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Haith's award-winning bird food

Winners of Zoo 'Oscars' Announced! Haith's PRO takes prestigious bronze for SuperCLEAN Bird Seed QC

Thursday, 11th June 2015

Animal experts from the UK and Ireland’s leading zoos and aquariums gathered for a prestigious awards ceremony last night (Wednesday June 10).

You can buy award-winning bird food direct from Haith's online. 

BIAZA (the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums) held its annual awards ceremony at Woburn Safari Park with over 100 people in attendance.
The event, known as the Zoo ‘Oscars’ is held to celebrate some of the incredible contributions made by the zoo community to animal welfare, wildlife conservation, public understanding and horticulture.
The BIAZA awards demonstrate an extraordinary year of achievements and ingenious solutions made by zoos and aquariums across the UK and Ireland.
As always, the winning projects were selected against very strict criteria: The assessors included external experts as well as professionals from within the zoo community.
This year’s esteemed gold award winners included initiatives to save the Chinese giant salamander, to evaluate the conservation impact of a zoo, and to study the breeding colony behaviour of the critically endangered White-backed vulture.
Dr Kirsten Pullen, CEO of BIAZA, said:
“The BIAZA awards highlight the crucial work carried out in zoos and aquariums. All of this year’s award-winning projects show the exceptional contributions our members are making to animal husbandry and welfare, wildlife conservation and public understanding for species both in the UK and overseas. Huge congratulations to all the winners.”
Full list of 2015 gold award winners – Haith’s were in the “Animal Breeding, Care & Welfare” category and lost out to deserving winners ZSL London Zoo. 
Animal Breeding, Care & Welfare
ZSL London Zoo: Meeting ultraviolet B radiation requirements of amphibians in captivity ZSL London Zoo: Establishing a coherent and consistent organisation wide animal training programme for improved husbandry, veterinary procedures and welfare
Haith’s PRO: Bronze for SuperClean: Haith’s PRO Quality Control (QC) of Bird Diets Programme (The certificate was kindly collected by Andy Beer, RZSS).
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, ZSL London Zoo & Chester Zoo: Saving the mountain chicken
ZSL London Zoo: Tiger Territory
ZSL London Zoo: Enhancing forage provision at ZSL London Zoo ZSL Whipsnade Zoo: Conservation grazing at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust: Testing the IUCN Red List Index to evaluate the conservation impact of a zoo Bristol Zoo Gardens: Bioacoustics, ecology & conservation of amphibians in Northwest Madagascar Chester Zoo: 'Frogs and friendly bacteria, it's not just skin deep' SWEP Paignton Zoo: Yes, we have no bananas! Hawk Conservancy Trust: Assessing the spatial dynamics of a critically endangered Whitebacked Vulture breeding colony
Our thanks go out to Professor John E. Cooper for his commitment to QC and the help he has given Haith’s PRO to keep quality and safety at the forefront of all that we do.

Title of project
SuperClean: Haith’s PRO Quality Control (QC) of Bird Diets Programme
Project Aims
(to include target audience and market if relevant)
“Accuracy, Consistency and Reproducibility”
Most proprietary bird diets in the United Kingdom are not subject to screening or health-monitoring analysis other than visual, naked eye and manual checks for apparent quality and consistency.
Haith's PRO, however, under the supervision of Professor John E Cooper FRCVS, FRCPath, aimed to create a market-leading quality control (QC) process to make its bird diets safer for zoo collections and wild (free living) birds.
Why? Healthy diet, healthy bird.
(max 250 words)
It is well-recognised that diets that are inadequate or unsatisfactory in quantity or quality, or both, may cause a bird to develop a deficiency or metabolic disease and thereby compromise its welfare. Food items that are dusty or contain sharp or abrasive material can easily damage a bird’s respiratory or alimentary tract.
In addition, diets can be a source of potentially pathogenic organisms, especially bacteria, yeasts and protozoa, and toxins originating from fungi (e.g. mycotoxins) and other sources.

