Advantages to Pelleted Diets
Density of nutrition: Pelleted and extruded foods have resulted from extensive research and testing, and are formulated to satisfy all known nutritional requirements of commonly kept pet and aviary birds, so separate vitamin supplements are unnecessary. It is important to note that supplementary vitamins should not be given to birds on pellet-based diets, as vitamin toxicity may result. (Literature from the Rolf C. Hagen Company, however, says that Prime vitamin, mineral and amino acid supplement can be added to Hagen Tropican breeding mash to add beneficial bacteria and digestive enzymes.)
Most manufacturers of formulated diets include supplemental feeding directions on packaging or in free, point-of-purchase literature. Many of these allow for the inclusion of up to 25% fruit, eggs, seed, vegetables, and table food as part of the total diet.
Neat and Easy To Use:
Manufactured diets only require that you dispense the allotted amount to your bird on a daily or twice daily basis. As with any food, you’ll want to start with clean dishes and fresh feed each day to prevent deterioration of uneaten or soiled food. If you have stopped feeding seed altogether, you won’t have seed hulls scattered about. This make life easier for bird-sitters, too; and ensures that your pet will enjoy proper nutrition when you must be away from home.
Parent birds on manufactured diets will, in turn, feed the nutritious food to the babies. When you take over, the prepared hand-feeding formula will take the guesswork out of rearing their young.
Many breeders have reported increased breeding success after birds have been switched to pellet-based diets. My own birds consume dramatically larger quantities of pellets when breeding and raising babies.
Since manufacturers produce pellets and extruded diets year-round, you can always obtain “fresh” food. Buy brands with dated packaging, or purchase manufactured foods from shops that turn over their inventory quickly. (“Freshness”, as it related to seed, can be a confusing term. Some seed stored in the pyramids has sprouted thousands of years later. Proper storage is more important than just the age of the seed.)
Disadvantages to Pellets:
Nutritional requirements for exotic birds have not been officially standardized, thus each manufactured food formulation results from broad-based and individual research, translated by company nutritionists and/or vets. Although most pelleted diets are excellent, not all birds react in the same way to such a regimen. Remember, when you maintain a bird on a single food source, its health depends on that source. Pellets using animal byproducts may also contain gram-negative bacteria.
Some birds simply refuse to eat pellets. No matter what tricks or methods their owners employ, the birds’ stubbornness wins out. Some small birds have even been known to starve themselves to death rather than eat foods that are foreign to them.
Seed hulls won’t be a problem on a manufactured diet, but pellets can still be tossed about the cage and dunked into water dishes. yes, cage bottoms will still need cleaning, and you will have to change fouled water before it becomes bacteria soup. Some birds also develop moister droppings when on pelleted diets, and this may necessitate some additional vigilance.
A Mazuri Zoo Breeding Pellet Plug
I usually don’t like to endorse or plug any particular product, but I have to say I have tried all kinds of pelleted diets over the years. After all my personal research, I have to say that Mazuri Bird Breeder and maintenance pellets are nothing short of fantastic. They allowed me to grow much bigger, more robust, babies faster than any other pellet I have tried. I have also never had an egg bound hen while using these pellets.
The calcium in the pellets produces strong, thicker egg shells. For Quakers that I bred, I used the small bird breeder because the pellets were so small feeding the babies was easier and faster for the parents. The parrot breeder formula works great for African Grey’s, Cockatoos, etc. A Quaker can also eat the parrot formula, but more is wasted when the bird cracks the larger pellet and pieces fall to the bottom of the cage. Most Quakers, especially when they have babies, will just swallow the small pellets whole and feed them to the babies that way. In these cases, all is consumed leaving very little waste.
One breeder I knew had four pairs of Umbrella Cockatoos he owned for over four years without getting a single baby from any of them. He had them on a combination diet of fruits, vegetables and parrot seed consisting of mostly sunflower and safflower seeds with some peanuts and cracked corn. After telling me his situation, I suggested the Mazuri Parrot Breeder formula. He tried it and within the first two weeks, he had his first egg. One of the pairs finally started laying for the first time since he had owned them. Six weeks later another pair started laying.
Within four months, three pairs had laid eggs and produced babies. Was it the diet change? I believe it was. If you are a very serious or professional breeder I highly recommend you give them a try. The large and small maintenance formula is great for making feathers nicer. Pet stores use it to feed their birds that are not breeding because of the lower calcium and protein content.