One of our biggest concerns is how to feed our Greys the most balanced, healthful diets. With the field of avian nutrition being new, especially relative to human nutrition which has been around for nearly one hundred years and with new revelations continuing to pop up almost daily in that field, there is no EXACT formula for feeding our parrots.
A diet that is as organic and preservative/processed food free as possible is best. Also, there needs to be a balance of vegetables/fruits, seeds/nuts/grains and pellets, if you’re not doing the total holistic route of the Mash Diet. A diet that is as varied as possible is best, as a diet that focuses JUST on seed is not nutrient sufficient. In contrast, one that focuses mostly on pellets may also prove to be detrimental, as the synthetic nutrients in them can act more like drugs than nutrients, potentially resulting in physical damage or disease (see “Why Food is Better than Pellets” article in African Grey Facts Section). If you do feed your Grey a pelleted diet, Avian Holistic Health Consultant Alicia McWatters recommends the following general guideline: vegetables 30%; legumes 20%; pellets 20%; seeds/nuts 15%; fruits 10%; and grains 5%. The FACT is that the avian nutrition field is too new and NO ONE knows all the answers, so please look at it conservatively.
Our Greys are individuals with individual dietary needs, so a blood chemistry profile to determine nutritional needs/deficiencies and discussion with a competent avian nutritionist would be beneficial. Please note, however, that when you do get a blood profile on your Grey, make sure the avian veterinarian technician doing it has had sufficient experience because the process can be very traumatic for your parrot. The following is a chart to give you ideas on the nutrient content of various foods:
Be sure to consult your vet or avian nutritional consultant to create an optimal feeding program for your Grey. The following provides an outline of foods “rich” in certain nutrients. The list of nutrients and foods is NOT exhaustive, as the chart is meant only as a guide.
|Vitamin A/Beta Carotene||Maintains tissue lining, respiratory, reproductive, digestive and urinary tracts.||Yellow/winter squash;; sweet potatoes/yams; carrots; egg yolks; alfalfa sprouts; endive; kale; cod liver oil; collard greens; mustard greens; turnip greens; broccoli; beet greens; chicory; chard; green peppers; chili peppers; red sweet peppers; pumpkins; dandelion greens; parsley; mango; cantaloupe; persimmons; apricots; papaya; brussel sprouts; asparagus; zucchini; peas; fish-liver oils. (The darker the flesh, the higher the vitamin A/beta carotene.)|
|B Vitamins*||Participates in metabolic reactions and energy at cell level and other internal growth.||Eggs; cheese; nuts; sunflower seeds; millet seeds; green leafy vegetables; cereals; grains; asparagus; broccoli; lemons; bananas; wheat germ; yogurt; brewer’s yeast; brussel sprouts. * This list is only partial as there are eight B vitamins that work as a team.|
|Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)||Most important for stressful situations, an anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, antioxidant and anti-stress nutrient.||Potatoes; broccoli; red peppers; green peppers; tomatoes; asparagus; peas; radishes; swiss chard; zucchini; guavas; kiwi fruit; oranges and juice; papayas; cauliflower; strawberries; cantaloupe; brussel sprouts.|
|Vitamin E||Antioxidant protecting cell membranes||Egg yolk; green leafy vegetables; alfalfa sprouts; oats; wheat germ; almonds; cashews; corn; lima beans; sunflower seeds.|
|Protein||Provides amino acids (the body’s building blocks).||Egg yolk and white; soybean meal; low fat plain yogurt; low fat cheese; low fat cottage cheese; well-cooked chicken and chicken bones; fish; turkey; water packed tuna; brown rice; enriched pasta; nuts; quinoa; amaranth; rice/bean combinations; peanut butter; tofu.|
|Calcium||Maintains growth and support of bone structure (particularly important for Greys).||Egg shells; low fat cheese; low fat yogurt; mineral block; collard greens; turnip greens; mustard greens; chicory; kale; dandelion; broccoli; almonds; brewer’s yeast; buttermilk; oats; kelp; cooked dried beans and peas; sesame seeds; tofu; oranges; berries; parsley.|
|Vitamin D3||Promotes proper calcium and phosphorous absorption and utilization.||Egg yolk (boiled at least 15-20 minutes); sunlight; Vita-Lites; fish-liver oil; salmon; sardines; sweet potatoes; dark leafy vegetables; cold water fish.|
|Phosphorus||Important for RNA/DNA synthesis, nerve health, heart/muscle contraction, kidney function, as well as many other functions. Phosphorus should be in equal amount to magnesium and both half that to calcium.||Foods high in protein, such as hard boiled eggs; brown rice; yogurt; cheese; well-cooked chicken; legumes.|
|Magnesium||Involved with many metabolic processes; helps regulate acid-alkaline balance and promotes absorption and metabolism of other minerals, particularly calcium. Magnesium should be in equal amount to phosphorus and both half that to calcium.||Whole grains; dark-green vegetables; corn; apples; legumes; seeds; nuts; almonds; natural feeds; wheat germ.|
|Iron||Combines with protein and copper to assist in hemoglobin production and is required for stress and disease resistance.||Legumes; eggs; green leafy vegetables; kelp; seeds (sesame/sunflower/pumpkin); nuts (almonds); grains; raisins.|
|Vitamin K||Promotes blood clotting, and is useful for normal functioning of liver and maintenance of strong bones.||Kelp; alfalfa; green leafy vegetables; eggs; soybeans; beet greens.|
|Zinc||Assists with enzymatic reactions, carbohydrate digestion, facilitates the action of the B vitamins, circulation, liver function, immune system function, protein synthesis and cell growth, skin, bone, joint health, wound healing and growth of reproduction organs.||Peas; legumes; nuts; leafy vegetables; seeds (sesame/sunflower/pumpkin); egg yolks; whole grains (sprouted).|
|Selenium||It’s an important antioxidant, commonly combined with vitamin E. It protects the immune system from damage by preventing the development of free radicals.||Eggs; sesame and sunflower seeds; whole grains; vegetables; garlic.|
|Iodine||Necessary for normal cell metabolism, metabolism of excess fat and thyroid function.||Kelp; sesame seeds; soybeans; summer squashes.|
About the Author
Source: Sound Nutrition: the Key to a Healthy Grey By Margaret T. Wright