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DIET

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Author Topic: DIET  (Read 21637 times)

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lovebirds

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DIET
« on: October 03, 2009, 09:24:28 PM »

For many many years a diet of a basic mixture of sunflower seeds, peanuts and some chilli peppers has been considered an adequate basis for the diet of African Greys. We now know it is a completely wrong approach. In the wild, African Greys feed mainly on nuts, including red palm nuts, fruit and leafy matter, like tree buds, flower buds and a small amount of seed. We can't replicate their diet completely but we can do our best to provide a varied and nutritious diet for our companion parrots.
There is a number of formulated diet, otherwise known as pellets, present on the market. They are marketed as "complete" diets, which is a very misleading term. Most pellet manufacturers suggest the amount of pellets fed to be around 80% of the whole diet. This notion has been disapproved and argued with by many aviculturists. For a start, there are no pellets which would differ in the composition depending on the bird. So an african grey will receive just the same amount of every nutrient found in a pellet as would a budgie. However these two birds come from two completely different parts of the world and have quite different nutritional requirements. For example, African Greys are know to be calcium deficient more often than other parrot species, however budgies require a much smaller amount of calcium, as do cockatiels.
However, the pellets do provide a balanced complete protein, a wide range of vitamins and minerals. To balance out any possible overdosing or "underdosing" of the nutrients, it is suggested to feed pellets in the amounts of about 50% (no less, more is ok) of the overall diet. Pellets also supply vitamin D to the diet, which is not found in other foods.
The brands of pellets to consider are: Hagen Tropical Granules, Harrisons Organic pellets, Zupreem pellets.

So what should the other 50% be made up of?
The greatest part of it should be made up of vegetables. The vegetables can make up to 40% of the whole diet. All vegetables and fruit have to be thoroughly washed before serving. It is best to buy organic and seasonal produce.
Recommended vegetables:
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Pumpkin
Sweet Potatoe
Carrot
Squash
Courgette
Parsnip
Swede
Turnip
Marrow
Tomatoe
Cucumber
Peppers
Chili Peppers
Brussel Sprouts
Corn

Leafy Greens (at least one of these should be given every day)
Broccoli with leaves and stalks
Kale
Watercress
Cavolo Nero
Savoy Cabbage
White or Red Cabbage (best served lightly steamed, however fresh one is ok to give)
Spinach (no more than one or two times a week)
Dark-leaf lettuce
Celery
Dandelion Greens
Purslane
Carrot tops
Beet greens ( once or twice a week, alternative with spinach and chard)
Chard ( once or twice a week, alternate with spinach and chard)

Herbs (should be given just as for humans - as garnish, i.e in small amounts as they are too high in essential oils)
Parsley
Basil
Thyme
Rosemary
Oregano
Dill

Berries make an excellent addition to a diet, but best used when in season, and organic.
Blueberries
Raspberries
Strawberries
Blackberries
Gooseberries
Blackcurrants
Redcurrants

Of the wild ones:
Rowan Berries
Hawthorn Berries (consider limiting to about 5-6 a day)
Blackberries
Sloes (no pips)
Rose hips
Pyracantha

Fruit should be given as a treat for one simple reason - the fruit we buy are very far from their wild ancestors, and contain too much sugar and not much of anything else.
The best fruit to offer are:
Apples
Pears
Oranges
Kiwi
Melons
Bananas
Pineapple
Peach
Plum
Passion Fruit (how to choose the best passion fruit see here http://www.african-grey-parrots.co.uk/parrot-forum/index.php?topic=4608.msg49238;topicseen#new )
Apricot
Grapes (limit to one or two grapes a day)

Papaya and Mango can be offered but have to be thoroughly peeled first. The skin of unripe Mango and Papaya contain toxins, but those papaya and mango we buy are usually picked unripe, so a care should be taken when and if feeding this fruit.

What you should aim for is to provide a large variety of fresh produce. Don't concentrate on just one type of vegetable, offer as many as possible. Vegetables can be given both raw and cooked. The best way to cook vegetables is to steam them in a steamer, as during this process a minimum amount of nutrients is lost, unlike boiling. Raw vegetables contain valuable enzymes, but once vitamin A rich vegetables, like carrot, sweet potatoe, etc. are steamed the vitamin becomes more available for absorption. To avoid picking, try blending all sorts of vegetables and greens in a food-processor, mixing with a few seeds and a chopped nut and serving it as a mash. Other ingredients can be added too. And here we move on to the next group of foods which should be included in the diet.

Frozen vegetables can be purchased and used too, which is convenient if you only have one parrot. Alternatively, you can freeze your own - how to do it properly and avoid problems see here http://www.african-grey-parrots.co.uk/parrot-forum/index.php?topic=3379.0

Grains and Pulses
These are the primary source of protein for the parrots. Parrots are vegetarians and should not be fed animal protein including eggs. The only time when parrots were ever observed consuming insects is during breeding. Unless you want to bring your parrot into hormonal state, avoid feeding any animals foods, like eggs, meat, fish etc.

