The mythical “all seed” diet

The mythical “all seed” diet

You know how they used to have commercials where every product was compared against how the “leading brand” performed? It’s easy to compare against something mythical isn’t it?

Well, I very frequently hear diets compared to the “all seed” diet. I hear people adopting or fostering a bird and disdainfully talking about how the bird was on an “all seed” diet and they needed to be rescued.

If you’re in the US, it’s very difficult to buy a 100% seed diet. You can either buy a wild bird mix or buy individual types of seeds yourself and mix them. The predominantly seed mixes all have other ingredients such as processed grains and are typically fortified like breakfast cereals.

Now, THAT’S an all-seed diet.

Just for fun, I entered “parrot seed” as a search term in Amazon and looked at the top 5 results. I listed a summary of the ingredients since the full lists are very, very long (typically a bad sign!):

  1. Kaytee Forti Diet Pro Health Bird Food For Parrots: Seed, processed grains, nuts, dehydrated vegetables, vitamins
  2. Wild Harvest Advanced Nutrition Parrot: Predominantly processed grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, eggs, sugar, dehydrated vegetables, vitamins
  3. Vitakraft Menu Vitamin Fortified Parrot Food: Seed, processed grains, nuts
  4. Volkman Avian Science Super African Grey and Amazon Bird Food: Seeds, processed grains, dehydrated fruit and vegetables, nuts, artificial flavors(!), vitamins
  5. Kaytee Supreme Bird Food For Parrots: Seeds, processed grains, nuts, dehydrated vegetables, vitamins

And what does processed (pelleted) food contain? Processed grains, vitamins, and sometimes ground up seeds.

So, when people are rescuing birds from an “all seed” diet and putting them on a processed (pelleted) diet, fundamentally the ingredients are the same. I plan to present more exacting nutritional analysis between “all seed” mixes and processed diets in the future.

An added side note, diets that are truly 100% seed are very commonly available in other countries like the UK, Brazil, and Australia. Americans tend to like more engineered diets, so the parrot food companies happily comply (or perhaps “educate” us into thinking their products are the best options for our birds).

So I did this interesting search for “parrot seed” and then looked at the image results. All the sponsored ads at the top are American seed companies with seed mixes like mentioned above that are not 100% seed. However, the top 10 actual search results are as follows.

  • 5 results are Australia for 100% seed mixes
  • 1 result is UK for a 100% seed mix
  • 4 results are USA and are “all seed” mixes like mentioned above with processed pellets added.

So, what are the takeaways:

  • A truly 100% seed diet is very hard to come by in the US
  • Seed mixes in the US are similar ingredient-wise to processed (pelleted) diets and contain seeds, processed grains, vitamins, and potentially some other ingredients
  • Outside the US, it’s very easy to find parrot seed mixes and they appear to be quite popular

I’ll be presenting more information on the merits of different types of parrot diets in the future.

The take-away here is that when you hear people talk about an “all seed” diet, it’s unlikely a bird is getting a diet that is 100% seed. Also, many people will feed fresh food, including table food, to their birds, so that diet becomes more of a “predominantly seed” diet.