It is my opinion that you can provide your bird with a nutritious diet that consists of pellets and seeds, but the primary focus should be on “fresh, healthy, and natural foods.”
I believe that this diet has various benefits, not the least of which is that I am able to provide fresh foods for more than forty birds on a daily basis, but I only need to cut fruits and vegetables once a week. This is one of the diet’s advantages. For the sake of clarity, I’ll do my best to describe this using a step-by-step approach.
Once a week, I put the following ingredients in plastic storage containers (because I feed such a large number of birds, I use seven containers that are each 2 gallons in size):
Layer 1 (the bottom layer) is comprised of chopped greens, the types of which change every week. During one week, I’ll make use of mustard greens, collard greens, and parsley. I may make use of Swiss chard, kale, and dandelion greens during the following week.
Two layers of finely chopped green veggies, ranging in size from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch cubes, containing any of the following: vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, zucchini and other summer squash, jicama, red or green peppers, fresh spicy peppers, chayote squash, green beans, fresh peas, cucumber, celery, anise root, and other similar items.
Broccoli florets and shredded carrots make up the third layer.
Pasta, uncooked and dry, makes up the fourth layer. This will help to soften the mixture as it absorbs some of the moisture from the mixture.
Cooked beans make up the fifth layer. Typically, I will purchase one of the thirteen or seventeen bean soup mixes, which I will soak and rinse overnight, bring to a boil, simmer for approximately twenty-five minutes, and then drain.
The sixth layer consists of diced apples, oranges, and whole grapes mixed together.
Layer 7 – frozen mixed vegetables.
After that, the jars are stored in the refrigerator (but make sure they don’t get frozen).
Issues of freshness:
Because of these three factors, this mixture can remain fresh in these tubs for up to seven days. First, stacked salads retain their crispness for a longer period of time. Second, the orange juice eventually seeps down and gives the mixture a touch of acidity. Because cold air sinks and warm air rises, the mixture is promptly and dramatically cooled by the addition of frozen mixed veggies. In addition to that, I wash all of the fruits, veggies, and greens with Oxyfresh Cleansing Gele, which not only cleans them but also inhibits the growth of bacteria in the process.
I always do this first thing in the morning: empty one container into a big mixing basin. At this point, I usually add other foods to the layered mix that might not either hold up or stay fresh, such as soft fruits (blueberries, peaches, plums, kiwi fruits, melon, etc.), sprouts, or cooked grains. These are all examples of foods that might not hold up or stay fresh in the layered mix (amaranth, quinoa, brown rice, barley, etc). I’ve been known to smuggle a package of pine nuts or walnut pieces into a meal on occasion so as to ratchet up the level of excitement. Although I always give the parrots their nuts in separate bowls, sometimes it’s fun to give them a little something different.
After everything has been thoroughly combined, I use eight scoops of this fruit and vegetable mix, one scoop of a very clean, high quality seed mix, and one scoop of pellets (either Foundation Formula or Harrison’s High Potency). I then transfer all of these ingredients to a second large bowl and stir them together. After that, all of this is combined and given to the birds to eat.
With a little ingenuity and flexibility, you may modify this recipe to accommodate any number of birds by lowering the number of containers used, the size of those containers, or both. You can make two very little cages for just one bird if you so choose. Even after being opened and stirred, the contents of one container will remain usable for around three days.
- There is no necessity to chop fresh meals on a daily basis.
- The sense of sight is particularly important to parrots. If you hang a bird feeder outside, it will be at least two weeks before wild birds start feeding from it. If you want to speed up the process, you can feed the birds yourself. When fruits and vegetables are fed singly, in large pieces, or in small combinations, and something new is added, it is likely to be rejected solely on the basis that it is visually unfamiliar. This is especially true when fruits and vegetables are fed singly, in large pieces, or in small combinations. If you feed a mix such as this, you can throw anything in it, and it will still be accepted, because the overall appearance of the mix has not altered.