Grains and pulses will provide a great source of protein and other nutrients.
Grains list:
Amaranth
Quinoa
Buckwheat
Barley
Wholemeal Cous Cous
Wheat grain
Spelt
Hulled Millet

Pulses:
Dried Peas
Lentils
Mung Beans
Aduki Beans
Chickpeas

Any other beans can be fed only after 8 hour soak, thorough rinse, and then 40-min rapid boil.

To prepare a good nutritious mix, containing a good amount of complete protein combine two parts of grains and one part of pulses. Cook according to the instructions on the package, mix altogether and freeze in portions. Defrost as needed.

Sprouted grains and pulses is another valuable component - more about it read here http://www.african-grey-parrots.co.uk/parrot-forum/index.php?topic=1635.0

All fresh or cooked wet foods must not be left in the cage for longer than 3 hours, or less in warmer temperatures, to avoid bacterial growth and food poisoning!


Treats:
Red Palm Nuts - give one, maximum 2 nuts a day
Red Palm Oil or Extract - no more than 1 teaspoon a day, or less if fed Red Palm Nuts

Regular nuts - limit to about 3-4 (depending on size) nuts a day.

Suggested Nuts:
Walnuts
Pecans
Hazelnuts
Macademia
Pistachios (unsalted!)
Almonds
Cashews

Avoid feeding peanuts.


Seed mix - try to get the best seed mix possible and give it as a treat, in the amount of about 1 teaspoon - 1 tablespoon a day, best given in foraging toys.

Food Supplements:

There are a few natural supplements you can consider adding to promote the good condition of your parrot:

Flax seed - grind up about 1/2 teaspoon of flax seed and sprinkle it on food. This will provide valuable essential fatty acids

Spirulina - sprinkle food with just a light dusting (a tiny pinch) of spirulina. Spirulina is an algae extremely rich in protein and other beneficial compounds. It should be given in minute amounts and it will still be very effective. Excessive amounts can lead to health problems.

Kelp - this is another algae which is a good source of iron. It can also be added in a minute amount (a tiny pinch) as a light sprinkling on food.

Bee pollen - rich in enzymes and amino acids, can be added to food in the amount of about 1/4 of a teaspoon a couple of times a week

Echinacea - this herb is a natural antibiotic and immune stimulant, which can help birds with chronic conditions and those recovering from illnesses. Don't give it to a healthy bird and save it for the times of illness if ever needed.

Probiotics - probiotics promote the growth of beneficial bactera in the gut, reducing the amount of bad bacteria, and consequently the likelihood of illness. All birds who have been on antibiotics should be given a course of avian probiotics. Feather-pluckers and those recovering from illnes will also benefit from a course of probiotics.

Manuka Honey with the UMF over +10 - great anti-bacteria, anti-fungal remedy, which can be used both internally to support immune system and kill harmful bacteria, as well as externally on wounds and cuts.

To make your parrot's life just a bit more exciting, consider baking some birdie bread, cooking something like a special birdie pizza or pasta (wholemeal) with tomatoe sauce (a pureed tomatoe with a sprinkle of basil)  :biggrin:
For more recipes see here:
http://www.itsagreysworld.com/diet/recipes.htm
http://www.holisticbirds.com/pages/recipes0503.htm
http://www.africangreys.com/articles/nutrition/mashdiet.htm
http://www.parrothouse.com/recipes.html
http://www.holisticbirds.com/pages/recipes0203.htm#how
http://www.parrotcomforts.co.uk/cookingfordigby

Water and other drinks
Tap water is often contaminated with heavy metals, chlorine, and hard to say what else, so the best option would be bottled still water.
Juice can be offered in the amount of one-two tablespoons a day, but not as a replacement for water, but rather, as an addition! Juices are best served freshly squeezed or cold-pressed. Never give juice drinks or any other sweetened drinks. Sugar promotes yeast growth in the organism, consequently must be avoided!
Suggested types of juice:
Apple
Carrot
Ginger (as an addition to other juices)
Beetroot
Pineapple
Celery
Orange

More about juicing for parrots and all the health benefits it provides see here http://www.landofvos.com/articles/juice.html

Some recipes of healing juices
http://wellvet.com/juicingbirds.html


Herbal teas can also be offered occasionally.

Suggested list of teas to try
Chamomile tea (especially if the bird needs calming down or as a first-aid drink mixed with honey if it is not feeling well)
Nettle Tea (an overall tonic, mineral source)
Dandelion Tea (liver and kidney tonic)
Peppermint Tea

What NOT To Feed

Never feed any foods containing salt or sugar. Salt toxicity in parrots can be fatal. A small amount of salt can lead to toxicity. For this reason avoid feeding table foods.
Parrots are flock animals and enjoy eating with their flock - you. If you want your parrot to be at the table when you are having dinner provide him with his own dish and fill it up with healthy foods, cooked especially for him. This could be a good time to give a treat too.

