Lafeber in the Field

Lafeber Company’s work isn’t always tied to our family farm and production facility.

Lafeber Company has worked with zoo veterinarian, Samuel Rivera, to create Stick-A-Roos, a diet for use in interactive parakeet and cockatiel aviaries. Opened in 2009, Boundless Budgies is a popular exhibit at Zoo Atlanta. Watch the video clip above, which illustrates Zoo Atlanta’s  Boundless Budgies aviary or continue on for text and photos illustrating Stick-A-Roos use:

Sam Rivera Zoo Atlanta

To me, it’s fascinating to see someone that has not had much experience with birds coming into an exhibit and leaving with a different understanding of what these birds are about. You know they’re not going to harm you. They’re very gentle creatures. And I think that’s one of the greatest things this exhibit accomplishes in terms of enhancing that bond between the visitor and birds.

One of our greatest challenges when we started thinking of building a parakeet exhibit was how are we going to feed these 500 birds and feed them in a manner that will provide good health.

At that time when we were doing our research, before we started, I always remembered Nutri-Berries from when I was in private practice. And I thought that would be an ideal diet and that’s when I contacted you Dr. Lafeber to find out how we could put a Nutri-Berry on a stick to try and feed our budgies and to provide a more balanced diet. And that’s how this process started. We were planning on having these birds long-term so they have to be at an optimal nutritional plane.

And that’s how we started coming up with the idea of instead of millet on a stick, putting a more balanced diet on a stick that could be fed by the public to the birds. So far I think we have done a very good job at that.

Child with stick

When our guests come into our budgie exhibit, they actually enter into a staging area where they can purchase a Stick-A-Roo that they will feed to the birds.

They then enter an exhibit where the budgies are, and they actually hold up the stick in the air. And then before they know a budgie actually lands on their hand and starts eating off of the stick(right). So it’s a very close interaction. They actually have birds on their hands. Sometimes they may have birds on their shoulder. Sometimes the flock takes off and you’ll literally have hundreds of birds flying all around you(below) and they get to see the birds in more natural—well a semi-natural environment. They’re in an outdoor setup; they have lots of room to fly. And I think it gives the public a very a different perspective on what the budgie’s all about.

In this park exhibit they are getting plenty of exercise. They’re outdoors most of the time. Perhaps when it’s really cold in the winter for a couple of months they may spend a little time indoors. But for the most part they’re enjoying the outdoors, and I think our flock appears to be doing very well and is very healthy”.

Budgies in flight

Opened in 2009, Boundless Budgies is now one of Zoo Atlanta’s most popular exhibits, and sales of Lafeber Stick-A-Roos have helped make Boundless Budgies a financially sustainable exhibit at Zoo Atlanta.

Budgies eating Nutriberries

Nutri-Berries have been the main food of the parakeets since the exhibit began.