Nutritional Levels of Diets Fed to Captive Amazon Parrots: Does Mixing Seed, Produce, and Pellets Provide a Healthy Diet?
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Poor nutrition is a serious problem in captive psittacine birds. Seed-based diets are known to contain excess fat, low calcium:phosphorus ratios, and other nutrient deficiencies, whereas many consider nutritionally superior, formulated diets to be monotonous. As a result, many bird owners feed a mixture of seed, produce, and formulated diet. However, the nutritional contents of such mixed diets have rarely been evaluated. In this study, we describe the nutrient contents of diets consumed by 7 adult (>6 years old), captive Amazon parrots offered produce (50% fresh weight), formulated diet (25%), and seed (25%). Diets consumed were deficient in calcium, sodium, and iron and contained more than the recommended amount of fat. In addition, the birds chose foods that exacerbated these imbalances. Birds offered low-seed diets (60% pellet, 22% produce, 18% seed, wet weight) consumed diets with more fat than recommended but acceptable levels of calcium and all other nutrients measured, as well as acceptable calcium:phosphorus ratios. This suggests that small quantities of seeds may not result in nutritionally imbalanced diets. Birds fed 75% formulated diet and 25% produce consumed diets within the recommendations for nearly all measured nutrients, demonstrating that owners of psittacine birds should be encouraged to supplement manufactured diets with low energy-density, fresh produce items to provide stimulation and foraging opportunities without fear of causing major nutritional imbalances.
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