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Where I stand on the Diet debate/Pellet reviews

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Where I stand on the Diet debate/Pellet reviews

Postby Grey_Moon » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:16 am

Personally, having tried just about every pellet known in North America---I hate pellets. They're conning people into believing that they're really just convenient economical complete nutrition. The exception to this being the TOPS 'pellets' as they're really just like grain mash but dried and pressed---this is where I get my convenience factor but even then Jacko does not get dry pellets in a bowl. Most pellets are cheap grains/fillers with artificial vitamins. Why would low-grade animal-feed corn/wheat/soy dust and various isolates and proteins extracted in a lab plus gods know what else coated with synthetic vitamins be good as a complete diet?

For the record--- Jacko has tried and sampled over the years:

Tropican lifetime & high preformance granules (HAGEN) :)
I'm from Quebec so in HARI's backyard. These are my preferred best of the worst--and if you can't find TOPS or you're pressed for time and money--these offer reasonable nutrition for the price and one of the better fat ratios and ingredient lists out there.

Nutribird P15 tropical flavour (Versele-Laga) :mad:
UNGH do NOT get me started on this stuff---its rock hard and when wet makes a foul chemical-smelling sludge. Jacko wasn't crazy about this stuff and I ended up throwing out most of it, it was attempt to get Harrison High Potency-like nutrient profiles without the $$ I also don't like that it takes a ton of digging to find out the actual ingredients in the food not just an ambigious however many % cereal grains and seeds it says on the bag/website.

Pretty Bird African Special (Pretty Pets)
Not too bad on the macronutrient profile---but the ingredients are cheap (chock full of soy, corn and not much else) plus chock full of colorants and synthetics. But they try to mark it up because its supposed to be 'special african grey food' :roll:.

Calcium Max African Grey (Zoo-Max)
Another local company here in Quebec, this pellet is better than the Pretty Bird as it does include more ingredient sources--but again we're still dealing with colourants and synthetics. Pellets are bit hard too---but the company makes awesome locally-produced toys and gyms so I'mma give them a break even though they don't list the macronutrient ratios online.

Zupreem Fruitblend (Zupreem)
This food line (including the natural coloured ones) I find highly overrated. The fruitblend makes a terrible smelling sludge in water, turns your birds poop all sorts of frightening colours. Plus the fat content is terrible--Jacko had alot of flaking beak, feet and general itchiness. The food is primarily soy/corn/wheat based with all sorts of additives.

Roudybush Rice (Roudybush)
Not bad considering its intended purpose--not sure it has enough nutrition for long-term health if used alone despite what it claims. The pellets are pretty inoffensive, crunch easily and despite the synthetics I think does well. I wish however that they'd warn you better that the bird's poop turns and stays lime green on it. Seeing as its a specialized food its expensive though.

Lafaeber Parrot pellets (Lafaeber)
Huge mark-up I think----vet's office food for sure. Ingredients aren't amazing and Jacko refused flat out to eat these. I had a small sample bag and neither she and or Sully the tiel would eat them.

Kaytee Exact Rainbow Complete Food for Conures & Parrots (Kaytee)
This...I'm ashamed to admit I even bought. But small town pet store and running out of pellets is what it is. Needless to say, horrible ingredients, synthetics off the roof and Jacko wouldn't even eat it. Nevermind Kaytee's questionable activities ie bird mills.

Harrisons High Potency Coarse/Adult Lifetime Coarse/Pepper Adult Lifetime (Harrisons Pet Foods)
I used to be a believer in the cult of Harrisons lol, used to. I figured it was ok to spend $40 dollars on pellets for just my TAG (even though they're majority corn/peanuts/sunflower) because they were organic and the first whole-food ingredient pellets I found. Plus, the vet recommended them at first. Only to have her develop fatty blood, fast growing nails and bea and eat them like mad on the high-potency, then have her flaky, itchy and disinterested on the lifetime. I no longer support or recommend Harrisons personally, as they are scams in terms of promising awesome health and organics yet they use ingredients most known to be allergenic etc and not all of their ingredients are organic thus their advice to use 90% percent pellets and only organic produce is ridiculous and just a ploy for money seeing as their own product is NOT 100% organic. Save your money and feed your fids better people, seriously.

