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How Much Fresh Food?

If you are one of our Origins Wild Diet customers…or even if you’re not…consider this if your will.

We have been receiving quite a few questions recently centering around the above question. There is a lot of stir in the larger avian community about feeding a 100% fresh, whole and raw diet to our exotic companion birds. While I agree with the concept, I personally believe it’s unrealistic for most people. I don’t say that because I sell bird food, in reality, George and I can barely meet the demand of our customers’ needs at this point in time. I say what I say because the majority of people are not well-versed in how to properly *combine nutrients to reach nutritional balance* for the long term health of their feathered friends.

While I would love to see all companion birds partake of fresh, whole raw foods all the time, I am genuinely concerned that as a community feeding such a conceptual diet will eventually have dire long-term negative health consequences for our beloved birds.

Think about this. In the wild parrots live where a vast amount of food choices are available from which to choose at any given time. Thousands upon thousands of plants including fruits you and I have never seen, tender greens, trees, insects galore. There are more species of insects in the regions where exotic birds come from than anywhere in the world! Do you think that exotic birds consume A LOT of insects in the wild to obtain their “animal protein” and “heme iron” requirements? You bet they do! Insects you and I have never seen or heard of. To simply feed a diverse diet of 20 to 30 rotating ingredients on a weekly basis is nothing to these species.

In my opinion, we need to be feeding a minimum of 50 to 60 different ingredients, nutritionally balanced to even begin ensuring our beloved birds are receiving enough nutrition to help them thrive in captivity. Feeding “raw” simply isn’t enough!

While some may say there isn’t such a thing as a “balanced diet for parrots” because we don’t even know what “balance” is for parrots at this point in time is nothing more than lazy thinking in my opinion. We have mounds of field research telling us what kind of nutrition parrots require; we should use that research as the foundation to build balanced, laboratory tested formulated diets. When producing those diets we need to refrain from over-processing the original ingredients and we need to leave out synthetic supplements, preservatives, colorings, and flavor enhancers. We also have field research that tells us what parrots naturally consume in the wild; we should use that research to employ our common sense when choosing foods to produce formulated foods as well as when feeding fresh.

Feeding our beloved parrots is no small task. Those who really take this chore seriously know how difficult it can be. I’m not mocking those who are trying to feed a totally fresh diet; I applaud them. However, if a person does not have an in-depth background knowledge and understanding in not only the macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates), micronutrients (vitamins, minerals) AND the individual “constituents”(digestive enzymes, phenols, and many other obscure elements) in each and every food ingredient and HOW those constituents play with and against each other once those ingredients combine in the digestive tract…feeding a raw diet just is not enough to ensure long-term health.

In other words, giving just a couple of examples in the thousands of examples possible, if the calcium to magnesium ratio is off for an extended period of time a person could be causing cardiovascular disease without knowing it. Or if foods are fed that inhibit the absorption of calcium the same result could potentially take place. If the co-nutrients that help Omega 3’s are not fed in the proper ratio brain function can suffer potentially causing seizures, dementia and all other kinds of behavior problems leaving the caregiver to think their bird is “bad” or not properly trained, when in fact it’s a nutrient problem. If the Omega 6s to the Omega 3s ratio is not balanced along with improper ratios of starches or the wrong kind of starches are fed auto-immune diseases can set in. What are the correct ratios and how do we arrive at those ratios when we are combining so many foods? What about histamines and Vitamin C? How do those work together in the body? What about the pH levels of foods and dietary sodium? Is it necessary to know how pH and sodium levels affect our birds’ digestive tracts and what those levels mean to the digestive tract? You bet you need to know when preparing a raw diet! Otherwise, you bird may not be digesting, absorbing and metabolizing the very foods you are feeding.

I could go on and on with more examples, but the point I’m attempting to make is that food formulation and combing is not a snap. The fewer foods you feed, the more tricky the balancing of nutrients and the more foods you feed, the more knowledge and understanding you need to combine those foods to achieve proper nutrient homeostasis in the digestive tract. Ultimately there is a fine balance to ensure our birds thrive making sure our birds do not experience “failure to thrive” and lose weight or become obese on our diet plan. Yet, we must also make sure that all systems in their little bodies receive adequate, proper and balanced nutrition for their *captive* species.

So what is the correct amount of fresh food to feed?

If you are feeding Origins Wild Diet foods we suggest about ¼ fresh organic tropical fruit, tender greens (cilantro, parsley, dandelion greens, arugula), a variety of insects from a reputable dealer (Grubco.com), Terramin Clay® (just a pinch with each serving of fresh food to begin the hydrolysis process – breaking down of proteins and other macronutrients) to about ¾ of Origins Wild Diet foods on a daily basis. Feeding ¼ fresh food to ¾ OWD will not throw the nutritional balance off the OWD if your bird is heartily consuming its OWD. If your bird is not fully transitioned to OWD, if you are just beginning to transition to OWD, then you would want to feed less fresh until your bird is fully transitioned.

We also understand that some birds prefer Origins Wild Diet moist. That is perfectly fine as long as you understand that according to the FDA it is suggested that moist food is only allowed to set out for up to 2 hours and then removed to ensure that bacteria doesn’t grow. While fresh food can sit out for long periods of time without too much worry of bacterial growth, we just don’t encourage it. Why mess with the risk of pathogens when it comes to our beloved birds? Instead, offer small servings you think your bird will consume in a short period of time, then if your bird doesn’t eat all of what you offer there isn’t so much waste. When you do need to leave the house you have dry Origins Wild Diet to come to the rescue! You can leave it out all the time without any worry of spoilage. –If you are moistening OWD to offer to your bird only add just enough filtered or Fiji or Evian water to barely moisten the food, don’t create a soggy mess.

Please, please, please understand that our captive birds are not like birds flying free in the wild; our birds don’t have free access to pick and choose from thousands of different foods. They are limited to what we offer them and 20 or 30 different foods are not enough diversity from which to construct a total and complete diet by any means of the term. Especially if that mix is not combined in a manner that is laboratory tested ensuring some kind of balance all of the nutrients and constituents are mixing correctly with each other. The fewer the ingredients, the trickier it is to achieve balance, the more ingredients, the more difficult to make sure the co-nutrients do not cancel each other out. There is a fine and tight balance in combining nutrients in a diet for captive animals to achieve a healthy homeostasis. Incorrect nutrition doesn’t usually show up until very late down the line when it is way too late and then we often blame it on whatever we are doing or feeding at that moment. In actuality poor health started far back and accrued over a long period of time, illness doesn’t happen overnight, not for our birds, not for any of our pets, and not for us.

©1.7.16   Machelle Pacion   Passion Tree House LLC   All Rights Reserved

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