Pellets and a few things to consider. - Talk Parrots Forums

Parrot Nutrition, Diet and Feeding Discuss parrot nutrition, diets, foods and feeding.

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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-29-2016, 07:01 PM Thread Starter

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Pellets and a few things to consider.

As I am sure you guys know I am not an advocate of processed foods. And have taken the next step in setting out a few reasons WHY pellets are not at all what they are cracked up to be.
I wrote this for our Happy Healthy Parrots (No Pellets) group. Did post on AA, they closed it after a lot of negativity. So please if you do find this offensive please just remove it.
It is by know means complete, That would need a book to lay out all the issues and explain in full. So what is below is only a brief. But should be enough to get you thinking.

I'll start with this false claim by Harrisons
"Harrisonís Bird Foods are the formulas that provide proper nutrition for your birdís lifetime care. Because the single most important thing you can do for your bird is to feed it right. Harrisonís Bird Foods is a family of certified organic, nonGMO-verified, formulated diets that were created by avian veterinarians and top avian nutritionists with the health of your bird in mind. Our formulas require little or no supplementation."

If you believe this I feel sorry for your birds.

Fact or fiction: Some companies source their pellets from one large processor, that does supply a number of different companies.

Fact or fiction: Profits come before product. A company has to make money. And this may mean (IT DOES MEAN) they will look at any way possible to keep profits up.

Who does the testing: Not independent valuers.

What is the base for formulations of pellets in most cases. Harrisons was and I am not sure this is still the
case. Was based as has been stated for many other pellets, on chicken formulations.

Trust: Do you have 100% trust in any commercial based company?

Heat treating: This destroys a lot of the goodness in what has been processed.

Grinding: This will mean that the contents will deteriorate. Whole foods retain their goodness longer.
Two very simple examples most should be able to grasp.
Coffee ground or fresh beans?
Pepper ground or corns?

Enzymes. These are very very important to our birds well being. Heat and processing badly damages them.
Pellets are one or both treated this way.

Moisture Needs: Most bird diets are very high in moisture content. Pellets are not, and there for can cause

Harrisons and some other pellets contain foods not suited to some species. Peanuts, Soy, and Sorghum,
come to mind.

Artificial Colors: Are BAD. Watch a birds pooh. Any pellet diet can show how bad pellets effect what comes
out the back end. A good healthy parrot eating good foods will have good looking pooh.

Artificial Ingredients: Are BAD Some have been proven to not be as good as natural occurring ones. And a
birds body if not in good shape may have a job eliminating them.

Added Salt: Should not be there as any decent food will already have enough salt present.

Added Sugar: Sugar should never be added, Again there will be enough in decent fresh foods.

GMO: You make your own mind up about these. I stay away from any I find. And it has been found that if
foods come from the same plant (factory) there can be cross contamination anyway.

Low grade products: Most grading can be thought of as three grades. Human. good quality for pets, and
the wild bird food, which is cheap and nasty.

Fillers: This can be cheap low quality grains, of little nutritional value. This is a classic with a large
number of pellets. when ingredients are listed the bulk products are
listed at the top of the list. And can make up a huge part of contents.

Now hopefully at least some bird owners will understand that for a birds digestive system to function well and as meant to, it DOES need real whole foods. Ground up foods are already semi processed and therefor it's system does not have to work like normal.
This fact alone should be ringing alarm bells. But we are told Pellets are a great way to cover basics.
So what is in them that we cannot provide with fresh foods? Zero.
In most cases anyone can make a better ground up mix at home and it will be far better than some stale aged product laced with stuff they should not be eating anyway.

Here's a list of some pellet ingredients.


*Ground Yellow Corn, *Ground Hulless Barley, *Ground Soybeans, *Ground Shelled Peanuts, *Ground Shelled Sunflower Seeds, *Ground Lentils, *Ground Green Peas, *Ground Rice, *Ground Toasted Oat Groats, *Ground Sun-Dried Alfalfa, Calcium Carbonate, *Psyllium, Montmorillonite Clay, *Spirulina, *Ground Dried Sea Kelp, Vitamin E Supplement, Sea Salt, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, d-Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Sodium Selenite.

At least they added sea salt, which is better than table salt. But does it need to be there.
Again we do not know how the supplements are derived.
And I think you will find these are super heat treated and extrusion. Meaning dead enzymes and nutrients.

