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Natural diet in the wild
Diet for a pet Galah:
A Galah needs to be fed a diet low in fat if it is going to have a chance of keeping its waistline in shape. Therefore a diet consisting, for example of sunflower seeds, would be totally inappropriate. Not only would this not be nutritionally sound, but would be very high in fat. Sunflower seed contents 35-49% fat, depending on the variety and would lead to an obesity problem for a Galah in no time. Cockatoos in general should be fed a diet consisting of no more than 5-8% fat on average, and a galah with its propensity towards obesity, should be on a diet of about 3-4% fat. This does not mean that a galah cannot have an occasional sunflower seed, or other seeds or nuts as a treat. The concern here, is the total fat percentage of the daily diet. Fat content, calories and carbohydrate intake all need to be considered.
Also a good diet does not consist of one or two items but a variety of items and those items should vary some on a daily basis.
Suggested foods are (organic foods if available): millet, sprouted seeds, grasses, vegetables, greens, cooked brown rice, grains, cooked legumes, wheat pasta, fruits, birdie bread
Mega-millet sold at bird supply stores, actually is not millet but the grain milo. Milo is approximately 4% fat, 11% protein and 2% minerals.
For variation, you can plump millet sprays by simmering them for about 10 minutes. You can also sprout millet. Also look for puffed millet in the cereal section of your local health food store, for something a little different.
Sprouts are an ideal source of protein that can also help the body to cleanse itself. Besides providing protein, sprouts are rich in almost every nutrient, vitamins (especially vitamin A, B vitamins, C, D and E), enzymes, essential fatty acids and minerals (including iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, zinc and chromium) all of which are natural antioxidants that strengthen the immune system and protect against toxic chemical buildup. The few calories that are found in sprouts come from simple sugars, which makes them a quick source of energy.
Sprouting is easily done, and there are several "how to do" articles about it on the internet. Sprouting can be safe, as long as it is done properly by washing, soaking and rinsing with an anti bacterial, anti fungal agent such as grapefruit seed extract or a diluted bleach solution. Sprouting times can vary, depending on your area of the country, time of year, room used etc. You need only sprout seeds until a tail appears. At this time the maximum nutritional value has been reached. Most sprouts that are not greened up and only have tails, can be frozen for storage. It is often easiest to sprout hulled seeds that you can buy in your health food store. There are also sources where you can buy sprouting mixes for birds. China Prairie comes highly recommended, providing a fresh clean product with easy to follow instructions.
China Prairie has had success treating fatty tumors (lipomas) in Galahs with spouts. This is what they said:
The Avian FRESH Diet Program has shown numerous times that it can "remove" (resolve) fatty tumors on Galahs without surgery. Sometimes it takes six to eight months for the tumors to completely disappear, and on one 20 year old male with very large tumors it took nearly two years. What this demonstrates also is that Galahs fed The Avian FRESH Diet Program, that do not have fatty tumors, will be free of the problem. The fat content of a diet is not the most important factor. It is the ability of the bird to process and utilize that fat. Sprouting converts fats to fatty acids and sugars. The herbs in the AFD program contribute to the utilization. Sprouting is always a good thing, but what is sprouted is more important. The components in AFD have proven to be capable of balancing the birds nutritional intake so that elements like fats, proteins, and minerals are utilized whether they be in lesser or greater amounts than what is considered correct. Of course, if detrimental elements like synthetics and other toxics are present in the birds diet, optimum health is more difficult to achieve. Remember that each bird is unique and will respond to good and bad factors in it's diet differently (just like people).
* spinach and swiss chard contain high amounts of oxalic acid. Whereas several other foods contain a trace or moderate amount of oxalic acid of about 200-400 mg. per 100 g. of food, spinach and swiss chard contain over 1,000 mg. per 100 g. of food. Oxalic acid may interfere with the absorption or use of calcium or magnesium present in the diet. It may combine with these mineral elements to form highly insoluble compounds. It is recommended that the amount of spinach and swiss chard in the diet should be limited.
Both of these greens are highly nutritious and oxalic acid fed in the proper amounts is beneficial for digestion. However, cooked spinach or chard should never be offered as the oxalic acid is rendered useless to aid digestion and it will still bind calcium and magnesium, preventing its absorption. So if feeding spinach or chard, feed it raw and in limited quantities. Excess amounts of cooked spinach have been linked to serious calcium deficiencies resulting in bone loss in humans. There have not been any studies done specifically on birds to know how they react to oxalic acid.
