The structure of the digestive system is jaco. The composition of the food.
Types of feed: grain feed, fruits and berries, vegetables, nuts, wild plants, herbaceous plants, twig feed, animal feed.
Vitamins, signs of hypovitaminosis and their prevention. Minerals: micro and macro elements.
When developing a diet, your pet is strongly recommended to adhere to certain principles. This will help you avoid many mistakes and keep your parrot in good health.
1. The main food of the parrot should be as close as possible to the natural one. The introduction of new components in the diet should be carefully analyzed from this point of view.
2. The maximum variety of food is good for your parrot; monotony worsens the quality of his life and is fraught with disease. This does not mean at all that you can give him everything edible, from your point of view, it is important to observe the first principle.
3. Do not be afraid to overfeed your pet, it is better to overfeed than underfed.
4. All components of the feed must be freshest and of first-class quality – this is the basis of the health and longevity of your parrot.
5. To preserve the freshness of the food during the day, it is better to give easily perishable food in 2-3 doses in small portions.
Communicating with my hobby colleagues convinced me of the need to precede the chapter on nutrition with a brief description of the digestive system in birds, and in parrots in particular. Many problems with the digestion of birds are associated with ignorance by lovers of these features.
The metabolic rate in birds is very high, and the digestive system in them has a number of features that distinguish it from a similar system in other animals. Digestive processes are very fast and energetic. Especially fast is the assimilation of fruits, slower is the digestion of hard seeds and nuts.
In the absence of teeth in birds, the beak takes on the function of grinding food, peeling nuts and seeds from the shell. Jaco’s beak is a powerful tool that can easily cope with hard nuts. The lower part of the beak – the mandible – fits snugly to the upper part, forming an excellent tool for cleaning and crushing food. In the upper beak on the upper palate, bulges are located that help to hold, clean and remove the shell, leaving only the purified contents of the seeds or nuts.
The beak grows throughout the life of the parrot, grinding off during the processing of food, etc. From the beak after ingestion, the food enters a special accumulative organ – goiter – a reservoir for accumulation and initial processing (swelling, softening and, apparently, preliminary microbiological treatment), which allows speed up the digestion process. From the goiter, the processed food with the help of peristalsis – special wave-like movements of the esophagus – enters the stomach, consisting of the pancreas, or glandular stomach, and the muscular stomach. In the first section, food is processed by gastric juices, which include pepsinogen, hydrochloric acid, etc. Next, the food enters the muscular section of the stomach, where the physical and chemical breakdown of the feed occurs. Food is rubbed as a result of muscle contractions of the walls of the stomach with the help of gastrolites – pebbles swallowed by the bird and playing the role of a millstone.
The walls of the muscular stomach are lined with a hard coilin layer that protects them from mechanical damage. It is especially well developed in birds that eat hard grain food. In the stomachs of Jaco, mined in nature, gastrolites were found; birds were observed descending to the ground and collecting pebbles. And although in captivity the food is much softer than natural, nonetheless, apparently, they need a certain amount of gastrolites, the lack of which can be made up for with a small amount of fine gravel placed in dishes with mineral top dressing. Some of the gastroliths gradually wear out, some are removed from the stomach, and therefore the bird is forced to constantly make up for their lack.
Figuratively speaking, the organ system – the beak, goiter and two sections of the stomach – in birds plays the role of the teeth and stomach of mammals.
After the stomach, processed food enters the intestines, where it is absorbed. We will not delve into the intricacies of the digestive process, but move on to a detailed description of the diet of the parrot.
From the point of view of chemistry, water, mineral salts and organic substances: proteins, fats and carbohydrates enter the body during nutrition. Water and mineral salts are absorbed into the blood without change, and proteins, fats and carbohydrates are preliminarily broken down into constituent parts, which, being absorbed into the blood, are distributed further throughout the body. The breakdown of organic substances is a complex process involving a large number of digestive enzymes. The rate of digestion in birds is very high. Berries in some species are digested in 30 minutes, grains in 3-12 hours in different birds.
