Since I got Truman back in 2010, both of my parrots have been on a Roudybush Maintenance Pellet diet. Before that point, Kili had been on a Purina pellet diet that she was weened on at the store I got her; Truman was on Pretty Bird. I did not want to feed two separate diets and nor was I thrilled with either. I was faced with the choice of what diet both of my parrots would be on from then forward.
Let me begin by saying that I don't know much about parrot diet and nor does anyone else. Anyone who says they know everything about parrot diet actually knows little. The most respectable people that I have talked to about parrot diet fully admit that we know very little and to take it with a grain of salt. The problem is not only that little research has been done but also that there exist over 300 species of parrots that all have vastly different diets. For starters we are dealing with parrots from 3 isolated continents, 2 different families, and over 90 generas. Habitats range from lush rain forests to savannahs and deserts. Clearly different parrots are eating completely different foods.
Now let's add the fact that none of the foods we feed to captive parrots are anything they would encounter in the wild. Whether it's fruits, vegetables, nuts, or seeds (with few exceptions) these are entirely human foods and have nothing to do with the foods these birds would naturally encounter. For this reason, you can't argue that an apple or sunflower seed is a natural food for parrots while a pellet is not. The parrot would eat neither in the wild. So instead of trying to find the foods that are natural to a certain species of parrot (actually impossible because they aren't cultivated and cannot be sourced), the next best solution is to learn their nutritional requirements and appeal to those. Though there are variations in nutritional requirements, they are far more similar across species than specific foods consumed.
Before I can make the case why I chose Roudybush, I have to begin by explaining why pellets in the first place. You see, parrots are picky eaters and tend to eat the most caloric foods while leaving behind the more nutritious ones. The reason for this is pretty simply, in the wild the highly desired foods are seasonal and limited. Eat those first while they are available and when they are not, revert to the other stuff. The seed mixes we can buy are already premixed. So the supply of sunflower seeds or whatever else never runs out as it gets restocked daily. Furthermore, the vitamins and minerals are simply sprinkled on the seeds and not actually in them so who knows how much the bird is actually getting? On the flipside there also exists the possibility of a parrot overdosing (which can be as dangerous as not getting enough) by eating too much of a certain seed or drinking water with vitamins mixed in. Pellets on the other hand are thoughtfully balanced. Since the parrot is eating the same thing in each bite, there is no chance of getting the wrong amounts of things while ensuring that the bird gets a healthy dose.
One thing that really convinced me that pellets are a superior food for parrots was a discussion I had with Truman's breeder about pellets vs vegetables and fresh foods. She is a firm believer that pellets are food and everything else is just play stuff. In other words, pellets are for health and the other foods are just fun/tasty for the birds but not important. She explained to me that she used to be a firm believer in giving fresh foods to the birds and would spend hours every day preparing them until her mother became ill. She had to take a year off from the breeding business to care for her mother while entrusting her birds to the husband. The birds would be canned during this period and just bare essentials done until her return. What this meant was no more time consuming fresh foods. The birds were put on an all pellet diet. After a solid year on nothing but pellets, the birds appeared healthier (not only to the breeder but the vet as well) but more convincingly yielded greater offspring. Unlike beliefs about which foods may or may not be better, this is actually some very objective evidence. Since learning about this, I never again felt bad about leaving my parrots on just pellets when I'm away and predominantly feeding them a pellet diet. When I feed vegetables to my parrots, it's to make them lose weight and not to make them healthier.
Some people try to go with all natural or less pellet dominated diets. The problem I have with these is how do you know what to actually feed your parrot, in what quantity, in what balance, and how to ensure they are actually eating that and not other things? It seems to me that most people just make up what they think is healthy and feed it to their parrots rather than actually basing it on any rational evidence. For example I've heard great arguments for why frozen vegetables are healthier than fresh and the other way around as well. How am I to judge which arguments have better merits? Instead I feed a bit of either to the birds but only as supplement to pellets which are actually proven to work.
