While in the past pet owners have typically fed their pet birds a seed-only diet, scientifically formulated pellets are a much better option for your bird’s health as they offer a complete and balanced nutritional diet for your bird’s particular species.
A general guide on what to feed your bird is a staple diet of pellets which should comprise at least 50% of their food, with some species requiring a diet of up to 80% pellets. Treats should only make up 5% of your bird’s diet, with the remaining amount being made up of fresh fruits, vegetables and vegetation. Ask your local Animates Vetcare Vets about the best food ratio for your unique bird.
The benefits of a pellet diet
What are pellets?
Bird pellets are made by combining seeds, grains, fruits, vegetables and other healthy ingredients in a scientifically formulated ratio that ensures your bird receives the right balance of proteins, fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals that their species needs. They are formulated by avian veterinarians and manufactured under strict quality assurance systems.
Feeding your bird pellets optimises their health to help them live long and happier lives. When their food is in this form, you can prevent your bird from picking and choosing to eat only the seeds they like, which are often the most unhealthy and high in fat
Easier clean up
As they are 100% edible and digestible, pellets greatly reduce the waste in an aviary, meaning there’s less cleaning for you to do. Seed mixes can create significant waste on the cage floor due to ingredients the bird may not like and the requirement of dehulling seeds
A healthier bird inside and out
Pellets contain the right balance of amino acids which allow for the optimum development of your bird’s feathers, bone development and immune system. Switching your bird to a pellet diet, you would soon notice that they look vibrant and healthy.
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When it comes to parrot nutrition, consider seeds to be more like treats: birds love them, but they are not the healthiest choice. For most pet birds, especially parrots and parakeets, feeding your bird on an all-seed can lead to serious health issues, as seeds lack the calcium, vitamins and other important minerals that parrots need in their daily diet. This is not to say that seed does not have a place in a parrot’s diet - seeds in moderation can be a great treat to delight your feathered friends. Some species, like budgies and cockatiels, are naturally seed eaters and can tolerate a higher percentage of seed in the diet, but even for these birds, seeds should only make up about 25 percent of the diet.
The best fruits and vegetables for your pet bird
You mustn’t just feed your bird a pellet-only diet. It’s important to supplement pellets with an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables for a good source of additional nutrients. A general guide is to ensure vegetables make up a larger portion of their diet than fruits, which contain more sugar and hence may contribute to weight gain. Try to feed your bird as wide a variety as possible as they enjoy diverse tastes and textures, and the intellectual stimulation of playing with different types of food.
Best vegetables for your pet bird
- Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale
- Cucumber, zucchini, pumpkins, cauliflower, broccoli
- Most birds love corn, but care is needed not to overindulge
Vegetables you should avoid ever feeding your bird include avocado, rhubarb, olives, asparagus and eggplants as these can be toxic to them. In addition, vegetables such as celery and lettuce mostly consist of water and fibre and will not provide your bird with much nutrition.
Best fruits for your pet bird
Fruit should be fed to your bird as a treat, in moderation due to their high sugar content.
- Apples and pears
- Berries including strawberries, cranberries, blueberries and raspberries
- Apricots, nectarines, peaches, cherries (without the seeds)
- Mangoes, papayas, kiwis, pineapple
- Melons such as rockmelons, honeydew melons and watermelons, but remember to remove the rind and seeds first
- Citruses including oranges, tangerines, grapefruit are acidic and should only be fed in small amounts
Not all fruits are safe for your bird and as much as we love them, avocados are a definitely no-no. Further, make sure to remove apple seeds and the pits of stone fruit before you feed these to your bird as they contain a small amount of cyanide.
Other toxic foods and beverages that should not be fed to parrots include; mouldy or perished foods, the onion family, the green parts of the potato (cooked or uncooked), milkweed (which looks a lot like chickweed), alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, cocoa, tobacco, raw egg, eggplant, also damp, wet, or mouldy nuts. Stay away from junk foods and any foods high in fat, salt, or sugar.
Introducing fruits and vegetables to your pet bird
This is not an exhaustive list, but a good place to start when thinking of what fruits and vegetables you can feed your pet bird. If your bird is reluctant to try this new food, get creative and try cutting them into different sizes, cooking them, grating them, pureeing or mixing them into foods they do like, until they have accepted this nutritious diet. Like with young children, the key is to not give up when convincing them to eat foods that are good for them!
As pet parents, it’s only natural that you want to reward your beloved pet every once in a while, just make sure that you do not overfeed them. Treats should comprise the smallest amount of your bird’s diet and are perfect for helping you and your pet bond.
Treating your bird is a great way to incorporate seeds into their diet, as fan favourites like sunflower seeds are very fatty and should not be fed as their main food. If you’re looking for something healthier, you can also provide your bird with a little more of their favourite fruits.
Vitamins and supplements
Most people need vitamins and supplements for better overall health, our bird friends are no different! An imbalanced or incomplete diet is a common problem with pet birds and is a relatively common cause of illness. To keep your parrot healthy and in prime condition, make sure they are getting the essential vitamins and minerals they need with the following supplements;
Cuttlefish or mineral block
Most people have heard the saying that calcium builds strong bones, but it's important to realise that the same applies to birds. Cuttlebone is an important dietary supplement for birds because it is a great source of necessary minerals and calcium, which helps birds with bone formation, blood clotting and eggshell formation.
Vitamin supplements can be added to your bird’s diet to assist with skin & feather condition, digestion, moult recovery & vitality. Additional supplements should only be given on the advice of your veterinarian. Talk to your local Animates Vetcare team about supplements that your parrot will need.
The right nutrition for your pet bird involves more than just feeding them a seed mix. Understanding the right balance of pellets, fruits and vegetables and treats for your bird’s particular species will help you to provide them with the complete and balanced nutrition they need to live a long and healthy life. Visit your local Animates where our friendly team members can provide you with individualised advice.