Constitutes a Balanced Diet?
here it comes. You know we've got to say it, right? Brace yourself:
Does Not Live By Seed Alone
glad that's over with. If you're a finch owner, you've probably
heard it a million times by now and so I guess that makes this
a million and one. But there was a first time for all of us,
so we repeat it to make sure no one misses it. Regardless of
whether this is the first time or the millionth time, it merits
repeating over and over again (even at the risk of being boring
and redundant) if it comes as news to just one potential finch
owner out there (if you're that one, you've made my day!).
you've got a bird or two or four or ten and they seem to be
getting by just fine on seed and water. Try some of these dietary
ideas anyway. After all, finches do not bond to their humans.
One does not adopt a pair of finches to snuggle up with, pet,
or play with them. Finches entertain us by reacting with each
other and with their environment. The greater variety they encounter
in their environment, the more entertaining they can be. Watching
a bird investigate new foods can be one of the most entertaining
acts of all. From a leaf of lettuce, to a head of broccoli,
to an ear of corn - it's all one big giant carnival to a finch.
And if you are entertained, imagine how much more interesting
their lives have become! A varied diet can contribute more than
balanced nutrition to your birds' lives.
don't even think about what might happen if you want your birds
to breed on a seed-only diet. Or if you have a female and she
starts to lay eggs (never mind she doesn't have a partner -
females will lay eggs without the presence of a male). Or what
might happen if they become exposed to an illness.
you tried it and they didn't touch it? Be patient. Sometimes
it takes awhile. See the section on Introducing
New Foods for some ideas. Or visit Finchworld's
Finch Forum and ask others for some advice.
balanced finch diet may consist of some of the
so far, nothing too controversial being said here. I think I
can safely report that a well-balanced diet is a universally
accepted concept. But that's probably where the "universal"
part ends. What is a balanced diet? What nutrients do finches
need the most? What are they most lacking? What foods best supply
them? How much do they need? There are so many different philosophies
on what constitutes a balanced diet (and so little research
to back any of them up), that it is hard to know exactly what
and how much to offer your birds.
wish I could tell you. But I just plain don't know. I am not
a nutritionist. I am not a veterinarian. I don't know the science
and biology behind it all. I don't know who's opinion is based
on the best possible information. I can't even try something
out for a few weeks and look for positive results, because the
benefits of a good diet are seen in the long-term. So somewhere
along the line, I have to make a leap of faith.
people emphasize greens and veggies because some are high in
vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A and calcium. Some people
play down the importance of veggies because they contribute
mainly water and carbohydrates, in favor of a higher protein
diet. In an article published in the NFSS bulletin, Robert Black
claims that protein deficiency is the most prevalent dietary
problem he's seen in finches. Many people believe in offering
soaked seed and/or sprouted seed, claiming this changes the
nutritional content of regular seed. And calcium supplementation
is often talked about, particularly with regard to preventing
egg binding. Some people believe in offering vitamins, others
believe that if the birds receive an adequate diet, vitamin
supplementation is not necessary.
what do I say? In my humble opinion, it is my responsibility
to expose my birds to as great a variety of (bird-safe) foods
as I can, making sure I cover all the major nutritional groups.
I encourage them to try new foods (see Introducing
New Foods). I trust the birds to know what they need and
when they need it.
encourage everyone to do as much research on this topic as they
can. The following is the diet we feed to our birds. It's evolved
over time and it will probably continue to evolve in the future
as we learn more and find new foods our birds take to.
for how much, I generally offer what they will eat in a day.
If I have lots left over at the end of the day, it was too much.
If the food is all gone relatively quickly, probably not enough.
Through trial and error I have adjusted the amount I feed until
it comes out about right. The exception to this rule is for
foods that spoil. I try to only offer as much as is eaten in
a safe amount of time (although I've noticed that the birds
will usually avoid foods like egg after they are no longer fresh
anyway, so I don't worry too much about it).
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