Manufacturer of Dr. D's Avian Pellets
Avi-Sci, Inc.

Converting Birds From a Seed Diet to Pellets
Each time that you change your bird's food you will cause some stress. Mixing different feeds
and switching foods on a regular basis will never allow the bacteria to settle down and stabilize.
Therefore it is best to pick one diet that you believe is as complete as possible and stick to it as long
as it works for your birds.
By
Mike Underwood
(800) 942-3438  email mike@avi-sci.com  
4477 South Williams Rd. St Johns, MI 48879
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Over the years, many tricks have come out about how to convert birds from seed diets onto
pellets. Of course, the easiest way is to wean baby birds directly onto pellets so that they never pick up
any bad habits. This is like raising children to snack on fruit and wholesome snacks instead of candy
when they are small. It will stay with them for life. It is even easier to mold a birds habits when young
than children because the birds can not pick up unwanted habits from friends at school!
If you already have birds that are on a seed diet, all is not lost (I'm not so sure about many
peoples' eating habits).  Many people already give their birds fruits and vegetables in addition to
seeds. If your birds eat those items already, then you can just mix them in with some pellets. For
instance, if your bird likes apple then you can mix pellets with applesauce. Cut back some on the
amount of seed that you feed and get the bird used to the applesauce and pellet mix. Then slowly, over
time, reduce the apple and increase the pellets until the bird is eating them well. At the same time,
reduce the portion of seeds until they are no longer provided. Finally the bird will be eating primarily
pellets with just the occasional treat if you wish. It does not have to be apple, any treat that the bird likes
will do. Some sprinkle pellets onto pizza or oat meal. It does not matter what, just so the bird likes it. Be
certain that you change food often so that it does not spoil.
Many of you are already thinking "But he only likes sunflower seed and will not look at
anything else."  This is no longer an excuse to not feed pellets. We have found that the following is
one of the most successful ways to convert birds to pellets. Go out to a feed store that sells wild bird
feed and purchase some sunflower chips. These are de-hulled sunflower seeds that are broken into
pieces. Now remove all of the bird seed mix from the cage and give only a dish of sunflower chips.
Watch to make sure that the bird eats them well. You may need to mix some whole sunflower seeds in
at first but usually not. Being the sunflower seed addict that he is, this step should be no problem. I
know that a diet of pure sunflower seed is not healthy, but it will not hurt for the length of time that this will
take. After a couple of days of straight sunflower chips, then mix in 50% pellets.  If the pellets are larger
than the chips, then crumble the pellets with a rolling pin. As he eats the chips it becomes very difficult
to distinguish chips from pellet pieces and the bird almost always starts to eat both. Over a several
week period, reduce the chips and increase the pellets until he is on pellets alone. Only provide a daily
portion in the bowl each day so that the bird can not pick out all the sunflower that he wants. Watch the
bird closely at all times to make sure that he is eating. If he does not, then go back one step and
proceed slower.
Many people have become convinced that they can not convert their bird to pellets even
though they have never tried.  Any bird can be converted as long as it is done carefully and slowly.
Your attitude is what counts - not what you think the birds attitude is. If you believe you can do it then you
will. Then you can rest easy knowing that your pet is eating a healthy diet and can be quickly treated
with medicated feed if the veterinarian needs too without stressing the bird when he is sick by forcing a
fast conversion after he becomes ill.
In the past, the basic seed diets that people fed were widely known to be incomplete. Many
people erroneously believed that if they just fed several brands of seed mixes that the variety would
cover all of the nutritional needs - it does not matter how many different types of millet are used, they all
have about the same nutritional composition and deficiencies. This historical habit has been carried
over to the pelleted feed market by some customers who believe that no one brand is complete and
therefore several different brands should be mixed together. They believe that if one brand is
incomplete then by mixing another with it the deficiency will be diluted. This is not true. Mixing two
different formulas can cause more harm than good.
To understand this we must back up and review a little about how food is processed by both
people and birds. When the food is swallowed it eventually passes into the intestines where billions of
bacteria live all the time even in a healthy animal. These bacteria get the first shot at the food before the
animal does. The bacteria help break down the food for themselves and the animal in which they live all
of their lives.

There are thousands of different types of bacteria that can live inside animals, some can live in humans but
not birds and vise versa. Different types of bacteria are better at breaking down different types of ingredients
in the feed. When a bird is given a certain type of feed, it will take a couple of weeks for the proper bacteria
to become established and for all of the bacteria to reach a balance in their ratio between types and
numbers that can best digest that type of food. Until that time, there can be some intestinal upset.

A good example of this in humans is when a person starts to take a fiber supplement. Another example is
when a person travels to another country. Not only are different types of bacteria encountered that do not
harm the locals, but different types of food are eaten as well. If you live in America, you have been told not to
"drink the water in Mexico" but a Mexican can have the same problem with a rural water supply in the U.S.