Totally Organics Pellets (Totally Organics) :thumbsup:
This is my pellet of choice now, for those of us (like me) who do not have the know-how to implement a completely non-pellet diet as it is basically a grain and herb mix dried and pressed.
In its raw state out of the bag its pretty nutrient-sparse, not because its actually poor but because its not hard-pressed and crumbles easily. So the bird ends up having to eat a lot more to gain the same benefit---HOWEVER---this is easily remedied by making into birdie bread. After that it works well. It does smell funky and very 'earthy' but most birds give in and try it---especially baked into bread. As my vet told me, it is basically a natural multivitamin, and will be a complete diet if fed in conjunction with a variety of veggies etc. It's also much cheaper than most other organic foods and does not contain anything artificial. Some complain it lacks D3 but with it made into birdie bread (egg yolk contains d3) and UV lighting all is good.

Golden'obles (Goldenfeast)

I'd actually forgotten I've tried this one. Minus the soy and sugar I love that all the ingredients are whole and that there is even probiotics! It smells sorta sweet and Jacko (and my ex-tiel) ate it without complaint. However, given what I now know about soy I chose not to feed it, as well with all the excess sugars (honey, molasses etc) I found the birds more irritable and that the tiel's yeast issues flared up so I stopped feeding it. YMMV though. I just don't want soy or wheat etc in my bird's food---especially not all that excess sugar.

To those who quote no time, its very simple to take an hour or two--make your birdie bread and mash on the weekends, portion and freeze them. It takes me all of a minute to warm Jacko's birdie pellet-bread and serve it. It does not take long to educate yourself on the nutritional properties of food and the needs of parrots. To boot--it is not expensive---Fresh food costs me 20 dollars a month, and buying TOPS in bulk means it cost about $5/month.
A bag of pellets alone can cost you that.
Last edited by Grey_Moon on Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
:gray: ---Jacko (13 year old TAG rescue and my little turkey-bird girl :) )


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Re: Where I stand on the Diet debate/Pellet reviews

Postby cml » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:30 pm

Nutribird P15 tropical flavour (Versele-Laga) :mad:
UNGH do NOT get me started on this stuff---its rock hard and when wet makes a foul chemical-smelling sludge. Jacko wasn't crazy about this stuff and I ended up throwing out most of it, it was attempt to get Harrison High Potency-like nutrient profiles without the $$ I also don't like that it takes a ton of digging to find out the actual ingredients in the food not just an ambigious however many % cereal grains and seeds it says on the bag/website.

I'll agree to disagree.

Nutribird is actually both our parrots' favorite pellet. They are nutrious, and are reccommended by our avian vet (not a regular vet, its a bird clinic). The only downside with them is that they are indeed hard, and Leroy has started to wet them to soften them up ^^. But really, I think he'd do this with any pellet.

Both of them love that they are different colours and shapes, and they are better than the smaller tropican that they cant hold with their feet.

Of course, they're not on a pellet only diet, at least 4 times a week we prepare them something yummy, like alot different veggies mixed or fruits!
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Re: Where I stand on the Diet debate/Pellet reviews

Postby marie83 » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:46 pm

I have to agree that pellets are not the best food for the bird on the whole, but in most circumstances they are the best thing for the majority of birds in captivity. It's certainly not ideal but I much prefer pellets which have been formulated to give a more balanced diet than the whole old fashioned millet, peanut and sunflower seed mixes.
Obviously with either diet fresh food is a must.

Unfortunately not many people know what fresh foods contain what and how to get a balance without causing deficiencies or excess (excess can be just as bad as deficiencies with certain nutrients). It takes years and years of learning and hard work to gain that knowledge and ensure a bird is actually eating enough of everything and even then we probably still won't get it right. This makes it extremely difficult to feed a solely or high percentage fresh food diet. Hell most people don't even know what they need themselves let alone for their pets.

