A balanced bird diet is one that provides birds with the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients required to maintain cells and allow a bird to go about its business correctly.
In contrast, a diet that’s deficient in nutrients will lead to health issues, which may eventually result in lack of growth and unhealthy biological development. Here we take a look at some of the components of a healthy balanced bird diet:
Carbohydrates and Fat
During the digestive process, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, the primary fuel in the body’s metabolic cycle. Surplus carbohydrates are converted into fat, which provides an essential store of energy but can, if laid down in excess, prove damaging to health. The fat consumed in food contributes important dietary components that are not obtainable elsewhere but nevertheless essential to good health.
Proteins, classed as complex molecules, are made up of around 20 amino acids; some of these are not manufactured in the body and must be absorbed from food. As animal proteins generally contain larger quantities and a greater diversity of amino acids than plant proteins, even seed-eating birds will become omnivorous periodically, especially during the breeding season. Young birds, in particular, need higher levels of protein for growth and Haith's Rearing and Condition Food, Egg Biscuit Food and Nectarblend Rearing Food are all very useful supplements which should be offered throughout the breeding season. We must not forget that most seed-eaters rely on insectivorous foods to feed their young and Haith's Prosecto Insectivorous Food are most useful substitutes at this demanding time.
Seeds can be particularly beneficial when soaked, as long as suitable precautions are taken to prevent the growth of mould. Leaving the seed in warm water overnight makes them more digestible and raises their protein content. It must be emphasised, though, that they should not be allowed to soak for too long as this could lead to fermentation, leading to illnesses such as crop-swelling. The secret is to prepare only enough for a single feed and not leave leftovers lying about. Haith's have formulated different soak-seeds especially for the seed-eating species. For Canaries, British and Hybrid Species, Haith's Easisoak is the ideal mix. Of course, pulses like beans also make useful additions to the diet. It is very important that soaked pulses be washed very thoroughly before they are offered as food in order to remove traces of mould and impurities.
Besides the major food categories (protein and carbohydrates), living creatures require small quantities of other essential substances. Foremost among these are vitamins and minerals, which are often present in insufficient quantities in the natural foods fed to cage and aviary birds. They must, therefore, be enhanced with supplements specially formulated to correct these deficiencies. Do not exceed the recommended dosages, though, as some vitamins can be harmful if taken in excess. Haith's provide a good range of products, such as Budgie Tonic Seed, Kraker Tonic Grains, Foreign Finch Tonic Seed and Parrot-like Tonic Seed especially for the seed-eating species which go a long way to counteracting deficiencies in standard seed mixes.
A daily supply of fresh, clean green-food contains most of the essential vitamins. However, the two most important, vitamins A and D3, can be provided by means of a special food supplements, such as Vionate Vitamin and Mineral Supplement, which can be sprinkled over the cut surfaces of fruit or damp green food. Frozen green-food should not be given although some breeders advocate a few, thawed-out and crushed frozen garden peas do wonders for their birds. Haith's do not add powdered yeast to their seed mixes to provide essential B vitamins as it is only required occasionally and in small quantities. However, it is easy to apply by making the seed sticky with a few drops of cod-liver oil before sprinkling the yeast and mixing thoroughly. In this way only the minute quantities required are taken.