Offering a balanced diet is critical for your bird’s health
Birds are some of the most difficult animals to feed properly. The ideal would be to mimic the exact diet that birds have in the wild, but this is so variable and very few of the natural dietary components are available. Poor nutrition is still a common problem in birds.
Seed: Diets based on seed, particularly seed mixes, are the most common diet provided to birds. The problem is that they are not nutritionally balanced. Seed is very high in fat, very low in important components such as calcium, other important minerals as well as all the necessary vitamins. So a bird raised on a diet with a high seed component will eventually become ill because of the diet. The main feature is that it is a slow process and may take years to be apparent, so it is not normally attributed to the diet, because there have been no changes.
Commercial Diets: A lot of detailed research into avian nutrition has been done over the past 25 years, so there is now a range of commercially formulated diets (pelleted or extruded) on the Australian market, developed just for birds. These are a good replacement for the seed component of the diet, as they have lower fat levels and some of the minerals and vitamins that seed lacks. However they are not a complete diet and so you need to feed your bird more than just these commercial diets.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are also important for birds. Just as people need this as a vital component of their diet, birds need them as well. You need to introduce your bird to vegetables and fruit when they are young or you will have problems converting them later in life.
How much of each: Commercial diets and or seed should be approximately 50-60% of the diet. Fruit, vegetables and treats (such as sprouted seed) should be 40-50% of the diet – with the emphasis being on more vegetables than fruit and treats.
Vegetables to offer: spinach, silverbeet, beetroot, endive, Chinese cabbages (e.g Bok Choy) , celery, parsley, thistle, dandelion, Australian native grasses, broccoli, corn, capsicum (bell peppers), tomato, carrot, peas, snow peas, beans, pumpkin, sweet potato.
Fruit: apple, peaches, pears, plums, apricot, honeydew melon, rockmelon, mango, paw-paw, grapes, cherries, mandarin, orange, nectarines, figs, raisins, sultanas, currants, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwi fruit, loquat.
Sprouted Seeds: alfalfa, mung beans, cress or sprout the seedmix you normally use. These need to be fresh and clean. You need to be very careful that there is no contamination of sprouted seeds. Smell them and they should have a fresh sweet odour. If they are sour of you are suspicious they may not be good – throw them away.
Do not rush any dietary changes.
Converting your bird to a healthier diet should be a slow, gradual process that is monitored closely with the help of your veterinarian.