Christine rescued an African Grey with major malnourishment problems and had to learn how to fix this bird's diet and nurse it back to health. As she started chopping away at loads of fresh vegetables, she learned that other people wanted some too and the Chop Shop was born.
Among many nutritional recommendations, Christine suggests that, "some of the best veggies are dark leafy greens. Any of the greens: carrot tops, beet tops... chard, bok choy, any of the fancy lettuces, the dark leafy greens have the most nutrients. And it's best for the parrots. It's lower in calories and so you can feed them more if you give them the dark leafy greens."
Some parrots tend to be deficient in calcium so Christine adds that, "you also need to feed, especially if you have an African Grey or a Cockatoo (one of the dusty birds), they need a diet that's higher in calcium. Broccoli is great, it's high in calcium. So is Kale, kale is one of top ingredients of what I feed my birds." Keep in mind that in order for the body to properly absorb calcium, Vitamin D is required. The most effective source of Vitamin D is natural outdoor sunlight so be sure to grab an Aviator Harness to get your parrot outside safely!
Christine believes that variety is very important both nutritionally and to keep the parrots entertained. Christine notes that, "the large majority of parrots have Vitamin A deficiencies. They need produce that's high in Vitamin A. The dark winter squashes: butternut squash, acorn squash... those are really high in Vitamin A. Cantelopes if they want something a little sweeter and carrots." What do all those Vitamin A rich foods have in common? They're orange! If your bird is Vitamin A deficient, you can look into feeding more of those orange veggies or get Christine's Mega A Blend that already has just that.
The way I understood it, the advantage of buying Christine's Chop Mix is that it comes with a massive assortment of veggies already in it. Even Christine agrees that feeding fresh is best. But there are plenty of reasons to buy the dehydrated of freeze dried chop mixes. Most notably is the included variety. If you only have one small parrot, buying some 25+ ingredients will get expensive and wasteful. Sure, if you have a huge flock to feed, you might go through it all. But on a small bird or small number of birds, it might be easier to get the benefit of the full variety by ordering your mix instead.
Christine says "I cannot preach enough how important variety is." This is why her chop mix starts with a 15-20% base of barley, quinoa, cooked dried beans, chia and flax seed, no more than 10% fresh seasonal fruits, 70-75% fresh, seasonal vegetables. Ingredients may include; kale and other greens, cabbages, bok choy, carrots, corn, peas, string beans, zucchini and yellow squash, cooked sweet potatoes, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, bell and chili peppers, jicama, radish, snow peas, brussel sprouts, assorted apples, papaya, assorted, seasonal berries and other seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Christine explains that the freeze drying process allows her to ship raw produce around the country while safely preserving it. She says that "when you freeze dry vegetables or produce your retain 97% of the nutrients and so that is considered raw."
Watch the complete discussion with Christine Wood both about her business and lots of tips on fresh feeding for your parrot. And check out what Christine has to offer at ChristinesChopShop.com.
It has been a tumultuous few years between adopting Santina, inheriting Rachel through marriage, and having sick birds all over the house. But now, for the first time in over a year, Truman gets reunited with the flock.
The last time Truman had seen Rachel (not counting a brief distant encounter at the wedding), was while I was birdsitting Rachel after the NYC Parrot Adventures Group outings at which I met Marianna. When Marianna moved in with Rachel, we opted to keep Rachel separate while the original three (including Santina) were dealing with health problems in the bird room. Every time we medicated the three, it would appear that Kili and Truman would do better but Santina's condition would return and then some weeks later, everyone else was back to square one.
We decided to experiment with quarantining every bird from each other. This was very difficult and time consuming with hand washing or showering between visiting each bird. After several medications and a lot of time passing, Kili and Rachel improved. Santina was still doing badly and Truman was a bit questionable. So, we had to juggle birds around and do a lot of sanitizing in order to get Rachel and Kili together in the bird room and Santina and Truman quarantined separately.
This September, I rehomed Santina to Lori in Pittsburgh. This was an effort to harmonize my own flock while getting Santina and Lori a wonderful pet situation. Mostly, Truman was doing better but now and then he was still symptomatic. We ended up giving him one more round of medication before going any further.