Zupreem Natural

Ground corn, Soybean meal, Ground wheat,Vegetable oil, Wheat germ meal, Sucrose, Dicalcium phosphate, Calcium carbonate, Ground vegetables (carrots, celery, beets, watercress and spinach), Iodized salt, DL-methionine, Choline chloride, Ascorbic acid (source of Vitamin C), Natural mixed tocopherols,
Rosemary extract, Citric acid, Manganous oxide, Zinc oxide,Copper sulfate, Calcium iodate, Sodium selenite,Vitamin A supplement,Vitamin D3 supplement,Vitamin E supplement, Vitamin K supplement, Niacin, Calcium pantothenate, Pyridoxine
hydrochloride,Thiamine, Riboflavin, Folic acid, Biotin,Vitamin B12 supplement.

Supplements? They do not say where these are naturally occurring or manufactured.


Ground Corn, Ground Wheat, Peanut Meal, Soy Oil,Soy Meal, Hydrated Sodium Calcium Aluminosilicate, Yucca schidigen Extract,Salt, Calcium Carbonate, L-Lysine, DL-Methionine, Mixed Tocopherols, Rosemary Extract, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid, Lecithin, Silicon Dioxide (carrier for liquid antioxidants), Sodium Selenite (on Calcium Carbonate), Niacin, Alpha-Tocopherol Acetate (Source of Vitamin E), Biotin, Manganese Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Zinc Oxide, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vit. A Acetate, Thiamine, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vit K), Cyanocobalamin (VitB12), Vit D3 Sup. Folic Acid, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide, Propionic Acid, Ammonium Hydroxide, Acetic Acid, Sorbic Acid, Tartaric Acid, and natural apple flavoring.

Roudybush does seem to be one of the better ones if you have been brainwashed into feeeling you have to feed pellets.

"Now I know it does sound like I am promoting TOPs, But I am not. Just listed as these would have to be one of the better options for processed foods.If you have to go that way".

TOP Ecological, Sustainable Grown Bird Pellets Ingredient Highlights
Natural whole food Pellets are an excellent addition to your birds diet!

All ingredients are human grade and ecological, sustainable grown.

Naturally Preserved with Rosemary, Rose Hips, Lemon and Orange Peel

No Artificial Anything No Artificial Preservatives like BHA, BHT or ethoxyquin. No artificial colors or flavors. No artificial vitamins. No sucrose/sugar added.

No Animal Products or animal by-products.

No GMO No genetically modified organisms.

Product Information and Ingredients

Suggested Use: TOP pellets are an important part of a complete diet. Feed approximately as much as your bird will consume in a day. Some days birds will eat more than others so the amount will fluctuate. Discard the remainder and feed fresh pellets each time. Consult your avian veterinarian if you have any specific diet related concerns. Although an excellent source of protein, vitamins and minerals, we believe that no pellet can provide 100% of a birdís nutritional needs. Please be sure to feed vegetables, fruits, nuts, and some seeds for a varied diet.

*Remember when feeding, any food will come out of the full amount of good food. And as they say remember it is NOT a complete food.

Ingredients: Organic hulled millet, ecologically sustainable alfalfa, organic barley, ecologically sustainable rice, organic sunflower seed hulled, organic sesame seeds unhulled, organic quinoa whole, organic buckwheat hulled, organic dandelion leaf powder, organic carrot powder, organic spinach leaf powder, organic purple dulse, kelp, organic rose hips powder, organic rose hips crushed, organic orange peel powder, organic lemon peel powder, organic rosemary whole leaf, organic cayenne ground, organic crushed red chili peppers, organic nettle leaf.

Guaranteed Analysis: Protein min 13%, Crude Fiber min 12%, Fat min 7%.

Pellet Processing: Designed by avian nutritionists to be the best diet on the market today. TOP pellets are cold-pressed (not extruded or baked) to keep natural enzymes, vitamins, and other nutrients intact.

Ingredient Highlights

BROWN RICE: Is a nutritious, wholesome staple food containing a sizable quantity of minerals. Its 8 amino acids are so proportionately balanced that it has the highest protein digestibility among staple foods.

