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Essential Fatty Acids for Parrots

You may have heard more today about "Essential Fat Acid" (E.F.A.s) and our birds need it in their diet. (The word "important" is a gift, right? ") So, what are they and how do we supply them?

We all hear a lot about "good" fats and "bad" fats - basically, bad things come from animal sources, saturated, and hard at the arteries and cholesterol levels, while good things come from plant sources, not saturated, actually good for cardiovascular health and lowering cholesterol. Well, essential fatty acids are the best of the best!

So let's get technical for a minute - fat (chemically known as lipids) is the most concentrated source of energy in your diet. I'm not going to go into the fat classification here, but just cover Fatty Acid which will pay attention to our older birds at this time.

Essentially, fatty acids differ in saturation and chain length. The "essential" fatty acids are those that are not synthesized by the body, so must be supplied, therefore, by diet. There are three - Linoleic, Linolenic, and Arachidonic (haven't you yet?).

Because these must be fed, they are "Important" - for growth, for nerve health, arteries, blood, visual functions, and the benefits of healthy skin and hair. This "queen" is a Omega 3 (linolenic) Fatty Acid rich in hemp and fish oil. Omega 6 acids (linoleic) are essential for the transport and processing of cholesterol and are found in corn, safflower, and soybeans. Both Omega 3 and 6 need to be supplied, where the best source of combined is canola oil. Mixing hemp oil with other oils helps maintain the balance between Omegas for good health. Arachidonic acid is synthesized by linoleic acid when fed in a diet.

African grays are found to have higher requirements for E.F.A.s than other species and I always recommend supplementing their diet with hemp oil 3 or 4 times a week. Molting and plucking feathers also increase needs, such as breeding and raising a baby. Macaw also has a higher need for fat and I recommend a 3 to 4 day high bean mixture of unsaturated fats and actually reduce saturated fat in the body. Vitamin E is required for E.F.A.s to be absorbed and nuts provide the right balance. An additional source of E.F.As is many seeds and legumes (including peanuts).

Keep in mind that oil can become very fast when exposed to air, heat and light. All oils should be cooled after opening. Freezing or cooling before opening will also help to prolong life.

Regularly inspect nuts and seeds for freshness, and inspect peanuts for aflatoxins (throwing anything that looks dull or suspicious).

Watch fat intake for Amazons, Budgies, Cockatiels or any overweight bird, but be sure to include some E.F.A.s regularly for ALL birds - just use moderation if you need to. The benefits of hair, immunity, and overall health and fitness will be rewarded for incorporating essential nutrients into your daily diet.


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