During our visit to Versele-Laga, Dr. P. Ghysels gave us a talk on the food of birds and the requirements of this food. This presentation, based on scientific research and experiments, was clear and easy to follow, with plenty of examples.
The result is that we are smarter on the point of food, but we are not yet specialists in bird food.
This article is based on the presentation of Dr. Ghysels and presents some points to be aware of.
For our birds, this balanced food consists of the following ingredients :
1. Protein, fat and carbohydrates.
2. Minerals and trace elements such as zinc, iron, etc.
The amount of protein needed depends on the situation. During breeding and moulting, this amount is significantly higher than during the resting season. Seed mixtures can never be adequate enough to provide the normal situation.
Carbohydrates are found in starch form in plants and seeds. Fats are concentrated sources of energy. Too much fat in the food causes a bad function of other materials in the digestion of food. The history of omega-3s is a good illustration of this case. Fats are found in oil-rich seeds. These seeds can constitute at most 1/5 of the mixture.
Minerals and trace elements must be presented daily. These elements constitute the "fitness" of the bird.
For the female, limestone is a primordial necessity. At each egg laid, the amount of limestone of the female decreases by 20%. During the breeding season, the female must be able to hold her limestone stock to the maximum. During this period, it is therefore necessary to provide extra limestone in the food.
Vitamins are not in sufficient quantities in normal food (seed mixture). We must add some. it is important to pay attention to the vitamins that can be dissolved in the fat such as vitamins A, D, E and K. A surplus of these vitamins is stored in the fat of the bird and causes a bad function of several organs.
Some points of attention
The need to add limestone for the female during the breeding season has just been explained. A lack of limestone for young people causes twisted bones in the paws and chest. At the limit, this lack can cause fractures.
Lack of vitamins of type A and E causes discolouration of plumage, poor condition, reduced fertility and low resistance to disease. A lack of amino acids, especially lysine, is manifested by delayed formation of plumage and discoloration. Classic mixtures do not contain enough lysine.
The composition of the food is very important for the general condition of the bird during all periods : The breeding, the season of the exhibitions and the rest.
So be careful of the ingredients table on blend packs and pies. Pay attention to elements like limestone and lysine taking into account that extra elements of these elements are necessary to obtain a sufficient level in the food.
Do not forget that all birds, like ourselves, show a preference for certain seeds, pâtés, etc. To make a food recipe for birds is not easy.
Jan Van Looy
Article written in 2008.
Belgische Zebravinken Club