Dried fruit or fresh fruit – which is best for your birds?

I am commonly asked whether people can feed dried fruit  to soft bills and parrots instead of fresh fruit – read on to find out the answer in my latest blog post.

Why choose dried fruit?

Many zoos and bird parks feed their birds dried fruit on a very large scale and often it’s much easier to do.

Dried fruit is almost as good as fresh fruit, and it can be bought in bulk, which is a very useful tool if you’re busy and want to give your birds something different to eat. Some people feed both as some dried fruit not easily available. The most common dried fruit to feed to birds would be raisins, which can be fed as they are to parrot species, or soaked overnight before being fed to soft bills.

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The main benefit of feeding your birds dried fruit is that it can give variety. In my days at Bird World, I found that variety in the diet is what birds prefer – it keeps them happy, and the more variety they have, the more likely they are to breed during breeding season.

Which option is best?

With all of that said, if you have the choice and money’s not an option, fresh fruit is always best when fed on a daily basis in my opinion, but dried fruit provides a good alternative to add variety.

If you have any problems or questions, please contact Rob Harvey using the details below:

+44 1252 342533

rob@robharvey.com

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Basic Supplements

All birds do need some sort of supplement, a multivitamin being the basic one.  This makes up the difference in what’s missing from their diet in captivity to the one in the wild.  I get phone calls all the time from customers and people asking for advice on what to feed, and basically you need to     keep it simple.

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Whether you have a budgerigar, an ostrich, or any sized bird in between, they do need a vitamin supplement.  A basic powder vitamin supplement, a good quality one, such as the Harvey’s Multivitamin 50g, is fine for all species of birds.  A pinch of this on their seed in their diet everyday is what is required.  A very small amount but they do need it every single day.

For most birds this is the main supplement that will be required.  We do do a vast range of supplements on our website from Quiko – all for slightly different purposes.

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The second most common supplement would be a calcium supplement such as the Harvey’s Liquid Calcium 60ml.  During the breeding season, one or two drops of this in the water twice a week is what’s required, unless you have a bird like an African Grey where they would need this all year round as they have a higher rate of absorption.

People often what else can I feed as a supplement to my bird?  With parrot species, any fruit or vegetables, especially things like palm nuts, which are a natural foods are excellent for them.  And with this type of food, you can’t really overdo it.  What you must be careful of with parrots species, is there are so many different diets on the market that you don’t give them a bit of everything and they end up so overfed that they just pick and choose what they want and then they don’t have a balanced diet anymore.

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For small species of a birds in a large aviary, sometimes it’s best to have a liquid vitamin supplement to put into the water – but do be aware that if you have water in more than one place or they eat a lot of fruit, they may not drink very much.  So although this can be done and work successfully, often it’s better to use a powder supplement which again you can put onto the seed (because with parrot species and small bird species you know they will go for the seed!).  Although some of the powder supplement is wasted, enough goes into the bird for what you require to keep them fit and healthy.

If you’re concerned your birds are lacking in anything whatsoever, please do give me (Rob Harvey) a ring on 01420 342533, I’ll be happy to advise on our vast range of other supplements and which ones may be suitable.  It is difficult on a blog to recommend them all!  I would however recommend going to the website as well.  There are various supplements, such as the Vitamin E supplement (a lot of people recommend this in the breeding season to get birds to breed), and the Spirulina, as well as many others.

It’s very confusing, but I’m happy to help!

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How to Feed your Parrot

One of the most common questions I get asked, is how much food should I feed my parrot? The most common mistake with anybody feeding their parrot, is that they feed them too much food. For example, they buy a parrot cage that has some large bowls in it and the misconception is that the best thing to do is to keep the bowls full of food at all times.

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Parrots are very intelligent creatures. If you give them a good quality, mixed seed diet but you over feed them, then like children, if you give them the choice of all sorts of food including chocolates and sweets, they would eat those first and never get a balanced diet. The best thing to do is to feed your parrot(s) enough seed so that they run out of seed halfway through the afternoon. If they run out of seed at midday, then give them some more food. If the following day you are throwing away a lot of seed, then you are overfeeding your parrot.

If you overfeed your parrot, problems can appear. Typically they can get too fat, they don’t get balanced diet and won’t eat any fruit or vegetables. The best thing to do is to give them their food first thing in the morning, monitor how they eat and then the feed should run out halfway through the afternoon. But always have fruit and vegetables available so that they’ll never go hungry.

On top of this, any bird, from a sunbird to an ostrich and including parrots, will need a vitamin supplement. A vitamin supplement adds what is missing from what a parrot would eat in the wild and what is fed in captivity. The best way to feed a vitamin supplement for a parrot, is take a pinch of a mulitvitamins (such as the Harveys Multivitamins 50g) and put that pinch on top of the seed everyday. It is a very small amount of multivitamins but it is essential that they get it on a daily basis.

To give you an idea how little a parrot eats, when I had 50 pairs of African Greys at my house, half a mug of seed is all I fed per pair of birds per day, (plus fruit, veg and one palm nut per bird per day). They’ll eat most fruit and vegetables but birds like African Greys can be very fussy indeed. And if you overfeed them, they wont touch anything else.

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Many people will go on the internet and see that sunflower seeds are not good for your birds. Sunflower seeds aren’t bad for your birds, but what often is bad for your birds, is that they’re not fed correctly in the first place. If you overfeed them and leave lots of food in the pot, then, being intelligent and often lazy, your parrot will eat whatever is easiest to eat, which happens to be a sunflower seed. So you can buy the best diet in the world, but if you overfeed it, they will not be getting a balanced diet because they will just pick out the sunflower seeds. And if this happens over a long period of time, then they can become, as some people put it, sunflower junkies.

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There are many other things you can feed your birds as extras, for example cedar nuts. In our range we have have all sorts of products to make their life more interesting that they can try. But do remember that all these extras you give them are a part of their diet. Therefore be aware about how much you give them in a day, and if you give them too much food, you can imagine that what they end up doing is going through their seed, spilling most of it on the floor because they’re not really that hungry, and just finding the bits they like. Then, if you’re not careful, they don’t get a balanced diet.

Having an overweight bird is also a problem if you’re trying to breed them. They may look healthy, have wonderful feather condition, go through all the motions of breeding, but an overfed bird can often produce infertile eggs. It is best not to give a weight of feed per species of bird, because all birds, like humans, are different. Some of them burn up fat quicker than others and everyone tends to keep their birds differently. If your birds in a cage all the time, it may not use much energy, if its flying in an aviary or around your house, it is using much more energy. So rather than saying a certain bird has certain weight of seed, it is far better to monitor the seed so that it runs out half way through the afternoon.

If you have nay questions please do not hesitate to contact Rob Harvey’s Specialist Feeds at 01420 23986.

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happy parrots