The specifics of which food you should choose for your bird, which size bag you should buy and information on converting your bird to Harrison's are dealt with in other sections, but here are some of the other more frequently asked questions.
If you can't find the information you require here or you have any further questions then please don't hesitate to contact us.
Feeding your birds on Harrison's bird foods may initially appear more expensive than other bird foods. But it isn't as costly as it might seem, and we believe that it is worth any extra as you are investing in the health of your bird.What you must consider is that 1kg of Harrison's will go quite a bit further than 1kg of any comparable bird food and a lot further than 1kg of seed would.
The higher price for Harrison's reflects:
We look at the feeding of omega-rich foods in more detail in this article, but in brief, omega fatty acids are beneficial to a bird's health but cannot be produced in the body, or derived from other sources, so must be consumed directly. Whilst Harrison's are working on a way to incorporate these into their formula, there is not yet a way to do so which preserves all the natural benefits. They therefore recommend including a small amount (just 5% of the diet by volume) of omega-rich seeds (such as chia, flax or hemp) or nuts (such as walnuts) in the diet.
Although Harrison's Bird Foods are a complete diet, providing the appropriate levels of essential nutrients that your bird requires in a balanced, palatable form, it is still recommend that you also feed a small amount of fresh fruit and vegetables every day (15-20% of the diet by volume). Whilst this is not essential, and many birds are happy and healthy eating only Harrisons, by serving fresh fruit and vegetables you are providing an additional source of fibre that can further assist in the functioning of their gut.
The digestive system of the various groups of parrots varies and some species have evolved with longer hind guts to cope with the digestion of softer plant material, some species of Amazon and Eclectus for example. The amount of fruit and vegetables fed to your pet should reflect this. Over-feeding, especially erratic feeding, can lead to intermittent digestive upsets (the gut flora can’t cope) but the main reason not to overdo the fruit is that in general both fruit and veg (whilst high in sugars) are low in the essential micronutrients. The essential nutrients contained in the Harrison’s formulas are balanced for a diet containing around 75-80% pellets and so feeding in excess of the recommended amount of fruit/vegetables by volume means that there could result in a dilution of these essential nutrients below recommended levels.
Similarly, you can overfeed the omega-rich foods you add to the diet. Dietary omegas do not come alone in food - they come as a larger ‘package of fats’, and these are fats that, in excess, can be harmful.
In most instances, you should not feed additional mineral and vitamin
supplements. By adding a supplement, you may do more harm than good as
the vitamins and minerals in Harrison's Bird Foods are carefully
formulated to meet both the needs of your bird and balanced with respect
to each other. Whilst some nutrients contained in supplements are
easily regulated by the body and excreted (i.e. wasted!) some are not
and ingesting higher than required levels could lead to an excessive
uptake of that vitamin/mineral with potentially harmful effects
including the disruption of the uptake of other nutrients.
The exception would be when you are advised to do so by your avian veterinarian.
A diet that is based on Harrison's need not only consist of Harrison's. Providing the majority their daily intake is Harrison's nuggets - 75-80% is recommended to ensure a sound nutritional base - then you can still include a
few other items in their diet. In fact, as mentioned above, feeding a small amount of fresh fruit and vegetables and omega-rich seeds or nuts is recommended. You can also include some of the treats in the Harrison's range,
or serve one of the foods which has a spicy pepper flavour (the High Potency Pepper Fine or Pepper Lifetime Coarse). This allows you to feed a diet that is both healthy and
sufficiently stimulating for your bird. Remember though, not to overdo
the ‘extras’ (only up to 20% by volume) as this can ‘unbalance’ their
It is worth commenting that birds eat to satisfy their dietary needs (based mainly on energy consumption) and what we perceive as a ‘boring, bland diet’, they see as a source of vital nutrition. Also, these foods were developed following a great number of palatability tests with numerous species of birds, and what you are serving is, to parrot taste buds, very enjoyable. A parrot has around 3% of the taste buds of a human tongue so their perception of taste is more limited than ours, and they are unlikely to tire of a Harrison's diet.
Again, we should also not associate the act of eating with that of ‘recreation’; feeding should not be a replacement for other forms of mental stimulation. Parrots are sociable and intelligent birds, and toys, foraging games, and interaction with you and your family, should be the primary source of entertainment for the bird, and not the food you provide.
The best way is to store the food in its original packaging. Harrison's bags are the very best in preventing air getting to the food and causing staleness. Squeeze out the air and 'zip' the top shut. If the zip-top gets damaged or will not close properly, roll the top down a few times and use a clothes peg to hold the bag closed. This is still better than using plastic snap-top containers, as the foil bags are specially designed to keep the food fresh. If you use a plastic container, it is not possible to keep air from the food as closing the lid shuts in air. By using the Harrison's bags, you can squeeze out any air and make sure the food is unaffected. Refrigeration of the food is not necessary but may extend freshness. The foods, however, should always be kept in a cool, dry place. Because of the organic nature of Harrison’s products, they contain no artificial preservatives (the products are kept fresh by the natural anti-oxidative nature of the plant oils), so we recommend that each bag is eaten within approximately 6-8 weeks for the food to be at its freshest.
A formulated food is only the basis for a bird's diet, and if you feed Harrison's to your bird then there is still scope within the diet to add the elements that are necessary in certain phases of its life. If it is a specific species, or breeding, for example, the diet can be developed to provide the nutrients that are required, but Harrison's will provide the solid basis that ensures sound fundamental nutrition and thus good health throughout their life. This is why we recommend feeding High Potency formulas to certain classes of bird – young birds, breeding birds, aviary birds, moulting birds - and Adult Lifetime to others (see which should I choose). Levels of fruit can be also varied depending on the species. However, in general the levels of minerals and vitamins required remain reasonably constant across all parrot species and these are provided by feeding a diet that consists of a high percentage (70-90%) of Harrison’s formulated diets.
Please contact us if you require any advice about adjusting your bird's diet for a specific situation.
The majority of 'human' foods are ‘safe’ in terms of food quality - but do not feed them avocados or chocolate - but feeding ‘human’ foods is not without issue. High fat foods (crisps, chips) and foods high in salt should obviously be avoided but feeding any foods has the effect of potentially satiating a bird’s appetite (in terms of calories) without necessarily providing it with the required levels of other nutrients (a similar scenario to feeding too much fruit. See above.) Birds will not need to eat as much of their micronutrient-rich Harrisons to satisfy their appetite and so their diet becomes unbalanced.
The social aspect of your parrot feeding with you at mealtimes is rewarding for both pet and owner. We would recommend that instead of feeding ‘human’ food to your pet bird that you provide a food that is different from its normal diet but is nutritionally balanced such as making a special Bird Bread mix or Power Treats.
All images are copyright of Meadow's Animal Healthcare or Harrison's Bird Foods and may not be re-used without permission