Conversion advice

Hopefully your birds will eat Harrison’s Bird Foods as soon as you offer it to them. Many owners find that their birds enjoy the food immediately and they can switch them to a Harrison’s diet straight away.

To increase the likelihood of this happening, feed the Harrison’s in their usual feeding bowl in place of their regular seed/pellets. If you feed both at the same time they will likely just eat the food they know. If you just feed Harrison's they are likely to try it.

If your bird is then reluctant to try the food there are some suggestions below on how to introduce the food to them.

If the conversion steps don’t work the first time (we would recommend a concerted effort for a minimum of 2 weeks*) then don't be disheartened. Almost all birds will convert so pause, revert to their familiar food for a short time, and then try again a week later. The effort is worthwhile for the health of your bird.

*Note: The bird’s weight, body condition, attitude and droppings should be monitored carefully during the conversion process. It is important to ensure the bird is eating sufficient food and so regular weight checks (on a daily basis in small and medium birds and at least twice a week in large birds) should be carried out to ensure there is no undue weight loss. Always consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Discourage selective feeding

For about 7-10 days prior to conversion to Harrison’s, limit the volume of ‘regular’ food that is provided at any one time to approximately one third of the usual daily serving. Food is only replenished when all has been eaten. This prevents the bird from buffet feeding and encourages it to eat the food that is available. Also, if the ‘regular’ food is a mix containing a high percentage of sunflower seeds then it is helpful to remove the majority of these prior to conversion to Harrison’s.

Weaning the bird off its old diet

Offer a small amount of their usual food in the morning for 1 hour and then remove this from the bowl. Replace with Harrison’s High Potency, serving in their usual bowl, in the usual place in the cage - this confirms that it is 'food', rather than a toy. Give less than will cover the bottom of their bowl - to discourage them for foraging for their 'usual food' - and make this the only food that is available to them during the main part of the day. In the evening, serve some of their usual food again.

The next day, give your bird seeds for only 30 minutes in the morning and evening. The third day, reduce the time to 15 minutes twice a day. And finally, offer only High Potency on the fourth day. Monitor the bird’s droppings.

Feed your bird at mealtime

Place the food on a plate, move it around with your finger or a spoon and eat it (or pretend to eat it) in front of your bird. This reinforces to the bird that it is food. Offer it to them, and hopefully they will mimic you by eating it too. 

Whilst Harrison’s formulated diets can be a little bland for the human palate (humans have about 30 times more taste buds than parrots), they are palatable, organic and made from human quality food, and many birds are encouraged to try the food if they see their owners eating and ‘enjoying’ it. This is particularly successful if the birds are used to being fed at mealtimes.

Warm or moisten the food

Many birds can be encouraged to taste the food, and will readily consume it, if a small amount of water or fruit juice is added. Adding fruit juice may give a recognisable flavourOnly add enough to moisten it so it sticks to their beak if they pick it up - don't 'soak' it.

Alternatively try slightly warming the High Potency formula.

Mix it with fruit or veg

Whilst it is usually advisable to not mix the Harrison's with dry foods, such as seeds - as they can pick around the new food and just select the items they know they like - crumbling the Harrison's onto damp fruit or vegetables can be successful. The Harrison's will stick to the fruit/veg and can't be avoided, so when the eat the fruit/veg they will consume some of the Harrison's and realise it is a tasty food. You can then change the ratio of Harrison's to fruit/veg over time until you are able to serve the Harrison's to them on its own.

Change the bird’s environment

Whilst feeding the food in the 'normal way' is usually best, if this is not successful, for small psittacine birds moving the bird into a new home such as a light box, aquarium or even a new cage can work. Remove all the toys, perches and bowls and offer the formulated diet loose on the floor. In addition, sprinkling food on a mirror or sheet of white paper placed on the bottom of the cage can work especially well for budgies. A bird old enough to be socialised may eat the food in order to compete with the “rival” bird in the mirror and using white paper will draw attention to the food.

Try Harrison's Bird Bread

Harrison’s Bird Bread Mix is an extremely effective conversion tool. Food that the bird currently eats may be added to the mix and baked in the bread. Gradually reduce the amount of that food and replace with the appropriate Harrison’s formula.

Use a converted bird as a role model

If you already have a converted bird, then house the new bird near the one that is already eating a formulated diet. If compatible, place the birds in the same cage and use the converted bird as a “trainer bird”.

Offer Power Treats, Pepper Lifetime Coarse or High Potency Pepper

Many birds love the nuttier taste of Power Treats and/or the chilli flavour of Pepper Lifetime Coarse and High Potency Pepper Fine. These are therefore a great way to help your bird try a new food. The larger pieces can be crushed for smaller birds if necessary. The Pepper Lifetime Coarse and High Potency Pepper Fine can be fed as a maintenance diet - not just as a treat or conversion food - if your bird prefers those to the 'regular' version of the Adult Lifetime or High Potency diets.

Veterinary supervised conversion

In some cases where birds do not convert readily, veterinary supervised conversion within the vet’s clinic may often succeed. Removing the bird from an emotional home environment and placing it in a clinic where regular monitoring can be undertaken will often help the conversion process.

Be confident

Your bird will often pick up on your emotions so stay calm and confident and enjoy knowing that you are doing the best for your bird in helping your pet change to a better diet and a healthier way of life.