Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Do Your Birds Need A Nutritional Boost?

Healthy Bird Clues

This photo of Topaz (colorbred) mosaic hens looks like a portrait painting.

Even with a feather momentarily out of place, look at the tail on this Border.

Tight Feathered Border Landing in His Fancy Swing

Healthy Bird Clues

How can you tell the effectiveness of your bird's diet?

Every day as I take care of my birds, I look them over carefully. I want to detect not only signs of illness but just as important, signs of being totally fit and healthy.

To answer these questions observe your birds from a distance when they are at ease. As you approach your bird, unfit or even ill birds perk up because they instinctively do not want to show predators any sign of weakness and vulnerability.
Tight Feathered Stafford

1. How tight are your birds feathers? This time of year when the birds are not molting, the feathers should be extremely tight so that they appear painted on with no signs of looseness. Fit birds have a aura of well being, like they are wearing their Sunday Best Suit!

2. How is your birds wing carriage? Unless the bird has been breed with obviously too long wings, the wings should be held upright and meet in the back.

A bird that drops it wings should always be caught and have their vent checked by pasting with excrement. If so, wash and make sure the vent is not sealed and then lightly apply an oil to the vent area. I put the oil on my finger and then transfer it from my finger to the vent.

3. Is the bird's tail narrow and piped or wide? The healthier the bird the more narrow it holds its tail.

Young German Roller hen whose got it all, tight feathers, great wing carriage and piped tail!

If you have an aviary of birds, some will likely appear healthier than others. Often out of kindness, we overfeed to the point that if the bird wants to, it can live on a limited diet of only its favorite seed, rather than eating the wide variety of offerings.

Seeds are nutritional deficient but birds like to crack them. A good way to address this concern is to feed a fortified seed. One such product is L'Avian Plus Canary Mix (google for location). This product is widely available and has the advantage in that each bite is fortified with nutrients including lactobacillus probiotic that the bird needs but would not be in an untreated seed.
L'Avian Plus Canary Mix

Another favorite seed mix is the wheat germ oil and vitamin coated seed sold only by Bird of Paradise (316 263-0850) here in Wichita, Kansas. This mix is coated just right to provide the birds nutritional needs. Nancy, the owner, is happy to custom the coated seed mix for your seed preference as each order is made up specially for each customer. This is a real plus if you are color feeding red birds and want to avoid rape seed which is high in natural yellow coloring.
Bird of Paradise Wheat Germ Oil/Vitamin Coated Standard Mix. As breeding season approaches, I will change the blend to "Linda's Mix" which has no millet and contains more higher protein and fat seeds like flax.

How Do You Know If A Diet Change Had A Positive Effect?

Changes that make a major contribution to your birds health, are noticeable in as little as 24 hours. To evaluate the effect, go back to the same three questions listed above especially feather tightness and see if you can observe a positive difference. If not in 24 hours, what about 48 hours?

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