United Parrot Breeders 

 

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UPB mission statement

We strive to provide you, the client, with the best quality hand-reared pet parrot available. We do this by providing the parent birds with the best environment possible to live in, the best fresh foods and pellets to eat and the most stress free life possible. All our baby birds are raised with their siblings, fully socialised with adults, children and animals. We stay in touch with clients for as long as they deem fit. We offer 24/7, lifetime support by email and telephone, as well as our exclusive web based forum. All our babies are bred by us, raised by us, and sold by us. We do not supply pet shops or other hand rearers

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Diet

Probably the single most important factor to the health and welfare of your new parrot, diet is often over-looked when behaviour problems arise. There has been surprisingly little research into the diet of parrots in the wild. This is compounded by the fact that in aviculture, the parrots have totally different needs from their diet. Where a parrot flying free in the upper canopy of a rainforest needs high energy foods to convert to energy, in aviculture such a diet would be overly rich in fats and would be dangerous to the parrot.

In recent years, more research has been done into feeding captive parrots. This has mainly been in Europe and in the States. Pellet diets now seem to be about the most balanced diets on the market. These were developed originally by mixing monkey biscuits with different cereals and vitamin supplements. Continued investment and development by feed suppliers has given us today's huge range of pellet products.

Pellet v seed - the big debate

Almost as talked about as subjects such as wild caught birds and imports, the pellet v seed debate continues to grind on. Each camp is equally convinced that their diet is best, and even avian vets disagree (though most do now concede that pellets "can" offer a better diet). At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference (of the owner and the parrot!) and, of course, advise from other owners/breeders.

Pellet

As previously mentioned, pellets have been very well researched, and a lot of development has brought us a vast array of  different pellet types made by many manufacturers. All these manufacturers claim to offer the best product for your parrot(s)! basically, pellets are a mix of various cereals, raw protein, ash, fat and raw fibre. These ingredients are mixes differently for different species of birds. So, for example, an African Grey Parrot is well known to need extra Calcium in its diet, so pellet manufacturers will produce a pellet mix with extra Calcium and market it as an "African Parrot" specific pellet. Pellets cost more than the equivalent weight in seed, but when you take away the weight of the seed husks that are discarded, pellets cost around the same as seed. Pellets are also less messy than seed and cause much less waste than seed. I know of no parrot that will not dig to the bottom of the bowl to get at his favourite type of seed, while spreading all the others over the cage, carpet or sofa! Pellets are now offered "with no artificial additives", "organic", "complete diets", and "premier quality".

Seed

The traditional choice of diet for a parrot. Some people prefer to buy several different types of seed and then mix them themselves. Some swear by such mixes and claim to have developed them over many years (even decades). Some people buy ready made commercial mixes. These are usually species specific, and can also be breeding mixes, maintenance mixes etc. People have been feeding seed for generations and, while seed now seems to be classed as an evil in aviculture, it should be remembered that the majority of good breeding results over the decades have been produced by seed-fed parrots. Seeds are very high in fat content (especially sunflower seed) and this can cause problems with over weight parrots and has recently been linked to behaviour problems. Some parrots (like African Grey Parrots, when breeding) show better results on high fat diets, and this is why they usually breed more freely on seed diets. Unfortunately, they are thought to "burn themselves out", and most people now prefer less eggs, and a longer breeding life for the parrots. Undoubtedly, sunflower seed is the worst seed in most seed mixes. Its high fat content is not only bad for the parrot, but is also very addictive. It is sunflower seed that gave rise to the term "seed junkie", so often banded about in books, on websites and in parrot folk-law. Seed mixes that contain a high proportion of sunflower seed should be avoided, although the seed itself is still a valuable part of a seed diet, just in small amounts!

The UPB View

All the members of UPB feed a pellet diet. The majority of us use NutriBird P15 and P19 Tropical Pellets. This manufacturer (Versele-Laga) was picked after long chats we have all had over the years, and was chosen for several reasons including availability (a major concern when breeding parrots), results and of course, value for money. We find that NutriBird's products contain all the protein, vitamins, minerals and amino acids our parrots require for a healthy life.

All the UPB team have decided to feed a pellet diet independently of each other. We were all feeding pellet diets before we formed UPB and, in most case, before we knew each other personally. The decision was made purely for the benefit of our birds and was made after extensive research and after talks with our avian vets.

 

Fruit and Vegetables

All parrots should be given fruit and vegetable, both raw and cooked. These not only contain essential vitamins and minerals, but also offer variety of taste and texture to the diet. Most parrots will eat most types of fruit, but almost without exception, their favourite is pomegranate! As for vegetables, most parrots prefer them warm/cooked and again, almost without exception, their favourite is sweetcorn. Tinned vegetables are fine as long as they are not full of added salt, frozen vegetables are probably the most owner convenient to use but fresh (when available) is always best.

Other foods

We feed our parrots various other food items. Some are more beneficial than others, some can only be offered occasionally, or in small amounts. All parrots enjoy and benefit from, chewing on the occasional cooked chicken bone with a little flesh left on. A small piece of hard cheese, occasionally, contains valuable fats and nutrients. Soaked seed and sprouted seed are also valuable additions to the diet and information on how to soak/sprout seed is included later in this article. A piece of toasted bread will soon be gobbled down, as will the several types of parrot treats available commercially. These treats can be invaluable as training aids (more info on training is available in our "registered user" section, accessed from the home page.

The UPB View

We feed our parrots (pets, breeding stock and babies) fruit and vegetables every other day. We do this because we believe that if fed everyday, the birds would always go for the easy option and ignore the pellet food, so missing out on the nutrition the pellets provide. Fruits we use include, apple, orange, banana, pear, melon, strawberry, raspberry and of course, pomegranate!  Vegetables include cabbage, swede, mashed potato (no butter or salt), carrots, peas, mange tout, broccoli and of course, sweetcorn (on the cob or frozen/tinned). All our birds are fed soaked/sprouted seed when they are in breeding condition, and our pets are fed the occasional chicken bone and a little hard cheese. I have yet to meet a parrot who will refuse a quick swig of your cup of tea, but this should be done in moderation as parrots can not digest lactose properly. Specific information on feeding breeding parrots is available in our "registered user" section accessed from the home page.

Dangerous Foods

Foods that should NEVER be fed to parrots include avocado (very poisonous), coffee, potato crisps, products containing salt, chocolate, apple and orange pips are also widely believed to be poisonous. We have never heard of any problems with these fruit pips, but its better to be on the safe side and avoid them. Fried potato chips should not be offered and products which contain lactose (milk) can not be digested by parrots.

Converting to a pellet diet

If you have a seed fed parrot, and would like to convert to a pellet diet, the following is information on how we have converted seed eating birds we have purchased over the years.

Conversion is usually done over approximately a 28 day period, but many times it takes much less. We use an alternate day method of conversion, feeding pellet one day, and seed and pellet mix the next.

First of all, we mix about 10% of the daily pellet requirements into the seed mix. This introduces the parrot to the sight of pellets and he gets used to them being in the same bowls as his usual food. This is done for about a week before conversion is to start. On pellet days, no seed is offered at all and there must be no seed on the aviary/cage floor or any excess from previous feeds left in the aviary/cage.

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