This photo shows a greatly enlarged, pale liver, often due to hypervitaminosis. Trust me. I’ve heard it all – all the excuses, all the justifications.
Tell me, if your best friend jumped in front of an oncoming train, would you jump too just because they said it would be fun? I hardly think so! I get that folks emulate what others do – imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - but in this case, imitation can be very wrong for your flock. Monkey see, monkey do. I understand that too. I even admit having done the same thing until I realized what it was doing to my birds – until I SAW the results of what it was doing to them.
My own personal research has shown me the results and a lot of it hasn't been pretty; damaged organs, poor breeding results, weak immune systems, and organs turned to MUSH. You could be killing your birds or at very least, shortening their lives.
So if I wouldn’t do that to myself, why did I make that story up?
I may be a slightly off kilter crazy woman, but I don’t have a death wish!!! I’d NEVER mix all those vitamins and I’d NEVER take any additional supplements without consulting with my doctor and making sure they wouldn’t negate each other, cause organ damage or an overdose! In fact, if I were really having all those thoughts and problems, I’d see a psychiatrist first (because that’s just crazy!), then my nutritionist, endocrinologist, orthopedic surgeon, and cardiologist - all of whom know how these items work together much better than I do!
Why? Because I use common sense! I know that MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER, and I know that mixing multivitamins can actually kill me!
Yes, the human body is designed to use only what it needs and passes everything else out through our urine and excrement, but I also know that all these items have to pass through my liver, kidneys and other organs before leaving my body – because that’s how the body works. I also know that many of these items can stay in my system lodged in those same organs if I get too much, causing damage.
While perusing my Facebook news feed one day, I came across a video of someone creating "breakfast" for their birds. I thought, "Cool!" and happily sat down with my coffee and bowl of Wheaties ready to watch it. But as I watched, I became more and more concerned as I started absorbing what was being said and done. You see, the creator of the video was mixing several different kinds of vitamins, and adding prepared supplemental foods that I know to have ADDITIONAL vitamins in them! My "Danger Will Robinson" arms started waving, my hair caught fire, bright red flag flashing, smoke rising, coffee spilling, Wheaties spewed across my computer monitor...NOOOOO! MAJOR MISTAKE!!!
What was so bad? It all looked good, and was certainly a pretty mix once combined…
While well-intentioned, this person was actually mixing a potentially lethal concoction of vitamins and supplements. All those vitamins being mixed go directly to through the kidneys and liver. Finches are tiny. Their livers and kidneys are even tinier. Their metabolisms are higher and they tend to process food stuffs and vitamins much more quickly than humans, but their bodies don’t work quite as efficiently as ours do when it comes to voiding extra items. They store much of what they eat in their organs and long bones. STORE being the operative word here. When they get too much of something, it can have an opposite effect. Finch nutrition carries with it a very fine line. They may look pretty…today…but if their nutrition is off (regardless of well-meaning caretakers’ intentions), their lives may be shortened, they may end up with liver and kidney damage, and signs of hypervitaminosis may begin to show. They can’t tell us what they do and do not need, so they can’t tell us when they are getting too much! Their only defense is to show signs through feathers and body language. Or death.
How do we know what can be combined and what shouldn’t be combined?
One of the most important things we can do while supplementing our birds - whether it be through water supplementation or food stuffs - is to choose ONE manufacturer's brand of supplement and stick with it. This means vitamin supplements, calcium, iodine, dried egg foods, bird specific "treats", etc.
Manufacturers create their supplements to work as a SYSTEM.
When you combine different brands, you not only throw off the fine balance of that system, but you also run the risk of doing your birds great bodily harm. More is NOT always better, and mixing is often dangerous! This INCLUDES mixing items such as dried egg food like Miracle Meal, Proteen, Quiko, Petamine, etc. All of these have ADDED vitamins, and some have vitamins that duplicate what the manufacturer already created as a stand-alone vitamin or supplement product! READ YOUR LABELS BEFORE USING ANY ITEM and NO MIXING OF BRANDS!!!
Really gang - just because it smells good or has a great list of vitamins does NOT mean it should be mixed with another brand or other items with similar properties! “How pretty” can quickly turn into "how deadly"! I cannot express enough how important this is!
Unless you are an Avian Nutritionist or directed to do so specifically by your Avian Veterinarian, you should NEVER mix different brands. Why?
One brand may have double a specific vitamin than another that is likely offset or complemented by another specific vitamin IN THAT SAME SYSTEM to ensure bodily absorption. TOO MUCH of any given vitamin is often WORSE than not enough!