Pellets provide ample and balanced nutrition. Once accustomed to them, parrots eat them whole heartedly. My parrots have never been on seed or other diets, but when viewed by vets they are always complemented on having a very healthy appearance. On the flip side, looking at similar parrots that are on unhealthy diets, the difference is quite apparent. So given that I am very convinced that pellets are the best diet available for parrots, the big question when I was getting Truman was which pellet to use? I had no special attachment to Kili's Purina pellets except that was what she was weened on so I continued using them out of habit. Truman was weened on Pretty Bird but I did not want to use a colored pellet. All the silly shapes aren't necessary either, a hungry parrot will eat regardless how entertaining the food looks.
I researched different pellets on the market before coming to my decision. I ruled out colorful and sugary pellets up front. Not only is it safer to avoid using colored foods but also it allows you to monitor droppings for abnormalities. Sugary pellets and other globby treat ball type products were out of the question as well. The last thing a captive parrot needs is refined sugar. They already have more energy than they can expend sitting in a cage and flying in the confines of a home, so getting hyper off refined sugar is not only detrimental to their health but also their behavior. If you are unsure if what you are feeding your parrot is sweetened, I urge you to taste it to find out. If it's sweet, you should probably look for an alternative. Also, keep in mind that sugary pellets are more prone to spoilage or causing yeast infections.
When it comes to healthy, unsweetened, and actually researched pellet brands, the list becomes greatly narrowed down. Simply put, many pellets on the market are junk. It was pretty easy to eliminate the pellets I did not want to use but much more challenging to pick the one pellet to feed out of a few good ones. I considered organic pellets but found that the benefit comes at a disproportionately greater cost. I eat non-organic processed food with preservatives so I figured (as long as it's not detrimental) my parrots can do the same. Roudybush in my mind is the best of the non-organic pellets and I didn't feel like having organic soy or corn really makes that much of a difference through all the processing and treatment it undergoes anyway. Furthermore organic food is much more prone to spoilage and has to be used quicker. I think organic food can potentially do more harm than good because it can carry bugs/diseases resultant by the lack of preservatives and pesticides. This means it is more critical to use organic food quickly and older food is best discarded and replaced. This makes the cost of organic even higher than just the package cost.
Roudybush comes out ahead in the bird food market as the optimal balance of good nutrition, research, quality control, preservation, and cost. It is one of the more expensive pellets but quality seems proportionate to cost. Yet it is still far cheaper than organic or specialized diets. Roudybush pellets have been in use since 1981 and have gone through rigorous research and testing. I feel that for such long living birds, having time tested results is essential. We may not know long terms side effects of newer diets on kidneys/livers of parrots. Having a diet that has been researched and successful for this long is evidence I'll take any day over a hunch feeling that something is a healthy food for my birds.
Here are aspects of the pellet that makes Roudybush superior.
· Nutritional balance is achieved through years of study · Pellets contain no coloring · No sugar/sweeteners · Bird safe preservatives prevent spoilage/toxins · Steam Pelleting yields less nutrient loss and greater concentration than extrusion · Good shelf life · Time tested (going on 32 years)
I have heard complaints about the ingredients such as corn/soy basis. However, I have not read evidence for why this is bad or a better substitute. Thus in the meantime I do not have a problem with this. It's not surprising that my birds like Roudybush pellets though because they love corn. At least, unlike eating corn straight, the pellets ensure that they get a balanced nutritious diet in the process rather than just empty calories.
The place where I disagree with Roudybush (and really all the pellet manufacturers) is the concept of freefeeding the product to parrots. Of course the manufacturer has no reason to tell you otherwise because they make more money from all the overfeeding and waste. My biggest problem is with the overeating, followed by the mess, and only in last place the excess cost. The excess cost of spilled pellets is not the end of the world but still something to consider. The mess of unnecessarily spilled pellets is a bigger pain because it requires frequent cleaning. Watch the time lapse of Kili & Truman eating their pellets at the end of the video and you will see how they neatly eat over their dishes. All crumbs fall into the dish (remember there is a grate at the bottom of the cage so anything spilled elsewhere is gone forever) and then the birds lick their dish clean not leaving a single crumb. I find feeding medium pellets (which are considered suitable for much larger parrots) optimal because it allows me to count the pellets out quickly. Kili gets 5-10 per meal and Truman gets 5-20 per meal depending on weight. This is a quick amount to count out and it encourages the parrots to use their dexterous feet to hold them.
