I'll bet, from time to time, you have wondered why birds in their native habitat thrive so well without synthetic vitamin and mineral supplements. Maybe it's because their "daily balanced diet" really isn't "balanced" at all. They eat what is in season in their geographic area, this sometimes consisting of only a single food type. There is one thing for sure: The birds that are our companions now would never eat anything lifeless and processed in their daily food search in the wild. So why do our well-meaning "avian experts" insist that dry, processed, lifeless pellets and "treat" novelties laced ("fortified") with synthetic "vitamins" and isolated minerals are essential for our bird's health? And why do these wonderful creatures have so many health problems while sharing life in our well-built, fully-equipped homes?
Remember the stories about miners taking Canaries into the mines to detect poisonous gases? The Canaries, being more sensitive to these things, showed signs of distress (or fell over dead) before their human captors experienced anything, thus saving the miners' lives. I will get into toxic environment factors at another time, but I believe the Canary story is also an important finger-pointing when we look at avian dietary practices. If these processed foods truly were the answer to our avian health problems, we would have long since seen a decline in these problems. As we are all aware, this is just not the case. Should we not be asking why? Are our birds telling us something about our own health awareness?
The debates continue year after year over which of the avian diet approaches is best:
- Manufactured Products (pellets, dog kibble, pasta, "treat" cakes, etc.).
- Traditional dry mixes long on fatty seeds, and that now include high quantities of sugar in the form of "natural" dried fruits.
- What I call the "Shotgun Approach" (everything you can think of in an attempt to cover all of the bases).
If you have chosen the latter you are aware that the two former ones don't work. You have bettered your odds that something in the avalanche of foods will take care of shortcomings. But this approach also has its inherent shortcomings:
- Over-feeding is one of aviculture's major problems. I will expand on this in another article.
- When so many different and changing sources are used, it becomes impossible to identify which one is, or ones are, the cause of a problem.
- This method is VERY time consuming and expensive.
- Since the collection of items includes bad as well as good choices, results can never be very successful.
Why have experts in white lab coats not been able to deliver a diet that keeps our birds healthy? It's difficult to compete with the complexity of the natural world and it is unnecessary to do so. Other factors include marketing and profit consideration, and shelf life. How convenient it is to grind up commodities and add coloring and preservatives. How can the customer know the quality, purity, or composition of the product or whether it is fresh or not after it is hidden in this form? How would you know if the grains were stunted, if there were mold spores and unwanted organisms present, or even if all of the ingredients on the label were actually there?
We know that wild birds eat whole living foods and they have fully functioning immune systems. How can we give our companion birds a reliable, clean, high quality living diet that promotes their self-defense health ability? We can grow it FRESH, at home each day, even in an apartment, by sprouting viable seeds, grains, and legumes. Why is sprouting so important?
The miracle of germination is the miracle of birth. You are getting life itself as the major nutritional element. From dormant matter, active life is initiated (something a pellet will never see). Nutrient potential is activated into food forms the bird can fully utilize: proteins into amino acids, fats into essential fatty acids, starches to sugars, compounds that are toxic or undesirable are converted into useful compounds, minerals are combined into forms that relate to metabolic processes, and many types of enzymes are abundant. Vitamin content multiplies many fold. All of this happens before the bird eats the food. There is simply no comparison between living food and permanently dead food, or even dormant food. And there is no comparing synthetic vitamins (chemical imitations) to the real, living thing.
To those who insist that our birds eat predominately pellets, I insist that they eat predominately processed grains products at each meal (Keloggs Total will do) and synthetic vitamins themselves! Let's see how long they would last on such a diet.
This is China Prairie's fundamental view of avian nutrition. We feel what you don't feed your bird is just as important to your bird's health as is supplying a whole living diet. Please read labels carefully. You will be surprised at what you will find there.