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Diet — is there anything I should be doing differently?

Talk about bird illnesses and other bird health related issues. Seeds, pellets, fruits, vegetables and more. Discuss what to feed your birds and in what quantity. Share your recipe ideas.

Re: Diet — is there anything I should be doing differently?

Postby Trick or 'Tiel » Mon May 15, 2017 7:02 pm

What's wrong with soy?
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Re: Diet — is there anything I should be doing differently?

Postby Pajarita » Tue May 16, 2017 2:14 pm

Well, the reason why pellets are made of soy is because it's -by far- the cheapest source of protein there is in the entire world so, when you talk about soy, you are talking about the cheapest food EVER! Then you have the following:

1. Soy is actually poisonous in its natural state, that's why it needs to be cooked or otherwise processed to be consumed safely and, if I knew nothing else about it, this alone would give me pause.

2. There is also the fact that it's goitrogenic. This means that it affects the thyroid gland by slowing its production of hormones so people who have hypothyroidism (a slow thyroid) are not supposed to eat anything made with soy. This is particularly bad for birds that come from Australia (like toos, tiels, budgies, etc) because they tend to have a problem with iodine absorption (iodine stimulates the thyroid into producing hormone) and that's why Australia is trying to ban using soy for birds' food.

3. Then you have the estrogenic effect. This is because soy has a chemical element that is extraordinarily similar to estrogen (female sexual hormone) and it has been found that the body uses this element the same way that it uses estrogen (and this is why some older woman eat soy products).

4. 99% of all studies made on soy were paid for by soybean producers so, in reality, there isn't enough research to confirm that soy is, indeed, a good thing for people and animals.

5. If you look at ALL the better and more expensive brands of dog and cat food (the only pet food that has any government 'rules' they need to follow), you will see that NONE of them uses soy.

I have a couple of very simple rules when it comes to my birds, one of them is "When in doubt, don't do it" and that's why I never feed them anything with soy. Why risk it when there are some many other things to feed them that are known to be 100% good for them?
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Re: Diet — is there anything I should be doing differently?

Postby Trick or 'Tiel » Tue May 16, 2017 5:46 pm

I never knew about how bad soy can be. I'm looking at the ingredients of the Roudybush and Harrison's pellets, and they both use soy. The TOP's, however, don't. I probably will make the gradual switch off the other pellets and just to TOP's. They like TOP's the best anyway, so it shouldn't be difficult. If TOP's are organic, don't use soy, and use human grade ingredients, then why don't other pellets do the same thing? If they know it's healthier, why don't they just do it? More people would buy their products then. Pajarita, why don't you feed TOP's pellets to your birds if they're so great?
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Re: Diet — is there anything I should be doing differently?

Postby Pajarita » Wed May 17, 2017 10:58 am

Because pellets are too dry. Parrots natural diet is always fresh plant material -some eat more fruits than others, some eat more bugs than others and some don't eat any bugs, etc. but, with the exception of a couple of species, they are all classified as herbivores and fresh plant material (fruits, buds, blossoms, leaves, etc) has a water content (moisture) of 85 to 95% (meaning that what nature evolved them to eat is practically all water!). People talk about parrots eating nuts and seeds in the wild as examples of their eating dry stuff but what they don't take into consideration is that the seeds and nuts they eat are what we call 'green' (meaning, they are taken off the plant and haven't been dried and stored) and that means a higher water content than the seeds, grains or nuts one can give them. I'll give you an example: when wheat is on the plant, the kernels have a water content of up to 46% BUT by the time you buy the wheat kernels, say, in the supermarket, the water content is only 13.5%- big difference, isn't it?

Pellets need to remain 'fresh' (meaning not rotting or developing mold that could harm the bird) for long periods of time because from the time they are put together and bagged to the time when you feed the last pellet from the bag you bought at the petstore, months go by. If the pellets had a high moisture content, they would rot in a matter of days so they make them dry (a max of 10%, usually).

Now, one can say: "Well, all they have to do is drink more water and problem solved!" But, unfortunately, it's not as simple as that and I'll tell you why. Parrots are prey animals and, like the greatest majority of them, they are what's called 'crepuscular feeders' (this means that they eat when the sun is beginning to rise and when it's beginning to set). This is a survival of the species mechanism that nature gave them so more of them don't get caught and eaten because predators lose, at least, 10% of their sight during twilight (sunrise -aka dawn- and sunset -aka dusk- are both 'twilight') so it's safer for the birds to come down to ground to eat and drink then. This I something that is 'programmed' into their brains to the point that even birds that are born in captivity and have never even seen a predator would still eat and drink at those times. Then you have another important evolutionary problem: because nature evolved them to eat VERY wet food all the time, their digestive system is meant to get most of the water it needs to keep the body healthy from the food and not so much from actual drinking so the action of drinking a lot and often is something that it's not 'programmed' into them (if you observe your birds closely and often and keep them at a solar schedule with exposure to dawn and dusk, you will see that they mostly drink only in the morning and a little bit more at night but almost never during the day). Their drinking is so 'set' by nature that I have come to realize that different species have their own number of gulps they all drink (for example, cockatoos take 6 to 8 sips very early in the morning and not a single more during the day but senegals take only 4 or 5). We have also learned from other species that when you feed a dry food to an animal that evolved to drink little because all its food is supposed to be wet, a large number of them will develop kidney problems. This is something we have learned from cats. Cats are what it's called an 'obligate' carnivore (it means that they are supposed to eat meat and nothing else) and, as their ancestor was a wild cat from the desert where there is very little to no water, nature made it so their eating meat (which it's 85% water) is enough for them to get sufficient hydration. But we were feeding them dry kibble all the time and a large number of them was still not drinking enough water (even though they have been domesticated for thousands and thousands of years) so they would get kidney disease as they got older (feeding them canned food takes care of that problem). I had an avian vet that said that most pet parrots that are fed pellets live in a state of semi-dehydrations their entire lives.