Roudybush Maintenance Pellets are the type that I would have no hesitation in recommending to other parrot owners. I feel that it is a safe, reliable, healthy, beneficial, affordable, and nutritious diet. It is the best balance of price, quality, and benefit in the market. It may be difficult to find in stores but order in bulk online, freeze, and use at your pace for greatest savings.
I am happy to share that Roudybush company values the training and educational work I am doing with parrots and has agreed to sponsor Kili & Truman with their favorite brand of pellets. I had already made up my mind and been using their pellets for several years now. But lately I've begun capitalizing on Kili & Truman's fame by getting manufacturers to sponsor them. I was thrilled that Roudybush agreed because it was already my first choice diet.
In addition, I ensured that my favorite rescue would also be taken care of with a matching contribution. Not only will my flock benefit, but so will the parrots at GingersParrots rescue. Up until six months ago the parrots had been on all kinds of diets, not to mention colorful/sugary ones. But since my first visit to the rescue, I have convinced Ginger not only to try Roudybush but also to consolidate all of her birds onto the same diet. I got her birds to try some of the pellets from Kili & Truman's stash and most of them took right to it so conversion was a non-issue. She didn't try converting them off the colored pellets because she didn't think they could do it. All it took was actually trying and now her flock is on a much healthier standard diet. So I'd like to thank Roudybush for caring about the health of rescue parrots.
Here is a video of Kili & Truman receiving their first sponsored package and enjoying their Roudybush pellets followed by GingersParrots getting their first shipment.
I agree with you on the "pellets VS vegetables". My Quaker has been on a pellet diet since I got him. I only give him fruit and vegetables as a treat during the day. Thanks for putting this info out there! I'm sure many parrot owners, including myself, will benefit from it
This is a great post. I see "debates" about pellets and this is exactly what people need to know. Its funny how people think tha just because they spend all this time preparing a fresh or organic meal, that means their bird is healthy. Wrong! Regular vet visits would be a wake up call to that mind set because when a bird is truly healthy, it is visually apparant to someone who knows their stuff. Erect posture and deeper yellow and red hues are one indcator of a healthy bird, which you can clearly see in the pictures of Truman and Kili. I feed raw foods just as a treat, for mental stimulation. Its so annoying when people compare pellets to dog food and assume all the nutrients are lost in production. "Organic" food companies put out all kinds of brochures, fooling people to think their food has this or that nutrient. They will say "our food contains such and such vegetables and fruits. These fruits have X vitamins. X vitamins have been known to fight cancer". But just because bluberries have nutrients that are "known to fight cancer", doesn't mean they do and it doesn't mean those nutrients make it to the food you give your dog or bird. They use very crafty language that leads you to believe something. But the quality pellets say in the ingredients exactly what vitamins and nutrients are present, which means its really for real in the food. Corn has a bad rap for a lot of different reasons, but there's nothing wrong with it when its part of a complete diet. Its not like there is high fructose corn syrup in the ingredients, which is basically a chemical sugar made from corn. Another negative to organic pet food is that it shoots through the digestive sstem like a torpedo. I have noticed significant behavior changes in pets that were switched to one of these $80 a bag diets because they felt starving a short time after eating. I hope everyone reads this blog post because it covers everything I hear people questioning and mindlessly debating about.
How much do you feed Kili?
We have a very old Umbrella cockatoo who is a picky eater so we leave food for her to forrage through all the time.
I noticed in your time lapse you only feed a set amount. We just welcomed to our family a 14 week old Senegal female Pepper and was curious if leaving her roudybush pellets to pick through or giving her a set amount was better in your opinion.
Thank you in advance for your advice.
