Seeds, grains, fresh herbs and fruit provide our ornamental birds with everything they need. However, if they have a higher requirement for certain vitamins and minerals, it may be a good idea to provide them with complementary feed.

To cover their vitamin and nutritional requirements, ornamental birds need a species-appropriate, balanced diet. The basis of a healthy diet for birds includes fresh fruit and herbs, as well as a ready-made feed tailored to their individual species. But at certain times in their lives, for example, when they are moulting or if they are weakened due to illness, birds will require increased amount of vitamins, minerals or trace elements. Their requirements can no longer be covered by their normal diet, meaning it must be supplemented with complementary feed.

Breeding birds need lots of protein for egg laying and healthy growth. They can get a great deal of this from what is known as “egg food”, which consists mainly of egg, wheat flour and honey. Some experts recommend this during moulting and for strengthening birds weakened by illness. This cannot be given to birds who suffer from kidney problems or chronic egg laying as it can exacerbate these problems. Moreover, egg food can be a matter of taste: Some birds are crazy about it, while others find it is not to their taste. In such cases, egg crackers can be a good alternative as these are not such a matter of taste.

During the moulting season, a bird’s plumage will be completely replaced. This is a physically taxing process for the bird’s tiny body, which requires increased levels of energy, proteins, vitamins and fats. The optimal diet is paramount. For this reason, birds should receive not only their normal ready-made feed but also an extra portion of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as additional vitamins and amino acids. The most important additions are methionine and cysteine, which should be added in the correct proportion. But fortunately owners do not need to create this mix themselves. A specific type of bird food, known as “moult feed” is available from specialty stores.

In case of illness or particular stress
There are numerous other situations that can weaken our caged birds’ immune systems. A change in climate, an illness or a long journey can cause stress for our animals and drain their strength. In such situations, the optimum feed with vitamins can help minimise any negative effects. Multivitamin solutions are ideal for these situations, as they can complement the feed in cases of acute need or also several times a year as a course of treatment over a period of one or two weeks. You should only extend this period after discussing it with your vet, as excessive vitamin intake can be as harmful as vitamin deficiency.

Good to know
Multivitamin solutions available from specialty stores can be added to food or water. If they are to be added to your pets’ water, the drinking container should be cleaned and refilled after a couple of hours as these solutions spoil quickly, especially in the summer. Vitamins in water also only have a short useful life and will lose their effectiveness after a couple of hours. So if you do choose to give your pets their vitamins in water, make sure you clean their water bottle and refresh their water twice a day.

Daily Beak grooming
Grooming stones are also a form of complementary feed for birds. Whereas special feeds and vitamins solutions should only be given over a limited time, a grooming stone must be kept in the birdcage or aviary at all times. Grooming stones, made from iodine, calcium or minerals, ensure the birds not only get important minerals, but also that their beak is kept groomed, a process that is natural and essential to their health.

Call into your local store today to discuss your pet’s personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts