In 2004, Dr. Lafeber received the prestigious Outstanding Service Award from the Association of Avian Veterinarians in recognition of his commitment to the well-being of the avian population.
In 2007, Dr Lafeber received the prestigious President’s award from the Association of Avian Veterinarians in recognition of continued dedication to the health and welfare of the avian population.
Dr. Lafeber was especially honored because the same prestigious organization, the Association of Avian Veterinarians, had presented his father, Dr. Lafeber Sr. with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1988. This was fitting because Dr. Lafeber Sr. and Dr. Lafeber had always been very close throughout their lives.
Dr. Lafeber’s dedication to avian health and nutrition began at a very early age. At age 9, he would accompany his father, Dr Lafeber Sr., to his animal hospital to clean cages every Sunday. A few years later, at age 13, he learned how to run the bird pellet machine in the back of the Niles Animal Hospital. Dr. Lafeber Sr. created the first pelleted bird food.
In high school, Dr. Lafeber worked every summer, Saturday, Sunday and holiday at the animal hospital caring for birds, cat and dogs. His early interest in avian nutrition became clear when he created a nutrition spreadsheet for Lafeber Company when the personal computer first came out in the late 1970’s.
At Grinnell College, Dr. Lafeber majored in Chemistry and, in 1988, he earned his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University, the same school where his father received his veterinary degree thirty-nine years earlier.
After Dr. Lafeber received his DVM in 1988, Dr. Lafeber Sr. and Dr. Lafeber became close business partners. In early 1990, Dr. Lafeber became President of Lafeber Company and Dr. Lafeber Sr. became CEO.
In 1989, the father and son veterinary team developed Nutri-berries. They designed Nutri-Berries to provide the nutritional balance of pellets, the taste appeal of seeds and the foraging enrichment experience that is found in the wild. Nutri-Berries continue to be a great success more than nineteen years later.
Both doctors also created the Tropical Fruit, Sunny Orchard, El Paso and Garden Veggie Nutri-berries during the 1990’s along with other products, such as Nutri-nuts and JungleJoys.
Dr. Lafeber and the entire bird community were greatly saddened by the loss of Dr. Lafeber Sr. in 2001. To honor Dr. Lafeber’s Sr. contribution to avian veterinary medicine, Dr. Lafeber created the T. J. Lafeber Practitioner of the Year award, which honors outstanding practicing avian clinicians. Dr. Lafeber gratefully acknowledges the Association of Avian Veterinarians for allowing this award to be presented at their annual meeting.
Since the passing Dr. Lafeber Sr., Dr Lafeber has maintained the tradition of high quality products combined with product innovation.
Quality improvements have included:
- Naturally preserved Avi-cakes, Nutri-berries, Pellets
- Beta-carotene, an important precursor to Vitamin A
- Highly stabilized forms of vitamins A, D & E
- Chelated minerals for better absorption
- Omega 3&6 balanced Nutri-berries, Avi-Cakes and pellets
Product innovations have included:
- Parrot size Avi-cakes
- Fruit Delight Avi-cakes
- The first omega 3 & 6 balanced pellets
- Emeraid product line—the first elemental gavage feeding diet for Psittacine, raptors, reptiles and herbivores
- Emeraid Omnivore-Psittacine elemental gavage feeding diet (for veterinarians)
- Emeraid Carnivore elemental gavage feeding diet (for veterinarians)
- Emeraid Herbivore elemental gavage feeding diet (for veterinarians)
- Emeraid Piscivore (for veterinarians)
A little bit about Dr. Lafeber’s family life…
In 1985, as part of an audience of 200 people, Dr. Lafeber watched while Christine Davis worked with a wild macaw on stage. Within 30 minutes, the bird went from being frightfully afraid of all humans, to beginning to trust Christine by allowing her to scratch his head. It was literally a miracle to Dr. Lafeber. Dr. Lafeber, who had spent his life with birds, had never seen such an ability to understand and to communicate with birds.
Little did Dr. Lafeber know that in 1998, thirteen years later, this incredible woman would become his wife and best friend. Dr. Lafeber and Christine live in Chicago and Los Angeles. Their family includes two teenage daughters, a bird family of macaws and parrots, a Rottweiler, a Chihuahua, a semi-feral cat, frogs, and various wildlife that surrounds their homes.