Preservatives Are Out, Fresh Is In

A well-balanced diet is the foundation for a healthy lifestyle.

With life becoming faster paced and on the go, it has become a challenge for parents to keep fast foods and sweets out of their children’s hands on a daily basis. Even pet owners have, now more than ever,  run into the issue of their pets becoming overweight while lacking proper nutrients.

But one must remember the term, “moderation.”

Sweets and treats are not the enemy, and instead should be used sparingly and with purpose.

Every bird enjoys a snack every now and again, and should receive them as long as they are kept on an otherwise balanced diet. By allowing birds to sample multiple types of treats, it will not only expand their pallets, but down the road, can make for simpler trick training and behavior modification.

No More Preservatives

Human trends are carrying over into the world of companion animals. Gone are the days of artificial food colorings and preservatives. Man-made fillers are now being replaced with all-natural ingredients.

Many pet food companies are now using human-grade ingredients to ensure pets are enjoying the highest quality product. Dog and cat food companies now offer refrigerated foods that include fresh meats without the use of preservatives, and avian food companies are following suit, providing customers with  natural food and treat choices using fresh ingredients such as dehydrated fruits, vegetables and seeds.

Erik Christopher, president of Mango Pet Products, Inc., located in Rhode Island, explains that treating pet birds to a snack no longer means having to choose commercial foods.

“Offering this advice to your customers can be beneficial to both your customer’s and their bird’s well-being and your store’s bottom line,” Christopher said.

By providing customers with a variety of options, Christopher said, bird owners can either purchase healthy pre-made treat options or make their own.

By stocking shelves with treat bites such as Lafeber’s Nutri-Berries, which contains 26 percent pellets as well as papaya, pineapple and mango, or offering simple dried ingredients like raw seeds, unsalted nuts, dried cranberries, broccoli, peas and raisins, owners can choose the products that best suits their bird.

“Why not suggest them to make a variety of nutritional snack foods themselves as a 2014 New Year’s resolution and a personal commitment to their pet,” Christopher said.

Stocking shelves with several healthy and well-rounded treat options will allow for a larger variety of customers to successfully treat their birds and keep them happy and healthy.

“Your customer will be happier knowing that you’ve guided them with a nutritionally balanced snack selection and appreciate your store,” Christopher said.

Varying Tastes

A customer who knows their bird’s species and personality can make an educated guess as to what they may prefer, but tastes are constantly changing. Once a treat becomes regular and boring, birds may not have as strong a desire to work for their reward.

Ginny Lovett, owner of BirdSmart, located in San Diego, Calif., said the more treat options customers and birds are given, the better.

“We offer numerous types of treats since all birds don’t like the same thing,” Lovett said.

BirdSmart carries various flavors of Kaytee Fiesta treat products, such as Pop-A-Rounds and Treat Sticks, in a variety of flavors. The sticks are honey treats covered in different fruits and seeds, like dried blueberries, dehydrated carrots, toasted wheat flakes, flax seed and millet.

Kaytee’s Southwest Blend is another choice to stock for owners of large species parrots, such as macaws and cockatoos. This blend contains whole peanuts, coconut, dried red peppers and hulled pumpkin seeds, which provide not only a healthy alternative to processed treats, but stimulate the bird by allowing them to crack the shells and maneuver the food with beaks and feet.

BirdSmart also carries Ecotrition products, like the Grains and Greens blend, which is specifically formulated for cockatiels. This blend can be given as a treat by mixing it in to the bird’s regular diet to spice up the routine while adding a vitamin and mineral-enriched supplement.

If a customer prefers pelleted treats, Lovett recommends Harrisons and Roudybush products.

Roudybush Rice Treats allow owners to treat as much and as often as they choose. These rice treats offer a healthy and low-calorie alternative to seeds and nuts, and contain no added sugars or coloring. The pellet sizes come in “big or little” to appropriately feed various size birds.

Harrisons Power Treats are not only a healthy treat option, but can also be utilized as a transitional food  for weaning or aging birds, as well as those who are transitioning from a seed to pelleted diet. This treat offers supplemental energy by incorporating a balance of fatty acids, and includes organic Brazilian Red Palm fruit oil.

“We try to encourage our human-grade dehydrated fruits and high quality nuts for the larger birds; for instance, macaws that need the large nuts for fat, etc., a hazelnut are good choices if the bird likes them,” Lovett said.

The Purring Parrot, owned by Maria and Patrick Brinson in San Diego, Calif., pride themselves on their natural treat options.

“We try and keep all our ingredients healthy so our products are made without sugar, salt, soy, artificial ingredients, milk or preservatives,” Maria Brinson said. “We also use most human-grade ingredients.”

By eliminating the amount of processed ingredients as well as dairy products, which are difficult to digest for birds, The Purring Parrot can offer treats that are similar to foods found in a bird’s natural habitat. The more fresh fruits and vegetables available, the better, and offering smalls amounts of unprocessed nuts and raw seeds is greatly beneficial.

The Purring Parrot is a specialty bird store as well as a boarding facility and bakery, where bird guests are treated to the confections fresh from the birdie bakery.

“Our birdie muffins are very popular,” she said. “We have five different kinds, but the Fruit Anise nut is the most popular. We also have our own stovetop mixes, seed mixes, sprouting mix and cooked grains.”

– Erin Salley

Creating a Cozy, Comfy and Safe Sleepy Time

Providing a comfortable and warm sleeping environment is just as important inside the cage as it is outside.

While using a cage covers, such as the custom covers offered by Cozzzy Covers, can shut out light and stop cold drafts from affecting a bird’s sleep pattern, giving the bird, especially parrots, something to cuddle up to is important.

Making a companion bird’s cage not only stimulating, but comfortable betters their quality of life. Allowing the bird to access toys easily, hanging food and water dishes out of the way of messes, and providing a warm and cozy place to sleep are all elements of a proper environment for a healthy and happy bird.

There are numerous benefits to owning a cage cover including easily separating multiple birds and allowing for stress free transport for birds that have to travel, but the most notable pro is cage covers provide the bird with secure place to rest and relax while keeping it warm when the temperatures begin to drop.

Protection From The Elements

Mary Wyld, owner of Wyld’s Wingdom explains that a companion bird’s living quarters requires additional care during the winter months.