Fats in the body, birds play two main roles: they are a concentrated source of energy and are involved in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. The body of the bird is sensitive to the quantitative ratio of fat in food and takes measures to protect it from excessive accumulation in the body. This is mainly expressed in the consumption of a more or less constant amount sufficient to satisfy nutritional needs, but fats are stored with less efficiency.
The constant consumption of seeds with a high fat content leads to the fact that the bird, consuming the right amount of feed, receives and assimilates an increased amount of fat, resulting in fats. An excess of fats in the body can cause persistent diarrhea, lead to their saponification and the formation of insoluble soaps, which block the intake of such essential minerals as iron and calcium. In birds that feed on foods with a high fat content and, as a result, are fattening, the risk of getting lipomas – benign tumors from adipose tissue – increases.
The role of derivatives of fat, the so-called fatty acids, is very important.
For birds, linoleic acid is one of the essentials. Its lack in the diet of young birds leads to severe skin diseases, a classic sign of which is constant thirst and increased water consumption. The absence of fatty acids leads to a deterioration of the plumage, an increased risk of disease, and sometimes death of birds. There is evidence of an increased need for fats during molting. The fat content in the seeds that make up the basis of the Jaco grain diet is as follows: up to 30% in sunflower seeds; in corn – 7%; canary seed – 6%; oats – 5%; millet – 4%; wheat – 2%.
Squirrels. Birds need proteins for the formation and development of the body. Protein is the main building material for the design of its structures, plumage, beak and claws. Feathers are 85–97% protein, and therefore it is important to increase the protein component of the diet during molting. The lack of protein during this period dramatically affects the quality of the plumage: the feather becomes brittle and breaks easily, the webs of the feather shag and curl.
Proteins are found in both plant and animal foods. Jaco use mainly plant proteins. Grain feed fully provides the protein needs of the poultry. Sunflower contains up to 16% protein; corn, oats, millet – 10–11%; canary seed – 17%. Lack of protein leads to depletion of the bird and even its death.
But harmful and excessive protein; in the case of jaco, especially an animal. Excess animal protein in a parrot leads to hypertrophic growth of beak and claws. There is evidence that an excess of animal proteins leads to self-plucking of plumage in parrots. 
Carbohydrates They are a direct source of energy on which the work of muscles, activity and vitality of your parrot depend. Carbohydrates are a source of a special reserve substance of the liver – glycogen. With a deficiency of carbohydrates, the bird loses its mobility, becomes lethargic, uncommunicative. Carbohydrates are primarily starch, which is quite enough in grain feed. Wheat grains contain up to 70% carbohydrates, corn – 65%, millet – 63%, canary seed – 55%, sunflower – 21%.
The direct characteristics of the main components of the jaco diet are given below.
Cereal feed – The basis of the Jaco diet. From crops, a daily parrot diet includes a mixture of sunflower, corn, wheat, canary seed, oats (or oatmeal) and millet. If possible, the set includes brown rice, buckwheat, hemp. The latter should be used with caution (see below). Up to 50-60% should be sunflower and 40-50% – the rest of the grain. But the composition of grain feed, as a rule, depends on the capabilities and experience of the amateur, on the state of the bird at the moment and rarely coincides with the specified norms.
For example, it is natural to make a diet with a predominance of fat and protein components during molting – a particularly difficult period of time for a parrot. I prefer to include no more than a third of the sunflower in the set, but add nuts in addition. Dry corn, as a rule, is eaten poorly and should be soaked before swelling or boiled for 1–1.5 hours. Wheat, too, is eaten in a dry form reluctantly, but, as a rule, disappears from the feeder in the first place, if it is given in a germinated state. The method of germinating any seeds is simple.
1. The grain is soaked in any dish for 15-20 hours. The dishes with grain are placed in a warm place.
2. The swollen grain is placed in a small metal (stainless steel) sieve and washed under running water. They put in a dark place.
