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What's the Story with Parrot Food Pellets?
Posted by Mitch Rezman on 11/5/2011 to Feeding Exotic Birds
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Parrot Food Pellets
So what's the deal with parrot food pellets? They're popular for many reasons but on the flip side, there are no pellet trees in the rain forest. With all the bird foods on the market, why would you select pellets over a seed diet? Can a bird survive on an all pellet or all seed diet?

Parrot Food Pellets 
Parrot food pellets came about to provide better nutrition for caged birds. Although many soft bill birds (like canaries & finches) have been living on a seed diet for years. Larger birds require a more balanced diet. Early on, parrot food consisted of sunflower, peanuts, corn and dried chili peppers which made it high in fat and except for the chili peppers there wasn't a whole lot of nutritional value. It was also thought at the time feeding your bird fresh fruits and mixed vegetables would cause diarrhea. Further, parrots in the wild don't eat a lot of seed. It would be very difficult to duplicate a wild parrots diet unless you want to import ingredients from different continents. Things like insects, flowers, plants and tubers. At-the-end-of-the-day many seed diets are typically deficient in vitamins, amino acids and minerals.

Parrot Food Pellets
Choosing the right parrot food pellets can be a daunting task. The list of brand names and ingredients is long. One of the first things you want to look for is that you're buying factory sealed bags. Many websites sell several sizes of bags starting at one pound. That's your first red flag - there are no one pound bags of parrot food pellets offered by manufacturers. Why is this important? Let's start with freshness. Factory sealed bags of bird food have expiration dates, the date you should no longer serve the food to your bird. There's no way of telling the date your food expires with "re-pack" bird food. Hagen bird food extracts all the air out of their food and injects CO2 (carbon dioxide). This guarantees their food will be bug free. Yes bug free. All bird seed contains larvae which may or may not produce live bugs or moths in your bird food over time. Score one for bird food pellets - generally bug free. 

According to Mark Hagen, prime developer of Hagen bird food "More pelleted food needs to be eaten by birds to maintain their weight, in fact almost twice as much as high calorie seed kernels. Fat has more than twice the energy value per gram than protein or carbohydrates and this accounts for the energy differences. The cost of feeding a bird is not based on the price per kilogram of food but the price per kilo-calorie of digestible energy. Extruded foods are able to incorporate more efficient fat levels into the texture of the "kibble" read more on Avian Nutrition: Trends and Philosophies here. Which brings us to the money thing. I feel overall parrot food pellets give your bird a good bang for your buck. Your bird can live a long and healthy life on pellet bird food alone. Harrison's parrot food pellet diets are fully organic and are especially useful for birds that are molting, over or under weight, highly active, live in a colder area or recovering from an illness.

Parrot food pellet manufacturers can more precisely target different species nutritionally. Pretty bird parrot food pellets offer some species specific pellet blends like Pretty bird African Grey and (large) Conure specific food. Roudybush pellet bird food offers each formula in different size pellet "pieces" depending on the size of bird you have. Scenic pellet bird food was originally developed for parrots kept in zoos. Zupreem offers several different varieties of pellets that can appeal to a wide variety of  birds. 

Parrot food pellets are by far and away cleaner to feed than a bird seed diet. If you feed your bird a seed diet and if you look under your bird's cage, what do you see? Unwanted seeds and lots of seed hulls. By the way our most popular alternative to an all seed diet for those birds that won't embrace a pellet diet alone should try Tropimix seed fruit and pellet blend. The seeds in this yummy and nutritional hulled seed, fruit, veggie and pellet mixture have no hulls making it a very clean bird food blend. What's interesting, seed blend ingredient panels include the meat and the shells the hulls. In that parrots hull seeds before eating them, your birds is receiving lower fiber levels that are actually noted on the bags.

Overall if you're considering a pellet diet for your bird, why not try using the pellets as a base 50%-70% pellets, some veggies fresh or frozen, legumes (beans), fresh fruits, table foods (in moderation) and some seeds never hurt. If you want learn more about the differences between bird foods, read this.
Video Dr Ross Perry for Harrisons Pellet Bird Food
If you have some thoughts or questions on this subject, please share them on Facebook 

Until next time

Catherine Tobsing
Windy City Parrot, Inc. 

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What bird owners have to say
Mary Hill Date 9/15/2013
Another great article! May I share your link with our bird club members..Oklahoma Avicultural Society here in Tulsa?
Date 9/20/2013
My avian vet recommended Zupreem pellets over the Nutriberries I had been feeding my then 12 year old cockatiels. I switched the pair to mostly pellets over about a one year period. Now I decided to read the ingredients. Assuming bird food makers follow the same protocol as human food producers, the first 2 ingredients (and most prominent in the food?) are ground corn and soybean meal! Corn is a grain, not a vegetable. How can those two items be superior over seeds coated with vitamins and other nutrients? Does anyone know the answer to this?
Dagmar Finch Date 9/26/2013
When I first got my dbh amazon, her cholesterol was sky-high and she almost died. Harrison's helped me get my bird back to being healthy and happy. Harrison's is still her main food but I use other pellets to bring a little color in her life. She gets fresh fruits and veggies every day and I cook a brown rice, tomato and hot pepper food for her supper. That is her first course. Then she gets a helping of bean food I also cook for her. I find all the different dry beans, lentils, flaxseed and whatever else, soak then cook it and freeze it in portions. She is healthy and happy and appart from a little of my bread very seldom gets peoplefood. That's a treat - not a regular part of her diet. She adjusted well to all the changes but it wasn't easy at first. You do a great job with this blog, thank you very much for all the time you spend researching all your topics.
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