“Many of our exotic and pet bird breeds are originally from warm, tropical climates and cold temperatures can be a health challenge” Wyld said.

Covering the cage with a heavy and dark cage cover will protect sensitive birds from any cold drafts that may enter the bird’s environment.

Some customers may use an old bed sheet to cover their bird’s cage; however, because most sheets are made from lightweight fabrics in light colors they not only let too much light through to provide a dark place for the bird to sleep, but they still allow for cold drafts to blow through.

Bird Paradise, in Burlington N.J., offers the Sheer Guard Bird Cage Cover in small, medium and large. This cage cover comes in red and is made from an opaque material to allow for a small amount of light and proper ventilation through the cage.

“Bird owners should definitely have a cage cover on hand,” Paul Lewis, owner of Birds Unlimited, in Webster, N.Y., said. “Covering the cage at night will keep the heat in the cage and help the birds stay warm. Cage covers are a great way to help regulate a bird’s sleep cycles, calm them down during times of stress, and keeps them warm and away from drafts, but what about the inside of the cage? Many species of companion birds enjoy contact, be it from their humans or from other birds in the home. If they are living in their cage alone, adding a soft object for them to snuggle up to can help comfort them through the night.”

Keeping Cozy

In addition, some birds enjoy avian huts and hanging tent shelters called snugglies and snoozies .  These cozy shelters give the bird the option to snuggle in when they are cold Wyld said.

Wyld’s Wingdom offers many different sleepy time cage accessories. The WW Tropical Snugglie is a hanging tent made out of durable outer fabric and lined with fleece. Birds can climb in and cuddle in for a good night’s sleep.

Another sleep accessory option is the WW Avian Haven Hut, a square felt cover that hangs over the bird’s perch.  The Avian Haven Hut acts as a dark and safe space for the bird to go into and rest easily.

Wyld also recommends the WW Peekaboo Tent sleep accessory. This sleep tent includes a perch that is covered by a fleece tent top so birds can perch and sleep comfortably.

“Cage accessories are for the welfare of your bird,” Erik Christopher, president of Mango Pet Products, said. “Typically, when you purchase your cage for your bird, it will come with very little accessories. As you get to know your bird and how you can best care for your bird you may want to add accessories for fun, convenience or comfort.”

Christopher knows the importance of cage accessories and highly recommends the Corner Shelf accessory.

“It fits easily nested in the corner of any style cage and comes in either small or large,” Christopher said. “This is an extra cuddly perching area, a bird privacy area or use as a foraging shelf. This accessory compliments the cage. Also great and original designed for handicapped birds where perching a rounded wood may be much harder to do.”

It is important for customers to know their bird’s personality prior to making any decisions about their sleeping preferences. Lewis urges customers to use digression when deciding if tented sleeping accessories are right for their birds.

“I do caution people who want to use a nest box, Happy Hut, or other sleeping quarters as it may stimulate a female into egg laying and many birds may become overly protective or aggressive about them,” Lewis said. “Most birds don’t use a nest in the wild unless it’s breeding season.”

For birds that tend to exhibit aggression, Prevue Pet Products offers the Cozy Corner in various sizes to accommodate small, medium and large species.  This small piece of fuzzy fabric features two ties on the back which secure it in place in the corner of the cage.  Using the Cozy Corner allows a customer’s bird to enjoy the warmth and security of a nesting box without the protective aggression they can cause.

– Erin Salley

Supplementing a Bird’s Diet

Regardless of a bird’s diet, supplementing it with proper vitamins and minerals ensures they are receiving proper nutrition, as well as aid in digestive issues.

Hagen Bird Products offers a wide variety of companion bird supplies, many of which include supplements.

Hagen Bird Charcoal is a great option for companion birds that are prone to digestive upsets. Charcoal helps reduce the amount of acid in the stomach to assist with smooth digestion.

An inadequate amount of calcium is one of the most common deficiencies in caged birds. To help battle this, Hagen has produced Hagen Crushed Oyster Shell, which provides a high amount of calcium and other vital minerals which are crucial to a bird’s diet. Offering breeding birds the Crushed Oyster Shell can help to ensure stable and strong eggshells.

Morning Bird Bird Care Products offers Calcium Plus, a liquid calcium supplement, which comes highly recommended by Mary Wyld, founder of Wyld’s Wingdom. The product is pre-dissolved and concentrated for easy mixing into food or water. In addition to calcium, the supplement also contains magnesium and vitamin D, allowing for quick absorption into the bird’s intestinal system.

Wyld also recommends Avitech’s supplement products.

“Enhance from Avitech is a natural supplement which contains ten veggies, nine fruit, three berry and three sprout powders,” she said. “Also, from Avitech is AviGreens, containing all five of the ‘Green Superfoods; wheat grass, alfalpha, barley grass, spirulina and chlorella.”

Avitech’s Enhance is not only an effective nutritional supplement, but it also appeals to picky birds by adding vibrant flavors to their diet.

Avoiding Deficiencies

Hagen also produces Prime, a complete powdered multivitamin for companion birds. This supplement supports a wide range of deficiencies by containing 14 different vitamins and nine minerals, and can be added to seed and fresh fruit and vegetable diets.

Prime supplement includes high amounts of vitamins C and E, which provide antioxidants and support a healthy immune system.  It also contains the amino acids lysine and methionine which improves protein absorption, as well as enzymes and probiotics to assist with digestion.

Vitakraft  also offers a wide range of dietary requirements.

Quiko Classic is a supplemental food for birds of all species. Eggs are used in the full Quiko line and provide a bird with an excellent source of vital protein and amino acids. Quiko Classic is a multi-purpose food which, because of its high palatability, can be used to successfully administer medications and other vitamin supplements or coat fresh fruits and vegetables to help picky birds expand their diets.

A multivitamin, like Vitakraft’s, which has a concentrated powder that can be used during daily feedings, can prevent common nutritional deficits as well as support the immune system during stressful periods such as traveling, change in environment, illness or breeding.  Vitakraft Multivitamin dissolves fully in water to allow for easy consumption and can also be mixed easily with moist foods like fresh fruits or vegetables.

For those customers who want to take a holistic approach to supplements, there is Dr. Harvey’s Whole Food Concentrate Supplement. The powder provides a combination of herbs, yeast and bee pollen and can either be added to the bird’s everyday diet or can be included in home baked treats.

