Diet and Nutrition Research on Amazon Parrots?
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Royal Bird Company Avicultural Breeding Research Center
We had a few emails from some interested people that was asking us about more info on our diets, see below:
Royal Bird Avicultural Breeding Research original research final 2010-published April 2017: For 10 years here are RBC we ran a program of research on nutrition and impacts of nutrition on breeding and over all health on the long term through a range of amazon parrots and amazon parrot subspecies, We have published some surprising and controversial findings when compared to other so-called experts of parrot nutrition statements. Over the research and study range we put into several species in the study, below is the species,10 pairs each if possible, all adults, all breeders, blue fronted amazon, aestiva and yellow wing, 10 pair yellow naped, parvipes and nominate, also included blue mutation,10 pair double yellow head, oratrix and magna and other subspecies,10 pair mealy amazon, farinosa and other subspecies,4 pair yellow shouldered, 10 pair red lored all nominate, 10 pair green cheek amazons, nominate species, 10 pair lilac crowned, all nominate.
Breeder Units: The cage sizes were all exactly same, 8 feet long, 4x4 feet square, all cages are suspended, with perches on both ends, front perch is lower at feeding stations and rear perch at nesting boxes are higher, therefore encouraging all birds to fly.
These in the study groups for 5 years were fed a daily regime of the complete diet and then after completion of 5 years study, the same control groups were fed a different diet for another 5 years, this gives us a control calculation for future comparison and reference.
Below is the findings: 10 year study.
All birds in the program were fed the same exact diet for 5 years, all foods were weighed or calculated by sizes to ensure all birds received same quantity and portions.
The daily diet consist of 75 % pellet or formulated granules, and the rest of the diet was equal fed amounts of sprouts, cooked peas ,beans, corn, rice, beets, diced fruits, vegetables, and no nuts or pea nuts. Also NO dry seed or dry grains given at all. The idea from supposed parrot and animal experts and nutritionist has always been amazons and subspecies get fat when on a seed based diet and pellets should be fed as 75% of diet with supplement of fruits and veggies, NO vitamin supplement of any type used. This diet although some variations had to be used due to seasonal fruit and veggies was fed as sole diet throughout the breeding seasons and through the down seasons as well, the only difference being the pellets were hi pro(high protein) during the breeding season, while the off season we used a lower protein pellet fed to cycle down the hormones and breeder activities due to lower proteins.
Blood panels were pulled every month during breeding seasons, calcium, proteins, kidney functions, liver functions and more all seemed in line. with most, and all recorderd.
The species and subspecies of blue fronted, yellow shouldered seemed to have panels at not optimal levels and some being out of range, although within acceptable safe range, still seemed odd given that all birds wer fed the same foods and amounts. With several observations on these species, was the birds were thinner, seemed to eat voraciously as though hungry all the time while food was in front of them at all times. The blue fronted and yellow shouldered just seemed to be unsatisfiedcompared to all other species, breeding results were off as well from the recorded results that the same birds had produced each year before the study began and the records showed a slow down and less fertility, dropped average 40% during the study compared to years before the study began. Now the yellow naped, double yellow, mealy, red lored, green cheeks and others seemed to thrive and birds that appeared slightly over weight before the study, now, their weight was great, fertility was average same as before the study, all blood panels seemed to be well within range and better except proteins levels spiked and leveled constantly. Now the next study of 5 years , same birds, but a changed diet went into play, pellets were fed at a lower percent of total diet daily, 35-40% pellets or formulated granules made up the diet, again using hi pro during breeding seasons and off season, the difference being the amounts fed were a smaller total., we actually weighed the pellets to get the correct amount to each pair of birds, now the over diet also changed, we incorporated much more spouted grains and added a higher fat seed to the sprouting mix such as sunflower, safflower, we also would take small dry oil and grey sunflower, wash it and then let it soak over night and wash and then drain and then add water and bring to boil turn off and drain, mix this with same fruits, veggies, beets, corn, cooked beans, lentils, peas and all the same mixture as before. Except we fed more of it and less pellets, the main change in what we fed was adding the sprouted and cooked sunflower and sprouted safflower, AND every late afternoon we gave another small amount of washed and then dried sunflower to each pair, about one ounce snack.
However at no
time did we ever feed any pea nuts in shell at all.
Again blood chemistry panels were pulled each month, WOW, we could not believe the difference in the ranges, they were perfect, the over all feathers changed, the feathers seemed to tighten up, the blue fronts and yellow shouldered all seemed to gain weight to absolute optimal levels, the other species, napes, yellow heads, red lored, green cheeks and lilac crowns all showed no changes in weight, but were in perfect shape and seemed to fly more, always climbing and exploring, the over all activity was amazing, the blue fronted amazons changed the most, they seemed most satisfied, and the fertility increased, we had pairs that only the year before the diet change, had a drop of 40%, now the same birds were at 90%+ fertility rates, one example pair of blue fronted that had only produced 1 clutch each season before now had a series of 4 eggs each clutch and had 3 clutches the first year of the change of diets,.and the fertility was at amazing almost at 100%.
Our findings showed that while many people refuse to feed seeds to birds due to the so called experts constantly blaming all the bad stuff on seeds, its just not true, infact the addition of their natural foods (seeds) being fed in the correct context and at the correct amounts and times showed an increase in over all health. Now to be clear, we never fed a seed parrot mixture out of a bag, we only fed a controlled amount of seeds, sunflower and safflower and we washed them, brought to boil and fed, we sprouted some of the seeds as well, so the problem with most fat birds and over all birds in bad health may be feeding too much or only seed diets as well the amount of cage space also can come into play for over weight birds, as birds are not supposed to sit in little cages in your living room their whole life eating seeds and pellets out of cups placed next to their perches and the foods was from a bag of seed parrot mix you purchased at the pet store. Also our findings showed that certain species benefit more from the addition of higher amounts of sunflower like the blue fronted amazons, In most parrots native lands they eat seeds, as seeds are the natures best way to deliver the a high caloric food source, but in most cases they will only find seeds that have been swollen germinated, or sprouted in most cases as in the rain forest it rains, therefore logic dictates that the seeds would not be old and dry like you get in bags of parrot food you buy in stores, but swollen with life as the germ of the seed starts to germinate in a short time due to the temps being high and humid conditions.
Of course over the years we have modified our diets accordingly and changed this or that as we saw fit. I am one to not just take the findings of one person or study and think that's the only way it can be, I think there is still much to be learned. We here at RBC are dedicated to the ongoing struggle to find and give our birds the best possible life and foods they can receive, As we must remember they did not ask to be here sitting in cages compared to their ancestors being free, So, it is my, it is our, it is your, responsibility to give them the best they deserve.
research finalized august 2010.
UPDATE: after the study we also started feeding along
with the diet, a supplement, we use PRIME vitamin and
mineral supplement and we also incorporated into the diet, a
natural addition called spirulina, a blue green algae, these
were spread onto whole wheat with mushed banana. we created
a socalled sandwich with the ingredients onto the wheat
brea, each pair received at least 1/4 of the sandwich,
3 days weekly.
We own and operate one of the largest, selective and most successful research breeding farms on the east coast USA. today.
We are professional responsible breeders and we continue to educate people how to properly maintain their birds