There are MANY supplement brands and systems out there. I've tested most of them and have my preferences. I'm not as concerned about which brand you choose as long as you choose ONLY ONE AND STICK WITH IT! This means EVERYTHING from those seed mixes with the little colored bits, to dried egg foods, vitamins, calcium & iodine supplements, treats, etc. Just don't do it!
If you think your birds are missing something, reevaluate your nutritional program. Take a step back - beep, beep, back up the birdy food truck. Get back to basics. Take everything away except the seed (no colored bits or additives). Start with a SINGLE BRAND of multivitamin supplement, calcium supplement, and iodine supplement - follow the directions TO THE LETTER - and go from there. Set a goal of a few months to allow you to see the effects, then reevaluate again at the end of that set goal date. Don’t see the results you were looking for? Try a different brand!
We all have budgets we must live within and must choose what we can afford. Your choice in supplements for your birds should reflect not only your budget requirements, but what works for YOU and YOUR BIRDS. Nutritional requirements will all be dependent on species, genetics, and environment. Your mixed flight may have different requirements than someone else's all Gouldian or Canary flight. You MUST know your species and what they need before offering just any old supplementation system. Many of these SYSTEMS have schedules you can follow, and some even have schedules for specific species. Follow them. To the letter. Do NOT deviate.
Regardless of what some retailers will tell you, there is no such thing as “instant gratification” with finches, no matter what a specific brand or manufacturer claims. Getting the nutrition RIGHT is key. Consistency is key. Following a specific schedule is key. Giving them MORE of something is not going to make them healthier. Finding the right combination of nutrients, made to work together as a system for your species IS.
But what if a "system" doesn't include a seed mix or everything I've read my birds need?
Be very careful about believing what you read or hear other breeders say they do. Take all of it with a grain of salt! You do not want to duplicate nutrients. If you find a system is missing a pertinent component, perhaps it's time to find a new system, or perhaps that system is meant to be supplemented with other items. Read your labels and directions. If there is a duplicate of any given nutrient, avoid using that item at the same time as the one you currently use. If the directions state to supplement with something else, do it. Know what you are feeding & supplementing with BEFORE you begin to offer it!
Sorry kids, I cannot accept, "But I've been doing it for ‘x’ amount of time and haven’t seen any problems" or “But so-and-so does it and hasn’t had any problems” or even “We’ve done it this way in our family for decades”.
I also take a third multivitamin that does everything the other two do, but also promises to promote heart health and longevity. My ticker is fragile. Getting this old ticker ticking on time is going to keep me moving and healthy in my old age! I’m in a hurry to live longer. Time is of the essence!
From what I can tell, they are all nearly exactly the same with just a very few differences. Still, I take all three every single day. I figure more is better! And just to make sure I’m covered, I also take an iron pill, a calcium pill, a vitamin C pill, a glucosamine pill, an iodine pill (for thyroid protection), St. John’s Wort for my mental health, and a B complex pill. This is what breakfast looks like…
I just found a new brand of multivitamin for myself. It claims to be “all natural” (I like the sound of that - must be good for me, right?). It claims it will make my hair glossy, fingernails strong, skin glow, and help me drop weight. Considering I’m getting old and wrinkled, grey in both skin and hair, nails are ragged, and I’m getting a bit “broad in the beam”, it sounds like a miracle cure! It also comes in the form of a yummy, candy-like thing. I like candy!
I have another multivitamin I take too – it doesn’t claim to be all natural, but it is supposed to be for “aging” people (I’m getting old, don’t ya know!). It does everything the first one does, but is ALSO supposed to help my aching joints. I might need a walker and orthopedic shoes soon if I don’t get these joints working properly! I hope this one puts a skip in my step!
SERIOUSLY??? NO!! NOT seriously!!!!
THINK for a moment about the logic here and please reconsider how you mix those items - more importantly, think about WHY you are mixing those items. If you are doing it because you think the birds are missing an important nutrient, test another brand! Give it a few months before making a decision that something does or does not work – you will NOT see results “tomorrow”, but if the system you’ve chosen is good for your flock, you WILL begin to see changes within a few weeks.
If you don’t know WHY you are doing it, then STOP! Critique your own motives and ask yourself if you really know WHY you are doing what you are doing!
But for the health and well-being of your birds, PLEASE stop mixing supplements from different manufacturers. For once, listen to the voice of reason, logic, and experience with research to back it - you could be setting your birds up for failure...or even an early death if you don't!
CHOOSING A SUPPLEMENT SYSTEM FOR FINCHES
KRISTEN REEVES, MEADOWLARK FARMS AVIAN SUPPLY, INC.