– Erin Salley

Flying High

Preparing for a family trip can turn into an all-day event.

Parents need to make sure each of their children has everything they need to get them through their journey, a fully stocked diaper bag, snacks, a change of clothes and enough toys to keep their interest for hours.

Studies show that some species of parrots exhibit the same IQ as a 3-year -old human child, which makes traveling with them in tow just as involved as setting out on an adventure with a toddler.

Mary Wyld, owner and founder of Wyld’s Wingdom, suggests that parrot owners adopt that similar mindset in order to be better prepared during travel.

“Think of traveling with your bird, just as you would traveling with a child,” she said. “They need to be safe and secure with proper equipment.”

Just as a child requires the proper car seat, a bird requires the correct carrier. Making sure that the size of the carrier is appropriate for the species of bird will ensure safety.

“A practice trip around town will help acclimate the bird to travel conditions and allow you to test out the perching and food accommodations in your travel cage,” Wyld suggests.

Style and Ease

My Bird Store, a family owned and operated exotic bird specialty store with over 30 years in business, offers a plethora of different travel carriers and accessories to suit any size companion bird.

The Wingabago Acrylic Bird Carrier comes in small, which can accommodate species the size of conures and cockatiels, and large that can house cockatoos and mini macaws comfortably. The Wingabago is made of clear plastic and allows the bird to observe its surroundings as well as for the owner to monitor the bird’s safety.

The cage’s “open air” construction makes it extremely beneficial for birds who suffer from claustrophobia.

The Wingabago line also offers model which features a stainless steel bar door to allow for greater ventilation. This model was originally produced to meet airline regulations to allow birds to travel safely during long distance travel.

“They are also great for birds that like to hang on, birds that prefer water bottles, bird companions that like offering a comforting finger, and for added ventilation” according to the website’s product description.

If customers prefer a fabric carrier, the Come Along Bird Carrier is a good option. This carrier comes in small, medium and large and has two doors that zipper open and closed. The easy carrying handle makes traveling simple and comfortable for bird and owner.

Wild Side Carrier By Sandy Perch is another fabric carrier for the customer who likes to travel in style. It features a removable bottom lining to allow for simple cleaning. It also includes a sandy perch and toy hook to provide stimulation and distraction during travel.

Petmate offers a line of bird travel products as well. Amanda Peterson, corporate communications coordinator, recommends the Petmate Cabin Kennel, the Compass Kennel and the JW Moving Mirrors for customers who want to safely travel with their birds.

“The Petmate Cabin Kennel features a durable, solid, swing-top design, convenient carrying handle and ventilation holes to promote healthy air flow for pets” Peterson said. “This kennel is great for smaller birds and for breeders who ship chicks as it and comes with a solid top that helps insulate and retain heat inside the kennel. For bigger birds, other Petmate kennels like the Compass Kennel  work well”

This kennel can be used for cats and dogs as well, and therefore features a wire front door where food and water bowls can be attached. If customers prefer their birds to travel with a perch, they can be attached and bolted through the ventilation holes on the sides of the Compass Kennel.

“Placing the perch closer to the kennel door is important for large birds so their tails have adequate space and are not crushed or damaged during travel,” Peterson said.

Keep Them Playing

In addition to perches, toys should be offered to birds while in travel to keep them interested and calm their nerves while being temporarily removed from their homes. JW Pet’s line of bird Activitoys can keep birds entertained while on the go.

Peterson recommends the JW Moving Mirrors as a travel accessory.

“Birds are naturally curious and fascinated with motion,” she said. “The JW Moving Mirrors bird toy is brightly colored and has five rotating shiny mirrors that spin with each interaction and attaches easily to either horizontal or vertical bars.”

– Erin Salley

Enticing the Wild

For those who are not able to house an exotic companion bird, yet still want to enjoy avian behavior, wild bird watching can be the perfect compromise.

In order to attract a plethora of wild species, the perfect pairing of food and feeder must be provided.

Like all avian species, wild birds are drawn to seeds of all shapes and sizes. Since wild birds are constantly on the move and able to burn ample amounts of calories each day, most feed products for them are high in fat and calories, such as seed diets and suet treats.

Bird Seed Cylinders are a good way to attract all species of wild birds to a customer’s back yard. The No-Mess Seed Cylinder is a compacted blend of seeds such as sunflower chips, peanuts, tree nuts and cherries, while Jim’s Birdacious Nutty for Nuts Cylinder features made of almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, walnuts and roasted peanuts.

“Seed cylinders are packed with seeds and fruit which provide critical fats and proteins birds need to survive cold winter nights,” Margaret Collins, media and public relations manager for Wild Birds Unlimited, said. “Rather than loose seed that gets carried away to a nearby branch, opened, consumed and unseen; the birds cling to a seed cylinder and eat to their hearts’ content.”

The Tidy Cylinder Feeder can be used with the Bird Seed Cylinders and feature a small tray on the bottom to catch all the uneaten seeds and eliminate messiness.

Wild Birds Unlimited, the “largest franchise system of backyard bird feeding and nature specialty stores,” also provides a large variety blended and non-blended seed products as well as suet products. Each product is made with 100 percent edible seeds, which eliminates the shell to allow the bird to consume the whole seed, and are formulated for local species. WBU’s non-blended products include 100 percent edible Premium Oil Sunflower, Nyjer (thistle), millet and ear corn.

Cole’s Wild Bird Products supplies stores all over the United States with all natural feed and feeders. Cole’s seed products are all natural and are selected from the top percentage of crops to ensure only the best ingredients.

They do not wash their feed or coat them with chemicals or mineral oil and do not use fillers. The most popular seed sold is Cole’s Special Feeder. This blend provides a high-energy snack for many species of birds and includes black oil sunflower, sunflower meats, black stripe, sunflower, raw peanuts, safflower and pecans.

Beyond Seed

Suet is a high energy, pure fat product that helps wild species, such as chickadees, titmice and woodpeckers, maintain weight during the colder winter months or while burning calories during the warmer spring and summer months. Both Wild Birds Unlimited and Cole’s Wild Bird Products offer many varieties of this high calorie treat.