3. During the day, the grain is washed 2-3 times with running water. After a day, the grain is ready for use. It is most useful and eagerly eaten when the sprout barely hatched. To slow down the further development of the sprout and prevent the mold from growing, it is better to store it in the refrigerator. Do not forget to warm the grain before feeding.
The use of sieves for germination of grain gives certain advantages. The grain is well aerated and sprouts quickly, almost never molds and is very convenient to wash.
Hemp should be given in small quantities, usually not more than 10 grains per day. I do not include hemp in the diet of my parrots. The fact is that hemp shells apparently contain toxic substances. Excessive use of hemp led to the fact that the birds plucked feathers from themselves, multiplying – they broke eggs and even killed chicks. One of the authors even described the peculiar intoxication of parrots, when, with excessive consumption of hemp, they could not stay on the perch and fell to the bottom of the cage.
You can also sprout millet and oats. But millet parrots eat only in a slightly hatching state, and with sprouts more than 2-3 mm reject.
Cereals are readily eaten and extremely useful in a half-ripe form, in the stage of the so-called milk-wax ripeness, when the grain is still soft and filled with a thick white liquid. Actually, in nature, birds eat cereals, including wild ones, in this state. Jaco eagerly eat corn, oats, wheat, sunflower in the stage of milk-wax ripeness. Corn and sunflower are especially loved. The peeled ears are cut in half lengthwise and then broken into separate pieces. Large pieces should not be given, since a lot of grain is not eaten and goes to waste. I give half-ripe sunflower in pieces right in the hat, cutting it into pieces. Milk corn can be harvested in the freezer for the winter. The ear prepared as described above is frozen. Before use, pieces of the cob are thawed and warmed. One or two ears of corn is enough for a week of jacobs; fifty ears of corn are enough for him for a year as a nutritional supplement to the feed. But keep in mind that this food is extremely nutritious, the birds easily fatten from it, and it should be limited.
Other cereals at this stage also eat well. Semi-mature spikelets of wheat, oat panicles with small bundles are hung on the cell wall next to the perch.
The daily norm of dry grain feed for Zhako is 2-3 tablespoons, but can vary significantly depending on the time of year, weather and individual needs of the bird.
Fruits and berries. In principle, jaco willingly eats all kinds of fruits: apples, pears, peaches, apricots, cherries, cherries, plums, all types of citrus fruits, etc. Bone crops that contain substances poisonous to birds must be removed from stone fruit crops. This means that only sweet fruits are readily eaten. Bananas are sometimes ignored by adult birds, but young ones eat them well. Some individuals are happy to eat slightly soaked dried fruits, especially figs and dates.
Almost all types of berries are suitable for eating parrots. They willingly eat all varieties of currants, grapes, blueberries, blueberries, lingonberries, strawberries, mountain ash, rose hips, hawthorn and others. My Jaco in the ripening season of mountain ash switch almost completely to eating it. They greedily eat the core of the berry, leaving a shell with part of the pulp. Irga and black garden rowan are very well eaten.
Most parrots are very willing to eat pomegranates. The fruit should be peeled and parrots should be given peeled grains – an excellent source of vitamins available almost all winter.
I prefer to give fruits and berries in the form of salads, slicing them and mixing several types. Eating them in this form, parrots are less capricious, choosing only their favorite species, they learn to eat new fruits faster.
When preparing fruits for feeding, some rules should be observed. All of them should be thoroughly washed, and give them better peeled. All citrus fruits should only be given peeled.
It is very important to remember that parrots should never be given an avocado. The use of this exotic fruit, even in small quantities, can be fatal.
Vegetables, as a rule, are used in parrot nutrition less than other components, although their nutritional value is very high. Carrots, for example, are eaten poorly in their usual form. I have accustomed almost all my parrots, even nectar-eating loris and lorikeets, to the so-called soft food, usually used as a surrogate food for insectivorous birds. The soft food composition includes finely grated carrots, vegetable oil, finely chopped hard-boiled chicken eggs, breadcrumbs or grated white crackers, buckwheat minced (or other boiled porridge). Carrots are rubbed on a fine grater and slightly squeezed from excess juice. A small amount of any vegetable oil (sunflower, corn, soybean, rapeseed, etc.) is added to the carrots and sprinkled with a small amount of grated crackers to add friability. To this mixture are added finely chopped or grated on a fine grater hard-boiled chicken eggs, as well as cereals. I prefer buckwheat, but I don’t cook it, but soak it in water for the night. The mixture is thoroughly mixed, it should be crumbly and not stick to your hands.
