bird keepers report problems with moulting birds. Birds get
"stuck in the moult", moult slowly or produce poor quality feathers.
carried out at the Institute of Animal Nutrition at the Hanover
School of Veterinary Medicine shed some light on the nutritional
requirements of moulting cage birds. This work was reported
at the International Symposium on Pet Bird Nutrition held in
Hanover late last year.
researchers compared the moulting performance of canaries by
dividing them into three groups and feeding them differently.
1 was fed on: An un-supplemented seed diet
2 was fed on: Seed plus a moulting supplement high in calcium
3 was fed on: Seed plus a moulting supplement high in calcium,
sodium, zinc and sulphur containing amino acids.
supplements used were ones that were already on the market in
that they could get as full a picture as possible of any effect
these diets may have on moulting, the researchers looked at
three different features of the moult:
time from individual feather loss to the first appearance
of the new feather (turnover time)
growth rate of the new feather
time from the onset of the moult (shedding feathers) to
the completion of the moult.
the results did not find that the supplements made any difference
to either of the first two features - the turnover time or the
feather growth rate. But the birds on no supplement or on the
second diet with a mineral only supplement were much more reluctant
to start the moult and they took longer to go through the moult
as they shed fewer feathers at any one time.
seems that the birds fed the sulphur containing amino acid supplement
were far quicker to go into the moult. They dropped more feathers
more quickly and so were able to go through the moult faster.
is a simple explanation for this. Feathers are mostly made of
protein and the proteins in feathers contain larger quantities
of sulphur containing amino acids than the protein in other
parts of the body. Seed-based diets are particularly low in
these critical amino acids. Since mineral only supplements do
not compensate for this shortage they did not prove adequate
to promote a fast successful moult.
far as buying suitable products is concerned, The Birdcare Company
developed a specialised moulting supplement called Feather-Up.
Not surprisingly it contains sulphur containing amino acids
along with a well-balanced total protein source, vitamins and
macro and trace minerals. Feather-Up
should be used in conjunction with CalciBoost to
ensure adequate supplies of a highly available form of calcium
and both are available through retail stockists or direct by