Regulators of the pet food industry rely on data from expert panels to determine minimum nutrient requirements for small animals. In 1998, an expert committee met to discuss the nutritional needs of companion birds. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and develop nutrient profiles for companion birds, focusing on profiles for formulated feed.
The expert panel developed maintenance guidelines for two broad groups of birds: psittacines and passerines, regardless of size or genus. These conservative, generalized guidelines are extrapolated from the National Research Council requirements for poultry and may be found in Table 1. The panel members also agreed that crude protein levels should be relatively low for pet bird food. Levels ranging from 12% to 15% crude protein were recommended for long-term feeding.
These guidelines have an important limitation. The amount of energy available to the body from feed ingredients such as corn and soybean meal after loss from eliminations and heat production (or metabolizable energy) is unknown in pet birds. Therefore the panel used gross energy levels instead of metabolizable energy.
Table 1. Nutrient profile recommendations for companion birds
|* Total vitamin A activity is listed meaning vitamin A plus carotene.
** Total dietary phosphorus is listed as opposed to the more difficult to analyze, non-phytate phosphorus.
Association of American Feed Control Officials. Nutrition expert panel review: New rules for feeding pet birds. Feed Management 49(2): p. 23-25, 1998.
Britsch G. Comparative investigations in macaws (Ara glaucogularis, Ara ararauna, Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus) on feed intake, digestibility as well as on energy and nutrient supply when commercial mixed diets or ingredients were fed exclusively [thesis]. Tierarztliche Hochschule Hannover; 2002.
Carciofi AC, Duarte JMB, Mendes D, de Oliveira LD. Food Selection and Digestibility in Yellow-Headed Conure (Aratinga jandaya) and Golden-Caped Conure (Aratinga auricapilla) in Captivity. J. Nutr. 136:2014S-2016S, July 2006
Earle KE. Calculations of energy requirements of dogs, cats and small psittacine birds. J Small Anim Pract 34:163–173, 1993.
Earle KE, Clarke NR. The nutrition of the budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus). J Nutr 121:S186–S192, 1991.
Koutsos EA, Matson KD, Klasing KC. Nutrition of birds in the order Psittaciformes: a review. J Avian Med Surg 15:257–275, 2001.
Ullrey DE, Allen ME, Baer DJ. Formulated diets versus seed mixtures for psittacines. J Nutr 121:S193–S205, 1991
Pollock C. Expert panel on companion bird nutrition. December 12, 2007. LafeberVet Web site. Available at https://lafeber.com/vet/expert-panel-on-companion-bird-nutrition/