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Avoiding Pellet Dunking

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: Avoiding Pellet Dunking

Postby CheekyandMalolo » Fri Apr 22, 2011 5:42 am

I have a question about only offering meals rather than feed there all day.
Is there any knowledge about whether birds need to graze all day or if they're ok to have just meals?? There are certain animals who need to maintain food in their system or they risk issues with their intestines/gut. Does anyone know if birds fall into this?
I'd just hate to remove my birds access to any kind of feed apart from when I say they can eat, if there's a chance it'll cause issues later on. They may well cope with only eating in meals but I somehow doubt it's good for them.
I think for now I'll continue providing food for them to graze on all day and change there water when needed
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Re: Avoiding Pellet Dunking

Postby Nevermore » Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:06 am

I don't know. All I know is my own understanding of herbivores. When I worked at the vet clinic, and you'd have animals in for surgery. All carnivores/omnivores were fasted. They didn't get dinner, or breakfast. Herbivores...You still fed them. You never, EVER told them to fast a herbivore because it was downright dangerous for them. You get less nutrients from an all vegetable diet, they need to eat more of it to get the equivalent that dogs and cats would get.

I don't really know how long you should go between meals if you don't allow your bird to graze, or which is better. But I know I"m not home during the day to offer him stuff throughout the day. So...free-feeding it is.
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Re: Avoiding Pellet Dunking

Postby Michael » Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:19 pm

CheekyandMalolo wrote:I have a question about only offering meals rather than feed there all day.
Is there any knowledge about whether birds need to graze all day or if they're ok to have just meals?? There are certain animals who need to maintain food in their system or they risk issues with their intestines/gut. Does anyone know if birds fall into this?
I'd just hate to remove my birds access to any kind of feed apart from when I say they can eat, if there's a chance it'll cause issues later on. They may well cope with only eating in meals but I somehow doubt it's good for them.
I think for now I'll continue providing food for them to graze on all day and change there water when needed


I can't speak for all species of parrots (although I think it's similar for others) because I'm mainly familiar with Poicephalus. However, when I traveled to Africa I did not see any birds (including parrots) during the midday. However, in the mornings and evenings they were all out and about. From what I've heard and read this is also the case. Finally when I look at my own parrots on free feed, the still choose to eat in the morning/evening anyway and ignore the food midday.

Birds have a crop so food is stored in it until necessary. It's kind of like a buffer between the digestive system and feedings. They get a pretty constant and steady flow of food into the digestive system this way while feeding only in the morning and evening. They could eat a pellet once an hour or they can eat 5 pellets in the morning and 5 in the evening with the same result. Mine choose to fill their crop and go off that. My guess is that the crop can store 2-3 days of food. So a sick, injured, or unfortunate bird can go that long without eating before muscle mass begins to get depleted. Even a full day without food can be replenished into the crop since it was only half emptied in the process.

Leaving food around all day is probably more harmful than not. It is well known that free feeding captive animals (and humans for that matter), leads to obesity and all the problems associated with it. More care needs to be taken to measure out appropriate portions and to replenish the bowl twice every day and take it away (or give just the amount that will get eaten and not more). However, if you're the kind of person that is very responsible and constantly changing food/water anyway, then it's fine.

In the morning I measure out an amount of food and leave it in the cage. It gets eaten within the first hour and the bowls remain empty all day. Then in the evening I train the slightly hungry birds, and then I give them a generous portion in their bowl. Usually whatever doesn't get eaten in the evening I save to give the next morning. I'm pretty efficient about giving them just the right amount after tracking their weights for years. Not only is this more hygenic, it also makes them better behaved. Forget training, just issues like biting and being bossy. Overfed birds just seem to get this over the top confidence that they rule the world.
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Re: Avoiding Pellet Dunking

Postby Nevermore » Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:11 pm

Overfed birds just seem to get this over the top confidence that they rule the world.


But they do:P We are all slaves to our feathered overlords.
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Re: Avoiding Pellet Dunking

Postby Michael » Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:02 pm

I can tell your birds have always been overfed :lol:
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Re: Avoiding Pellet Dunking

Postby charlieandkiwi » Sat Nov 24, 2012 1:41 pm

First of all, it should be said that there is bacteria everywhere, it will grow moreso where there are more nutrients, and that very few forms of abundant bacteria are actually harmful. The stuff that grows in the pellet-soup is probably not harmful at all (it's probably ecoli and a few other common, harmless species. Only a few types of very rare ecoli are harmful).

In general, I think parrot owners are over stressed about bacteria and there is ABUNDANT evidence that too much eradication of bacteria in humans can cause improper development of the immune system in addition to other problems. Why then, would it not have similar effects in all earth inhabitants who have evolved over million of years in the presence of bacteria?

For this reason, I do not disinfect my parrots living environments very often (as in, less than every couple of years). I use regular soap and water and sometimes not even soap (just water) to clean. Obviously if you have a new parrot or a new piece of equipment for your parrot, there should be one disinfection procedure, but if your parrot is healthy, there is no need to go to painstaking efforts to continuously wipe out the bacteria that are normal to your parrot's environment.

That said, I think that parrots who love dunking pellets should be allowed to dunk because it's fun, their water bowls should be cleaned with soap and water several times a day, and they should be given a water bottle. By allowing them to dunk, they wont shove pellets up the waterbottle (a real problem I've had in the past). Also, the water dish often doubles as a bathing dish and that's a great enrichment activity.

