How To Read Bird Food Labels

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How To Read Bird Food Labels

It can be difficult trying to figure out which pet food is right for each pet. This is especially so with birds, since the all bird seed diet or mostly bird seed diet was recently found to actually be extremely unhealthy for them, causing malnutrition and eventually death. Knowing how to read pet food labels is the first step to keeping a pet, whether it’s a bird, dog, cat, or other companion, will allow them a longer lifespan and a happier life.

Start With The Name

The first step for how to read pet food labels is looking at the name. Whatever it claims it has in it, such as “90% chicken,” “all natural ingredients,” or something else along those lines, it must legally have a minimum of 25% of that in the food. That really isn’t saying much, but 25% is better than a complete lie. It’s also a great place to start when figuring out exactly how to read pet food labels.

Nutritional Guarantee

Thanks to the AAFCO (the Association of American Feed Control Officials), it is a law to state what stage of life each pet food is indicated for. For example, if there is a bird food designed for just immature of baby birds, then it most state so on the bag. This also means that every single type of pet food must state whether or not it actually meets the AAFCO nutritional requirements for that specific life stage. This immediately when tell you how to read pet food labels, because any pet food that does not state it meets AAFCO requirements is probably not the healthiest pet food for your pet.

More AAFCO Guidelines

Under strict regulation by the AAFCO, all pet foods must state the amount of crude fat, protein, fiber, and the amount of moisture in each bag. This can also include valuable vitamins and fatty acids that almost every creature on the planet needs, so it is almost necessary to look at this list feature on a pet food bag.

Goldenfeast Bird Food Label
This is the label from Goldenfeast Caribbean Bounty.  You can tell what all of the ingredients are.  That's a good thing!

Notice how you can actually tell what all the ingredients are.

What to Look For in Pet Food Labels

Other than what was stated above for how to read pet food labels, there are specific things to watch out for when it comes to learning about a particular pet food that is not always on the label. It’s always recommended that natural, organic bird food be given rather than the general store seed mix that can have little to no nutritional value for birds. Most organic manufacturers will have an organic logo on the packaging.  You'll also want to make sure that the main diet is designated as being complete.  Keep in mind that if the diet is a food blend, such as a seed mix, birds have a picky palate and they'll pick and choose their favorite morsals - so they may not actually be getting a complete diet.  That's why extruded pelleted diets are often recommended by vets.

Here's What's Missing On Pet Food Labels

Here are a few nutrients that your bird can't live without.  While these vitamins and minerals aren't required on pet food labels, a well-balanced diet contains them.  Even so, best practice is to feed a wide variety of fresh, healthy fruits, vegetables, sprouts, nuts and protein rich grains along with your extruded diet.

1. Calcium

The number one cause of death for birds is calcium deficiency. It’s a simple enough thing to fix, but many owners don’t realize the extent of the negative Notice how you can actually tell what all the ingredients are.impact lack of calcium can have on birds. Birds with calcium deficiency can develop hypocalcaemia, which can cause infertility, eggs getting stuck during birth, eggs being soft-shelled, improper muscle contractions, and worst of all – death. It is vital to find a bird pet food with lots of calcium.

2. Vitamin A

For birds that eat only seeds or even mostly seeds, vitamin A deficiency can be extremely common. Lack of vitamin A in a bird’s diet can cause lack of appetite, troubled digestion, and actually increases the risk of infection, diseases, and parasites. A way to tell if a bird has vitamin A deficiency is by simply looking at their feathers. If they become paler or less lustrous than normal, they most likely have vitamin A deficiency and need a change in their diet immediately.

3. Vitamin E

Just like vitamin A and calcium, vitamin E is just as vital for a bird’s full health and nutrition. It allows birds to function normally, increases their immune system exponentially, and hunts down free radicals that could harm a bird’s health in any way. Plus, without vitamin E, vitamin A cannot actually be regulated throughout a bird’s body. The two go hand in hand, and fall apart without each other. That’s why finding a natural, organic food that includes both, along with all other necessary vitamins and minerals, is necessary.

4. Vitamin C

Just like vitamin E, vitamin C helps a bird’s body regulate vitamin A, along with helping it regulate folic acid and iron. Fortunately birds have the ability to formulate their own source of vitamin C within their body, but adding to it through supplements or the proper food is always recommended to give birds’ a further chance at success in life and health.

5. Vitamin K

There are actually multiple types of vitamin K, including K1, K2, and K3. While K2 is not necessarily bad for a bird, it is formulated by bacteria which can cause harm to a bird’s body. Vitamin K3 is manmade and completely synthetic, and is not the form recommended for birds. This leaves vitamin K1, found in plants and other forms of nature, to do the job. In order to promoted proper bone function and formation, along with transporting the absolutely vital calcium throughout a bird’s body, vitamin K1 is one of the most important vitamins that birds need.

Conclusion

Looking at the proper vitamins and minerals and making sure that they are actually present in a bird’s pet food is the first step to learning how to read pet food labels. Making sure a bird’s pet food has calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin E, along with it being regulated and acknowledged by the AAFCO, will allow for a healthy bird! All of these vitamins, minerals, and necessary requirements for finding the right bird foods actually points towards natural, organic bird foods as being the perfect candidate for any flying friend. So long as they have the vital ingredients and a good taste for your bird, there is no harm in going completely organic for them.

This also means learning how to read pet food labels to make sure it doesn’t have any artificial coloring, preservatives, or anything else synthetic. Anything manmade or created in a lab means it’s not fully organic or natural, which means it could possibly harm a bird. Being smart and knowledgeable about how to read pet food labels is the most important thing to securing your flying companion for many decades to come!

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  • Diane Burroughs