Bean and rice mixtures are often greeted eagerly. These should be cooked. Homemade mixtures would consist of several varieties of legumes along with rice and grains. The mixture should be soaked for at least 6 hours, then boiled for 10 min., and simmered for 20 more min. and cooled before serving. Legumes, grains and potatoes are cooked to neutralize enzymes that inhibit digestion and also to neutralize toxins. You can find many of these bean and grain mixtures available premixed, look for the low fat ones. If you cook your own bean and grain mixture, using equal amounts of each, your mixture will contain approximately 2% fat and 10% protein.
Bean suggestions-pinto beans, black-eyed peas, adzuki, green and yellow split peas, garbanzo, black beans.
Grains-wheat, barley, triticale, brown rice, millet, oats
Foods that should NEVER be offered are: Chocolate, Avocado, Alcohol, Caffeine
Other foods to avoid are:
I have mentioned before to several people that galahs are prone to obesity in domestic and captive environments. They have such naturally high 'energy' that it almost seems impossible for us to provide enough aerobic exercise for them to burn off the calories they 'eagerly' devour each day.
As you know, it can often be much harder to lose weight (whether human or avian) than to gain it. The objective in this situation should not necessarily be to lose the weight 'quickly', but to do so in a healthy manner that will reidentify, for the bird, his eating and exercise pattern. This is totally dependent upon the bird's owner.
I would suggest a moderate change in diet initially, and lay out a plan and goal to help the bird attain his 'normal' weight within a specific time frame. One of the keys of course will be to keep a daily chart of his weight, diet and exercise.
It will also be important to monitor his overall behavior during this time to be sure he is maintaining a normal (for him) playfulness and curiosity. If he begins to seem lethargic or reclusive, this needs to be noted and addressed immediately.
So what I suggest is that the owner, set goals realistically and with consideration for his physical and emotional health during this transition. Personally, I think a 4-6 month time frame would be an achievable goal. A weight of under 325g would be an excellent mark to shoot for, in my opinion.
If he is being fed a broad variety of healthy foods you should not see a 'sudden' weight loss. If this should happen, I would suggest consulting with your avian vet right away as there may be something else causing the problem.
• Reduce the amount of 'nuts' to one each day, but don't eliminate it completely. Let it be the 'treat' that he looks forward to.
• Give him a number of 'treats' during the day, but make these healthy treats, low in fat, sugar, salt and calories. But this doesn't mean that they can't be 'yummy' and visually interesting.
• Instead of seed, I love to feed all my birds, but especially cockatoos, and more specifically galahs, fresh sprouts as their afternon 'tea'. This is something they usually relish, in that it is fun to eat, interesting (assuming you are using a good variety of seeds for sprouting), and one of the most natural and nutritious foods you can possibly feed. I've said this before, but I cannot recommend China Prairie highly enough. The quality is excellent and it is a very simple (which is important for all of us) process to follow.
• Bake birdie breads with a corn bread base and add healthy fruits and veggies, as well as any supplements you might want to give to help with any stress he may feel during this change.
• As for pellets, galahs will indeed eat most anything you give them, and it's wonderful that he eats them well. However, if he will eat a broad diet of other foods that are more 'interesting' and fun, this will (in my opinion) make the entire process easier.
• Warm cooked foods are also relished by most birds, so one meal each day might consist of some type of manufactured birdie soak and cook mix (look for one that has no sugar additives, and that is low in natural sugars and fats). Probably stay away from a lot of sweet potato, using carrots and other orange veggies instead.
• Watch the level of simple carbo's.
• You can supplement the protein needs with cooked beans and appropriate vegetables, to make up for reducing the pellets (should you decide to do so).
As far as helping 'burn' calories:
• Let this little guys natural behavior and energy work to his benefit. Make a play area on the floor and let him run, push, hide, chase and toss to his heart's content for an hour or so each day
• Chase him around the room playing "I'm gonna' get you", then turn around and run and let him chase you. ***BE SURE not to ever corner a galah, or any parrot, where he feels trapped with no way out. Always make sure there is a visible avenue of escape in order to avoid making them fearful of being trapped by a potential predator. This seems to be very critical with galahs.
• I don't know what size cage he is in, but it should be big, and most importantly 'wide', with room to exercise and navigate back and forth easily. The same principle for play gyms or trees.
• Swings, ladders, ropes and things to hang from and climb are great.
• Plenty of soft wood to chew that will keep him burning fat, even when being fairly stationary (pine cones are great, and can be easily sanitized).
During this time, be sure he is getting a good night's uninterrupted sleep to help keep any potential stress to a minimum.
Once the weight has been reduced and stabilized for a period of time, it will be important to maintain a continued diet and exercise program to avoid the same problem he faces now.
Author: Sam Foster
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