Without contact with Santina and since medication, the birds appear to be doing well so now it is time to have Truman united with Kili and Rachel. We thoroughly cleaned and sanitized Truman's cage, replaced all of his toys/perches with new ones, and were ready to move him in with the other birds. Just one more thing to do, to give Truman a really thorough washing. Marianna got him really soaked and clean before reintroducing him to the flock.
This is not the first time Truman was reunited with Kili. There was the time Truman was lost for a few days. Also, there were times that Marianna would take Truman to her home for some days at a time. So, it was not a massively surprising situation for Kili, but after going so long without him, she certainly displayed a lot of excitement. Rachel was curious but mainly indifferent. For now he will stay in the same room but a little bit separate during the adjustment period. Check out this video of the Trained Parrot flock reunion:
I haven't given much thought to what Kili & Truman prefer as treats in a long time. The initial process for discovering a bird's favorite treats involves offering variety and watching what order they eat things in. But it's been years since I've done that with these two and with time I've began to notice that it doesn't make much difference what I give them. They are always content with what they get.
During a lot of my training I use Roudybush pellets as rewards for flight recall and training because that's what my parrots normally consume and it's healthier for them than eating other stuff. By teaching them to work for pellets it has made their performance a lot more reliable. There is much less of the "well I would come to you for a sunflower seed but I think I'd rather pass if you've only got a safflower..." attitude when they know what they'll get but yet prefer it.
So now I put it to the test, after years of healthy eating habits with uncolored Roudybush Maintenance pellets as the staple of their diet, what do Kili & Truman prefer when given the choice?
10 for 10 Kili picked Roudybush pellets over sunflower seeds. Truman was 8 for 10 on this trial run but anecdotally prefers pellets even more than Kili. I later discovered he was trying to outsmart me by grabbing the seed so he could get the pellet too so I don't really think it counts! Anecdotally I would say that I've noticed a 9/10 typical preference for the birds to take pellets over seeds. Once in a while they just like something different for fun or variety and that's perfectly normal. If pellets make up the dominant portion of their diet, this is absolutely considered to be more healthy by avian veterinarians.
if you think about it, the same holds true for people. People who are used to healthy eating can enjoy healthy food more and don't feel forced to eat right. I know when I am out and about and active a lot, I will sooner go for a healthy meal than junk food and it's the same with my birds. They exercise a lot and work hard and at the end of the day, they want what will sustain their bodies and not just some momentary pleasure at the expense of their long term health.
Santina has converted to Roudybush Pellets readily and predominantly gets pellets for training as well! I'm not certain she would qualify as well as Kili/Truman in a similar test but I can tell you she runs down her perch and jumps on my arm to get a pellet so we're definitely on the right track.
Interestingly the same results continued for pellets vs nuts as long as the nut wasn't bigger than the pellet. However, the birds will often go for a small piece of pellet over an average piece of nut or seed. Moral of the story is that parrots that are cared for using my method, choose healthy eating. If they are choosing healthy eating then we can be assured that they are content with the healthy food we are feeding them. Happiness and healthiness go hand in hand and are the basis of my approach. Learn how to give your parrot the Wizard's treatment from my book, The Parrot Wizard's Guide to Well-Behaved Parrots.
Weight Management for captive companion parrots is a necessity but does not get the attention it deserves. Like wing clipping, free-feeding is still the status quo. But just like wing clipping, free-feeding is neither natural nor healthy for parrots. In this and the next few articles, I am going to share with you some of my success with using food management and why you should too. The intricate details of actually applying it, however, I'm going to suggest you buy my book which will be out by the end of the month. Stay tuned.
Some people mistakenly think I starve my parrots to get them to perform. Neither of these things are true. First of all, they are not starved and I will get into this in great depth in this article. Second of all, I don't weight manage my parrots for doing tricks! I will go into great length about motivation (and how food management applies to it) in the next article. But the important point that I want you to leave with is that number one reason I weight manage my parrots is for their health!
I would weight manage Kili & Truman entirely regardless of tricks, shows, and training. There are periods of time (sometimes months) when I'm too busy or too lazy to train them as regularly as I usually do. Yet I still weight manage them during these periods because I am convinced that this is healthier for them. Their health and well being is of paramount importance to me and I'd give up the tricks if they were in any way conflicting. But the good news is that they're not. The byproduct of the weight management that I do for health is food motivation for training (which will be covered next time).