- The birds enjoy the variety that this combination provides, since it gives them the opportunity to exercise their natural foraging instincts. They exhibit a significant amount of interest in being fed by me despite the fact that they are never sure what they will find in their food dishes. It is possible to achieve an extremely wide range of different outcomes. Each week brings a new assortment of greens and veggie types to choose from. There is a wide variety of pasta forms (alphabet, whole wheat, elbow, etc.). You can use grapefruit, lemons, tangerines, or any other variety of citrus fruit that you want for oranges in this recipe. You might use fresh blueberries, ripe cherries that have been pitted, or fresh cranberries in place of the grapes in this recipe. You can use a soak and cook mix for the 17-bean mix that you normally use. You can substitute cooked sweet potato or winter squash, which has been chopped, for the grated carrots in this recipe. There is an infinite number of conceivable variations. I also utilize a variety of different kinds of seed. I purchase the Volkman’s brand since it is so pure, but depending on my mood, I might use Hookbill Super one day, Parrot Super the next, or even canary seed every once in a while. If I want variety, I’ll buy a mix of seeds from the health food store (sesame, pumpkin, etc).
- When pellets are included in this mix in the manner described above, even birds that normally won’t eat pellets frequently do so for two reasons: (1) they become a part of an exciting mix, and (2) they become slightly softer as a result of absorbing some of the moisture that is also present in the mix.
- I put this in the cages at seven in the morning and take it out at four in the afternoon, which is something you can’t do with mixtures that have been boiled or frozen. The majority of the items are not cooked and are not frozen, so they maintain their freshness for a longer period of time. Temperature, moisture, and the breakdown of bacterial cell walls all contribute to an increase in bacterial growth. Due to the fact that the pasta and pellets absorb the great bulk of the moisture, this mixture has a propensity to be on the dry side. Additionally, the cell walls of the fruits and vegetables have not been broken down because they have not been frozen or cooked. As a result, the majority of the cell walls are still intact. In hot conditions, it has a greater propensity to dry out rather than go bad.
- With the help of this mix and the methodical technique, which I will explain in more detail below, seed addicts can simply transition to a diet consisting of fresh foods.
Changing the eating habits of a seed addict who is completely addicted to eating fresh food:
- Start by placing four dishes within the cage, including the pellets of your choosing (preferably without any colours or preservatives), a seed mix of good quality, water, and the fresh food mix. The latter won’t be consumed for a few weeks at the earliest. Get over it. Serve this once in the morning and once in the late afternoon or evening in order to establish a pattern of feeding and to give the bird time to become accustomed to staring at it. This is the only reason for serving it twice a day. Note that the seed-to-fresh food ratio in the fresh food mix should be equal to that of the seed-to-fresh food ratio (pellets optional).
- You will make the following adjustment the day that you observe the bird investigating the fresh food mix in order to consume the seed that is included inside it: When you wake up in the morning, you take the seed dish out of the cage, leaving you with just three other dishes: pellets, water, and the new mix. In the evening, you will once again provide the fresh meal mix, but this time you will return the seed dish. We don’t want the bird to go hungry while it’s through the diet transition. A bird that is hungry and worried will not make graceful adjustments to its behavior.
- The moment you see the bird with a piece of fresh food in its mouth or notice that it has eaten some of the seed dish, you should take it away entirely and replace it with a new one. After that moment, you will just need to supply the following three dishes: water, pellets, and a fresh mix that is composed of 50 percent seed and 50 percent fresh foods.
- After one month has passed, and for each month that follows, you reduce the amount of seed that is included in the mixture until it accounts for between 10 and 20 percent of the total mixture. If you remove the seed dish on February 1st, for example, on March 1st you will start feeding a mix that consists of 40% seed and 60% fresh mix. This is because the seed dish was removed on February 1st. On April 1st, you will switch to feeding 30 percent seed and 70 percent fresh meals, and you will continue this pattern throughout the month.
Using this strategy, I was able to effectively convert a number of parrots that had only ever eaten seed into eating other foods, including a Moluccan Cockatoo that was twenty years old.
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