When feeding birds, the choice of a correct diet is essential for their health. A well-balanced diet can prevent a number of health and behavioural problems. It is also important that not all birds have the same nutritional needs. For some birds, the normal diet consists mainly of grains, seeds and nuts. Other birds prefer a diet primarily of fruits.
1. Fats and Fatty Acids
Fats in food are an important energy source for ornamental birds. In addition, fats also are necessary to transport fat-soluble vitamins; they are the precursors for a number of hormones and they provide essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids (e.g. linoleic and linolenic) cannot be created by the body and must be absorbed via the feed. Linoleic acid is important for the construction of cells. The Deli Nature eggfood includes soy germs and vegetable oils that are naturally rich in these essential fatty acids.
2. Proteins and amino acids:
The majority of standard seed mixtures contains insufficient proteins to meet the birds’ needs. Proteins, made of amino acids, are building blocks for the muscles and feathers. The bird can make some of these amino acids itself (non-essential amino acids); others cannot be made by the birds (essential amino acids) and should therefore be included in the diet.
The need for proteins is highest when laying eggs for young animals which are still growing. The amino acid lysine is one of the most important amino acids during growth. During the moulting, birds also have higher protein requirements. During this period, birds change their feathers, a process that requires a lot of energy from our feathered friends. Feathers consist for 85% proteins; the amino acids methionine and cysteine are particularly important for the feathers. A deficiency of methionine can lead to dark, horizontal stripes on the feathers, called ‘stress lines’. Too many proteins may also negatively affect birds. When digesting proteins, uric acid is formed in the body.This is normally excreted in the urine. However if there are too much proteins, the kidneys are unable to eliminate all the uric acid. This uric acid can gather in the joints and lead to gout.
The protein sources in the Deli Nature eggfood range are of a very high quality. The digestibility is higher than 95% and various sources such as brewer’s yeast, soy protein concentrate, and corn gluten are combined to create an ideal amino acid pattern.
Vitamins are essential nutrients, which are necessary in low levels for the correct functionary of the metabolism, growth and health. Each vitamin has its own specific function in the body; consequently no single vitamin can be missed. One should be careful that too many of fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) are not given as supplements. These vitamins cannot be excreted through urine and excess can lead to poisoning especially with vitamins A and D. When developing the new range of Deli Nature eggfood, the vitamin requirement of birds was extensively examined, so that this would contain optimal levels of vitamins.
• Vitamin A:
The content of beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A) and vitamin A in seed mixtures is limited, and must therefore be supplemented. Vitamin A is important for visual functions and plays a role in growth and development, fertility as well as the operation of the immune system. Vitamin A
plays a role in the formation of the epithelium. The epithelium forms the outer cover of the skin and organs. A shortage of vitamin A often leads to reduced resistance to infections, skin problems and may cause a dull plumage. In the event of a deficiency of vitamin A, a cornification (thickening) may occur in the epithelium near the ducts of the kidneys, resulting in a blockage. As a result the epithelium in the lungs can also be affected with a difficulty in breathing or shortness in breath.
• Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which is absorbed from food or formed from a pro-vitamin under the sun’s influence. Vitamin D is necessary for the proper absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the diet. Calcium and phosphorus are especially important for bone formation and the construction of the skeleton in young birds. The strength of the shell is determined by the availability in vitamin D and calcium. A deficiency of vitamin D can lead to poor growth of the bones, deformity of the bones, fusion of the toes and collapsed feet. Birds which are laying eggs with excessively thin shells in the event of a deficiency. An excess of vitamin D can lead to calcification of amongst other things the organs, making them function poorly.
• Vitamin E:
Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant and protects the cells by neutralising harmful substances (radicals). Vitamin E is essential for fertility, growth and metabolism. Vitamin E is also involved in repairing and maintaining of muscles. In the event of a shortage of vitamin E, the balance can become impaired which is associated with uncontrolled movements of the head as well as sterility.
• Recommended amounts:
The recommended amounts of vitamins in a maintenance feed for birds:
• Vitamin A: 2000 – 4000 IE/kg
• Vitamin D: 200 – 1200 IE/kg
• Vitamin A: 50 mg/kg
Sprouted seeds, a wealth of nutrients!
What is the best way to germinate the seeds?
The construction and operation of the gastro-intestinal tract of birds is completely different to mammals. It is extremely important for the health of your birds that the provided feed is tailored to the digestive system of your feathered friends. In a bird, the system is composed of the beak, the crop, the glandular stomach and the gizzard. These have their own specific task in the absorption and digestion of the provided food. We must ensure that each part can carry out its function as correctly as possible.
How a bird eats, depends on the type of bird. Certain types eat the seed an shell; others will use their beak and active tong to peel the seeds and leave the shell. Often, they will press the seed with their tongue against the hard palate to break it.
After they swallowed the feed, it ends up in the crop. This is a sack like widening of the oesophagus and is on the right-side of the neck just before the entry to the chest. The eaten food is stored and presoaked in the crop.
After the crop, there is the glandular stomach. This is an organ with a lot of glands which emit digestive juices and stomach acid on the pre-soaked seeds. The feed stays briefly in the glandular stomach, so that the juices can work on it. There often the feed is transported to the gizzard.
The gizzard is a round organ with a thick wall constructed of muscles. This is the last phase of the processing before it goes to the intestinal canal. The inside of the gizzard is covered with a very hard lining with a rough surface. The gizzard contracts strongly: together with the rough lining, this ensures that the food is ground down. If the food is already too far processed when it arrives in the gizzard, the continued grinding of the food will no longer have to carry out its function. This causes thinning of the wall and slackening of the gizzard which ultimately ends in Proventricular Dilatation Disease.
In order to support and strengthen the grinding action of the gizzard, the birds must always have bird grit and soluble grit. This is indispensable and is unfortunately often forgotten. The finely ground food then arrives in the small intestine where bile and pancreatic juices are added which further break down the food so that it can be absorbed.
In the large intestine, excess water is reabsorbed into the body. A difference should be made between birds that are seed-eaters and soft-food eaters. Seed-eaters have a longer gastro-intestinal tract as they have to digest a lot more carbohydrates. Birds that eat soft foods have a much shorter gastro-intestinal tract and digestion is much quicker. This of course influences the food which needs to be provided