SUNFLOWER SEEDS: One, if not the most, nutritious and healthy foods to be found in the dried fruits sector. They have a high content of healthy unsaturated fatty acids, contain important nutrients like vitamin E, selenium, copper, zinc, folate, iron and phytochemicals, plus are a rich source of proteins and fibers.

ALFALFA LEAVES: Loaded with health-building properties. Their contents are not only balanced for complete absorption, but they help assimilate protein, calcium and other nutrients.

SESAME SEEDS: Loaded with minerals, especially high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, and are so high in vitamin E that its oil or meal is often used as a preservative. Contains all amino and essential fatty acids known today.

QUINOA: A perfectly balanced ratio of amino acids and is rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements. 4.3% of those are Alpha Ė Linol acid, an essential fatty acid which is, otherwise, only found in fish

MILLET: A complete food, rich in minerals (especially calcium) and vitamins, particularly lecithin, which is important for the formation of healthy feathers.

DANDELION LEAVES: A rich source of beta carotene, vitamins D, B complex and C. They have a very high potassium content, as well as numerous other minerals, like the bone, nail and feather-strengthening minerals calcium, boron and silicon. Dandelion leaves are good for a sluggish liver, to remove toxins from the liver and gall bladder and to help cleanse the blood.

CARROT POWDER: One of the top rated vegetables, providing protein, calcium, iron, and the vitamins A, C, and B, the phytochemicals alpha carotene, p-coumaric, clorogenic acids and the carotene complex.

NETTLE LEAVES: Helps the blood break down proteins, making it a natural kidney and adrenal cleaner.

SPINACH LEAF POWDER: An excellent source of beta carotene, vitamins C, E and K, calcium, potassium, iron, sodium, sulphur, folic acid and oxalic acid. They contain more protein and chlorophyll than most vegetables.

PURPLE DULSE: A sea vegetable that is a natural source of essential minerals, especially iodine, vitamins, ions, sea salt and roughage.

ROSE HIPS: Contain an extremely high amount of natural vitamin C, and are, therefore, a great antioxidant and strengthener of the immune system. They are also very rich in beta carotene, vitamin B-complex, E and rutin.

ROSEMARY: A stimulant for the circulatory system and strengthen the nervous system. Used as a heart tonic, for respiratory ailments, gout and rheumatic pains.

CAYENNE AND RED CHILI PEPPERS: High in vitamin A, C, iron, calcium and contain vitamin G, B-complex, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sulphur. It is a harmless internal disinfectant, increases the effect of other herbs, cleanses the blood, wards off and equalizes blood circulation, increases heart action but not blood pressure, and helps prevent strokes and heart attacks.

Why we donít have soy, peanuts or wheat in our pellets.

There is more and more disturbing data found about soy beans and products. Soy beans in their natural state contain large quantities of natural toxins and there is data that soy is cumulatively toxic when fed to animals. For example, The PARROT SOCIETY NEW ZEALAND claims that soy products in bird food have caused such problems as immune system breakdown, failure of organs and multiplication of the birdsí own benign bacteria.

It seems that more and more birds develop allergic reactions to peanuts, so we view them as a great treat for birds that are not allergic to them, but not part of their daily diet.

Wheat is a common allergen and contains about 80 different components that can cause a negative reaction. The number of people that are allergic to wheat and wheat products is raising daily in alarming amounts. If that is the case for humans, and we are not sure how it acts in birds, better safe than sorry.

One of the better pellets out there.

Am I biased?? My oath I am. I have perfectly healthy group of birds. Some were not that good coming in. An example I have a 26yr old Galah in. When she came in she came with a smell. That has now gone and I have managed to get her eating a much better diet. Even her owner can see the difference in her. ALll this has been achieved with real foods. I never feed my birds any processed foods. And Pellets are just that. A money making business.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-29-2016, 10:38 PM
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I read a very interesting artical about pellets once, and the fact that they are full of fillers Birds normal would not eat that much of, or are lacking in nutrients.