I try my very best to give my parrots what nature evolved them to need. I can't give them freedom, allow them to breed, live in a large flock or the foods they would eat if they were in their natural habitat but I give them as many hours of out-of-cage time as I can, I allow them to nest and lay eggs, I try to provide a mate or a companion and other birds to share their life with and I give them fresh food that, even though it's not the same things they would eat in the wild, at least they are within the same nutritional parameters as their wild diet so the protein, fat, moisture, fiber levels are pretty close to what they should be.
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Re: Diet — is there anything I should be doing differently?

Postby Trick or 'Tiel » Wed May 17, 2017 6:01 pm

Are the parrots still dehydrated if they are fed gloop and produce, as well as pellets? Because my birds have unlimited access to gloop and produce daily and prefer the gloop to their pellets. Why doesn't the dry commercial seed mix dehydrate them? I basically feed everything you do, except I add pellets into their diet instead of the seed mix. They still get seeds, but not as much as you give your birds. I would really appreciate any suggestions as to what other items to add to their diet to make sure they get everything they need. Here is a current list of what they get in their diet.
Fresh produce:
Romaine
Arugula
Red and green Swiss chard
Tat soi
Green leaf lettuce
Red leaf lettuce
Baby kale
Broccoli and broccolini
Carrots
Cucumbers
Frozen veggies in gloop:
Carrots
Corn
Peas
Broccoli
Cooked grains in gloop (not a complete list):
Quinoa (red and white)
Buckwheat
Oat groats
Barley
Lentils (but they don't like them)
Red rice
Seeds in gloop:
Chia
Flaxseed
Sesame seeds (not sure if they eat them though)
Treats (for daily training):
Millet spray
Budgie and cockatiel seed mix
NEVER any sunflower seeds
Haven't given in a while, but have in the past:
Hardboiled egg
Cashews
Walnuts
Sprouts
Other:
Cuttlebone
Moringa leaf supplement
As well as TOP's, Harrison's, and Roudybush pellets.
So please tell me whether they get absolutely everything they need from this diet, and please explain what other items can be added to achieve the best diet possible.
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Re: Diet — is there anything I should be doing differently?

Postby stevesjk » Thu May 18, 2017 3:51 am

I know someone who obsessed over what their budgie ate and it died at age 1 and i know someone who 'couldnt be arsed' and fed only cheap seed and it just died at age 15.
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Re: Diet — is there anything I should be doing differently?

Postby ParrotsForLife » Thu May 18, 2017 10:19 am

stevesjk wrote:I know someone who obsessed over what their budgie ate and it died at age 1 and i know someone who 'couldnt be arsed' and fed only cheap seed and it just died at age 15.

They obviously weren't feeding him right if he died at 1 and there could have been something else wrong, Also Budgies could live a lot longer than 15 years and eating only seed id consider him lucky he made it that far.
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Re: Diet — is there anything I should be doing differently?

Postby stevesjk » Thu May 18, 2017 10:35 am

I can also think of alcoholics and smokers who constantly eat crap in their 60s and going strong and then sports stars who obsessively look after themselves who die young of illnesses. My point, some things are down to chance. And 15 for a budgie is old.l
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Re: Diet — is there anything I should be doing differently?

Postby ParrotsForLife » Thu May 18, 2017 2:02 pm

stevesjk wrote:I can also think of alcoholics and smokers who constantly eat crap in their 60s and going strong and then sports stars who obsessively look after themselves who die young of illnesses. My point, some things are down to chance. And 15 for a budgie is old.l

15 is old for a Budgie of course but it could have lived a lot longer meaning because he wasn't fed good his life expectancy would have shortened and a lot more than the diet can shorten or heighten the lifespan.
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Re: Diet — is there anything I should be doing differently?

Postby Pajarita » Fri May 19, 2017 12:53 pm

No parrot living on just seed and water would last 15 years. Not even parrots that have longer lifespans. It doesn't happen. Because even if the parents were fed perfectly, there are only so many reserves a body has and they don't last 15 years.
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