There is nothing natural about free-feeding your parrot by leaving food in its bowl all day long. Parrots in the wild do not spend all day eating. They neither need to, want to, nor are able to. Although they "could" decide to try and eat at times they shouldn't, they won't. And that is because the outcome would likely be a bad one. First a simple example that I doubt anyone would argue against. Night. The parrot is not going to get off its roost at night to go searching for food. Even though it has the freedom to go eat at night, it doesn't. It would probably crash into a tree (like George of the Jungle) trying to fly at night! Thus it is silly for parrot owners to be leaving food in the cage over night. The parrot won't be eating it but it will attract nocturnal pests such as bugs and rodents. So don't leave food in the cage at night.
Now let's look at daytime feeding. In the wild, you generally won't see parrots (and in fact most birds) eating in the daytime. In fact you won't see them at all because they are probably in some tree napping. During all my travels in Africa, the only time I have seen African parrots eating (or out and about) was in the morning and evening. In the mid-day time, it is too hot and too dangerous for a parrot to be out getting lunch. Birds of prey take advantage of daytime air currents fly around and catch the birds that couldn't wait till evening to eat. The heat is also a problem because it becomes more difficult for parrots to fly in extreme heat. Since most parrots are equatorial, this plays a significant role as well.
Thus in the wild parrots don't really have access to food all day long. They only eat in the morning and evening. Since this is the schedule that the environment demands, parrots are evolved to best function with this kind of feeding. Their metabolism, crop, and other aspects of their digestive system optimize them to take in food and use the energy accordingly.
The other aspect of food management that naturally happens in the wild is weight management. In fact this is true of all animals. Simply put, there's not enough food for everyone. So many animals just don't make it. The ones that do, are getting by on the bare minimum. But that's ok because millions of years of avian evolution has lead to the highly efficient bodies that these parrots now posses. They are like that car that gets the best gas mileage. Even on the last gallon of gas, they'll go very far.
In the wild, food portions are regulated by the environment as well as the competition. Sometimes there is more plant matter (food) and other times there is less. When there is less, the strongest parrots make it and the weaker ones die. When there is a greater food abundance, the strong ones still eat but the weaker ones get to live too. For this reason, the amount the birds get to consume is rarely more than the minimum. Occasionally there are opportunities to really pig out (for example a fruit tree just blossomed). Parrots take that opportunity to stuff themselves to the limit because future feedings are never certain. They may go days without food afterward.
Parrots have no natural shut off mechanism when to stop eating besides being stuffed to the max. In the short term this is ok but in the long term it leads to obesity. Since there is so little food and so much competition in the wild, the bird will quickly return to equilibrium. In the unnatural household environment with a constant supply of food, the parrot will act on its instinct to stuff itself now. But it will continue to do so daily because that natural food limit is never restored that will take its weight back down. In the wild parrots don't need to "know" when to stop eating to be healthy. The resource limits and competition naturally dictate this and millions of years of evolution have optimized the parrot's body to work with that natural limit. All of the parrots that required a differing amount of food than the environment would offer died before they could reproduce. This not only includes the ones that couldn't get by on too little food. This also includes the ones that may have eaten too much to the point where obesity degraded their bodies. But since food tends to be on the low side rather than high side, the natural instinct for the bird is to top off now just in case.
Understanding the natural constraints that work in the wild help us realize that unlimited food availability is unnatural and unhealthy. The parrot is driven to eat as much as it can to protect against later deprivation but since it never comes, the parrot ends up overweight. But this problem of becoming overweight goes beyond just the amount of food eaten. It also has to do with many other unnatural factors. The parrots are fed too much food, with too many calories, that is too easy to get, with too little exercise! All aspects of household pet life for the parrot drive it toward obesity.
Parrots have strong immune systems and tend to stay healthy. However, they do not have good defenses against obesity. The reason is simple, you don't see obese parrots in the wild so they don't need to have evolved protection against obesity problems. They sooner have natural ways of surviving and dealing with excess hunger than excess weight.
