Avian Raw Whole Food Nutrition

What Is Avian Raw Whole Food Nutrition?

In the last 20 years, the way we feed pet birds has evolved significantly. Nowadays, many bird owners are considering a raw food diet for their feathered friends. But what exactly is a raw food diet for pets and how can it benefit birds? In this blog post, we will discuss the pros and cons of feeding pet birds a raw food diet and explore how bird diets have changed over the last two decades.

Why do bird diets change over time?

In the past two decades, bird diets have changed significantly due to advances in scientific research. Many pet owners today are beginning to understand the importance of providing their feathered friends with nutritionally balanced meals.  

Prior to the late 1990s, the majority of diets for pet birds were based on research conducted on chickens. However, this research was not always relevant to tropical birds, which have unique nutritional requirements. As such, many bird owners found that feeding their birds a diet consisting mostly of seeds did not provide them with the necessary nutrition. 

We went through a phase in the 80's and 90's of feeding pet birds human table food - things like rice, pasta, french toast, pizza, and peanut butter - but we now know that these foods lack the specific vitamins and minerals required by birds. Furthermore, some people foods can be toxic to our feathered friends. For example, onions contain sulfoxides which can cause hemolytic anemia in birds.  

In recent years, researchers have developed species-specific diets for birds based on detailed studies of tropical bird species. These diets often include a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and other plant-based ingredients. Seeds are rarely recommended as a primary source of nutrition for birds anymore. 

These species-specific diets can provide pet birds with the essential nutrients they need for optimal health and well-being. Bird owners should do their research and talk to their vet or an avian specialist about what type of diet is best for their pet. 

The popularity of raw food diets has grown in recent years as pet owners seek more natural ways to feed their animals. Advocates of raw food diets believe that by offering our birds unprocessed food, we can ensure they get a balanced diet full of all the vitamins and minerals they need. But there are some drawbacks to consider before putting your birds on a raw food diet.  

Firstly, raw foods may contain bacteria that could make our pets sick if not properly prepared and stored. Additionally, raw diets require much more planning and preparation than commercial pelleted foods or seed mixes, making them more time-consuming for busy pet owners. 

What is a raw food bird diet?

Avian raw whole food nutrition


A raw food diet is a type of diet based on the same foods that wild parrots eat. It consists of fresh, uncooked, unprocessed plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and sprouted grains. This type of diet is much different than what most pet birds are used to eating – namely processed bird seed mixes, pellet diets, and processed treats. 

The basis of raw foods versus ultra-processed foods is that ultra-processed foods contain added chemicals, preservatives, and other ingredients that can be harmful to your bird’s health over time. Ultra-processed foods also lack the nutrition that is found in raw foods. By switching your bird to a raw food diet, you can provide them with the highest quality nutrition possible.  

Wild parrots forage through their environment in search of raw foods all day long. They may eat flowers, buds, leaves, seeds, nuts, insects, fruits, and other plant-based foods. This type of diet provides them with the right balance of essential vitamins, minerals, proteins, and other nutrients. When feeding a raw food diet to your pet bird, it is important to make sure that you are providing the same types of foods that wild birds would eat in their natural environment. This ensures that your bird is receiving the most nutritious diet possible. 

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The pros and cons of feeding birds raw foods

Raw foods offer a natural and nutritious diet for birds, as these diets are typically made up of uncooked and unprocessed plant-based foods. These foods contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients that birds need to remain healthy and happy. After al, wild parrots often eat a rich variety of plant-based foods.  

However, there are a few drawbacks to feeding a bird a raw food diet.  

For one, birds may need to be taught what is safe to eat. Most people don't realize that mom and dad spend a lot of time showing and teaching their chicks which plants to eat and which to stay away from. Bird's instinctually avoid new foods unless they are explicitly taught that they are safe.  

Additionally, "newbies" to raw food diets should also combine with pellets to ensure their bird is receiving essential nutrition. Veterinarians worry that most people won't put the work in to make sure the bird gets a balanced diet. It can also be both time-consuming and tricky to ensure that your bird is getting all the balanced essential nutrients it needs from its diet, so it's important to get routine annual bloodwork done to make sure your bird is healthy.  

Finally, over-ripe or improperly stored raw foods can spoil and can make your bird ill, so it is important to practice food safety when preparing and storing these diets. Serve proper-sized portions that your bird is likely to gobble up quickly.  

