Frequently asked questions

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.

Isn't feeding a Harrison's Diet expensive?

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.

  • There is no waste - compare for example, the amount of seed and husks discarded by both owner and bird, whereas the bird will eat every piece of Harrison's served to it.
  • As the diets are scientifically formulated to provide for their requirements you need to serve your bird much less Harrison's to derive the same nutritional benefit than you would if you try to meet their requirements by feeding other foods (with the obvious additional benefits in guarding against obesity).
  • The food is extremely palatable, and acceptance is generally high. Many birds dislike the colourings added to other foods, so will avoid eating a certain colour of pellet, or will avoid certain items in a 'mix', leading to waste that does not occur with Harrison's.
  • As Harrison's is a complete diet there is no need for supplementation, which can be costly, nor any need for preparation, which can be time consuming.
  • But the biggest factor in why feeding your bird Harrison's is worth paying a little extra, is that you are not just purchasing food, but you are buying your bird a healthier life. We believe that any additional expense is more than compensated for by the improvement in, and maintenance of, your bird's health and happiness.

The higher price for Harrison's reflects:

  • the use of premium, certified organic ingredients - which are more costly than non-organic sources
  • the high-quality production processes - they are made in a human-grade factory using methods which ensure as many of the nutritional benefits of the raw ingredients as possible are retained
  • the premium-freshness packaging - which mean that potentially harmful preservatives, that are frequently included in other bird foods, need not be added.

why should I also provide a source of omega3s?

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.

Why should I also feed fresh fruit and vegetables?

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.

Can I over-feed fruit and vegetables, and omega-rich seeds and nuts?

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.

If I am feeding my birds on a Harrison's diet should I still feed supplements?

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.

Isn't a diet consisting primarily of Harrison's a bit boring and bland?

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 diet.

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.

What is the best way to keep Harrison's food fresh?

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.

How do I vary the diet to meet my bird's requirements?

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.

My bird likes to eat with us at mealtimes, which of our foods can I safely feed?

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.