These can cause ill-health in the birds themselves or, when placed out-of-doors, may affect avian and other species. At a time when there is particular concern about the health of garden birds, the physical, chemical and microbiological quality and safety of our diets are increasingly relevant.
The additional value and safety of Haith's diets - because they have been subject to a laboratory testing QC procedure – is part of our SuperClean seed preparation process.
Any partnership organisations, funders The project was funded by Haith’s and Haith’s PRO with welcome contributions from Cambridge University Veterinary Zoological Society (CUVZS); This work could not have been completed without the help of Wildlife Health Services International (Professor John E Cooper FRCVS, FRCPath and Mrs Margaret Cooper LLB, FLS) and we thank them for their support and guidance.   
Project Methods and Description
(include dates and timeframe: whether completed or ongoing)
Initial studies, completed during 2012/13, introduced by Professor Cooper, using microscopical and other laboratory techniques, indicated that avian diets can be satisfactorily investigated at a basic level, using relatively inexpensive tests. The methods used are simple to perform, and, using standard equipment, readily performed satisfactorily in a small laboratory. The challenge was to introduce these tests to the Haith’s factory (The Bird Food Centre) and to find reproducible ways of integrating these new QC techniques into the manufacturing process.
Professor Cooper’s SuperClean QC process was shared with veterinary students at the Cambridge University Veterinary Zoological Symposium (CUVZS) and students were given certificates for attending the practical session. Haith’s PRO has continued to support the veterinary community and has sponsored symposiums since.
These methods are being continually refined but a Haith’s PRO QC system is now in operation and bird diets are safer as a result.
Food is a vital part of a bird’s biological needs and essential to its health and welfare. As numerous scientific publications testify, for only a few species are there reliable data on nutritional requirements and yet it is well-recognised that diets that are inadequate or unsatisfactory in quantity or quality, or both, may cause a bird to develop a deficiency or metabolic disease and compromise its welfare.
Despite concerns about health and welfare, most proprietary bird diets in the United Kingdom are not subject to screening or health-monitoring analysis other than visual, naked eye, and manual checks for apparent quality and consistency. Greater quality control is desirable and could help to ensure that products intended for captive and wild birds do not pose significant health risks.
Professor John E. Cooper (JEC) spent a number of months working with Simon King & Carl Boyington (Haith’s PRO) to explore the best way to integrate a QC process and also define what would need to be included in it. The result of this project definition is that Haith’s PRO has introduced a robust QC programme into the Haith’s bird food production plant.  
Currently, we (Haith’s PRO) send several samples each month to Professor John E. Cooper (JEC), who examines the products using laboratory investigations. JEC conducts examinations that Haith’s is unable to do themselves, using microscopy, flotation tests, culture for bacteria and fungi; and whatever else is required to analyse the samples. JEC’s results are shared with the Haith’s QC team and further investigations are then triggered if required.
At The Bird Food Centre, each and every bird diet blend is mixed to a locked-in formula, to guarantee product consistency and ingredient continuity, which is essential to curators of zoo collections – fluctuations in protein/energy could abruptly affect breeding behaviour and thus results.
Completed blends are checked (by Product Technicians) against signed-off hi-resolution photos of recipe cards and each technician has the authority to stop the production line. Each blend is magnified and looked at under a microscope, or mounted lens to ensure dust and debris has been removed. Haith’s staff has been trained to do this by JEC/CB who have hosted several QC Workshops at The Bird Food Centre. Technicians complete a QC sheet to record essential data – including odour. These QC sheets are inspected internally by the QC team and posted externally to JEC, who selects random samples and – if necessary – requests supporting information/samples/data/photography. This information is collated by QC administrators and forms the basis of regular QC meetings and briefings plus at least one annual entire QC Team Workshop; held at The Bird Food Centre and attended by both John E. Cooper and his wife Margaret Cooper who advises on some aspects.  
We (Haith’s PRO) have used the SuperClean QC processes to formulate several new bird diets and also refine existing diets, to improve them for the zoo community. For example, Prosecto Insectivorous was found to be higher in iron content than ideal and the QC process was used to segment components of the diet and introduce clean ingredients with lower levels of iron, without undoing the goodness of the original bird diet mix.
Technicians at the Haith’s Bird Food Centre now go further than UK bird food QC legislation:
  • 2013 Technicians/visitors wear hairnets
  • 2013 Technicians/visitors do not wear outside footwear
  • 2013 Technicians/visitors use hand sanitisers
  • 2013 All machinery is stripped and cleaned to a new SuperClean machine standard
  • 2013 More Technicians are trained in QC
  • 2013 Review of ingredient suppliers commences (including factory visits)
Taking quality seriously has led to additional value- added extensions of the project, namely:
  • 100% landfill-free (gained recent media coverage)
  • Introduction of product traceability
  • Bird Seed Analysis with Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) see:
Project Outcomes, Results, Impact
Zoos choose Haith’s because they trust the brand. The SuperCatch project is an example of Haith’s raising the bar for the bird food industry. Why is this important? A zoo may, for example, be trying to breed a rare species and we can help make their task easier if we’re screening our bird diets and buying high quality raw materials to incorporate in our product.
The result of the SuperClean project:
•    an expert helps to QC our products using laboratory investigations
•    we’re focused on (promoting through diet) health, welfare and conservation
•    we invest in professionals entering the field through our new Scholarship scheme
•    our seeds are SUPERCLEAN (dust is harmful to birds’ respiratory system and extraneous husk can damage delicate tissues and allow entry of pathogens)

•    we only buy raw materials from reputable sources
•    mixes are consistent in recipe
•    our foods are freshly prepared
•    we’re committed to quality, cleanliness, service and value
In the spirit of collaboration, we are sharing our QC findings with zoos, professional bird-keepers and the general public; for example, we have presented our findings to BIAZA AGM Delegates; the Bird Working Group (BWG) 26/27 November, 2014; Cambridge University Veterinary Zoological Symposium Delegates (including a practical session); The World Pheasant Association and have created a “community” blog to share our findings:
The many advantages of the SuperClean process have spread throughout the bird world; zoo collections can benefit from being fed cleaner, finer, safer bird diets, and wild (free living) birds, throughout the UK, will be beneficiaries too.