Tuesday, January 7, 2014

1. HARRISON'S BIRD FOODS - AN INTRODUCTION

Harrison’s Bird Foods are the formulas that provide proper nutrition for your bird’s lifetime care.
The single most important thing you can do for your bird is to feed it right.


Harrison's Bird Foods contain:
•  Premium, certified organic  ingredients.
•  No chemical insecticides, herbicides or fungicides
•  No preservatives
•  No artificial colors, sweeteners or flavors
•  No double-dosed vitamins


Easy and Economical
The use of Harrison's Bird Foods changes the way you look at feeding your bird:
 •  No supplements or vitamins to buy
 •  No foods to clean and chop
 •  No time needed to prepare—just pour and go
 •  Less volume of food needed
 •  No seed hulls, kitchen mess or cage mess
 •  No fuss, no worry


Premium, Certified Organic Ingredients
Harrison’s Bird Foods are made from premium whole grains and legumes. We do not incorporate artificial processing nor do we use the type of bleached flours, meals or byproducts that yield a perfectly uniform appearance.

It is nature itself that dictates the color, look and texture of Harrison’s Bird Foods, so the appearance of the food may fluctuate from bag to bag.


To assure safety Harrison’s screens all products for pathogenic bacteria and mycotoxins.

2. PET BIRD HEALTH - SO MANY CHOICES

“Nutrition is the single most important aspect of bird care.  Nutrition impacts the health, longevity, appearance and behavior of birds in captivity.”
- Clinical Avian Medicine

Here are the common options, followed by Harrison's Bird Foods - our recommended choice.

SEEDS
A diet of seeds (even if they are vitamin fortified) simply does not meet the bird's basic nutritional requirements. Commonly fed seeds are deficient in at least 32 essential nutrients. As early as 1923, scientists observed health deficiencies in caged parrots that were fed seed diets, yet these diets continue to be fed to this day. Birds that eat seeds may be difficult to convert to a healthier diet.

Other concerns
• Many seeds contain high levels of  pesticides and preservatives
• Seed quality/freshness may be questionable
• Birds tend to selectively “sort” and eat only their favorite seed
• Seeds may be artificially colored • May stimulate aggression, featherpicking and chronic egg laying

SHOULD IT BE LEFT UP TO THE BIRD?
“Birds do not exhibit nutritional wisdom when selecting dietary ingredients; they show a preference for high energy, lipid-rich seeds, high carbohydrate seeds and fruits.” -Clinical Avian Medicine



FRUIT, VEGETABLE,  TABLE  FOOD & COOKING
Fruits and/or vegetables contribute little or nothing to the 32 missing essential components of a seed diet.

These items are not a balanced and wholesome food for pet birds as they consist mainly of water and celulose and have low content of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. They are highly perishable and often highly contaminated with pesticides and herbicides.

Diets that regularly include "people food" or leftovers are not just simply lacking in nutrition, they can be downright bad for birds. Birds should not be fed things like meat, chicken bones, potato chips, pizza, pasta or beans, which often have excessive fat, salt, caffeine, MSG, refined sugar or refined flour. Table foods may stimulate aggression, featherpicking and chronic egg laying.

“Presenting a bird with an array of fresh produce, seeds and nuts does not necessarily provide a nutritionally balanced diet. Commonly fed seeds are deficient in a number of nutrients. Much of the (grocery) produce is sold in its immature state of growth, and even when mature, it does not have the equivalent nutrient profiles of wild food items. Thus such produce is unable to improve the nutrient profile of the diet.”


COLORED PELLETS
Pellets and kibbles made from fine-milled, bleached flours, meals and byproducts may be uniform in appearance, however the nutritional value of these diets is questionable. Artificially coloring is a marketing tool that is incorporated solely to impress bird-owners.



In an article published by the Wall Street Journal, Randall Brue, Kaytee's Nutritional Biochemist and Head of Research, stated, "Birds don't care much about color, flavor or the shape of their food ... but their owners care".

3. YOU'LL SEE THE DIFFERENCE

Healthy, properly fed birds will exhibit certain features.  Contact your avian veterinarian for an examination.

•  The bird has a proper ratio of muscle, bone and fat.

•  The beak is smooth and shiny without signs of peeling.

•  The nares (nostrils) are clean and free of accumulations.

•  The bird stands erect and alert on the perch.

•  The respiration is smooth and even with no sounds of  wheezing.