Idealy I would love to do the latter and feed balanced fresh foods as close as possible to their natural diets but for me thats impossible, I simply do not understand enough about nutrition and you have to be careful with adding vitamins/minerals to the food that the bird isn't getting excess. The plus side of the pelleted diets is that this is a measured amount so it's impossible for the bird to refuse to eat something or take in too much of something if fed according to directions on the packet. The best I can do for now is an organic pellet base with a good variety of fresh fruit, veg, seeds and seed and pulse sprouts along with the odd bit of healthy human food like egg and wholegrain pasta/rice. I imagine the majority of parrot owners are in the same boat as me, trying to do their best with as much knowledge as they have available to them at the time.
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Re: Where I stand on the Diet debate/Pellet reviews

Postby Cage Cleaner » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:48 pm

Interesting. Good point, though. It's comparable to humans eating fortified cereal for breakfast lunch and dinner. Not healthy, and not anything as nutritious as a nice salad, etc.

But, I still feed Harrison's. It's the next best thing that's available. I personally dislike Tops.
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Re: Where I stand on the Diet debate/Pellet reviews

Postby LPolliard » Mon Jul 02, 2012 4:16 pm

OP, After a weekend of research I came to the same conclusion without all the trial testing. I mentally jumped from Zupreme to Roudybush to Harrison's. All are pellets without artificial coloration. All were recommended by my avian vet with no preference. I was just about to purchase Harrison's high potency yesterday, even though I was concerned with the high volume of sunflower seeds, when my avian specialty store turned me on to Tops. They sell both. What really persuaded me was the number of cases of feather pluckers they saw who were on a Harrison's diet. Plumage improvement being my primary objective along with health and longevity, it became clear that Harrison's was definitely not for my bird. The dollar savings and organic ingredients were added benefits but not pivotal to my decision. When I compared the ingredients list between these two feeds it became even more clear which was the better choice. Do your own comparison and you will agree.

marie83 wrote:The best I can do for now is an organic pellet base with a good variety of fresh fruit, veg, seeds and seed and pulse sprouts along with the odd bit of healthy human food like egg and wholegrain pasta/rice. I imagine the majority of parrot owners are in the same boat as me, trying to do their best with as much knowledge as they have available to them at the time.


I agree with the quote above. I am currently doing the same. Chico is new to pellets but he eats all the other items above vigorously. I am introducing him to crushed pellets baked in a birdie bread which he enjoys tremendously. I am also offering him the pellets over his frozen and fresh vegetables (and some fruit). This seems to soften the pellets and I hope this will encourage his conversion.

Currently Chico is in good feather, not great. He has dark patches on his back feathers and has bald spots on his head and neck. The bald spots could be due to a molt he experienced a couple weeks ago. I hope to be able to report back in a few months that Chico's plumage has improved.
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Re: Where I stand on the Diet debate/Pellet reviews

Postby LPolliard » Mon Jul 02, 2012 4:19 pm

Cage Cleaner wrote:But, I still feed Harrison's. It's the next best thing that's available. I personally dislike Tops.


Any specific reasons?
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Re: Where I stand on the Diet debate/Pellet reviews

Postby Grey_Moon » Tue Jul 03, 2012 8:24 am

I have found an increase in weight (good for Jacko), increased energy, smoother skin, nails and beak with dark glossier feathers off pellets (minus TOPS---but considering how different they are from other pellets I almost don't consider them pellets).

So far the list of items in Jacko's diet:

-coconut oil
-DMG (she's in need of some immune stimulation)
-probiotics
-a mix of barley grass, wheat grass, alfalfa grass, spirulina and chlorella
-bee pollen
-flax
-organic free-range eggs
-TOPS pellets
-almond milk (DIY) or almonds
-veggie/fruit mix (varies monthly---the month coming will be carrots, squash, escarole, endive, green peas, green beans, mango and kiwi)
-all kinds of juices
-bits of salmon or chicken
-I do add a cooked bean mix or seed sometimes but I am careful to monitor to check for itchiness, flakiness or some other change that I don't want---then I take the food out.

