Moisture is extremely important for our exotic birds, but food preservation is vital for storing food and saving lots of our hard-earned money.
I strongly believe in feeding gently dehydrated foods to our flock, especially fruit and veggie-like fruit (bell pepper, okra, zucchini, cucumber, tomatoes and all “seed-inside” items). I do want our feathered friends to receive all the moisture their bodies need, but I also want to be able to store their food for long periods of time. This allows me to buy certain foods while on sale, gently dehydrate it in my dehydrator at or usually below 115 degrees F and then rehydrate and serve at a later time.
Dehydration of food is one of the earliest, yet most reliable methods of preserving foods! If done properly almost all original nutrients, digestive enzymes, protein, dietary fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and trace minerals are preserved and retained in their original form. Dehydration only removes the moisture causing the food to actually become denser in nutrition! Still, moisture is very important for our exotic birds.
Moisture in a bird’s food and passing through their digestive tract aids in nutrient absorption by the digestive tract walls. This allows the metabolic system to thoroughly and evenly distribute nutrients to all organs of the body.
Slightly moist foods, even dehydrated but still pliable are better for your bird’s digestive tract. Birds have digestive tracts that are very elastic but scrape and wound easily. Soft and moist foods are easier to digest and don’t scrape and wound the digestive tract of a bird. Dry, hard, crunchy foods can potentially scrape off the mucus lining of the digestive tract and expose the walls. When the mucus is destroyed, and the walls are exposed to hard matter. Wounds can then form allowing tiny particles of food and bacteria to enter the bloodstream (avian leaky gut). When the wound begins to heal and scarring occur leaving the digestive tract less than efficient; the digestive tract cannot absorb nutrients as well causing malnourishment. -Hydrated digestive tracts are healthy digestive tracts!
Most of us don’t have time to feed an all-fresh diet. Besides that, if the fresh diet has not been tested for nutritional balance (not completeness – no one knows yet what a “complete” diet is for any species of exotic bird) then you don’t know if your bird is receiving a balance of nutrients that compliment each other. If the diet is not “balanced,” then nutrients can actually fight against each other or cancel each other out. Fresh, moist foods, should be removed from your bird’s environment within 2 hours after serving, especially during hot summer months. This is the FDA’s guidelines, not mine. According to the FDA, even unprocessed foods begin to grow bacteria and other pathogens if the food is left out 2 hours or more. I have found over and over again that when I begin to consciously protect our flock’s digestive tract, their overall health begins to improve and continues to improve over time. While I believe in our Origins Wild Diet foods and dehydrated fruits and sprouts, I prefer to rehydrate all of their foods, so they receive maximum nutrition from their foods while protecting their delicate digestive tract.
Fresh, moist foods, should be removed from your bird’s environment within 2 hours after serving, especially during hot summer months. This is the FDA’s U.S. Federal Dept. of Agriculture) guidelines, not mine. According to the FDA, even unprocessed foods begin to grow bacteria and other pathogens if the food is left out 2 hours or more. I have found over and over again that when I begin to consciously protect our flock’s digestive tract, their overall health begins to improve and continues to improve over time. While I believe our Origins Wild Diet foods are the very best, minimally processed and nutritionally balanced diets, I also believe in feeding additional properly dehydrated fruits and sprouts. But, I prefer to rehydrate all of their dried foods, so they receive maximum nutrition from their foods while protecting their delicate digestive tract.
It is easy to rehydrate dehydrated foods:
- When fruit needs a little, added moistness, place it in a zip-lock plastic bag or glass jar; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon water for each 1 cup fruit. Mix or shake well, seal the container, refrigerate overnight.
- For soft, pliable fruit, rinse pieces with cold water; drain well. Put fruit in a zip-lock plastic bag or glass jar. Seal container and refrigerate overnight.
- To soften fruit quickly, use steam. Rinse pieces with water and place no more than 2 layers on a steaming rack over about 1 inch of boiling water. Cover pan and steam fruit until soft (suggested times for each fruit follow). *I do not recommend this method, steaming will cause severe nutrient loss.
- For evenly moist rehydrated fruit without much extra liquid, put fruit in a bowl or jar and add 1/2 cup cool water for each 1 cup dried fruit. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate overnight, mixing well several times.
- To rehydrate some fruits that absorb more liquid or to make fruit sauces, put fruit in a bowl or jar; for each 1 cup of dried fruit, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups water or other liquid (as specified, following, for each fruit). Refrigerate, covered, overnight. To prepare more quickly–usually, in 1 to 2 hours–use boiling liquid and let stand at room temperature.
- Even our Origins Wild Diet foods can be rehydrated. As much as ¼ cup filtered water can be added to 1 cup of food if you want your bird’s food super moist, almost wet. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes after gently stirring. The water doesn’t need to be hot, but if you want to serve warm, you can begin with slightly hot water, stir into the food, let sit 5 minutes and then serve after testing to make sure it is only warm and not hot. -Or you can add just enough filtered water to barely moisten if your bird prefers soft food, but not wet food. A tablespoon to one cup of water will barely soften Origins Wild Diet foods.
*Remember, rehydrated food is considered “moist” by the FDA and should be removed within 2 hours of serving to protect your bird from bacteria and other pathogens that may begin to grow.
Let’s all make sure our birds are receiving enough moisture into their bodily systems! Many birds don’t really drink enough water to make up for any loss of moisture in dehydrated foods. It becomes paramount to re-hydrate any dried foods you feed to your bird. If your bird is a dry “seed junky” and prefers crunchy foods, it may be time to begin training your bird to consume softened foods.
Happy, healthy foraging!
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