Skip to main content
CZAAWE Resource Article
Nutritional and physical characteristics of commercial hand-feeding formulas for parrots
Year of publication
Hand-rearing is a common practice for the propagation of captive psittacines, however, research on their nutrition is limited and the requirements of growing chicks are not well understood. The nutrition of 15 commercially available parrot hand-feeding formulas was compared with the average content of the crops of free living Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) chicks, as well as with the requirements of 6- to 12-week-old leghorn chickens. When the formulas were prepared for a 1-week-old chick, all except three maintained >90% of solids in suspension after 15 min and >60 after 30 min. On average the formulas had a similar metabolizable energy density as wild macaw crop samples. The concentration of crude protein in the formulas was higher than that of the crop sample average, while the crude fat was lower than the average crop samples. More than 50% of the formulas had concentrations of K, Mg, and Mn less than the crop sample average, and Ca and Na concentrations below the requirements established for 6- to 12-week-old leghorn chickens. For >45% of the formulas the concentrations of arginine, leucine, and methionine + cystine were below the requirements of 6- to 12-week leghorns. When commercial formulas were prepared according to the manufacturer's instructions, the different dilutions greatly magnified the nutritional differences among them. Overall, the inconsistency in the nutrient concentrations among the formulas suggests that there is no consensus among manufacturers of the correct nutrition for growing psittacines and the industry could benefit from continued research in this area. Zoo Biol. 32:469–475, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.