When you come to think of it, the same hold true for people. Even though we "could" eat at any part of the day, we don't. Or at least we shouldn't. Humans tend to eat at several scheduled meals a day as well. We don't go around eating all day long and neither should our parrots. And when people do eat a little all the time, they tend to get overweight and not feel good. Just think about sitting around with friends with some tapas or snack foods around. After a few hours, you are beyond stuffed and can't believe how much you ate a little at a time. Likewise for the parrot that is presented with food all day long, even if it doesn't really need or want it, it picks at it just because it's there. The bird ends up eating food that it could really do without. Eating out of boredom is unnecessary as well as unhealthy. Human children tend to stay pretty fit while they are young because they don't have non-stop access to food and only eat when their parents feed them. But as we get older and our access restrictions are lifted, it is harder to keep the weight off. Instead of thinking of food/weight management as deprivation, think of scheduled/portioned meals as healthy feeding for a child.
Whether seeds, pellets, fruit, or other household foods, the things we feed our parrot are generally far more packed with calories per mouthful than what they would eat in the wild. Fact is most of these foods are engineered for maximum yield for human consumption (or at least chosen for it). Since there are more calories in the food by volume, even if the parrot tries to eat the amount that feels right to it (without intentionally putting on fat for a rainy day), it will get more calories than naturally. Next, the parrot isn't spending any energy to actually eat the food. The household parrot simply eats the food out of a bowl instead of flying for miles, climbing, and foraging for it. Lastly, since the parrot is confined, it simply cannot get as much exercise as it would in the wild.
Most parrots spend a lot of time in a cage. This is time they are not flying and barely climbing. Most parrots are clipped and can't even get any exercise when they are out of the cage. But even the ones that are flighted can only fly short distances in the confines of our home for the limited time that we let them. Even well exercised parrots like Kili & Truman get far less flight and exercise than their wild counterparts. They only spend about an hour a day flying at home during training. Even when I take them to the park or gym to fly, that's only a few days a week. Wild parrots don't get a day off. They are flying and working hard every single day. So no matter how many calories they consume in their limited food, they end up spending it all for feeding again and living.
Since it is outside of our capability to give our parrots the same amount of exercise that would be mandated by the excessive food abundance they consume, training and weight management are the things we must resort to.
The overweight parrot is also the parrot that is hardest to give sufficient exercise. Even flighted, the overweight parrot is not motivated to fly for food and it is hard for it to fly because it is heavy. For airplanes, you need to quadruple the power when you double the weight. So for a parrot that is 10-30% overweight, flying requires 40-120% as much effort. The numbers may not be exact but it should illustrate why excess weight can adversely affect a parrot's weight both directly and indirectly. Directly by leading to obesity related problems. Indirectly by discouraging it to fly and thereby preventing it from getting sufficient exercise.
While motivation to fly for food is stronger when the parrot is more hungry, the direct affect of the weight plays as much if not a greater role! Over the years I have watched how my parrots fly at different weights and have definitely seen a huge difference. Even when the motivation exists for the parrot to fly while at a heavy weight (example is the parrot is overweight but then misses a meal), you can tell that the parrot is struggling to stay airborne. The parrot has to fly faster, you hear more flapping noise, and the parrot tire out much quicker. This is as strong a deterrent from flying as there can be. On the flipside, when my parrots are on the lighter side, I have discovered that it takes far less food related motivation for them to fly. Even after a meal when they are no longer hungry, they are more likely to willingly fly. The lighter weight parrot will fly more because it is easier for it to fly. Less motivation is required to get it to fly because it is easier and the rewards are sooner justified.
This leads to discovering the cyclical nature of the polar opposites of a parrot's weight. Either the bird is going to be light, fit, and healthy or heavy, obese, and suffer health problems. There is basically no middle ground. The heavy parrot will eat a lot, exercise little, fly little, and thus stay heavy. The light weight parrot will have a lot of food driven motivation, fly eagerly, get more exercise, and become stronger. As the light parrot becomes stronger (from flying a lot), it will be able to fly with even greater ease and thus be able to get even more exercise flying for even less food reward.
Another reason it is unhealthy for parrots to be on the heavy side has to do with hormones and reproduction. An overweight parrot is more likely to become hormonal and develop behavioral problems related to that. Those parrots get less out of cage time and attention because people have trouble dealing with them so they tend to remain caged more with little left to do than eat. The heavy parrot is more likely to lay infertile eggs and become egg bound. The lean parrot that has just enough to sustain itself but not another, is less likely to become hormonal or lay eggs. The lean parrot is more focused on feeding itself and its own survival to be in the reproductive state that can cause those other behavioral and health problems.
