That's silica. And, what silica does, basically, is absorb moisture BIG TIME (clumping cat litter is made out with silica) so it's normally used as a agent to prevent caking in animal feed (as well as to neutralize mycotoxins -remember the animal feed grade versus the human grade difference I mentioned above?) but parrots' natural diet contains 85-95% water and pellets are already bad for them because they are so dry (parrots are not hard-wired to drink a lot of water and sub-clinical chronic dehydration is one of the reasons why so many of them end up with kidney issues) so adding something that will further absorb whatever little moisture is in their digestive tract is real bad, in my personal opinion.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-07-2014, 12:44 AM
 
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Interesting! Thanks for the links, I love learning about stuff.

I'm am still having trouble finding what Harrison's food grades are based on their website. I would still argue on grades a bit though. Yes, there was a massive recall of dog and cat foods a few years back, I was around for that doozy! But we are also talking about meat. The meat products in the food were tainted. Feed grade meat can contain some funky stuff, but in my research on feed grade grains, fruits and veggies, it's a much different meaning.

Cherry picking some random ingredients from Harrison's (peas, nuts, etc), you can read about the actual standards of grading on the USDA website. When it comes to non-organic veggies and whatnot, the grade is mostly based on the food's appearance, though with certain foods there are other factors as well. For example, a smaller or misshapen pea will have a lower grade than a standard "normal" pea. This doesn't mean the pea is bad, it just means that most people wouldn't consider it "proper pea", so to speak. Cracked or broken rice can have a lower grade than whole rice, as well.

Harrison's claims their foods are "Premium USDA certified organic", and they are labeled as such. Organic is not a word lightly thrown around, and they explain this more in their handbook. But since Harrison's is certified USDA organic (they talk about it themselves), that means that, in summary, they comply with these criteria (the View Regulations link has more in-depth stuff on that);

Quote:
Organic crops. The USDA organic seal verifies that irradiation, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides, and genetically modified organisms were not used.

Organic multi-ingredient foods. The USDA organic seal verifies that the product has 95% or more certified organic content. If the label claims that it was made with specified organic ingredients, you can be sure that those specific ingredients are certified organic.
Just the fact they comply with organic standards automatically elevates them above run-of-the-mill feed grade brands. You cannot really cut corners when it comes to organic food.

The vitamin links were very helpful! Learned a lot from those.

Peanuts themselves are not bad, the issue with them is the shells, which can host aspergillus mold. It's certainly possible for that to transfer to the peanuts during processing. They claim to test for any issues (question 6). It's also important to note that aspergillus mold is literally everywhere. I've seen other posts on other bird forums where the general consensus on peanuts is that it's a grey area; nobody recommends feeding peanuts outright, and certainly not whole peanuts, due to the high risk of unregulated molds. But in diets it's not that bad so long as you aren't buying a cheapo brand that probably doesn't test the food. There's another writeup here that also talks about their testing process:

Quote:
4) ORGANIC INGREDIENTS! It is very important to realize that birds are EXTREMELY SENSITIVE to the chemicals used in most contemporary farming. All Harrison’s Bird Foods are certified organic by the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA). Harrison’s Bird Foods contain: NO chemical insecticides, herbicides or fungicides, NO preservatives and NO double-dosed vitamins. HBD screens all of its products for pathogenic bacteria, molds (mycotoxins) and various natural enzymes (e.g.,trypsin) to assure safety for consumption by birds and other animals.
Regarding soy, Harrison's actually has a really nice writeup on it. Of course, it's important to note that this information is directly from them, although they provide some external sources as well. They, like everyone else, are a company trying to sell their product. However, Harrison's is also under the public and veterinary eye, so I highly doubt they would spout inaccurate information just to appease their customers.

According to Wikipedia, Montmorillonite has beneficial uses, and parrots in the wild also consume clay. Here's another resource posted on an african grey forum where they were having a having a discussion about poisonous and harmful things.

Not trying to preach to the choir here or convert anyone! Like I said before, I think pellet choice is a pretty personal thing. Every single brand out there had pros and cons to it, although I've always considered TOPs, Harrison's and Roudybush to be the best choices. I just believe there are two sides to every viewpoint of course!
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-07-2014, 01:47 PM


 
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Food grades: Human grade is more expensive than animal feed so if Harrison was using human, I can assure you they would make it very clear on their website and list of ingredients - just like TOP does. The lack of 'human grade' on their ingredients is what tells you that they are not. As to human grade versus animal feed, the difference is not only size, it's moisture and mycotoxins, too.