•  The droppings are moist, the urine is clear and the urates are white.

•  The feathers fit together like a garment - no bald spots, no picked feathers, and no tattered, broken or abnormally-colored feathers.

 •  The feet grip the perch strongly and evenly. The bottoms of the feet show a definite  ....pattern—they are not smooth; nor do they show pressure points.

 •  The nails are the proper length, smooth and shiny.

•  The skin on the legs and face is glistening, smooth, and soft with no signs of flaking.

•  There is no sign of swelling or bleeding on the body.

•  The bird is calm and does not bite, scream, or behave in an aggressive manner.


IMPROPER NUTRITION is the cause of 90% of health problems and the leading cause of death in pet birds

Improper nutrition involves all of the systems of the body and is seen as: abnormalities in body weight and shape; unusual appearances of feathers, nails, beaks and skin; undesirable behavior; and disturbances in all the body's systems. Nutritional deficiencies appear to accelerate the aging process of birds, primarily through the loss of moisture and tissue elasticity.

Often, the signs of improper nutrition in pet birds are not apparant or go completely overlooked by the owner.

The value of a proper diet over the life of the bird is monumental. Birds fed a poor diet will become malnourished, which will start a chain of events leading to a decline in the bird's overall health. The
digestive system suffers first. The bacterial population of the digestive tract becomes unbalanced. Once this has occurred, opportunistic pathogens find it easier to invade, and gram-negative rods and yeast counts
increase.

This opens the door for bacterial infections and other ailments related to the imune system.

Over time every part of the body will reflect the
condition of the bird's health. If the bird reaches the latter stages of improper nutrition, damage to internal organs may be so severe that it is too late to save the bird.

Any change in your bird’s eating habits, behavior or personality could be due to illness. It is important to discuss these changes with your veterinarian. Your bird’s health may depend on it.

4. RECOVERING ON HARRISON'S

Case images of birds exhibiting the physical symptoms of improper nutrition and corresponding images of the same birds showing marked progress eating Harrison’s Bird Foods.


GABI the African Grey was on a diet of seed-balls, seeds and various table foods. She developed an ongoing yeast problem and subsequently feather plucked herself. Gabi was put on Harrison’s by her avian veterinarian and immediately turned things around.
~Photo courtesy of The Scott family




RICA the Amazon Parrot recovered from being overweight and showing classic signs of improper
She was in a constant state of molting. Rica’s improvements on Harrison’s are quite remarkable. 
nutrition; poor (discolored and frayed) feather and quality while on a seed and tablefood diet.


VEGAN was solely on seeds and showing early signs of fatty liver disease. Recovering photo reveals dramatic improvements in beak and feather quality.
~Photo Courtesy Archonny Corner


LOGAN the cockatiel was suffering from poor feather quality with many broken feathers. She was given to new owners who weaned her to Harrison’s and she has improved dramatically.
~Photo Courtesy Archonny Corner

5. WHY ORGANIC?


In addition to following the strict organic guidelines specified by the USDA we have some high standards of our own to ensure the very best quality product for your bird.

• Premium grains and other ingredients are contracted by HBD to be grown on fertile organic farms throughout North America.

• A third party organic certifier verifies the certification of the raw ingredients, making sure they meet the requirements designated under the USDA's rules regarding organic certification.


• All grains and other ingredients are tested (via independent laboratory) throughout the manufacturing process for mycotoxins and rancidity.

• For the extrusion process, the ingredients are ground and thoroughly mixed. Then the various sized and formulated nuggets are extruded, toasted, cooled and then packaged under careful supervision.



• Our state-of-the-art packaging  (the Harrison’s bag) protects the freshness of the products, which have only natural tocopherols as preservatives.


 The foods are shipped to and stored at the HBD Distribution Center
 in Brentwood, TN.  Products remain in this climate-controlled

 environment until being shipped for customer orders.







Why Certified Organic?

The term "certified organic" cannot be used casually. In this country, there are strict guidelines set up by the United States Department of Agriculture (as well as private certifying agencies) in order to authorize a facility to use the term "certified organic." And being part of the organic culture demands a significant commitment to the entire system.

In today’s market people use the terms “all natural,” “organic” and “certified organic” interchangeably, when there really is a significant difference. Only “certified organic” has been approved by a 3rd party agency after a thorough study of the entire process of growing the ingredients and manufacturing the final product to ensure that all steps have been performed within the strict guidelines.

