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Information presented on the QPSerc pages is gathered from avian articles, books, reference materials, and the result of extensive discussion with Quaker owners, breeders, researchers, behaviorists, and avian veterinarians. It is not intended to replace the valuable information which your personal avian veterinarian shares with you.
© QPS 2003
FORMULATED DIET -Some Quakers that have been weaned to seeds, or have been on an all seed diet for a substantial length of time, take to a formulated diet, which may include pellets, crumbles and mashes, right away, but not all do. It can be challenging to convert to a formulated diet. You may have to try different brands of pellets, even different sizes of the same brand until your bird discovers a pellet or crumble he likes. While converting to pellets or switching pellet brand, monitor your Quaker's weight and droppings to make sure he is eating enough. Different methods and "tricks" for converting are used by different owners. Some mix pellets with seed, each day decreasing the amount of seed in the mix until the pellets are the accepted main staple. Some offer pellets in a separate feeding bowl with a little fruit juice or water sprinkled on the pellets to mositen and soften them. Moistened pellets will spoil faster, so be diligent about removing them and replacing them as needed. Because Quakers are flock oriented, they will like to eat when and what you are eating. As silly as it might sound, pretend to eat and really enjoy a pellet in front of your bird, while offering a pellet to your Quaker directly from your hand. For Quakers, who are prone to fatty liver disease, it is worth the effort to convert them to a pelleted diet.
What's the best brand feed?-There are pellets that contain perservatives and/or artificial colors and sweeteners. There are just as many "natural" brands. Most pellets manufactured today contain the essentials which will provide a balanced formulated diet. If your Quaker has not been weaned to pellets, as we talked about above, you may have to invest in several brands before your bird discovers one he or she likes. So, if your Quaker resists heartily to eating pellets, sometimes the best brand is the one that he or she will eat with gusto, until you can introduce successfully, the brand you would prefer him or her to eat.
Formulated diets cost more than seed. Some people have a hard time justifying the cost initially, but particularly for Quakers, formulated food is the healthier diet for the bird. The expense of additional vitamin suppliments are unnecessary, because a formulated diet is complete. Pellets will not infest your house with moths, nor are they as messy, and they are easy to store.
FLD-or Hepatic Lipidosis, can be avoided by providing your Quaker with a low fat, well balanced diet, and exercise. The primary culprit is a seed diet. Many seeds, like sunflower and safflower, are high in fat. Seeds also can be binding to calcium, which can lead to lowered blood calcium, and they are low in vitamin A, which helps ward off disease. Seed mixes allow the bird to pick and choose which seed they prefer, and usually, they will go for the ones highest in fat, excluding the rest. In the wild, birds would not eat such a limited diet; eating dried seed only at times when other food sources might not be available. Rather than having to switch to a pelleted diet when FLD is evident, most avian vets will suggest that a formulated diet should be introduced when the bird is weaned.
The bird's liver acts as a filter. Toxins pass through the liver and are removed so they can do no harm to the bird. Too much fat does not allow the liver to function as it should by depositing itself in the liver. Then, toxins cannot be removed from the bird's system, and FLD develops. Secondary infections are often a result of FLD, compounding the disease. FLD takes its time to develop; it is a slow process, and birds are very good, instinctually, at masking illness.
To treat FLD, nutrition has to be addressed, but again, the best thing to do for your Quaker, is to start them off with the right diet, rather than have to change your bird to a healthier one at a later date. Exercise too, is important, to burn off fat and extra protein.
Some signs of FLD
When Quaker owners are willing to share their experiences with health issues that may arise in Quakers, we stand much to gain in our attempts to keep our companion birds healthy. Read the story of Otis,and why QPS established the OTIS "ONE" FUND, in his name.