The most popular Wild Birds Unlimited suet products are Naturally Nuts and Peanut Butter’n Jelly. Both come in dough and cake forms. The no-melt dough can be used when temperatures are above 95 degrees. Cole’s Hot Meat Suet Cake is among the company’s most popular sellers and contains chili pepper suet mixed with Sunflower meats.

Another popular blend produced by Coles is the Coles’ Nutberry Suet.

“Nutberry Suet Blend combines all of nature’s best in one delicious blend,” Joan Casanova, public relations contact for Cole’s Wild Bird Products, said. “Attract fruit and insect loving songbirds to your feeder with this unique mix of premium fruits, preferred nuts, nutritious insect suet kibbles, and whole kernel sunflower meats. Bluebirds, warblers, robins, woodpeckers and more absolutely love this special treat.”

Cole’s also sells Suet Nuts and Kibbles, which are small round pearls of suet that can be mixed and fed with seed blends.

Along with specialty food, Cole’s Wild Bird Products offers multiple styles of feeders. To attract the widest variety of species, it is crucial to understand what each species likes.

Some like elevated platforms, while others prefer hanging feeders. Some species skip the feeder all together and would rather forage on the ground. The most common type of feeder is a tube feeder. Cole’s Tube Feeders are easily cleaned by removing the bottom with the click of a button and do not require any disassembly. Another popular feeder is the Nify Niger

Feeder used to cleanly dispense Niger seeds, which naturally oily. The feeder features tiny holes to eliminate waste.

Understanding each species preferences for food and feeder will help bird watchers increase the variety of birds coming to their feeders. Offering 100 percent natural seed blends contained in the appropriate style feeder will keep birds coming back for more.

– Erin Salley

Bird Training Products Have Come a Long Way

Multiple species of parrots have an IQ equivalent to that of a 2-year-old child, which makes training them to perform simple, or even complex, behaviors a breeze if the owner possesses the correct tools.

There are two basic training categories, behavioral and trick. While trick training is a fun way for an owner to bond with their bird, it is considered optional. Behavioral training, on the other hand, is mandatory.

Making sure a parrot can be handled safely by anyone, be it a timid bird lover, or a veterinarian, is of the utmost importance. Although the two types of training vary in importance, training process does not. Positive reinforcement is the most effective training style and can only be improved with the use of proper tools.

Getting Started

Training should always start early in life and with the basics.

For example, a well-rounded, behaved parrot should know the ‘step-up’ command in order to make vet visits or handling during the aggressive breeding season safe.

Donna Garrou, founder of Bird Stuff, Inc., recommends some tools to assist in teaching the ‘step-up’ command.

“A long straight perch works well, as does a new product by Caitec called, The Percher,” she said. “This plastic perch/stand can be configured in a number of different ways, including as a step-up stick. It also makes a simple t-stand for training, which is great place to teach step-ups.”

One training tool commonly used when training other companion animals, such as dogs or cats, is the clicker. Birds are no exception to its effectiveness. Garrou has found much success in offering this tool to her customers.

“One of the things I encourage all of my customers to try is clicker training,” she said. “To help clients learning about clicker training, I recommend the Karen Pryor ‘Clicker Training for Birds’ kit. It includes a targeting stick, instructions (‘training the trainer’) and even a few treats.”

Garrou also carries training books and DVDs in her store.

“I carry several  DVDs from behaviorist Barbara Heidenreich, and especially like, ‘Training your Parrot for the Veterinary Exam,’ because it also teaches some basic subjects like getting your bird to step up to strangers and getting into a carrier,” Garrou said.

Barbarah Heidenreich is the founder of Barbara’s Force Free Animal Training and has years of experience training all types of animals, but has a particular affinity for parrots. Her website features training aids such as training sticks, perches, books and DVDs. As much enjoyment as she gets from teaching parrots entertaining tricks, she also focuses on changing behavioral issues with positive reinforcement.

“All of my products are all about helping people train their parrots and solve behavior problems,” she said.  “My goal is for people to have an amazing relationship with the birds in their lives. And I know that kind and gentle training methods can help them attain that goal. For this reason, I have produced a variety of instructional DVDs, written two books and also teach parrot training workshops around the world.”

Barbara’s Force Free Animal Training’s website was expected to be featuring various types of training sticks and stations as of last month.

Positive Reinforcement

Being able to provide customers with the correct training tools is important, however, making sure reinforcement is given for correct behavior is just as crucial. Motivators, like a parrot’s favorite treat or toy becomes an integral piece of the training puzzle.

Heidenreich explains that starting a parrot off with eatable reinforcement begins the association between correct behavior and reward, but should be interspersed with verbal praise.

“Treats are an obvious reinforce for good behavior,” Heidenreich said. “However, most treats on the market are quite large, so I use them to reinforce behaviors that might be particularly difficult for the parrot, as opposed to train a new behavior.”

When food rewards are necessary, Heidenreich frequently uses the Foraging Box by Kaytee because it makes the bird work for its reward. Treats are hidden inside the cardboard box, allowing the parrot to rip apart the toy and work for the treats inside.

For birds that may not be particularly food motivated, there are many intriguing toys that are intended to grab their attention. Variety is necessary when using toys as motivators, because if a bird is bored, it will not want to work for its reward.

“One of the important things about toys and enrichments is that it needs to be constantly changing to keep it interesting for your parrot,” Heidenreich said. “This also prevents them from focusing on undesired behaviors such as vocalizing for attention or feather damaging behavior.”

Regardless for what a customer’s bird is motivated, rewarding them for correct behavior is essential for marking the connection between behavior and reward.

“When parrot owners get in the habit of positively reinforcing good behavior, the result is a well behaved, interaction and fun companion parrot,” Heidenreich added.

Toy Selections

Erik Christopher, the president of Mango Pet Products, makes sure his shelves are stocked with toy options to motivate any parrot.

“At Mango Pet Products, Inc., we have a variety of interactive toys from basketball set of varies sizes for various size birds to scooters and skateboards,” Christopher said.

Mango’s Basketball Sets come in mini, small and large to accommodate all species and a clicker and training guide may be purchased in addition to the set to ensure that training sessions are not only fun, but productive. These basketball sets come with clickers included if purchased from Wyld’s Wingdom’s webpage.