In order to qualify as "certified organic," all products must adhere to the following standards:

• Crops must be grown without the use of artificial fertilizers or pesticides.

• There is generally a required conversion period to organic methods, being two years (for ground crops) or three years (for perennials).

• In order to break the cycles of pests and diseases, appropriate crop rotation is practiced for ground crops, which also helps to maintain soil fertility and structure.

• No post-harvest chemical treatments are allowed.

• Fertility is provided by natural organic manures, composts and fertilizers -- the use of synthetic chemicals is prohibited.

• The use of genetically modified (GM) seeds or other materials is not permitted.

During the production phase, all organic producers must:

• Be certified by a recognized certification body and undergo a rigorous  annual inspection by qualified inspectors.

• Adhere to very strict standards that cover every aspect of food production, such as growing, packaging, processing and transport.

• Maintain fully audited records of every stage of production to ensure complete traceability from farm to table.

• Provide official certification numbers or logos of each certification body on the packaging, as this is the consumer's guarantee of authenticity.

If foods are to be produced, the manufacturers must also be:

• Certified by an organic certification body.

• Keep all ingredients used in organic products separate from ingredients for use in conventional products at all times.

• Maintain detailed routine records, including cleaning and processing schedules, which must be made available for audit by certification inspectors at all times.

• The stringent controls associated with the production and processing of organic products ensure consistent adherence to guidelines set up by the recognized certification bodies.




6. THE THREAT OF PESTICIDES

PESTICIDES KILL
The Migratory Bird Council projects annual wild bird deaths due to pesticide poisoning to
exceed 67 million.


It is well-documented that birds in the wild are dying in mass numbers due to exposure to pesticides. Birds are killed, sickened or weakened by poisons or affected by the loss of food or habitat resources. Be it from direct contact or ingestion of toxic residues, pesticide poisoning kills more birds than any other cause.


Pesticides sprayed from planes saturate the ground
and every living thing in the area.


We know that pesticides are devastating the wild bird population, but what do we know about pesticides and pet birds?

It is not a secret that parrots are especially sensitive to environmental toxins, such as certain metals, chemical cleaners, and overheated plastic-coated cookware

Chemicals that normally are only irritating to humans and other animals can be extremely toxic to parrots. Yet little thought is given to the potential cancers, neurological problems, hormonal imbalances, allergies and disruptions of the immune system that may be attributed directly to pesticide residues on foods that parrots ingest.


Pesticide run-off contaminates
waterways and has the potential to
poison every living being that depends on
these sources of water.
The EWG (Environmental Working Group) concluded that more than half of the total dietary risk from pesticides was concentrated in just 12 foods from the produce section of the supermarket: strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, cherries, peaches, cantaloupe, celery, apples, apricots, green beans, grapes and cucumbers.

Organic farming, or sustainable agriculture, is the first step toward moving away from this dangerous trend. Proper crop rotation breaks the cycles of pest and disease problems and balances the nutrient demands of specific crops. Alternative pest controls, such as certain insects or plantings, are incorporated into agriculture.

Organic farming works to bring you safer and healthier products, keep the farmlands in tip-top shape and leave the surrounding environment uncontaminated.

The overall impact of the organic culture involves the entire world's ecosystem, because the battle against toxic contaminants threatens all life on earth in one way or another.

7. WORK WITH A VETERINARIAN

Harrison’s strongly recommends that pet bird owners establish and maintain an ongoing relationship with an avian veterinarian.  Your veterinarian can advise and oversee as you prepare to convert your bird’s diet.

Your veterinarian can help your bird make a smooth and safe transition to a new, healthy diet and be available for subsequent examinations or emergencies. 

A veterinary visit for a general health examination should be scheduled before you start your bird on
Harrison's Bird Foods.  Some birds are so sick from being fed an improper diet that they may require critical care before undergoing a diet change.

Some birds may require holistic support to make the transition smoothly. Because underlying medical problems can be made worse by the inherent stress of a diet change, exams at three and twelve weeks following the diet conversion are recommended. Your avian veterinarian can also help you select which Harrison's formula is right for your bird.
It's a good idea to purchase a gram scale to have at home. In this way, you will be able to monitor your bird's weight during the diet conversion process. You might want to weigh your bird at the same time each morning for two weeks to establish normal fluctuations in its weight. Any serious fluctuations of 10% total body weight or more should be reported to your avian veterinarian.