Expert Panel on Companion Bird Nutrition


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

Psittacines Passerines
Minimum Maximum Minimum Maximum
Gross energy kcal⁄kg 3200 4200 3500 4500
Total protein % 12 14
Linoleic acid % 1 1


Arginine % 0.65 0.75
Lysine % 0.65 0.75
Methionine % 0.3 0.35
Threonine % 0.4 0.46


Vitamin A iu⁄kg 8000 8000
Vitamin D3 icu⁄kg 500 2000 1000 2500
Vitamin E ppm 50 50
Vitamin K ppm 1 1
Biotin ppm 0.25 0.25
Choline ppm 1500 1500
Folic acid ppm 1.5 1.5
Niacin ppm 50 50
Pantothenic acid ppm 20 20
Pyridoxine ppm 6 6
Pyridoxine ppm 6 6
Thiamine ppm 4 4
Vitamin B12 ppm 0.01 0.01


Calcium % 0.3 1.2 0.5 1.2
Phosphorus % 0.3 0.5
Ca:P ratio 1:1 2:1 1:1 2:1
Chlorine % 0.12 0.12
Magnesium ppm 600 600
Sodium % 0.12 0.12


Copper ppm 8 8
Iodine ppm 0.4 0.4
Iron ppm 80 80
Manganese ppm 65 65
Selenium ppm 0.1 0.1
Selenium ppm 50 50
*    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.



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To cite this page:

Pollock C. Expert panel on companion bird nutrition. December 12, 2007. LafeberVet Web site. Available at