A rich variety of fresh, raw, whole foods is essential to supply the vitamins, minerals, and essential fats that your bird needs, but safety must always come first. Safety begins in the store; buy organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible.  

When prepping meals at home always thoroughly wash the foods. Once prepared, store all meals in clean containers at appropriate temperatures until ready to serve. You can easily freeze batches in ice cube trays to quickly serve on work days.  

For those who want to feed their birds a healthy raw food diet but are wary of the risks, there are alternatives such as freeze-dried bird food which is almost as nutritious as fresh, raw, uncooked foods but much faster and easier to prep.  Just make sure that it is prepared for birds without sulfites.

Ultimately, it is up to the pet owner to determine the best diet for their bird, and it is important to consider all the pros and cons before making a decision. 

How do you transition a bird to a new whole raw food diet?

Before making the switch to a whole raw food diet for your pet bird, there are a few important things to consider. First and foremost, the health of your bird should be a priority. You should consult with a veterinarian and do some blood-work to find out if your bird is experiencing any nutritional deficiencies. You should also "do your homework" and learn as much about going raw as possible. Purchasing avian nutritional guides and recipe books will help you ensure that your bird is getting the best possible diet. 

It is important to understand that raw food diets may not bee nutritionally complete diets and may require supplementation. If you are considering a raw diet, you must educate yourself on which supplements to provide and how much to give. Additionally, you will need to make sure that you are providing your bird with the necessary vitamins, minerals, and trace elements that they need to thrive. 

The type of bird you have may also play a role in what type of raw food diet you choose. Different species have different nutritional needs and dietary requirements that should be taken into consideration. Some parrots, for example, need more protein than other types of birds. 

Finally, switching diets may not be appropriate for all birds. Young birds have specific nutritional needs and birds that are ill or weak, including senior birds, may not be able to handle the change to raw foods. If you have any doubts about whether or not a raw diet is right for your bird, talk to a vet before starting one. 

Do pet birds need species specific diets?

Yes, pet birds do need species specific diets. Different bird species have different nutritional needs, and each species of bird should have its own tailored diet that is suited to its particular needs. For example, a Macaw will have different dietary requirements than an Eclectus parrot or a Lorikeet.  

It’s important to know what type of bird you have so that you can feed it the proper diet. For example, if you have an Eclectus parrot, then you should focus on feeding it high-quality fruits, vegetables, and nuts, as these are the main components of their natural diet.  

Macaws, on the other hand, should be fed a diet rich in seeds, nuts, and fruits, as these are their natural food sources. Lorikeets are unique in that they require a specially formulated diet made from nectar and pollen, as these foods make up most of their natural diet.  

In addition to knowing what type of bird you have, it’s also important to know whether your species is a ground feeder, frugivore, florivore, or insectivore. Ground feeders, such as cockatiels, are typically vegetarian and prefer seeds, grains, and insects. Frugivores and florivores prefer fruits and flowers, respectively. Insectivores will need insects to get the protein they need in their diet.  

By understanding your bird’s species and dietary needs, you can ensure that it is getting the nutrition it needs to thrive. 

How much protein do birds need?

Protein is an important macronutrient for birds, as it helps to build, repair, and maintain the body’s tissues and organs. Protein is composed of amino acids, which are necessary for all kinds of bodily functions.  

Generally speaking, birds need 10 to 24 percent protein in their diet, but this amount varies depending on the species and age of the bird. Deficiencies in protein can lead to stunted growth, poor feathering, and a weakened immune system, while excessive protein can contribute to obesity and liver problems. 

When it comes to ensuring your bird gets enough protein, you should focus on providing them with a variety of protein rich raw foods. These can include eggs, nuts and seeds, legumes, fresh vegetables and fruits, grains, and insect-based proteins like mealworms or crickets.  

When shopping for food for your bird, be sure to read the labels and check the ingredients list for sources of protein. Additionally, it is important to remember that many processed foods have added protein, so keep an eye out for these ingredients when you are choosing your bird’s meals. 

What kind of oil is safe for birds?

Birds need plant oils for a healthy, balanced diet. Plant oils are rich in essential fatty acids (EFA) which are important for keeping a bird's skin, feathers and beak healthy. Plant oils also provide birds with the energy they need for flight, as well as vitamins and minerals. 

Unfortunately, if birds don't get enough plant oils in their diets, they can suffer from dry, brittle feathers and skin irritations. On the other hand, too much plant oils can lead to excessive weight gain and a fatty liver. Therefore, it is important to make sure your bird is getting just the right amount of plant oils. 