Thus the healthier approach to keeping companion parrots is to properly manage their food intake to keep them at a healthy weight. Usually, that healthy weight is well below the weight the parrot is on free-feed. In fact free-feed weight shouldn't even be used as a standard or be called normal weight. Free-feed weight is unnatural and is actually overweight for what the parrot would naturally be. So when a reduction of weight from free-feed weight is discussed, it's usually to get the parrot to stop being overweight rather than some kind of deprivation.
Parrot's food intake should be managed such that they attain and maintain the optimal healthy weight as can be inferred from body condition by an Avian Veterinarian. I am not suggesting that the target weight should be determined by behavior, mathematics, guesswork, or chance.
Kili & Truman recently paid the avian vet a visit for a check up. Partly because it is about time for an annual check up, partly because I wanted an outside opinion about their weight and body condition, and most importantly because I'm having a baby. I want to ensure that my existing birds are in top health before I add another. You can watch the videos of two separate avian veterinarians, Dr. Alexandra Wilson, DVM and Dr. Anthony Pilny, DVM, ABVP, giving their expert opinion about the trained parrots' condition. It is mainly evaluated based upon breast muscle, keel sharpness, breast shape, and checking for other fat deposits. A rounded or somewhat sharp keel bone is what we're looking for. Cleavage, where the breast meat/fat stick out past the keel bone, is a sure sign of obesity. Use this as a basic idea of what to consider, but then have your parrot evaluated by an avian vet to determine the optimal weight and condition for your bird.
I also opted to have some blood work done on one of the parrot's to check for any abnormalities or deficiencies. Since they are on similar diets, I decided one would be enough unless there were issues. Truman took one for the team and gave blood like a champ.
The blood chemistry turned out perfectly healthy and neither vet thought either bird was remotely underweight. In fact they both said they are at a good healthy weight and could safely be even lower. I brought them into the clinic at about the lowest typical weight I've been keeping them at lately. The training motivation at this weight is great, but I'm not doing it for that reason. I target the optimal healthy weight based on body condition and then take the training motivation byproduct that I get with it (which in fact is very high). Surprisingly the optimal healthy weight is much lower than the weight I would keep the birds at strictly for the sake of "starving them to make them do tricks." At the last vet wellness exam, the vet warned me that Kili was getting too heavy. The reason that happened was because I stopped weighing her and fed her as much as possible as long as she performed well. Well, I've since learned that this is not healthy and that I must manage the weight for health rather than just for training.
In conclusion, Kili & Truman are healthy parrots. Their weight is kept low with love for the sake of keeping them healthy and closer to what would be natural. Just because "nature" may be brutal, doesn't mean household life has to be. They get to live relatively sheltered lives, enjoy their health, and never have to starve. Their weight may be kept lower than if they were given unlimited food, but this is much healthier for them. Their condition and behavior is better as a result. Of the 3 avian veterinarians and many other experts, no one has ever told me that the birds are underweight, unhealthy, starved, malnourished, or in any way deprived. In fact they are considered healthy in all regards.
I could fill an entire book about this topic of food management, but there isn't sufficient interest yet. People don't realize just important it is. But food management isn't relevant just to professional trainers nor is it too difficult for responsible parrot owners to implement at home. Just like the attitude about seeds has changed to pellets, clipping is starting to change to flight, I hope to convince people the importance of managing how much food their parrots consume.
This article isn't meant to teach you how to food or weight manage. It is merely to try to convince you that food management is the way to go for the health of your parrot. I hope this article will convince you to begin learning about how you can nurture your parrot's health by ensuring it is fed the correct amount. Absolutely don't just reduce the amount your parrot eats without a significant understanding of how it is done properly. Keep in mind that some birds may already be at the right weight and that management should not be applied to baby birds, sick, or extremely elderly ones. The topic is quite extensive. I have written about it in great detail in my upcoming book, The Parrot Wizard's Guide to Well Behaved Parrots. It will be available by the beginning of June and it covers all aspects of accomplishing well behaved companion parrots.*
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.