Wyld’s Wingdom is one of the largest wholesale avian product distributors in the nation, providing business with avian products such as toys, treats, cage stands, play gyms and training aids.

For the past 25 years, Wyld’s Wingdom has worked in concordance with smaller retailers in choosing the correct products for their stores and providing them with the most up to date information on what new and exciting in the avian world.

Mary Wyld, owner of Wyld’s Wingdom, prides herself in keeping current with the latest trends in parrot training, such as books and guides, DVDs, audio and video tapes, perches, and even skateboards.

Erin Salley

Added Benefits

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.

Serving a Purpose

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.

Curbing Deficiencies

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.”

Use Caution

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

Goldenfeast Recalls Bird Food

Goldenfeast Inc., is recalling several exotic bird food blends because of possible salmonella contamination caused by parsley flake ingredients supplied to them, by Specialty Commodities, Inc., an outside supplier.

No human or pet illnesses have been reported.

On Feb. 11, 2013 Specialty Commodities, Inc., initiated a voluntary product recall of parsley flakes distributed  to Goldenfeast Inc., and other pet food manufacturers because the product may have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Specialty Commodities distributed the products to Goldenfeast Inc., on May 17, 2012.

Recalled products were distributed to retailers and distributors in the states of: Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, Virginia and Canada.

No other Goldenfeast Inc. products were impacted by the voluntary recall. Customers who have purchased any of the products listed below are urged to contact Goldenfeast at 800-344-6536 between the hours and 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday, for instruction on product return.

Listed below are the Product Name and the Best If Used Before Code (Day/Month/Year)
All sizes of each listed product are affected- Bulk (Large Foil Bags), Mini Bulk (Medium Size Foil Bags), Super Size (Plastic Jars) and Barrier Bag Containers (Barrier Film Bags).

Product Name UPC Code Size Best If Used By (day/month/year)
(This information appears on the UPC bar code label)
Australian Blend 741919167629 32 lb. Bulk Bag May 31, 2013 through October 31, 2013
Australian Blend 741919165625 13 lb. Mini Bulk May 31, 2013 through October 31, 2013
Australian Blend 741919163621 64 oz. Super Size May 31, 2013 through October 31, 2013
Australian Blend 741919164628 25 oz. Barrier Bag May 31, 2013 through October 31, 2013
Bean Supreme 741919167759 32 lb. Bulk Bag July 31, 2013 through December 31, 2013
Bean Supreme 741919165755 10 lb. Mini Bulk July 31, 2013 through December 31, 2013
Bean Supreme 741919163751 64 oz. Super Size July 31, 2013 through December 31, 2013
Bean Supreme 741919164758 23 oz. Barrier Bag July 31, 2013 through December 31, 2013
Caribbean Bounty 741919167728 32 lb. Bulk Bag July 31, 2013 through September 30,2013
Caribbean Bounty 741919165724 11 lb. Mini Bulk July 31,2013 through September 30, 2013
Caribbean Bounty 741919163720 64 oz. Super Size July 31, 2013 through September 30,2013
Caribbean Bounty 741919164727 25 oz. Barrier Bag July 31,2013 through September 30, 2013
Gardenflora 741919167681 12 lb. Bulk Bag July 31, 2013 through February 28, 2014
Gardenflora 741919165687 4 lb. Mini Bulk July 31, 2013 through February 28, 2014
Gardenflora 41919163683 23 oz. Super Size July 31, 2013 through February 28, 2014
Gardenflora 741919164680 9 oz. Barrier Bag July 31, 2013 through February 28, 2014
Petite Hookbill 741919167605 32 lb. Bulk Bag June 30, 2013 through October 31, 2013
Petite Hookbill 741919165601 12 lb. Mini Bulk June 30, 2013 through October 31, 2013
Petite Hookbill 741919163607 64 oz. Super Size June 30, 2013 through October 31, 2013
Petite Hookbill 741919164604 25 oz. Barrier Bag June 30, 2013 through October 31, 2013
Schmitts Original 741919167865 32 lb. Bulk Bag July 31, 2013 through August 31, 2013
Schmitts Original 741919165861 13 lb. Mini Bulk July 31, 2013 through August 31, 2013
Schmitts Original 741919163867 64 oz. Super Size July 31, 2013 through August 31, 2013
Schmitts Original 741919164864 25 oz. Barrier Bag July 31, 2013 through August 31, 2013
Basics Plus Finch 741919167926 40 lb. Bulk Bag August 31,2013 through February28,2014
Basics Plus Finch 741919165922 13 lb. Mini Bulk August 31,2013 through February28,2014
Basics Plus Finch 741919163928 80 oz. Super Size August 31,2013 through February28,2014
Basics Plus Finch 741919164925 32 oz. Barrier Bag August 31,2013 through February28,2014
Basics Plus Parakeet 741919167933 40 lb. Bulk Bag August 31,2013 through February28,2014
Basics Plus Parakeet 741919165939 13 lb. Mini Bulk August 31,2013 through February28,2014
Basics Plus Parakeet 741919163935 72 oz. Super Size August 31,2013 through February28,2014
Basics Plus Parakeet 741919164932 32 oz. Barrier Bag August 31,2013 through February28,2014

A Clean Home Is a Happy Home

There’s no doubt about it, bird cages can get messy. And, it can happen pretty quickly, causing customers who own a bird to look for quick and easy cleaning solutions.

“I am not one that likes to clean my house but I like a clean house,” Mary Ellen Kaminski, merchandising manager for Drs. Foster and Smith, said. “So I find products that make my job easier so I can get it done quickly and efficiently … and done regularly. This same thing can be said about cleaning your bird’s cage.”

To stay ahead of the mess, they need to start with the basics.

Recommend that customers purchase a cage that features a removable bottom tray and that can be taken apart to clean each piece individually.

Prevue Pet, a leader in cage production, offers many varieties which make  cleaning and disinfecting a breeze.

“Our bird homes are designed with the ease of cleaning in mind, and depending on the cage model, can come with many different features that aid in both mess control and ease of cleaning,” Jason Savitt, president of Prevue Pet Products, said.

Line the Bottom

In addition to an easily cleanable cage, cage liners are a simple way to keep the bird’s cage clean and fresh on a day to day basis. After disinfecting the removable cage tray, liners may be stacked one on top of the other for easy removal during daily cleaning.