Healthy sources of plant oils include raw nuts, seeds, and plant oils like coconut oil, red palm oil, and flaxseed oil. These should all be added to a bird's diet in moderation. It is also important to note that cooked oils should not be given to birds, as they are not easily digested. 

By ensuring your bird gets the right amount of healthy plant oils in their diet, you can help them stay happy and healthy for years to come. 

What is soaking and sprouting for birds?

 Soaking and sprouting bird seed can be a beneficial way to ensure your bird receives important raw nutrients in its diet. Soaking bird seeds helps to soften the shells, making it easier for birds to digest and absorb the vital vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional compounds.

Soaking is a simple process. Simply place the desired amount of seed into a bowl or jar filled with cool water and allow to soak overnight. After soaking, rinse off the water and strain the seed, allowing any excess liquid to drain away. 

Sprouting also activates dormant enzymes within the seeds that aid in digestion. Sprouting seeds can make them easier for birds to digest as well as provide additional nutritional benefits such as improved flavor and texture.  

Sprouting bird seed involves allowing the soaked seed to germinate by keeping it moist and in a warm environment. Place the drained seeds on damp paper towels in a shallow tray or container and cover with more paper towels. Refresh the paper towels with water every day and allow the tray to remain in a warm location for 2-3 days. When you see the seed sprouts beginning to emerge, it’s time to feed your bird!  

Sprouted bird seeds are an easy and nutritious way to supplement your bird's diet. Sprouted bird seed can offer a variety of health benefits, from improved digestion to increased energy levels. The sprouted seeds are packed with nutrition, providing birds with a natural source of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and zinc. Bird sprouts are also rich in antioxidants, fiber, and essential fatty acids which can help support overall health.  

Soaking and sprouting can help add variety to your bird’s diet while providing necessary nutrition. Just remember, moderation is key and birds should not be solely fed sprouts as their only source of nutrition. 

Do parrots need probiotics?

The digestive system of a parrot is much different than that of other pet birds. While there has been more research done on chickens, there is still a lack of research into the digestive system of parrots. This makes it difficult to determine the best feeding plan for our feathered friends. But, some avian veterinarians, like The Melbourne Bird Vet swear by them. 

To ensure your parrot's gut health, it is important to feed them raw, whole foods that are rich in fiber. This includes grains like quinoa, oats, and brown rice. Veggies such as kale, celery, and carrots are also beneficial for parrot digestion. Additionally, introducing small amounts of legumes and seeds can help provide your parrot with a varied diet that is rich in essential vitamins and minerals.

It is important to note that more research needs to be done when it comes to feeding pet birds. Until then, the best thing you can do for your parrot is to provide them with a variety of nutrient-rich foods and ensure they get enough exercise. With proper care and nutrition, you can ensure your pet bird's digestive system stays healthy. 

In Conclusion...

Whole raw food diets are becoming more popular with pet bird owners and the diet can provide many health benefits. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind before switching your bird to a raw food diet.

Fixing fresh chop everyday or every week can be a real chore. We recommend freezing batches in serving sized portions. One way to achieve the benefits of a whole, raw food diet for your bird is to use freeze-dried bird food.

Make sure that your bird is getting enough protein, that you are including enough plant oils, and that you are taking steps to ensure good gut health.

Soaking and sprouting seeds and grains can help increase the nutrient content of your bird's meals. Do your research, talk to an avian vet, and be sure to monitor your bird’s health as you transition to a raw food diet. 

Related Posts:

Feeding your parrot a well-balanced diet 

The Signs Of Malnutrition In Birds And What You Can Do About It Right Now!

Everything You Need To Know About Bird Calcium For A Happy, Healthy Bird

Fat Is Not The "F" Word In Birds' Diets

The Bird Food Pyramid

References:

http://www.melbournebirdvet.com/use-of-probiotics 

 

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Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in avian anxiety disorders and is certified in Nutrition For Mental Health. Diane has written a number of bird behavior books and she offers behavior consultations. She's developed a range of UnRuffledRx Science-backed Parrot Wellness Supplies.

Diane's products have been featured in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and at Exoticscon, a conference for exotic pet veterinarians. Her bird collars & supplements are stocked in avian vet clinics and bird stores throughout the US. With over 30 years in the field of behavior, Diane has created thousands of successful individualized behavior plans that help pets thrive.

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