Thursday, 26 August 2010

Four Components Of Parrot Diet. Cooked Foods

Cooked foods, when served warm, are not only nutritious but also comforting, especially for ailing or young birds. Cooking for parrots can be a lot of fun and you can be as inventive as you want. I feed my African Grey a mix of cooked grains and legumes, plus sprouted grains and legumes and a variety of vegetables and berries daily. This time of food is often referred to as the Mash Diet. It is quite easy to prepare and you can vary ingredients from one batch to another.

My TAG Digby enjoying his Mash
To cook a batch of nutritious mash mix 1 parts of legumes to 2 parts of grains (choose at least 2 different types of legumes and 2 types of grains from the lists below). Soak the legumes overnight. In the morning, cover the legumes with double the amount of water. Boil rapidly for about 20 minutes. Top up water if needed. Add the grains. Boil for another 15-20 minutes. It is best to ensure that when the mix is cooked no water is left. The water in which the mix is cooked contains some of the nutrients from the legumes and grains, and if drained, those nutrients are lost.

Another batch of the Mash
Once the legumes/grains mix is ready, add an equal amount of any chopped or minced vegetables (some vegetables, like carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, parsnips etc. can be added cooked, and others can be raw, especially leafy greens, like dandelion, cress, kale etc.) and a small amount of fruit.  Divide into portions and freeze. Defrost as needed in the fridge overnight. Serve at room temperature or warmed up in a microwave. This type of food can be served for breakfast and dinner and the pellets can be provided during the rest of the day.

This mix is only suitable for cooking, because it contains some types of beans which must never be served raw.
Suggested legumes list
  • Aduki bean
  • Borlotti bean*
  • Butter bean*
  • Chickpea
  • Haricot*
  • Kidney bean*
  • Mung bean
  • Pinto bean*
  • Soya bean*
  • Peas
  • Lentils (any variety)
* these beans must be soaked for 8-12 hours or overnight, drained, rinsed and boiled for at least 40 minutes to deactivate toxic compounds found in these types of beans.
Suggested grains list:
  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Brown Rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn
  • Kamut
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Spelt
  • Triticale
  • Wheat
Another popular food for birds is Birdie Bread. It is easy to prepare, easy to store (in the freezer) and parrots love it!
There are a few types of birdie bread you can make. One is just based on all sorts of flours, with the addition of vegetables, cooked grains, legumes, and eggs. Or Pellet Birdie Bread made almost entirely out of pellets. Or you can just mix and match so to say.
All Natural Birdie Bread
1/4 cup of wholewheat flour
1/4 cup of corn meal/flour (not white corn flour used for thickening sauces, but the yellow kind, also referred to as polenta)
1/4 cup of buckwheat flour*
1/4 cup of chickpea flour*
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 cup of minced assorted vegetables or fruit or 2 jars of sugar/salt/dairy free baby food
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of palm fruit oil or extra virgin olive oil
100 ml of water (add last to be able to adjust the consistency depending on the amount and variety of vegetables)
Mix all ingredients together, adding water last. The consistency of the batter should be similar to that of the cake batter.
Pour into a cake or bread tin and bake in the oven at 180-190C (gas mark 5) for around 30 - 40 minutes. The bread is done once the skewer inserted in the centre of the bread comes out clean.
Cool on the rack, slice into squares and freeze. Defrost as needed.
* If you can't find buckwheat or chickpea flours you can replace them with any other flour of your choice. Avoid using white flour or rye flour.
Pellet Birdie Bread
1 cup of pellets ground up into flour (I found that Hagen pellets and Zupreem make for a very nice loaf)
1 tablespoon of baking powder
2 tablespoons of palm fruit oil or extra virgin olive oil
2 eggs
100ml of water.
Mix "pellet flour" with baking powder. Crack in the eggs, add oil and mix thoroughly. Add water, mix again and let it stand for a few minutes. The pellets will absorb the water and the batter will be quite thick but airy and easy to roll. Roll into small balls, place in a row on a baking tray/cooking sheet and bake at 180-190C (gas mark 5) for about 15 minutes. Cool and freeze. Defrost as needed.

Once you are familiar with how to make a loaf of birdie bread you can experiment with the ingredients, by adding almost anything you want to the mix.
Table/Human-type foods
Avoid feeding your parrot foods which contain any amount of salt or sugar. You can offer a small amount of foods you eat if they are prepared without salt. If you know your parrot is going to have dinner with you just omit adding salt to such things as pasta (best wholegrain or spelt varieties), rice or potatoes. You can always add salt once your food is on your dish for yourself. Alternatively, remove a small amount of food once it is cooked to a plate for your parrot and then add salt to the rest of the dish.
Salt is an unnecessary and dangerous for parrots. It is toxic and can lead to serious health problems, like kidney failure and even death, even if given on occasion. Therefore any human foods, containing salt, like crisps, chips, pretzels, nachos, etc. must be avoided.
Sugar is another product which must not be present in any parrot's diet in its refined form. Sugar can promote yeast growth in the gut and lead to a range of other health problems. For more info clickhere.
However, you can spice up your bird's food by adding such spices as cinnamon, chilli flakes, whole dry chillies, turmeric, dried parsley, oregano, rosemary or thyme when cooking.
Many parrot owners feel the need to feed their parrots chicken, chicken bones and other animal protein. Parrots in the wild don't consume any animal protein. During the breeding season some types of parrots allegedly snack on insects and larvae but it is not the same as eating chicken or chicken bones. Animal protein can lead to a number of health and behavioural problems. Excess of protein-rich foods prepares the body for breeding and therefore can cause hormonal behaviours, including aggression, screaming and feather-plucking. Furthermore, animal protein is generally high in methionine, an amino acid, which releases a toxic by-product called homocysteine when metabolised in the body. It is the liver and kidneys which have to remove the toxic compounds out of the body, and consequently an extra burden is placed on these organs, which appear to be quite weak (or not so well adjusted) in parrots as it is. There is nothing in meat which a well-balanced vegetarian diet can't provide in terms of nutrition for the parrot, so to avoid any health problems, do not feed your parrot meet!
Dairy products is another controversial subject. Parrots should never be given milk as they can't digest it properly and consumption of milk can lead to diarrhoea. However, such dairy products as low-fat unflavoured plain yoghurt or cottage cheese can be served once a week in the amount of about 1 teaspoon for a medium-sized parrot without any ill effects.
Further reading:
The Mash Diet
Recipes from ParrotHouse.com
Recipes from HolisticBirds.com

1 comment:

  1. The mash recipe is a lot like the "chop" recipe that I read about on Parrot Enrichment. The best bird food that a number of sites are promoting are cooked grains and beans along with fresh veggies. I will be introducing them to my best parrots Koko, Mihko and Candy tomorrow. Thanks for great blogging.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...