Gmo's are a huge thing for me, I'm very disgusted with what I believe is a giant GMO food conspiracy...I buy and eat (almost) all organic food. Unfortunately I admit I feed nutriberries, which are not even close to organic, and have corn syrup and soy, but after much debate and trying a seed mix for the "in the cage" food my feeling was the Nutriberries, Goldenfeast, and herb salad (plus fresh food at dinner) was keeping my girl healthy and her droppings are more consistent and healthy looking with the Nutriberries as opposed to a seed mix. For those reasons I do wish I could get her to eat an organic pellet at least, obviously there has to be some kind of non perishable food available 24/7, so for now this is what I have decided is best for us.

I love the tops recomendation, I did try the Harrison's for my Parrotlet and a few other pellets, she won't eat them so I gave up. I have not tried the tops though, I've looked at tops and know a couple people who buy them, I may still try them. If my P'lett won't eat them I'm sure my Bourke will he's a great eater.

I know several people on talk Parrotlets who's Parrotlets have eaten a diet including but not limited to pellets and are upwards of 15 years and healthy, but again this is a balance and they also are diligent about fresh foods and good seed mixes as well.

I think any one who cares to even read a little bit about parrot ownership will agree you must feed fresh foods, not just seed and or pellet. I feel bad for Birds who don't get fresh foods and grains.

Pellets and GMO's I'm sure will always be a topic of intereing debate. Thanks for taking the time to post such good arguments and info.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-30-2016, 11:28 AM

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A very interesting read as usual from you and others about pellets Clive, thank you for sharing it with us.

I've mentioned before that I have given my birds pellets but not like I give fresh veg/fruits and their daily prepared sprouted seeds. My birds have eaten them like they are a treat so its not something they look for or depend on daily so fazing it out of their diet altogether is fine with me.

There is no reason for me to buy a bag that will be spoiled a few weeks after I open the package. People tell me to freeze them but I don't know if people realize that your freezer cycles down 4 times a day and does a fast defrost to eliminate ice build up in frost free freezers, this cycle down can last 60 mins or more.

I notice the ice cubes and bread and other small items in my freezer do get slightly soft so I'm sure this is not good for the pellets that are suppose to remain completely frozen and not re-freeze 4 times a day day after day week after week month to month. Freezing doesn't make me believe that the pellets will remain "fresh."

I'm better off not using pellets at all as it just seems like a big waste of money especially for people who own 1 or a couple of birds.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-30-2016, 04:03 PM

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Another great post Clive. As you know I agree with you on the use of pellets. Overpriced junk food. I was interested to see that Harrison's use spirulina which is made totally useless by the heat treatment of course. Spirulina is a wonderful additive for any birds diet (and ours for that matter), I have wanted to incorporate it in my Lorikeet mix and hand raising mix for a while, but it appears that most of the product that is available over here must be kept refrigerated which means I cannot feasibly use it in my mixes unless it is put in fresh everyday. And because the hand raising mix must be hot when fed it is a waste of time to put it in that. I have not been able to source a supply of spirulina that is a special type that does not break down when heated but only becomes usable in the digestion process. Over here Dr. Mac's Organic Origins foods and hand raising mixes has this type of spirulina in it but I can't get a supply of it. It is also an extremely expensive additive.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-03-2016, 11:31 AM

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I completely agree with you Clyde. I used to be pellet mad, clipping parrots wings etc. because that is what I was told was good/safe for my birds. What a crock of sugar honey iced tea! The only pellet I am willing to feed and it is purely as a treat or extra supplement is TOPs and I'm very glad that they have been included in the list. I have said to people who absolutely must feed pellets that TOPs are the safest bet but people say "oh but my bird likes the bright red ones in the blah blah blah pellets'. Sigh. Great post!
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 04-03-2016, 12:45 PM

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Originally Posted by catalinadee View Post
I completely agree with you Clyde. I used to be pellet mad, clipping parrots wings etc. because that is what I was told was good/safe for my birds. What a crock of sugar honey iced tea! The only pellet I am willing to feed and it is purely as a treat or extra supplement is TOPs and I'm very glad that they have been included in the list. I have said to people who absolutely must feed pellets that TOPs are the safest bet but people say "oh but my bird likes the bright red ones in the blah blah blah pellets'. Sigh. Great post!

GAH @ the bright red ones.

All of my birds pretty much ignored any pellets that were red or dark colored green and yellow or blue. I figure they were suspicious of the colors as its not something they would have in a seed diet and their fresh food was always large chunks of fresh fleshy veggies or fruit and not a tiny brightly colored pellet.
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