Dr. Harrison interview on “species specific” bird diets.


From time to we at Harrison’s get interview requests for magazines, websites, etc. and sometimes the results of the interviews aren’t exactly in line with whatever product etc. they want to push at that moment.

Such is the case with the interview below. I suspect the trade magazine in question thought that everyone was fully supported “species specific” products and did not anticipate Dr. Harrison’s answers. Bottom line: “species specific” is nothing more than a marketing ploy.

Why are species-specific bird foods important for the health and well-being of pet birds and parrots? The only pet birds that have had any formal scientific nutritional studies done are cockatiels (hand-feeding, protein and moisture or total solids, hypervitaminosis A, calcium) and African Greys (calcium). So the specific scientific diet requirements for these and other species is ultimately unknown and the formulas offered are based on empirical results. It appears from clinical studies that larger birds need more protein and fat per gram of food than small birds. It also appears that breeding, immature, molting, and ill birds also need higher energy and protein diets.
Companies offering species specific diets are taking advantage of the pet bird community’s lack of understanding of this subject – it is purely marketing.

Could you give some examples of the specific dietary requirements of different bird/parrot species, such as budgies, cockatiels, Amazons, African Greys, etc? Please refer to question 1

Could you give examples of the dietary deficiencies these species are prone to? Far too many birds are still fed seeds. All species appear to develop deficiencies in:
Missing 32 ingredients in a seed based diet (from eight groups)
• Vitamins – choline, niacin, pantothenic acid,
riboflavin (B2), cyanocobalamine (B12), biotin (H), D3, E, K, and folic acid (M)
• Vitamin Precursors – ß-carotene, converted to vitamin A in liver
• Minerals
• Calcium
• Phosphorous (70% tied up as non-digestible phytates in plant products, such as grains)
• Sodium
• Trace minerals – selenium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, iodine, chromium, vanadium, bismuth, tin, boron.
• Pigments – chlorophyll, canthaxanthin.
• Protein – (amino acids) lysine, methionine.
• Fiber – (mucopolysaccharide) both soluble and insoluble
• Fatty Acids Omega 3. Some birds show problems with one deficiency easier than others. Calcium for example in African grey parrots needs ample sun to be assimilated properly. Vitamin D3 added to the diet alone is not satisfactory

How are your diets specially formulated to meet these nutritional needs and prevent these deficiencies? From over 20 years of clinical observations. Birds on Harrison’s are free of the common nutritional disorders and the constant medical problems seen in birds on deficient diets. What we have seen is that birds on Harrison’s appear to be living longer and healthier lives.

Has your company conducted any recent research or development that has led to new, different or improved diet formulations? Please review http://avianmedicine.net/articles.html for in-depth coverage of these topics. Doctors Stanford and McDonald have offered the latest evidence that Harrison’s formulas have been correct from the beginning.

How would you recommend retailers best market and sell species-specific bird foods in their stores, especially to new bird owners who are unfamiliar with the importance of species-specific diets?
To be honest and work with an avian veterinarian who is aware of the deception being promoted about balanced seeds and species specific diets.

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