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Supplements for Birds

Grit for Birds

Q: Do I need to provide grit separately with seed mix foods? If so, does HARI offer grit?

A: The purpose of grit, for most cage or companion birds is to provide the bird that eats a primary seed based diet with a calcium source and a substance that benefits proper digestion. For years the avian community deemed this part of the bird as a necessary supplement as the grit aided in gut motility. However, grit is a supplement that can be a bit dangerous if the bird consumes too much in that too much grit will cause an impaction in the crop. Please see our post on that explains “pica”. We no longer recommend traditional grit and instead suggest Clay-Cal Enriched Clay Supplement. Clay-Cal supplements calcium and aids in digestion. Clay-Cal will help neutralize the digestive tract and provide better nutrient absorption. Clay-Cal can be offered 1 or 2x a week to most birds.

Weaning an African Grey

Q: I am currently attempting to wean a 12 week old African Grey and all she wants to eat is her formula and her veggies. Can you offer any suggestions please?

A: Weaning a young parrot, especially the very cognitive African Grey is a bit of a challenge. Remember that you are in command-provided that you follow some very basic rules. There is so much more to the weaning process of a parrot than the bird just eating on its own. This is the time in which you as the avian caretaker will mentor and guide your bird into not just eating good food, but to also be a great companion pet!

  1. Do you have a scale and are you weighing your bird each morning? This aspect of weaning is very critical as the reading on the scale indicates a record of her weight over a period of time. As she is 12 weeks, she is still in that phase in which she can and should not lose more than 10% of her “plateau” weight (African Greys, usually 7-8 weeks is top weight) If she loses more than 10%, she will only view you as the source of ‘taking away’ the hunger pain-when she should also be exploring and eating some food on her own.
  2. Please only give your gal fruits and veggies after she is eating a good portion of desired food (Tropican High Performance Parrot Granules or Biscuits) on her own. The fruits and vegetables do not have the calories required for good physical and mental growth during this critical time in her life. Don’t worry-after she’s eating a solid nutritious meal that serves her well, there’s always room for the fun enrichment foods such as Tropimix, fruits and veggies. Birds are kind of like kids…they always figure out the fun stuff to eat!
  3. Encourage your Fledgling to explore her surroundings for food. We at HARI use the Tropican High Performance Parrot Granules and Biscuits in a variety of ways for our fledglings. We soak them in hand feeding formula, place the biscuits in foraging toys and always have it available for them. African Greys are highly cognitive and as she expands her horizons with your close supervision, place the biscuits in places that she can find. This builds her confidence as well as helps her to maintain a good solid nutritional foundation. We even put them in dishes full of pebbles for foraging enrichment! (Pebbles or rocks that would be too big for a parrot to eat).

Does Prime have Animal Meat/Poultry in the Ingredients?

Q: I am allergic to meat and poultry products. I have an Indian Ringneck and I bought Prime  for her health. I wanted to make sure it does not have any animal meat/poultry before I start using it.

A: Thank you for contacting us with your concerns and questions on Prime Vitamins for your Indian Ringneck. If she’s on a seed based diet with less than 70% of pellets, Prime will indeed be beneficial in supplying the necessary nutrients she requires. To answer your questions about poultry and meat ingredients, while we do not have those ingredients, the Vitamin D3, which is required by your bird, is a highly purified animal product derived from lanolin. And, Prime is handled in a plant that has egg products.

Acidifier in Prime for a  Quaker with Gout

Q: Reading your Prime Supplement for Birds brochure (second paragraph, first sentence), it states that the supplement with various acids slightly acidify the final mixture.

My concern is the amount of acidification. My 10 year old Quaker Parakeet is recovering from a severe attack of Gout. To had been on a diet for several years of 70% Zupreem Natural and fresh vegetables and fruits when he had the attack that lasted two months before being correctly diagnosed.  Since the diagnosis of Gout a month ago, I have taken him totally off pellets (source of constant protein), and placed him on a mixture of seeds, and more fresh & cooked vegetables, grains, and fresh fruits that are low in purines, lower in proteins, and more alkaline forming than acidifying. This is the diet I have ascertained to be the best for birds with gout. He now has an avian uvb light because he is not getting the balanced nutrition of pellets.

Since this change in diet, he has made a great recovery, no itching, pain, or plucking which was due to the gout attack, certified by (our) Avian Veterinarian, Dr. Teresa Lightfoot by blood test, radiographs discovering gout crystals, and examination. I have found your Prime supplement for birds to be the best on the market. I know that being on a seed diet without pellets, my Quaker Parakeet needs a vitamin-mineral supplement. Can you tell me if the acidifying affect in your Prime supplement would be safe for a Quaker Parakeet with a history of gout? I have read that I should stay away from giving him foods that have an acidifying effect on his body. Thank you for your time, and your wonderful product!

A: Thank you for reaching out to us with your concerns on the acidity levels in our Prime. We are very happy to hear that your Quaker is doing better and that you are implementing our product with his diet and this appears to be successful! And, we do understand your concerns. We have a rather large flock of Quakers at HARI, spanning many generations, that are constantly monitored for conditions such as gout. And, yes, over the years, our research in psittacine nutrition studies has taught us to modify our feeding regime from High Performance Tropican(higher protein values) to our Lifetime Tropican. Health monitoring is constant with regular histopathology and lab work.
To answer your question on the acidity, the acidity level is less than 5% (having an impact of less than 1 ppm on ph factor) and it is primarily derived from the citric used in Prime. This value has little effect on avian species as their gizzard is naturally acidic in comparison to other animal species. In addition, the acidifiers mentioned in the pamphlet also refer to the overall (not high/not low) condition of the bird’s digestive system. The beneficial bacteria in Prime-and if you should consider other probiotic products for that matter, prefers a slightly acidic environment to flourish and aid digestion. And, the easier a food is to digest, the more efficient the nutrient assimilation. This point is very important as your Quaker, while afflicted with gout, is obtaining his amino acids (for proper protein) from a seed based diet with supplement. We encourage your feedback and would really appreciate any updates. We’d like to recommend a fairly new supplement in our family of HARI Approved products for your Quaker, and that is our Clay-Cal. This product is based the absorption and adsorption properties of healing clay therapy with montmorillonite clay.  For more information, please read this blog post.

Can Prime be Used for Game Birds?

Q. I want to know if we can use Prime Supplement for a game bird, Black Francolin (partridge)? Is it useful for Single Bird or for Pair of Bird? What dosage/serving you recommend for bird(black francolin)? What temperature do you recommend for storing Prime?

A. Our studies on the efficacy & benefits of Prime are with psittacines for the companion bird industry and not on game birds. Therefore, it would be difficult for us to give advice on the use of Prime for game birds. However, we have had a few poultry farmers or hobbyist ask us for advice on using Prime with chickens. Prime does provide an excellent source of calcium and the other ingredients seem to be beneficial for this use. Prime can be and should be stored in a cool dry place to protect the nutrients and pro-biotics, flavor and composition-no colder than 1 C (34F) and no hotter than 26C (80F).

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