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The Problem with Pellets

In the last two years I have lost 17 adult breeder birds and two of my own babies (6 Lovebirds and 13 Cockatiels). They all died from the same thing, crystallized kidneys and vitamin D toxicity. The pathology reports consistently sited diet as the most likely root cause.

My birds' diet consists of: Pretty Bird Pellets in the cage 24 hours a day, supplemented with 1Tbls. corn and peas sprinkled with 1/8 teas. cede & 1/16 teas. Lactobacillus Acidophilus twice a week for non breeding birds. Breeding birds get: the vege mix every day. Cede is stopped two days before the first chick is expected to hatch and not started again until two days after the last chick hatches, because it can cause kidney damage. Cede is very high in protein. Everyone receives a 4 inch piece of millet spray twice a week, 1Tbls of seed twice a week and a piece of fruit or vege (apple, collard, kale, mustard green, zuchini, broccoli, etc.) hanging from a clothes pin every other day.

Initially, I assumed the adult birds had the kidney damage before I got them. However, when my own chick died, I was convinced that my diet may have been the cause for the kidney problems and not an existing problem in the parent birds. After the 3rd or 4th bird died my vet had my diet reviewed by a nutritionist because the pathology reports cited diet as the cause.

These birds had been showing symptons of drinking excessive water and very watery droppings. The nutritionist found nothing wrong with my diet. When my own baby died is when we finally decided to get the pellet company involved. My babies had been fed Pretty Bird handfeeding formula. At 3 - 4 weeks of age they started regurgitating about 1-2cc per feeding. This stopped the minute I switched formulas. The two babies that died had been raised on Pretty Bird handfeeding formula and weaned to Pretty Bird Pellets.

At that point in time 7 birds had died, two of which were my babies. I had 5 baby cockatiels left that had been on Pretty Bird since the day they were pulled from the nest. The pellet company contacted me in June of '96 about participating in a study to develope a new pellet formula. Their nutritionists reviewed my diet and found nothing wrong with it. They speculated that the birds were not metabolising the pellets properly and emphasized this was a cockatiel problem that would NOT be a problem for my lovebirds, quakers, or our pet cockatoo. At their request, the 5 babies were tested and found healthy. The company sent me one bag of food; I saw no change in any of the 5 babies. The 'test' cockatiels are the only ones showing any symptons. In October I called the company and told them I was almost out of test food and they said they were going to send me another new formula which I have yet to receive. By November I was calling them weekly and I'd had many more deaths. I told them I had participated in more disciplined studies with my school age children than I had with them, a professional company. Since November I've lost 6 more birds, 4 Lovebirds & two more 'test' babies.

With all the research I've done I'm leary of all pellets. Vets I've spoken with feel that even with all the problems I've had, I'm still better off feeding a pelleted diet. I have switched to Hagen because it's the only one I've found that uses only natural preservatives. I can't imagime the confusion I would have had if I mixed many brands of pellets the way many breeders do......

I feel the best way to feed your birds is a very well varied diet.

Any comments ,

1997 Katheleen M Greaser

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