Buy Smart and Clean Well
Do you shop at pet or feed stores where they have open bins where you can buy seeds, seed mixes, or pellets? When left open, bins are at risk of picking up unwelcome microorganisms from the store’s ambient dust. There is a possibility that dust particles from hamster cages, rat cages, and bird cages will find their way into the food bins. Customers’ hands and clothing can transfer infectious particles and germs from their birds at home to other people’s birds. Toys and perches purchased from bird marts must also be disinfected before being used.
Because they have been touched by so many different people — from the pickers in the fields to the clerks at the store — freshly picked fruits and vegetables purchased from a grocery store need to be washed and rinsed thoroughly before being consumed. E. coli and other bacteria, such as Enterobacter, are ever-present in the environment. Young companion birds are especially susceptible to heavy bacterial contamination of foodstuffs. This is due to the fact that their capacity to deal with large amounts of bacteria is significantly lower than that of older birds. Young birds are especially susceptible to heavy bacterial contamination of foodstuffs.
Removing Pesticides from Foodstuffs
Cleaning foodstuffs to eliminate pesticides and chemical residue is highly critical for exotic birds, given that birds have a considerably lower capacity for tolerating pesticides than people do. We have evidence from the past that pesticides, including DDT, dioxin, vinyl chloride, chlordane, and CFCs, can be harmful to humans. The most up-to-date knowledge we have regarding the ever-present toxins in our environment does not inspire optimism. Each year, forty million tons of more than eleven thousand different kinds of organochlorines are generated; we and our birds are exposed to these substances on a regular basis through our breathing, eating, and drinking. These insecticides are so widely dispersed that they have even made their way up to the Arctic. The presence of a high concentration of organochlorines has been linked to an increased risk of developing cancer. The fruits and vegetables that we give to our birds need to go through a meticulous cleaning process so that we can lessen the dangers that are related with the pesticides that we use.
Fat and Unhealthy
When combined, a diet high in fat and a lack of physical activity can hasten a bird’s death, both as a companion animal and as a breeding bird. The vast majority of birds that are classified as parrots take pleasure in eating, and some of their favorite foods include peanuts, sunflower and safflower seeds, pizza, and French fries. Providing birds with a food that is excessively rich can result in poor feather condition, excessive body fat, and eventually fatty liver disease, which can limit the bird’s lifespan. There have been reports of Amazon parrots kept as pets who had folds of fat hanging from their sides, a large number of cockatoos that had fatty tumors, and even a fat Eclectus female that weighed more than 1,000 grams! There are times when doting owners do not realize they are killing their animals with their kindness.
“If a little bit is nice, then a lot must be better,” said the old saying. When it comes to vitamins, the widespread misconception that is often held is very perilous. An excellent diet is provided for the bird by its skilled owner, which often consists of a wide selection of raw and prepared foods, sprouting seeds, pellets, and various fruits and vegetables. Adding vitamins to a great diet is harmful. If you are feeding pellets, there is no need to add any additional vitamins because the pellets already contain the vitamins. There are a lot of seed mixes that have been coated with vitamins, and there are a lot of specific bird treats that contain vitamins as well. If a bird consumes vitamins from all of these different sources, it puts its body in danger of developing a chemical imbalance or possibly vitamin poisoning. There have been reports of birds suffering from seizures after receiving an excessive amount of vitamins, and there have also been reports of birds exhibiting repetitive muscle spasms in their feet or wings.
Some birds that have chemical imbalances develop the behavior of picking at their feathers; after the diet is adjusted, the behavior no longer occurs. Researchers in the field of avian medicine have published studies on the subject of vitamin toxicity. The use of vitamins ought to be recorded, kept track of, and under no circumstances taken lightly. Vitamins created in factories are man-made substances that are not identical to the vitamins naturally present in unprocessed foods. Psittacines do not currently have any official standards that have been set for the suggested vitamin dosages that should be given to them. The majority of the research that has been done in this field has been done on chickens, and its applicability to exotic species is uncertain. Because of this, taking vitamins should be done with prudence and common sense. Before you add vitamins to a meal that is already considered to be healthy for your birds, it is important to get the OK from an avian vet.
Birds Are What They Eat
The phrase “you are what you eat,” which is typically applied to the foods that people consume, may also be applied to the foods that our companion and breeding birds consume. Not only is the health of the individual bird dependent, to a large extent, upon a proper diet, but the fertility of eggs, the viability of the embryos, and the health of future children are dependent, as well, upon the basic good health of the two parent birds.
Varied animals require different diets. It is the responsibility of the person in charge of the birds’ food to conduct study on the requirements of the species and to make every effort to meet the requirements of both the companion birds and the breeding birds. Because of the unique combination of vitamins and minerals that are provided by each seed, vegetable, root, tuber, fruit, and leafy vegetable, consuming a diet that is rich in variety is extremely important.
Many people who breed birds use pellets that have been manufactured specifically for the purpose of supplementing the diet of psittacines. Pellets are created with the intention of providing psittacines with a diet that comes as close as possible to being considered balanced. Psittacines have specific dietary requirements, which have been the subject of in-depth investigation at the University of California, Davis by Tom Roudybush, professor Dick Grau, and their fellow researchers. It is interesting to note that the research conducted at UC Davis on the diet of the orange-winged Amazon during the breeding season indicated that the birds were more productive when fruits and vegetables were provided in addition to pellets. This information was gleaned from the studies on the diet of the orange-winged Amazon.
The Exotic Bird Report is a publication that is put out on a quarterly basis by the Department of Avian Sciences at UC Davis. This seven-page paper gives good information on exotic birds covering nutrition, behavior, development, nest box design, genetics, and exotic bird studies on the neotropical parrots. The report also includes a picture of a neotropical parrot. People who donate money to the Psittacine Research Project at the Department of Avian Sciences at UC Davis, 95616-8532, in the United States of America, receive a copy of the report. For additional information, please write to the Psittacine Research Project at the University of California, Davis, or visit their website at http://etx.ucdavis.edu/avs/avspsitt.htm.
Soaked and Sprouted Seeds
Many farmers who raise birds offer several kinds of soft foods, such as seeds and legumes that have been soaked and sprouted, as well as leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables. Seeds that have sprouted have undergone alterations that improve the amount of nutrients that are available. If you suddenly discover that your seeds are not sprouting, you should contact your seed’s distributor. You can find out that the manufacturing company is sterilizing the seed to stop it from sprouting as a way of preventing other grocery stores from using the seeds in the future. This is done to prevent other businesses from using the seeds. It is possible that you will have to ask your provider to locate another supply of seeds that have not been sterilized.
Cleanliness of Bird Foods is Imperative
The manner in which bird food is packaged, handled, stored, and prepared can have an effect on the bird’s overall health. The vast majority of bird breeders that are successful are already making use of efficient methods to securely handle feeds for their birds. The question that needs to be answered is whether or not the breeders are providing their customers with important information on the purchasing, preparation, storage, and management of food. Concern is warranted in light of recent instances of E. coli contamination of ground beef, Salmonella contamination of chicken, and other bacterial contaminants in fruits. How many people keep their birds’ fruits and veggies on the same cutting board that they use to prepare chicken or fish, without first giving it a thorough cleaning and then using a chlorine solution to kill any bacteria? Bacteria can thrive in the minute cuts that are present in both plastic and wooden cutting boards. These bacteria have the potential to be transferred from the board to the chopped foods that are being prepared for the birds. Investing in a cutting board that is designed solely for the purpose of preparing food for birds is a prudent course of action. If you prepare bird food in the same location as you handle meat, you should disinfect all of the work surfaces with chlorine bleach.
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