Birds are not your typical “easy keepers.” They require a strict diet and a diligent eye to ensure they are happy and healthy. More and more retailers, across the country, are recognizing the benefits of supplementation in avian diets and providing customers with a wide variety to choose from.
Most commonly, supplements are used to fix nutritional deficiencies. Typically, these supplements contain vitamins and minerals to round out the bird’s diet.
Nutrients like calcium and phosphorus are important for breeding health in female birds to ensure accurate eggshell and bone density, while protein is needed during molting periods.
Vitamin A aids in eye health, Vitamin C boosts the immune system, iron keeps muscles strong and zinc prevents stunted growth and keeps the reproductive systems healthy.
Pelleted bird foods have substantially improved in quality over the past few years. Commercial production companies now have more extensive information of which ingredients, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients captive birds require in order to sustain their health has become more complete, leading to a significantly more complete diet.
However, supplements remain an essential when providing a balanced seed diet.
Supplements will help the bird thought the diet transition and are also supportive to birds in times of stress or nervousness, illness or injury.
Birds are not able to process dairy products like humans do, so typically birds’ diets are deficient in an adequate amount of calcium.
Cuttlebones and mineral blocks can he hung in cages for birds and allows absorption of calcium by chewing. Otherwise, retailers may find powder or liquid calcium to be a better choice for their customers.
During periods of stress, birds may begin feather-plucking as a way of coping with their anxiety.
Janelle Crandell, president of Avitech recommends two of the company’s most popular products, AviCalm and Featheriffic!, to help with this issue.
Featheriffic! is a powdered supplement that aids in feather regrowth. It contains coarsely-ground corn which attracts the birds to the taste.
AviCalm is an additive that can be given to anxious, nervous or aggressive birds. Natural Green Tea acts as the calming agent in this product which makes it appealing to customers since it does not use chemicals or medical sedatives. For the best results, Crandell recommends using the two products together.
“AviCalm and Featheriffic address a very common problem in parrots, which is feather-picking and screaming,” Crandell said. “Everyone wants their birds to look good and stop screaming and be happy.”
Donna Garrou, owner of Bird Stuff advised that although supplements are a great way to keep birds in top shape, but they should only be used under strict supervision to avoid haphazard supplementation.
As a retailer, offering a wide variety of complete pelleted diets, along with a few options for essential supplements can be beneficial to customers who are looking to switch their birds from seed to pelleted diets.
The supplements that Garou has had success with in her store are Eggfood, Sunshine Factor and Missing Link.
Eggfood brand supplements provide additional protein along with multiple vitamins. It is most beneficial for molting or chick-rearing birds who are fed a seed diet. Garrou recommends that because of the high fat and vitamin content of this product, it should not be used year round to avoid an overdose of vitamins.
“Many birds absolutely love this product, so we recommend it as a vehicle to assist in conversion to pellets,” Garrou said.
Sunshine Factor and Missing Link both provide additional sources of Omega 3 and 6 oils which improve skin and feather health, as well as strengthen the eyes and immune system.
Missing Link is a powdered supplement and can be added to seeds or fruits and vegetables.
Sunshine Factor contains organic omega oils extracted from red palm fruit. This oil supplement is easily added to pellets, seeds or even baked into treats and birds tend to enjoy the taste.
One company experiencing success with supplements is VetaFarm, located in Australia.
Ben Mintern, VetaFarm’s marketing manager, has been working towards improving the business-ethics of companion bird healthcare for ten years.
“The only major difference in providing for companion birds over their larger furry counterparts is that while the physical quantity of products you shift may be less, the right bird products have the potential to generate your business much healthier profit margins,” Mintern said.
If retailers offer customers the correct supplement, the will undoubtedly return.
VetaFarm offers multiple supplemental products for a wide variety of needs. D Nutrical, which is a powered vitamin, mineral and calcium supplement. This combination is perfect for birds who are being fed a seed diet.
Soluvite contains Vitamin D3, which assists birds who housed indoors and are not able to be exposed to natural sunlight. ADEC Liquid is a vitamin supplement which can be given to bird who are undergoing stress or have an injury and quick recovery is necessary.
“The key here is to course a reliable brand that has done their homework on the nutritional requirements of birds,” Mintern said.
- Erin Salley