7 Questions with Dr. Harrison

In Feb. 2008 Dr. Harrison was interview for an article in a national pet magazine. The information was never printed but we liked the questions so much we posted them here.


1. Please share your thoughts about the trend of chopped, cook and serve or soak and serve foods for birds?

The bottom line on most cook/soak and serve foods is that they are not balanced and don’t offer much in the way of playing a part of a balanced diet. Those diets are for bird owners, not birds. They do not contain the essential nutrients etc. to make up a complete diet. They lead to metabolic bone disease as well as elevated cholesterol.


2. Why did Harrison’s create Harrison’s Bird Bread Mix?

A certain percentage of owners simply insist on making up and feeding homemade concoctions. Harrison’s Bird Bread allows the owner to go through the “creation” process and more importantly provide great nutrition to their birds. It should be noted that it is certified organic and carries the USDA seal.


3. Is the bird bread mix mainly a treat or a supplement? Could a pet owner bake in some of Harrison’s pellets if they wanted to or would that change the nutritional value of the pellets?

It serves many purposes. It’s a treat, a supplement, an outstanding conversion tool for people who are switching to Harrison’s nuggets, they can be used as a vehicle for administering medicines, as a foraging prize and it can even be fed as a main diet for people who refuse to switch to the nuggets. The nuggets can be added into the bird bread (a good portion of the bird bread is the same ingredients as our regular nuggets).


4. Do clients ever ask about the lack of color in the Harrisons diets? If so, how do you respond?

They do ask, but the reality is that there is no lack of color in Harrison’s diets. Our diets have been compared to the others under special fluorescent lights (similar to black lights) that recreate the light frequencies that birds see and it was Harrison’s that emitted the most natural colors. Novel colors (the type used in most fancy colored bird foods) are of zero value to birds unless they are conditioned by humans to recognize them. Again these novel colors are for bird owners, not birds.


5. I mean no disrespect, but some people I’ve talked to say that no pelleted food can possibly meet a bird’s total nutritional needs. They say a bird needs the variety in shapes, color, palatability and vitamin content to keep its interest, to allow it to forage, and fulfill its nutritional requirements. How do you approach this topic?

A lot of people offer unsubstantiated opinions on this topic but Harrison’s backs up our claims with studies, clinical trials and actual results.

Birds do not need variety in shapes or novel colors.

Food is for nutrition, while foraging and proper socialization serves other needs. A bird depending on food for entertainment or socialization is not going to be a very entertained or socialized bird.

Harrison’s is fully fortified with vitamins. It is a proven complete diet that yields the best long term health results of any documented commercial or homemade diet. Harrison’s is the only diet proven to prevent metabolic bone disease, as well as prevent and reduce elevated cholesterol.


6. Why is sunflower/peanut used in Harrison’s?

Sunflower or peanuts fed by themselves are not recommended. Harrison’s carefully calculates the amounts of other items to balance out the nuggets. We work with nutritionists, avian veterinarians and various other experts to fine tune our diets. It should be noted that our peanuts (and all of our diets for that matter) are tested for mycotoxins etc. Actual documented peanut or sunflower allergies are extremely rare but we do offer a low-antigen diet (Adult Lifetime Mash) that contains no peanuts or sunflower.


7. I’ve noticed the only beans in Harrison’s are soybeans? Do I have this right? Can you tell me why no beans or fruits? Does your diet allow for bird owners to still offer these things?

We actually use certified organic versions of soybean, barley, lentil, peas, alfalfa, sea kelp, spirulina, psyllium, Brazillian Dende oil etc. in our diets. We do recommend limited supplementation (up to 10% of the overall diet) with certified organic yellow pigmented items like papaya, mango, carrots, yams, sweet potato, as well as dark green, leafy vegetables. We recommend limiting any fruit supplementation to organic blueberries and blackberries. Most other fruits are too high in sugar and water which disrupts a balanced diet.