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Mill Road Vet Hospital / Thursday, 21 May 2020


An article written by our exotics veterinarian, Kevin Turner



As the resident “bird vet” I deal with a lot of pet birds here at Mill Road.  There are loads of different species kept in NZ.  From the more common budgies and Cockatiels to rarer varieties of Cockatoo – pictured is a “Red Tailed Black Cockatoo – a native of Australia.  I’m constantly amazed at these birds and I love treating them.  Not many vets can say that their patients swear at them – as is the case with a particularly cheeky Ecclectus parrot I see!

One common thread that I see in many of these patients is poor nutritional balance….. ie: their diet is unhealthy.

It’s commonly believed that these birds eat seed in the wild, so they can be fed properly on seeds in captivity.  This has been the case for many decades and many experienced bird carers believe this.  Unfortunately, it’s only partly true and there are some big issues:

Issue 1 – Bird don’t just eat seeds.  Wild parrots eat a huge variety of things – including seeds, but also fruits, leaves, even insects and other small animals.  And the seeds they do eat are from a wide variety of plants that appear seasonally.

Issue 2 – Not all seeds are equal.  A typical seed mix might contain 4 or 5 varieties.  But are these the natural diet for your bird?  And they certainly aren’t going to have an unlimited supply year-round in the wild.

Issue 3 – Birds make bad food choices….. just like us!  Birds are suckers for high fat, highly palatable foods.  So this is why many become a bit “addicted” to sunflower seeds!  Even when you give them a balanced diet, they end up eating all the junk food!

So where does this lead? 

Many parrots develop health problems as a direct result of their diet; obesity, fatty liver, fatty tumours, liver failure, immune failure and infections, egg binding – to name only a few.  Life expectancy for pet parrots is sadly often much lower than in the wild.

So what’s the answer

Decades ago, we faced similar problems with cats and dogs.  Then along came high quality blended pet foods and many nutritional diseases are now almost a thing of the past.  The same is now true for birds.  Feeding a “formulated diet” such as a pellet food is a much better way to go.  A high quality pellet will see your bird live a longer, healthier and less messy life!

I’ve worked with Harrison’s Bird Foods for nearly 20 years and I’ve seen the benefits it brings.  Many sick birds that would have died on their existing seed diet went on to recover fully and thrive.  We now stock this outstanding brand here at Mill Road. 

Ask us today how Harrison’s Bird Food can help your feathered family member!  They’ll love you for it!


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