There's been a period over the last few days where she's out of pellet bread (delivery is coming this week). Interestingly on a strict egg/veggie/fruit diet she's put on some weight and seems less itchy. So who knows.
:gray: ---Jacko (13 year old TAG rescue and my little turkey-bird girl :) )


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Re: Where I stand on the Diet debate/Pellet reviews

Postby Eurycerus » Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:49 am

It's definitely sounding more and more like most of the diet should be vegetables, fruits, safe nuts and seeds, and a bit of meat product/eggs, rather than any other type of food (pellets, seed, etc).

I do have a question that makes me feel silly. Is there a topic somewhere, or can someone tell me how much a parrot eats or should eat every day based on type of species? I just got a Senegal and the previous lady said she gave half a cup of pellet in the morning and night (and no the little bird didn't eat all of it, also there was another bird who'd steal her food). However since I am hoping to transition to actual food as listed above, how much do you serve?

Thank you!
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Re: Where I stand on the Diet debate/Pellet reviews

Postby marie83 » Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:59 am

Eurycerus wrote:It's definitely sounding more and more like most of the diet should be vegetables, fruits, safe nuts and seeds, and a bit of meat product/eggs, rather than any other type of food (pellets, seed, etc).

I do have a question that makes me feel silly. Is there a topic somewhere, or can someone tell me how much a parrot eats or should eat every day based on type of species? I just got a Senegal and the previous lady said she gave half a cup of pellet in the morning and night (and no the little bird didn't eat all of it, also there was another bird who'd steal her food). However since I am hoping to transition to actual food as listed above, how much do you serve?

Thank you!


Every birds different, start by feeding more than you know it will eat and gradually reduce it down, weigh it for accuracy. Also weigh your bird, when it starts losing weight go back to the last amount that kept its weight stable. Daily weighing of food and body weight is a good idea anyway as it may give you early indication if the bird is becoming. sick
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Re: Where I stand on the Diet debate/Pellet reviews

Postby Grey_Moon » Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:47 pm

I knew that Jacko ate about 4 tablespoons give or take (plus of course treats :P but there's always room for those). My little cockatiel only at about a tablespoon of food a day.

There's no hard and fast science though, basically know the amount you give them one day (say 1 tablespoon), see if they eat 90% of it--if not, then cut back a little at a time every day untill you get to the point where weight is stable, body condition is good, they're not crazy hungry and there's not crazy amounts of wasted food. Then split up that amount according to how many meals you want to feed, what % of what food (veggies, fruits, meat, etc).


Word of caution though---I'm in no way saying that what I choose to do with Jacko is an exact science---or is the right thing for every bird. I merely see what I see, try to make sense of it, play with it a bit to get what it should be and do the best I can with the information out there. At least yearly blood tests are a necessity to see how the diet is doing for the bird---once of course you have a diet that makes the blood tests look good and the bird looks and feels good then stick to it.

Truth is I don't agree with pellets formulated off of chicken feed designed to crank out eggs or fatten for slaughter as being nutritionally complete, or even good for parrots---who are not chickens, and certainly not the unhealthy animals kept in battery cages or prepped for slaughter. But I'm not ignorant enough to say I've got the perfect diet for any bird planned out 100% either.

I'm just brave enough to try and listen to what the body seems to be saying. Jacko is a rescue bird who comes from a species who's been seen feeding on carrion in the wild--thus the extra protein and fat seems to be doing her good. She has problems with allergies and sensitives it seems like and her liver is quick to show signs of issue (beak and nails overgrow) at the same time as it shows flaky beaks and itchy skin on low-fat regimes. So for her this is a scenario of no better alternative. It could be that this year I find out we've been feeding too much protein or not enough of this or that---or everything could be great. If not, back to the drawing board, but the yearly bloodwork keeps a slight dietary oops from turning into fatty liver or etc.

YMMV and I'm not exactly embarking on a well-advocated path---but I'll share as I learn. I follow much the same thing with my own diet---much to the average layperson's horror I've abandoned grains, soy, dairy, legumes, potatoes and starchy veggies...sometimes I get into spells where my gut tells me not even greens are going to go down well so I let those go too. The result? More meat, guts, grease and seafood than seems healthy. Good thing I love tendons, tripe and back fat in broth :) But again, like Jacko for whatever reason I'm seeming to do better.
:gray: ---Jacko (13 year old TAG rescue and my little turkey-bird girl :) )


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