The Lovebirds

The Lovebirds
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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Lovebirds Need Grit - Dr. Hanson, DVM

One of the visitor to this blog is an avian vet- Dr.Hanson, DVM. He commented about an article on "Need of grit for lovebirds". I have given his opinion as a blog post today. Hope this info will be an eye opener to the pet bird owners.

I have been an avian veterinarian for more than 20 years and the most sad bird problem which I treat is when an owner brings in their dying bird who has not had access to a good quality mineral grit. These people have been badly informed by articles on the Internet and by mis-informed people who write bird owner "help" books. These people have never studied avian physiology.

A bird's ventriculus requires pieces of grit in order to pulverize seeds and fibrous plant leaves. Without grit birds become impacted especially if these poor birds are fed pellets instead of seeds.
Pellets turn into a thick paste in the bird's ventriculus and then blocks the outlet to the intestines (pyloric sphincter obstruction). Insoluble mineral grit combines with the hydrochloric acid in the bird's proventriculus so that a chemical reaction releases electrolytes so that the bird's gastrointestinal tract neurons are stimulated. This prevents proventricular dilatation which is inflammation of a bird's GI tract.

Mineral grit is absolutely essential for all seed-eating birds. Most birds eat seeds. Seeds are the heart of the plant and they provide birds with the necessary energy to fly. It is good that you are telling people about the necessity of grit for ALL seed-eating birds.

It's not true that some seed-eating birds remove the hulls from all of their seeds before ingesting them. This is not true. All seed-eating birds pack their crops with un-hulled seeds before perching for the night so they can have energy in the morning at sunrise. So they do not remove the hulls.

The only time a bird will take the time to remove the hulls from seeds is possibly when it is playing with the seed after it has already ingested sufficient nourishment. It is sad to remove a piece of impacted pellet-paste from a bird's stomach.

Sometimes these birds become so impacted with pellets that they do not have normal stools. The owners are gullible and they have been providing pellets for their unfortunate birds. How sad.

Birds require a species-specific seed and grit diet along with fresh greens and fresh water. Seeds have fat in them and this provides a bird with the extra energy they need. Just because a bird is in a cage doesn't mean its metabolism has slowed-down and shouldn't eat high-fat seeds. The reason birds get liver and kidney failure is due to pellet diets.

1 comment:

Tamara said...

Wow, my Board-Certified avian vet would say he disagrees with this, as do we. If you ever look in our lovebird's bowl after putting treat seed in there, there are hulls left. He, as a matter of fact, has seen birds that have died from a compacted crop full of grit.

I think, all this being said, that this is a highly debatable topic and one has to do more research than just believing what one vet says.