Seeds are not produced to be eaten and are not designed to be a complete diet. They are deficient in a wide range of the essential nutrients (over 32 have been identified) required to ensure the correct functioning of the bird’s metabolism. Many seeds commonly fed to parrots are also extremely high in fats which can also adversely affect the bird’s health. Even offering a mix of foods can be flawed as many birds have the habit of buffet feeding, and will preferentially pick out certain food items from the bowl exacerbating the level of nutritional imbalance. These, along with other associated factors are what contribute to the disturbing figure that over 80% of disease in captive parrots is said to be directly related to malnutrition and that malnutrition is the major cause of death in pet parrots.
Depending on the nature of the deficiency these nutritional imbalances may only cause minor ailments, but they can also bring about fatal diseases. Birds fed on an inadequate diet may survive, but they certainly will not thrive.
Avian formulated diets were first extensively used in the poultry industry over a century ago. Commercial poultry growers identified the need to ensure controlled and appropriate nutritional intake and appreciating that this could not be achieved by feeding basic cereals, started compounding foods based on the chickens’ natural diet but balanced for fats, carbohydrates and proteins and supplemented with additional minerals and vitamins.
Formulated diets are now common place; our pet cats, dog, rabbits, ornamental fish are all fed to some degree manufactured diets, formulated to avoid deficiency diseases and maximise health. Whilst formulated pet bird diets have been longer in reaching the market place and in achieving wide public acceptance, they now play a major role in captive bird welfare and health management.
Feeding a formulated diet is the only way you can be sure that your pet bird is receiving all the macro and micronutrients necessary for sound nutritional health. Put simply, feeding a scientifically formulated, balanced diet will improve the health and happiness of your bird.