“Prevue sells several products to aid in the cleaning process, including Prevue’s #109 Cage Cleaning Pad (will not harm the cage’s finish), or our T3 Cage Liner Paper” he said.

The T3 Cage Liners are suited for birds and cages of all sizes, and features an anti-microbial layer which makes cleaning simple and sanitary.

Drs. Foster and Smith carry different pre-cut sizes to fit any cage, which for a retailer can save shelf space.

Another popular product is their waxed paper liners. These liners are hypoallergenic and will not cause a problem if accidentally swallowed during foraging.

Cage liners are good for daily upkeep since they are easier to change than a litter tray, and do not create dust.

Breathing Clean Air

During weekly cleanings, it is recommended to remove all accessories from the cage to soak, as well as removing the cage bars from the base to disinfect as well, but extreme care must be taken when cleaning with solutions.

“The respiratory system of a bird is much more efficient and therefore sensitive than a mammal, and a scent that will not harm you or your other pets can kill a bird,” Donna Garrou, owner of Bird Stuff in Orange, Calif. said.

Since birds are extremely sensitive to the toxins found in household cleaning solutions, using specific avian cleaning products will keep a bird safe during routine cleaning – a point that should be stressed to customers.

Erik Christopher, president of Mango Pet Products, Inc., offers Pet Focus Avian and Cage Disinfectant in his Rhode Island store.

“Pet Focus Avian and Cage Disinfectant is considered by avian vets, birds stores and households to be the most complete avian and pet care disinfectant available,” he said. “It differs from other products in that number one, it is a disinfectant, but in addition, it has cleaner and deodorant properties.”

Pet Focus is available in a ready-to-use or concentrated formula and is effective in killing over 50 pathogens.

“It prevents against cross-contamination with a stabilized system cleaning curve,” Christopher said. “It can be used on any surface and once it has air dried, is non-toxic, so rinsing is not necessary. Once they try Pet Focus, whether it is for its disinfectant qualities, cleaner or deodorant properties, pet shops are expected to have repeat customers for this product. It is a great tag-on item in pet shops or at the veterinary retail center.”

Another popular cleaning product is F10SC.

This is a veterinary/hospital grade disinfectant used in clinics, zoos and breeding facilities.  F10SC can be used on all accessories within the cage, such as water bowls, toys, and perches.

Toys can be soaked in the disinfectant, or the product can be poured into a spray bottle and misted throughout the room to kill airborne microbes and prevent cross contamination. This product is effective in cleaning the bird’s living quarters without risking harm to humans or birds. F10SC can be sprayed directly onto surfaces without having to rinse off afterward, leaving no harmful residue.

“Again, the number one factor in cleaning a pet bird’s mess is controlling it,” Savitt said.

Controlling the mess by housing a bird in an easy to clean cage, as well as using liners and avian disinfectants, will insure that the bird’s living space is a healthy environment for them to live.

– Erin Salley

Repetition Is a Bird’s Best Friend

Parrots are extremely social animals and must be able to communicate with the members of their flock. When surrounded by their owners day in and day out, parrots benefit greatly and enjoy learning to speak with them.

Companion Parrot Online Magazine’s Sally Blanchard has years of personal experience training parrots to talk. Her African Grey, Bongo Marie, not only had an extensive vocabulary, but was able to correctly respond to certain questions or statements when prompted.

“Young hand fed parrots may start to mumble human sounds at a few weeks of age,” Blanchard said. “Just as wild parrots learn natural vocalizations from their parents, companion parrots learn to imitate human sounds from their ‘surrogate parents.’”

Similar to other animals, as well as human children, young parrots are extremely impressionable. Learning new behaviors come quickly and easily the younger they are, therefore, speech training should be started early.

“Parrots learn to talk much like small children,” Blanchard said. “When they hear certain words over and over, they start practicing the sounds.”

Educational Tools

Since most bird owners are not able to be home during the day to engage the parrot in speech training sessions,  more and more companies are producing training aids which allow parrots to practice speech while their owners are outside the home.

Training aids for speech are becoming more popular, most commonly CD’s and voice recorders.

Mary Ellen Kaminski of Drs. Foster and Smith recommends the Mimic Me voice recorder and the Teach ‘N Play.

Mimic Me by Prevue Pet allows owners to record their own voice saying words or phrases they want their birds to learn. The tape allows owners to record up to 10 seconds of speech.

It has two settings. Setting “A” plays the recorded word back 12 times every 15 minutes until turned off, while setting “B” plays the word back 12 times every 10 minutes for two hours and then shuts off automatically. Once the bird has learned the words on the tape, the Mimic Me device makes it easy to delete the previous words and record new ones.

Using the Mimic Me aids in training, allows for the expansion of a bird’s vocabulary to 100s of words, while providing the comfort of hearing the owner’s voice when they are not around. It is beneficial for an owner’s parrot to hear their voice, as it reduces confusion during one-on-one training sessions.

Another recorded training aid is the Teach ‘N Play. This toy has four buttons with the pre-recorded phrases “hello,” “I love you,” “hahahaha” and “calling all birds.” The Teach ‘N Play has a tough outer case made of hard plastic which prevents cracking and is easy to clean.  Blinking lights, which go off when the speech buttons are pushed, engages and stimulates and rewards the bird.

DVD’s and CD ROM’s are also highly affective and popular training tools for both owner and bird.

“Train Your Parrot to Talk” is a DVD which features professional bird trainer Barbara Heidenreich educating owners about why parrots speak and how to train them to do it correctly. The DVD includes a bonus CD ROM, which includes recordings of various species vocalizing to assist parrots to speak.

“These (CD’s and voice recording toys) are wonderful tools to reinforce what you teach during a session when you cannot be with your bird,” Emily Schmale, corporate communications manager for Pet Mate, said. “Birds will practice what they have learned throughout the day.”

Whether it is a CD featuring the voices of other birds or a voice recording of your own, these training aids are highly effective when teaching parrots human speech.

“A CD or recording of your voice is a wonderful way to remind them of the proper sound and tone,” Schmale said. “Repetition is a bird’s friend.”
Practice makes perfect, but one-on-one training sessions are still most effective since parrots are a social species and learn best with human interaction. During training, reinforcement for correct behavior is of the utmost importance.