I regularly observe my green cheek conure dunking his pellets and then pausing every now and then to take a sip out of water from the bottle. Birds prefer clean drinking water. He loves his water bottle for drinking and his water dish for activities.
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Re: Avoiding Pellet Dunking

Postby cmaygar » Sat Nov 24, 2012 2:49 pm

Nevermore wrote:Although if I were on well water I would be more worried


I have a well and my water is treated monthly to keep it clean. I use this water for all of my animals and we use it for cooking, bathing, brushing teeth, etc. for the past 15 years and the humans, equines, canines, felines and parrots are fine. Well water from deep aquifers normally speaking is much better than most city tap water since the water is pure and not recycled from less than pure sources.
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Re: Avoiding Pellet Dunking

Postby Wayne361 » Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:40 pm

charlieandkiwi wrote:First of all, it should be said that there is bacteria everywhere, it will grow moreso where there are more nutrients, and that very few forms of abundant bacteria are actually harmful. The stuff that grows in the pellet-soup is probably not harmful at all (it's probably ecoli and a few other common, harmless species. Only a few types of very rare ecoli are harmful).

In general, I think parrot owners are over stressed about bacteria and there is ABUNDANT evidence that too much eradication of bacteria in humans can cause improper development of the immune system in addition to other problems. Why then, would it not have similar effects in all earth inhabitants who have evolved over million of years in the presence of bacteria?

For this reason, I do not disinfect my parrots living environments very often (as in, less than every couple of years). I use regular soap and water and sometimes not even soap (just water) to clean. Obviously if you have a new parrot or a new piece of equipment for your parrot, there should be one disinfection procedure, but if your parrot is healthy, there is no need to go to painstaking efforts to continuously wipe out the bacteria that are normal to your parrot's environment.

That said, I think that parrots who love dunking pellets should be allowed to dunk because it's fun, their water bowls should be cleaned with soap and water several times a day, and they should be given a water bottle. By allowing them to dunk, they wont shove pellets up the waterbottle (a real problem I've had in the past). Also, the water dish often doubles as a bathing dish and that's a great enrichment activity.

I regularly observe my green cheek conure dunking his pellets and then pausing every now and then to take a sip out of water from the bottle. Birds prefer clean drinking water. He loves his water bottle for drinking and his water dish for activities.


I agree with this mentality. We must also realize that parrots in the wild drink from mostly any
freshwater source they can find. My suspicion is that the source is not one of the sanitized quality in the wild. I think many are over-reacting in this regard. I change my :senegal: 's water once per day. I also believe that having a bit of bacteria in ones environment (birds and humans) assists in immune functionality.
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Re: Avoiding Pellet Dunking

Postby Michael » Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:54 pm

Wayne361 wrote:I agree with this mentality. We must also realize that parrots in the wild drink from mostly any freshwater source they can find. My suspicion is that the source is not one of the sanitized quality in the wild. I think many are over-reacting in this regard. I change my :senegal: 's water once per day. I also believe that having a bit of bacteria in ones environment (birds and humans) assists in immune functionality.


I completely disagree (only my opinion/reasoning, don't have any evidence either way). In the wild their water source would most likely be running rather than sitting. They would have choice of one water source over another and could choose for themselves based on innate/learned criteria. Stuck in a cage with a little cup full of nutrients and feces, I think it morbidly irresponsible to say this is a reasonable source of water without very frequent changing.

While I do agree that you can't baby your parrot completely and letting them develop their own immunity is important, I don't think this is a case where this reasonably applies. If you would not be willing to drink that same water, then why the heck would you make your companion parrot do that?

My parrots have water from a bottle and if need be I would not hesitate to drink from it. I refuse to leave a water cup in the cage because it turns into something morbidly unsanitary very quickly. If I don't have access to a bottle (bottle broke, travel, different cage, etc), I don't leave water at all. I personally offer clean water in a cup to the birds in the morning and evening after they eat their pellets and that's it. They don't need water all day long (just like they don't need food all day long).

I am not going to risk an enormous vet bill or my parrots' well being over something so easily solvable.
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Re: Avoiding Pellet Dunking

Postby Wayne361 » Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:10 pm

Michael wrote:
Wayne361 wrote:I agree with this mentality. We must also realize that parrots in the wild drink from mostly any freshwater source they can find. My suspicion is that the source is not one of the sanitized quality in the wild. I think many are over-reacting in this regard. I change my :senegal: 's water once per day. I also believe that having a bit of bacteria in ones environment (birds and humans) assists in immune functionality.


I completely disagree (only my opinion/reasoning, don't have any evidence either way). In the wild their water source would most likely be running rather than sitting. They would have choice of one water source over another and could choose for themselves based on innate/learned criteria. Stuck in a cage with a little cup full of nutrients and feces, I think it morbidly irresponsible to say this is a reasonable source of water without very frequent changing.

While I do agree that you can't baby your parrot completely and letting them develop their own immunity is important, I don't think this is a case where this reasonably applies. If you would not be willing to drink that same water, then why the heck would you make your companion parrot do that?

My parrots have water from a bottle and if need be I would not hesitate to drink from it. I refuse to leave a water cup in the cage because it turns into something morbidly unsanitary very quickly. If I don't have access to a bottle (bottle broke, travel, different cage, etc), I don't leave water at all. I personally offer clean water in a cup to the birds in the morning and evening after they eat their pellets and that's it. They don't need water all day long (just like they don't need food all day long).

I am not going to risk an enormous vet bill or my parrots' well being over something so easily solvable.


I see your point but having parrots from Senegal (Aftrica) I doubt there is always a choice of cool running water filtered by a natural aquifer throughtout the year that is readily accessible. I have seen many birds (not parrots) drinking from the nearest source of water. They dont seem to discriminate from a stagnant pond to flowing streams. IF oscar made a habit of pooping in his water bowl (which he doesnt) I would change my habits accordingly. For some odd reason he only poops in his food bowl on occasion but only between feedings. In summary I guess it comes down to personal choice and the behaviour of the bird(s) in question.

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