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Dear Parrots magazine,

In answer to letter in 199

In the early 1980’s, the holistic, organic and natural segment of the dog and cat food industry was born in the US. It grew from the vision of one holistic vet, he formulated homemade recipes for dogs and cats that exponentially surpassed the nutrition present in other foods (canned and dry kibble) that were available at the time.  Aviculture would be well served by learning from what has taken place in the dog and cat food industry since then.

I have been a part of this movement from the beginning, using food and nutrition to keep animals healthy and to cure them when needed. In dogs and cats I have been able to cure cancer, allergies, liver disease, arthritis and several types of joint disease. In parrots I have been able to permanently cure bacterial and fungal infections, liver disease and have stopped the cycle of reoccurring bacterial and fungal infections. My food plans have been able to strengthen the health of birds with chronic infections such as Aspergillosis and PBFD. I’ve published many case studies in this magazine.

The only way I have been able to achieve these positive results is by having the animals eat foods that provide superior nutrition.  In aviculture since no packaged foods available in the market provide the superior nutrition comparable to the homemade recipes I have made and fed my dogs and cats since the 1980’s, I had to create something.

Early on when I began caring for birds I too became excited about the Harrison’s pellets, but then when I realised that the pelleted and formulated diets for birds were nothing more than the avian version of the dry kibble diets fed dogs and cats I knew my birds needed more. With this awareness I began applying my knowledge of holistic dog and cat nutrition into caring for my feather charges.

My search led me to ultimately create the sprouting blend that I feed today. For birds, top-quality nutrition, comparable to what I feed my dogs and cats, is only available in living foods - a properly formulated sprouting blend that provides complete protein and that will grow for two to three days to reach optimum nutrition. This is fed along with fresh raw fruits and raw or steamed vegetables and species-appropriate nuts. This sprouting blend should make up at least 50 per cent of the foods fed. Pellets should only be fed to complement this food plan, having them make up less than five per cent of the foods consumed is ideal, unless a bird chooses to eat more. Animal are capable of self-medicating and self-nourishing.  (THP issue 171)

Granted, pellets are better than feeding dry seeds as the primary food. But they fall short in providing adequate nutrition when compared to the food plans I teach my clients to feed their birds, that I feed my own birds and that I write about in my column.

Rosemary Low, in her book, Parrots in Aviculture, provides 17 individual dietary plans for over 300 different parrot species.  You won’t even come close to matching this type of nutrition diversity required for each species in a pellet.

Since 2002 I have been writing my column, The Holistic Parrot (THP), for this magazine. Over this time I have had the opportunity to research and share information about topics vital to avian nutrition. After learning last autumn that there is no such thing as a complete protein food (THP issue 191) I would question if any of the avian pellets provide an array of amino acids that make up a complete protein food. Especially since my research also uncovered that avian protein levels have been set based on the amino acid levels in seeds (THP issue 192) if these values were used to formulate any food, it does not provide complete protein.

In order for a bird to be healthy they must consume hundreds of nutrients each day. In addition to the list you include, please know we’ve also got to add enzymes and antioxidants.  And the amino acids consumed must make up a complete protein. Because of my avian nutrition work, I think that the single most important nutrient missing from a bird’s diet is complete protein. Vitamin A can easily be made in a healthy liver from betacarotene - abundant in fresh, raw, living foods. The body only converts the amount it needs.

Although birds naturally become stressed when breeding, I have seen many unhealthy animals, including parrots, produce offspring. Take for example the avian hobbyist who feeds mainly seed yet is thrilled by their budgies producing a clutch of babies. In my experience the true test of a food plan providing all the nutrients required is based on two factors.  First, the life span of that bird and, second, the quality of their health during their life.

With the way I feed my birds, and teach others, I actually find it very simple to provide an array of fresh and living foods that meet the nutritional requirements for a variety of different avian species.  Since Rosemary specifies in her book that the diet plan for the Blue-throated Conure and the Green-cheeked Conure as being the same, you may want to sneak a peek at the photos in my column this month, as this is what I feed my Green-cheek.

Because of the nutritional work I do with animals I see the effects of poor avian nutrition almost daily. That’s why I strive to help parrot lovers understand that what they feed their birds ‘is’ a matter of life and death (THP issue 169).

Leslie Moran



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