“Just as small children need an adult to listen carefully to pick up what the child is trying to say, young parrots also need a human to reinforce the words they are trying to learn and teach them to say the words correctly,” Blanchard said.

Commonly, reinforcement comes in the form of food or treats.

“Treats are a way of rewarding your bird. The following treats are the perfect size or can be easily broken into smaller sizes for rewarding” Kaminski said.

Drs. Foster and Smith’s Harrison’s Power treats are great to use during training because they are easily broken into smaller pieces for quick reinforcement of correct behavior. Harrison’s Power treats provide energy using ingredients such as Brazilian red palm fruit oil, sunflower seeds and alfalfa.

Both practice and reward are important pieces of successful training, but it is just as important to make sure owners have the full attention of their parrot and vice versa.

Teaching one-on-one also makes it easier to reward correct behavior quickly.

“Make sure to teach one bird at a time,” Kaminski said. “This is made easy with the use of a playstand or a product like the new Percher.”

The Percher from Caitec, is portable and can be configured in seven different ways to accommodate any training environment. It is suited for birds of all sizes and makes training simple and more personal for the bird.

Using a combination of voice recording training aids, one-on-one speech training sessions using a favorite food reward and a perch or play stand to guarantee undivided attention, owners will have a talking companion in no time.

“With affectionate interactive training, most talking parrots with easily learn to respond with verbal cues and verbal phrases,” Blanchard said.

-Erin Salley

Less Is More

As owners become more cognizant of what they are putting in their bodies, they are also becoming more aware of what they are giving to their pets.

While many times dog and cat treats get all the attention when talking about the natural category, there is a strong consumer base looking for the same human-grade, no preservatives or additive treats for their bird, too.

With natural treats gaining more and more popularity, large and small companies alike are jumping on the bandwagon.

“What makes a treat ‘natural’ is that it contains no artificial colors, no added sweeteners and contains real fruits and vegetables,” Mary Ellen Kaminski, merchandising manager for Drs. Foster & Smith, said. “Baked Birdie Munchies are baked cookies made in three delicious flavors — Cran-Blueberry, Tropi-Fruit Medley and Veggie Delight — that are received well by birds.”

These biscuits are sized appropriately for larger breeds, but are easily broken into small bite-sized pieces for smaller birds. They come in handy when using treats for training purposes, cutting down the time between the bird’s desired behavior and the reward.

The Tropi-Fruit flavor includes fresh ingredients such as mango and papaya, while the Veggie Delight features split-pea, pumpkin, and sweet potato. Regardless of the flavor, Baked Birdie Munchies contain no added sugars or dyes.

Another natural brand carried by Drs. Foster & Smith is Harrison Power Treats, Kaminski said.

Harrison Power Treats have certified organic ingredients for the pet owner who wants to provide a well-rounded treat,” she said. “These treats include Brazilian red palm fruit oil, nuts, seeds, veggies and more. They are formulated to support skin and plumage health.”

The small sized treats provide an extra boost of energy for birds who are weaning, going through a diet change or who are recovering from illness or injury. Other ingredients found in the Power Treats are alfalfa and spirulina, which offer a balance of fatty acids and antioxidants to aid the bird’s immune system.

Using natural treats helps to round out a bird’s seemingly bland diet and acts as an exciting reward when training. Since seeds are high in fat, offering fresh fruits and vegetables aids in balancing a bird’s nutrition.

Fresh foods are a staple of an avian diet, but can get messy or spoiled if left out too long. Natural treats, in biscuit or pellet form, provide an alternative while containing the same vitamins and minerals in compact morsels.

“For birds that are challenged with obesity, treats can be low calorie yet satisfying in the way of taste,” Melanie Allen, avian product specialist for the Rolf C. Hagen Corp., said.

Dr. Greg Burkett, DVM, from The Birdie Boutique, recommends treats from the Lafeber Company.

“The company has excellent quality control and provides only the freshest products,” Burkett said. “I also recommend Goldenfeast products. Each blend contains 30-40 ingredients, all human grade and fresh. Roudybush also offers a selection of healthy treats, too, like Tuscan Recipe and Orchard Harvest Soak and Cook mixes.”

Goldenfeast boasts a laundry list of unprocessed ingredients in each of their avian treat products, some of which include soy beans, chick peas, green cabbage, Goji berries, red and green grapes, and chives.

Each bird owner is different, and an exact treating schedule is dependent on the species.

“Treats are a great way to interact with your bird, but remember, treats should make up less than 10 percent of your bird’s daily intake,” Kaminski said.

The bottom line remains the same. Treats are a great way to spice up a bird’s diet and provide physical interaction, bonding and mental enrichment when used during training exercises, but don’t overdo it.

– Erin Salley is a freelance writer and customer service manager at Wyvern Consulting LTD. She lives in Pennsylvania with her fiance and all her rescue animals.

Enriching a Bird’s Life

Whether naturally hatched or hand fed, birds are innately wild and inquisitive creatures, therefore creating a stimulating habitat is crucial when deciding to become a bird owner.

Once the proper cage size is determined, it will need to be accessorized appropriately. It is important to keep birds of all sizes mentally stimulated and physically active. Without proper engagement in exercise, they can easily become bored and develop negative behaviors such as nipping, screaming and feather plucking.

Toys not only provide an outlet against boredom, but also offer psychological security. Like humans, birds are social animals and require physical relationships. It is common for a bird to bond tightly with one toy it finds particularly appealing and spend its time huddling close to it when it is resting or sleeping.

A bird’s size and personality play key roles when determining which toys are most beneficial to their environment. Large birds require toys that will not break when being manipulated with claws and feet, as broken or small pieces can pose a choking hazard.

Smaller breeds need toys that will not intimidate or scare them. Observing a bird and noting what it likes or dislikes provides insight to what toys the bird will find engaging. Preferences in color, texture and shape will assist bird owners when purchasing accessories.

Types of Toys

The choices of toys are almost as vast as the breeds of birds they are made for, but most fall under specific categories depending on their main purpose. Categories include foraging and treat, chewing, manipulative and exercise gyms. All cage toys can be classified as enrichment toys.

“Enrichment toys are anything that causes an animal to think or have to interact with its environment,” Donna Garrou, owner of Bird Stuff in Orange, Calif., said.