High-fat foods, like chips or any other deep-fried foods or fatty foods, like butter and high-fat cheese are very harmful too. Just as humans, parrots suffer from high-cholesterol, heart attacks, clogged up arteries, and enlarged liver (which has to to process all that fat!).

African Greys don't consume animal protein in the wild and so shouldn't be given it in captivity. Meat is high in fat and protein, and best avoided altogether. It has nothing, what a good balanced vegetarian diet can't provide for parrots, but it can be harmful.
Eggs is a popular food to feed, however if you choose to give an egg at all, don't give it more than once a week or once in two weeks. The amount served should be small too. Eggs can also be a source of Salmonella, and if served, must be cooked thoroughly.
The main problem with animal protein is that it is generally high in methionine, an amino acid, which releases a toxic by-product called homocysteine when metabolised in the body. It is the liver and kidneys which have to remove the toxic compounds out of the body, and consequently an extra burden is placed on these organs, which appear to be quite weak (or not so well adjusted) in parrots as it is.


Never offer any milk, black tea or coffee! These are very detrimental for the parrots' health.


Don't forget that avocados and chocolate are poisonous to parrots too!

Don't forget that diet is one of the most vital elements of your parrot's well-being. Everything, starting from healthy skin to the mental state and ease of training/taming and even ability to talk largely depends on the diet. So do pay attention to what you feed your parrots!

With the provision of a balanced and varied diet, which includes at least 20-50% of good-quality pellets, no supplementation with any vitamin or mineral supplement is required! In fact, supplementing a pellet-based diet with artificial vitamins or minerals can do more harm than good.



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watts1

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Re: DIET
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2009, 09:50:02 PM »

Well done Irina :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: Great info :yahoo: :yahoo: :yahoo: :yahoo: :yahoo:
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lovebirds

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Re: DIET
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2009, 09:51:47 PM »

Thank you, Soo  :biggrin: I just thought it would be easier to combine everything in one topic and in detail than typing the same info in every topic about diet in short  :biggrin:
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Paula

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Re: DIET
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2009, 09:55:13 PM »

 :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Great post hun... Would look great on the blog too  :dance: :dance:  :biggrin:
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watts1

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Re: DIET
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2009, 10:00:48 PM »

Ooooh yes please do blog it!!! :thumbsup: I would love to refer to this when cooking up my next parroty meal :biggrin:
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lovebirds

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Re: DIET
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2009, 10:08:53 PM »

Done  :biggrin:
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alys

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Re: DIET
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2009, 06:48:50 AM »

Thanks ,will try to remember to look before I ask!
Alys
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lovebirds

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Re: DIET
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2009, 08:34:44 AM »

oh no, do ask if you have any questions  :biggrin:  these are just the basics explained
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watts1

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Re: DIET
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2009, 09:43:25 AM »

Thank you Irina :rose:
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Re: DIET
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2009, 06:06:59 PM »

 :thumbsup: yes thank you, excellent  :thumbsup: really good
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Peggy

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Re: DIET
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2009, 10:31:18 PM »

Thankyou Irina. I am a new parrot owner, and have found this really helpful. :bye:
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lovebirds

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Re: DIET
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2009, 10:36:52 PM »

you are welcome, Peggy and you are more than welcome to ask any questions you have on any issue, we will be happy to help  :thumbsup:
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Re: DIET
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2009, 11:11:43 AM »

I wondered if you could add pyracantha berries, its just they are quite popular as garden plants so quite a few people would probably have one, my berries are just becoming ripe now, I have loads of them, after the first frost I will harvest them :biggrin:
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lovebirds

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Re: DIET
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2009, 11:17:43 AM »

yes, sure, thanks  :thumbsup:
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Lynn

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Re: DIET
« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2009, 04:26:34 PM »

Wow, all my questions answer by magic.....

Thanks a lot, don't know what we'd do without you  :cheekkiss:

Lynn
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Re: DIET
« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2009, 04:38:13 PM »

Irina's the best  :thumbsup:
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lovebirds

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Re: DIET
« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2009, 04:42:07 PM »

ah you flatterers  :biggrin: thank you  :flowers:
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chronz

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Re: DIET
« Reply #17 on: November 04, 2009, 02:50:27 PM »


 :clap: My African Grey loves most of the food you mentioned. Im not a bird exspert so I depend on comments like yours in order to provide my parrot with the best possible quality of life. Thanks you!!!!!
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Re: DIET
« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2009, 03:06:41 PM »

Pleasure to help  :biggrin: Seems like your Grey is already on a healthy diet!  :thumbsup:
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Martin P

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Re: DIET
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2010, 09:25:24 AM »

What a fabulous source of information this is regarding diet Irena.
As mentioned diet must be one of THE most single important factors in having a healthy and vibarant AG, so to be able to find all this information in one place is invaluable, thank you so much for taking the time to write it all up, it will make mine and many others lives much easier when we get our first AG and im sure has also been useful to others who already have theirs.
There is an awful lot of information to take in as a first time AG owner so i think i will copy and print this out and start a fact file. Regards Martin P  :biggrin:
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