Food Conversion Recommendations for Cage Birds
When introducing your pet bird to a new food, avoid sudden changes of diet to prevent digestive upsets. Offer your bird a mixture of the “old” and “new” foods, gradually increasing the mix over a 7 to 10 day period until the bird is entirely accustomed to the new diet. When switching to a food that is similar to the bird’s present food type (such as from a seed diet to Kaytee FORTI-DIET Pro Health or FIESTA MAX), practice the following protocol:
- Day 1 to 3 -- 75% old food and 25% new food
- Day 4 to 6 -- 50% new food
- Day 7 to 10 -- 25% old food and 75% new food
After Day 10, feed the new products to the exclusion of the original food, following labeled directions. Continue to monitor the bird’s food intake for several days to ensure adequate consumption of the new food.
Important: Change the food daily at approximately the same time each day to monitor the food intake and to determine if all the food is being eaten. Do not introduce other new foods or treats until you are assured the new daily diet is being eaten for at least one week.
When converting a pet bird to a food that is completely different from the food normally fed, (a seed diet to exact® a processed food), a slower conversion is optimal. Small birds, such as parakeets, canaries and finches may not recognize an extruded diet as a food, refusing to eat. The following method prevents this difficulty.
- Day 1 to 7 -- 75% old food and 25% new food
- Second week – 50% old food and 50% new food
- Third week – 25% old food and 75% new food
- Fourth week – New food and sprinkles of old food if necessary
This method prevents digestive upset and gives the bird an opportunity to become familiar with the new food. Again, whenever introducing a new food it is very important to monitor the food intake and observe if the bird is actually eating the food. In some cases it may appear that the bird is eating the food when they are actually pushing the food around looking for their old diet. It is therefore advised to note the bird’s weight prior to and during conversion. Weight loss indicates poor consumption. If weighing is not possible, note the breast muscle through physical examination. Other signs of poor consumption and conversion include: listlessness, hyperactivity, sitting with fluffed feathers or on the cage bottom, and loose droppings. If these signs continue for more than one day, remove the new food and offer the old food again for at least one week to make sure the bird is stable. If they do not start eating in 24 hours, contact an avian veterinarian for assistance.
If the bird is not eating the new food, the droppings may change from formed to a looser consistency. Digestive upset or increased water consumption may cause this. Observe the bird. If it is drinking excessive water, delay conversion until food intake is normal.
Converting from one food to another is rarely a problem. Patience, diligence and careful observation eliminate difficulties. If you have any questions or need further assistance, please visit the Contact Us web page.