All my jacobs receive a tablespoon of this food, full and top daily, and eat it very willingly. The mixture is very nutritious, includes a lot of useful components, including animal proteins. It allows you to enter into the diet of birds very effective modern protein-vitamin-mineral supplements in the form of powders that maintain a good condition in the winter. Chopped lettuce or dandelion leaves, crumbly cottage cheese can be added to this mixture (watch for freshness). In addition to the composition described above, additional components in this feed depend on the desire and capabilities of the owner. As a green top dressing, you can use spinach, celery, tomatoes, beets, dill, parsley, etc. It is undesirable and even harmful to eat cabbage, as the oxalic acid contained in it interferes with the absorption of calcium.
Legumes. I deliberately highlight this type of feed in a separate section, since the introduction of these crops in the diet of parrots causes an ambiguous reaction. Some lovers oppose their use, but in vain, because it is an excellent source of vegetable proteins. Legumes – beans, beans, peas – diversify and enrich the diet. When dry, they are poorly eaten, and therefore they should be soaked before use.
Thoroughly washed beans are poured with cold water and left to swell, after 24 hours they are ready for use. Sometimes it is recommended to boil them, but this is justified only in relation to red beans.
Parrots willingly eat green pods of beans, beans, peas. In winter, they can also offer frozen green beans in pods, having previously, naturally, thawed them. It should be borne in mind that young birds (with black eyes) should not be given green peas in pods, as it acts as a laxative.
I want to emphasize once again that all vegetables, including leafy ones, must be washed very thoroughly in running water to avoid poisoning.
Nuts. Almost all types of nuts are excellent food for Jaco, but it should be remembered that all types of nuts have a high fat content and their consumption should be strictly dosed. Walnuts, very much loved by Jaco, contain 30-50% fat, palm nuts – up to 60% or more.
Jacques eat pine nuts perfectly, but some birds ignore them simply out of ignorance. If you keep several birds, then there is no problem accustoming you to a new feed – parrots learn from each other very quickly. If there is only one parrot, then you will have to make some efforts to accustom it to the new food, adding whole and peeled nuts to the feeder with other types of food.
A little worse than Jaco eat hazelnuts and wild hazel. In any case, I still could not accustom my five jacques to these nuts, although parrots ate them from other lovers.
Parrots willingly eat other exotic types of nuts available for sale: pecans, Brazilian, etc. It should be borne in mind that they are best given raw and in no case offer salted nuts.
Wild herbaceous plants. As food objects in the diet of a parrot, some herbaceous plants growing near human habitation are also valuable.
First of all, this, of course, is a dandelion. The green parts, rhizomes and baskets with immature seeds contain vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, E, C and K, trace elements, inulin. A very valuable quality of this plant is that it grows one of the first in the early spring, when there is an acute shortage of vitamins. Dandelion can be given directly with a socket and part of the rhizome. Even large species of parrots – such as Jaco – also eat baskets with immature seeds well. To reduce the pollution of the room with fluffs, baskets are collected in the morning, when they have not yet opened, and the upper part of the fluffy basket is cut with scissors. Parrots eagerly eat leaves and succulent stems of Dash, young nettle, plantain, especially at a time when seeds are ripening. Wild cereals can be a good help in food: a field-field, a fescue, stalks with seeds of a shepherd’s bag. Collected in bunches and suspended on the wall of the cage near the perch, they invariably attract the attention of birds and are eaten.
There are a number of plants that are potentially dangerous for birds, and for Jaco in particular.
Cells and aviaries should be placed in such a way that the birds could not get to nearby plants. Below is a list of plants that are dangerous for birds, and for Jaco in particular: