As a result of great strides the research into avian nutrition has made in recent years, bird food manufacturers have been able to formulate a variety of healthful, prepared bird diets to offer in addition to seed mixes. What is difficult for the bird owner to assess is which diet is best for their bird. Choosing a bird food manufacturer who has a good reputation is always of value.
Today’s manufacturer’s often have had an avian nutritionist and sometimes a qualified avian vet to formulate the diet. Look for a company with an avian vet, nutritionist or similar specialist on staff or regularly available.
Among these prepared diets are pellets, a combination of ingredients that are ground, heated and extruded under high pressure to form small shapes. A lot of reports have been published to show the value of pelleted diets as a portion of the bird’s nutritional program. The value of these formulated diets in feeding programs is real; therefore, they are currently recommended by nearly all avian veterinarians.
A word of caution, however, do not mix different brands of pellets as this will undermine the manufacturer’s careful balance of nutrients. Some pellets resemble basic rabbit food, while other look and smell like fruity breakfast cereals. Most come in several sizes, and hand feeding and medicated formulas are also available. These diets have been 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.
Manufactured diets also offer the benefit of ease of use, requiring the user to dispense only the allotted amount to your Quaker on a daily or twice daily basis. And you can always obtain “fresh” food, as pellets are produced year-round and have dated packages. A change in your bird’s diet requires an understanding of food, and the knowledge that hunger is only one of several factors that motivate a bird to eat. Another thing to consider is the appearance–texture, size, color and shape.
A bird who has never been introduced to pellets may not recognize them as food. In such a case, you would want to mix a small amount of pellets with a bird’s regular food. Even if he doesn’t try it immediately, he will become familiar with the different appearance and texture and be more willing to try it in the future.
You may have to resort to pretending to eat the pellets yourself–Quakers are curious, and will want to sample anything that is good enough for you to eat, especially if the “consumption” is accompanied by verbalization’s, lip-licking, wolf-whistles, chewing noises and an occasional slurp!
Take advantage of manufacturer’s educational literature and package information to learn more about specific foods and nutritional contents. Some companies provide toll-free telephone number for inquiries about their products.
Many pelleted diets marketed today have been extensively researched and tested on generations of birds, providing us access to the most nutritionally balances avian diets ever developed. The more you learn about what your Quaker’s likes and dislikes are and provide them accordingly, the happier you both will be.
Storing Formulated Bird Foods
Instructions for proper storage are printed on the packaging of most manufactured avian diets, and the shelf life of the specific product is often indicated. Read product labels, and follow any special instructions for storage.
Basically, food should be kept in a cool, dry area, protected from rodents, insects and animals. Do not store large portions of pellets or crumbles in moisture-proof, tightly closed containers, because the moisture in the food itself can promote the growth of mold under such conditions. Keep bags of food off the floor, because mold can develop, and rodents can invade the bags.
You can refrigerate smaller containers or keep them on a pantry shelf if you will use the food quickly and climatic conditions are favorable. Refrigerate food if you live in a warm, humid climate. I prefer to keep about a week’s worth of pellets in a jar on the bird shelf of my kitchen cabinet and refrigerate the remainder.