Organic: Yes, Harrison's is Organic but it's not 100% organic, thus, there is a percentage of stuff in there that it's not organic but this doesn't really matter one way or another because TOP is as organic as Harrison's so they are 'even' on this (although, in the future, they won't because TOP is going one step further making their ingredients 'ecological and sustainable').

Peanuts: I feed my birds peanuts as a very special treat (human grade, roasted and bought in small quantities) but I would not feed them peanuts every day which is what you do when you feed a pellet made with them.

Soy: 99% of soy studies out there were paid by the soy growers and of course that any manufacturer that uses it would say it's fine and refer you to these studies. But the reason why they use it is because it is, bar none in the entire world, the cheapest source of protein, and when a certain amount of protein is needed, why use an expensive kind when you can use one that is dirt cheap? It's just business sense. If you look at the ingredients in the cheapest dog and cat food, you will always find soy listed, but if you look at the ingredients of all the better dog and cat food, you will never find it. This, if nothing else, would make me think twice about it. As a note that might be of interest, we sold soybeans and soybean meal at the grain company I worked for (we supplied a lot of chicken breeders and they've been using it for many years but chickens don't usually live past a couple of months before they are sent to be killed and processed) and the stuff stinks so badly that the silos, barges, hoppers and elevators used for transporting and loading it had to be in the middle of the river (Mississippi), far from any city and town, and never be used for any other type of grain to avoid contamination.

Yes, South American parrots in the wild do lick clay and it was thought they did it to neutralize toxins consumed in their natural diet but we now know that they did it because it's salty. But, even if it was for the detoxifying effect, it still makes no sense to feed it to pet parrots which don't consume any toxins and, most especially, as part of a food that is already 9 times drier than their natural diet!

I love debates, especially about birds diet as I have spent the last 15 years researching it and think it's the most important part of bird husbandry, so don't worry about giving me your opinion or questioning me. I welcome it!
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-30-2014, 09:41 AM
 
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Well said, again, well said. Much thought has gone into your response to this issue that I will be surely looking into further.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-30-2014, 12:02 PM


 
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Bibi, you say the effect on them is huge when using missing link? As in good or bad? What do you feed your dogs and cats?

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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-01-2015, 06:25 PM Thread Starter
 
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Wow this has Turned out to be an awesome thread indeed! I definitely will try the TOPS and see if he will eat them.. He only seems to eat the other pellets I have when he goes thru all the Hagen pellets and any and all other foods or treats. Very picky! I'm going to try to feed him the dehydrated fruits and veggies and see if he'll eat it, now that I found the samples I ordered for him. Maybe if I add his favorite.. Chips to the veggie mix lol! My husband has been taking care of the animals for me while I've recovered enough to help with their care. His favorites are chips potato or tortilla, plain cooked white rice, green apples, and bananas. His cage is partially behind the sofa with a half wall in between.. I can tell when he really likes something I'm eating.. Like the time I was eating a banana. All I hear is *SLAM*, scuttle, scuttle, scuttle, scuttle! I turn my head and he had jumped to the front of his cage, ran thru the open door, ran from the front to the back of his cage and was dangling upside down twirtling softly just staring at me lol! At least until I gave him a bite, put him in his cage, and put a good sized piece in his treat dish!
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-02-2015, 02:47 AM


 
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Bibi I am with you 100% and never feel the need to feed dried foods to any bird in my care.
Th pellet debate is a hot one.
But it is just good advertising and a lot of pushing it down our throats that makes some feel they are not capable of taking care of their birds needs unless they are feeding man made dried foods.
I am always in this debate and have just had my hand smacked for getting into posting some of the links I have collected about the pros and CONS. Add to that the health risks some maybe unknowingly putting thier loved ones in later in life.
Oh! Sorry I forgot the advertising says it will improve their life span. Could this be a sick joke?
I did not see above where anybody talked about some of the dyes used. More so the ones that just have a number to identify them.
Wing Flipping Toe Tapping, Kidney, Liver.
Birds are not meant to have dried foods, it is that simple. If they do they need to understand that they need to drink far more water.

Manu Clay Lick. Yep it is a salt lick. Why do the animals go there? From my understanding it is far from any coast, meaning the fruits the birds eat has a low salt content and they do need salt. I know some say to not give any salt.
If you are feeding processed foods then this is true as most processed foods are rich in salt.
I am glad we have moved on from the old days when it was claimed that they used the clay lick to detox from the bad fruits they were meant to be eating.

Keep it natural and fresh. No adulterated foods, and veriation is the spice of life.
I like to think a bird in the wild will be eating different foods at different times of the year due to changing seasons. And there is no variation in any of the pellets, just the same day after day for say upto 60yrs.


A tribute to my lost ones. RIP.
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