No matter the specific function, they will all allow the bird to learn from its habitat.

A variety of toys should always be at the bird’s disposal and should be repositioned, or replaced weekly.

“I recommend at least three toys that can be rotated; one, a tear-up toy that can be shredded or chewed, one a “beater” toy, and finally a foraging toy,” Garrou said.

She refers to the toy that becomes the bird’s “baby” as its beater toy.

“A beater toy is often a bird’s favorite toy as a baby, and they continue to love it all their life,” she said. “My 27-year-old African Grey still “beats” his stainless steel ball and ball toy each morning when he gets up.”

Treat toys reward for the bird periodically for play by dispensing a treat or by encasing one the bird can see but has to work in order to extract it. This keep birds engaged, even if they do not particularly enjoy playing. A foraging toy has the same basic premise, but uses the bird’s natural instinct to search for its food.

“A foraging toy will give the bird many hours of pleasure, work to get treats and/or its main diet out, helping with dexterity and reducing boredom,” Garrou said.
Garrou suggests Caitec’s line of “creative foraging systems” such as the Buffet Ball and the Foraging Wheel.

Treat and foraging toys are beneficial when returning the bird to its cage after outside activities. Barbara Heidenreich, a behavior/training consultant at Good Bird Inc. in Austin, Texas, uses a variety of treat toys available when returning birds to their cages. She rotates in new toys each time the bird is removed.

“This novelty can keep toys interesting and it makes going back in the cages more fun,” Heidenreich said.

She prefers to use the Fiesta Foraging Box by Kaytee.

“The bird gets the enrichment factor from destroying the box and also gets reinforced by treats hidden within the box,” she said.

A bird’s natural instinct tells them to chew. Many breeds have hooked beaks used for breaking open fruits and hard-shelled nuts. Including a chewing or shredding toy in their cages will satisfy their natural urges.

Popular choices of chewing and shredding toys are made from cardboard, wood such as pine or balsa, or knotted ropes. The purpose is for a bird to destroy these toys by ripping and shredding the cardboard or untying the knots in the rope, so replacing these types of toys will be necessary.

Garrou recommends the line of shredding toys from Planet Pleasures.

“One simple example is simply woven strips of palm called ‘Shredders’ that can be woven between bars or added to any toy to increase interest” Garrou said.
Garrou also suggests Oxbow’s ‘Timothy Twists’, which are similar to the ‘Shredders,’ but are made from Timothy hay.

-Erin Salley

United Pet Group Voluntarily Recalls Certain Bird Products

United Pet Group voluntarily recalled a limited quantity of the products, “Ultra Blend Gourmet Food for Parakeets,” “ēCotrition Grains & Greens Nutritional Supplement for Parakeets,” “ēCotrition Grains & Greens Nutritional Supplement for Canaries and Finches” and “ēCotrition Grains & Greens Nutritional Supplement for Cockatiels.”

These products contain small quantities of dried parsley flakes supplied to United Pet Group by Specialty Commodities, who on Feb. 11, initiated a voluntary product recall of the parsley flakes distributed to United Pet Group and other pet food suppliers, because the products may have the potential to be contaminated with salmonella.

Specialty Commodities distributed the products to United Pet Group on May 30, 2012, and Aug. 29, 2012. The listed products were distributed throughout the United State and Canada between October 2012 and February 2013. For a full list of the impacted products visit the FDA website.

No other United Pet Group, Inc., products were impacted by this voluntary withdrawal. Customers who have purchased any of the products noted above are urged to dispose of them or return them for a full refund.

There have been no known illnesses to date associated with the consumption of these products. If you have these products, please contact United Pet Group’s Consumer Affairs team at 1-800-645- 5145, Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30a.m. – 5 p.m. EST for a refund.

Vitakraft Sunseed, Inc.’s CEO Shares Business Tips for Success

Brent Weinmann’s career is one that many may dream of, but few accomplish.

Brent Weinmann

The 49-year-old Bowling Green State University graduate started out literally on the ground floor of the company filling bags with bird seed, and is now the president and CEO of Vitakraft Sunseed, Inc.

A visionary, who purchased Sunseed in 2001, and then sold it to Vitakraft several years later because he saw an opportunity to grow the brand, says listening to other people’s ideas, always looking to innovate and being opened minded are some of the keys to being successful in business.

“Listen to the customer, listen to the production staff. Once someone plants an idea in my head, I’m good with pushing it, and instead of saying, ‘what if,’ say, ‘why can’t we?’ My passion is doing just that looking at other products, or ones that could be in the market, and saying, ‘how can we improve,’ and working collaboratively to solve issues, whether it be helping the retailer or even internally.”

The number one piece of advice Weinmann has for those getting started in the industry is to get engaged in the business.

“If this is what you

want to do, if you love pets, if you love the business and see this as acareer path, then see this as an opportunity to make connections,” Weinmann said, who started volunteering on several trade industry committees, which led him to another position he currently holds, president of the Pet Care Trust.

“If you’re a guy stocking shelves, start going to trade shows. Go to open houses. Learn as much as you can about the business, your own business and explore other areas of it. I understand the production side, the quality side of the business. I’ve traveled pretty extensively on business and took advantages of opportunities. You have got to get out there. Engaging with people is critical.”

Weinmann shared with us his Top 5 tips for having a successful business career:

1. Honesty – At the end of the day, all you have is your reputation. Don’t sacrifice that for a short term gain. Whether it’s making a sales presentation, and trying to slide something in there to tip their decision in your favor, if you can’t truthfully say it, then don’t.

2  Be Open – Listen more than you talk.

3. Understand the people you’re dealing with – People have good days and people have bad days. Take everything with a grain of salt.

4. Hold yourself, and those you employ, to higher standards – It’s easy to keep yourself to a high standard, but it’s harder to push your staff. Learn to read people, and learn what motivates them. Know what buttons to push to get them to be more engaged in the vision of the company. Sometimes you have to make hard decisions, but do your best to share your vision, but if they don’t have it in them, it’s best for both of you to part ways.

5. Have fun – Enjoy what you do. I tend to make fun of myself sometimes, or if someone does something silly, have fun with it. It helps you built attitude, and gives people the sense that I genuinely care about them. Whatever you’re doing look for the humor in it. I work a lot, but I truly enjoy what I’m doing.

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