I don't recommend food managing very young parrots. They are still developing, poor eaters as is, and need the calories. As the parrot matures, food management becomes necessary to prevent it from eating more than it should be eating. When this happens exactly is hard to say but you'll know. I'd guess you want to freefeed pellets to a young Senegal until at least 9 months, then you can go to two unlimited pellet feedings per day till past 12 months. Then if you notice the bird gaining weight over when it was younger, then begin to limit the meal sizes to maintain a suitable weight. To determine suitable weight you will need to consult a veterinarian or schedule a consultation with me. However, until at least 1 years old, you should feed the parrot abundantly and introduce as much variety as possible.
1 or 2. She always gets pellets in the morning and in the evening it's either veggies or pellets after treats or pellets for training. I wouldn't base any other birds portion on this though. Not only are bodies different but mess-factor can vary. Some birds can go through 20 pellets and actually consume less. Kili eats carefully over her dish and doesn't miss a crumb.
You've got to discover the right amount to feed your bird yourself. I wrote about this extensively in my upcoming book which will be out in the beginning of June. In the meantime you can read about [url=http://TrainedParrot.com/Weight_Management:hzapt2kr]why weight management is required for captive parrots[/url:hzapt2kr].
Thankyou for your reply Michael!
Do you allow your parrots to engage in food foraging for enrichment?
What r your thoughts on this being that you monitor their intake.
I have been under reccomendation. Thoughts?
I think foraging is better than nothing but worse than training. Training is for all intents and purposes the same thing as foraging except the bird interacts with you rather than a toy/device. Training benefits the relationship and molds a better behaved parrot while foraging is purely entertaining feeding for them.
I've also found foraging to be terribly uncontrollable. Sometimes the parrot just can't figure it out (so if you're not providing other food, that can be harmful, if it you are providing other food then it's not sufficiently motivating). Other times the parrot figures it out and gets it too quickly so it's hardly worth bothering with. This makes it difficult to impossible to control or monitor your parrot's food intake.
I did teach [url=http://TrainedParrot.com/Foraging_Tower:ci6j4sqo]my parrots to play with a foraging tower[/url:ci6j4sqo] to get a nut but it's more for my entertainment watching them do it than as a useful foraging tool.
So I would recommend foraging activities over nothing at all for people who don't have the time or desire to train their parrot. But then again the amount of time it takes to set up foraging opportunities, you can easily get a few minutes of training in per day. To the parrot, figuring out how to make you give food by lifting its foot (wave) is hardly different than figuring out how to twist a knob on a foraging device. But with the tricks, the parrot looks forward to seeing you, learns not to bite, learns to trust, etc, etc. Why waste that great opportunity?
[quote="TakeFlight":2g1w3cg2]Thankyou for your reply Michael!
Do you allow your parrots to engage in food foraging for enrichment?
What r your thoughts on this being that you monitor their intake.
I have been under reccomendation. Thoughts?[/quote:2g1w3cg2]
Ok I know this question isn't for me but I would like to share how I manage food, fit in training and allow foraging with as much accuracy as anyone else who uses food management techniques.
Training is good of course but sometimes we are not always around and want to motivate our parrots to play with toys etc. in our absence.
Basically I measure out their total food allowance for that day in the morning and split it down into 4 parts. I have small birds so this is quite hard as their food intake is minimal anyway but it is do-able. The 4 parts is, breakfast, foraging toys, dinner and training treats.
In the morning I put their breakfast in and fill their foraging toys with the portion of food I have set aside for this, I leave the toys in all day.
In the early evening is the time I usually do any training, my birds very very rarely don't want to train despite the fact they can potentially eat all the food out of the toys right before training. I've only known Ollie refuse to train once in the past 2-3 years.
In the late evening approx an hour before bed they get their dinner, anything which hasn't been eaten out of the foraging toys gets emptied and put in with their dinner. I only use dry foods in the toys for this reason.
I would say by doing this we don't really get any more waste than any normal food management situation and I still get to weigh exactly anything that is left over at the end of the day.
Please bear in mind that I don't train my birds as intensely as Michael seems to, I don't train every single day, I'm not 100% strict with measuring out every single last crumb of food they get every single day and my birds are on variable schedules which means training sessions aren't always in the early evening etc. but this approach still works for me.