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Discussion Starter #1
So Lorenzo went to the vet yesterday. He got a clean bill of health and we found out he's only about 5-6 months old since he's just starting to molt! While we were there the vet gave me a lot of useful information. Don't use aerosol products around him, and not to put a pan with just Pam or cooking spray on the stove without food. Apparently the fumes from cooking sprays can kill them instantly! Lorenzo is never in the kitchen but still good to know.

Anyway, since he dismay first cockatiel I just got the mixed bag of food with seeds, dried fruits/veggies, and pellets. I didn't realize that he has not been eating the pellets and only the seeds. My vet told me to get him on a pellet diet as soon as possible. So I went out and got pellets yesterday.

The way he told me to switch him over is by offering pellets all day and then giving him as much seed as he wants for 2 hours at night. That way he goes to sleep with a full stomach and doesn't starve. He said eventually Lorenzo will realize he doesn't have to starve all day until he gets the seeds in the evening and he will begin eating the pellets. After he starts eating them I am supposed to cut back to seed only every other day for two hours, every 2 days for two hours, and so on. Then after a few weeks of absolutely no seeds I re-introduce them slowly in a separate small dish during the day.

Has anyone tried this method before? Or is there a different more successful way to switch him over to pellets?
 

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An all pellet diet is just as bad as an all seed diet and can cause kidney and liver issues. The best diet is a combination diet of seeds, pellets, and veggies. You can start him off with offering only pellets for an hour every morning, but then placing seeds back in at night. Tiels are foragers, so trying to force convert him is not a healthy way to go about it.
 

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I feed pellets as a main diet and the only diet offered in-cage. Every other dayor so I offer mixed seeds available during out-of-cage time, with fresh food every day or every other day. My birds happen to love pellets, so it's been trouble free for me. What brand are you offering? My birds really love the fruity Zupreem and I find this is the perfect one to get them started on - you can wean them to other brands if you'd like after, once they've learned to eat it (it seems the most palatable of all the brands, but I also think it has more sugar.)
 

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Cockatiels actually do better on seeds than pellets while it is strongly recommended to feed both its better to feed more seed than pellets. That said you should look into sprouting as it will make the seeds healthier for them. Also molting is not a way to indicate age unless it's the first molt of a bird with gender specific coloration (i.e. white faced where only the male has the white face and the female has a solid grey or pearl where males lose their pearls after the first molt but females keep them). But anyways back to diet. I feed my birds a seed/pellet mix with a ratio of 2:1 seeds to pellets. I also sprout seeds which will become a larger part of their diet pretty soon as I just received my order of 20+ pounds of a customized seed mix. I also give my birds something called herb salad which has a lot of good herbs and stuff for your bird including milk thistle. I also just received my first order of red palm oil which is basically like a vitamin D for birds. I TRY to feed my birds veggies but they won't touch them. Really the most important thing for a bird to have a healthy diet is variety
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks everyone. I'm not planning on keeping him only on pellets, I know he needs more than that to have a balanced diet. But the vet recommended that I gradually decrease the seeds and get him to eat the pellets before reintroducing seeds again. Because as of now he just eats the seeds and ignores pellets. He also won't touch any fresh foods. If it's not seed, he will refuse to eat it.

I believe I got the fruity Zupreem pellets... too tired to go check right now. All day he just picked them up with his beak and then threw them back in the dish.

Also, this is his first molt. Half of his tail is molted out. He has half feathers with the baby barring and half that are solid.
 

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Joey ignored the pellets too, at first. I hand fed them as treats, speaking in excited tones about how yummy they are. He readily accepted them hand fed. After a few days he was eating them out of the dish, too.

It is all trial and error with fresh veggies. A lot of us have had success by starting new veggies by shredding or chopping them to the same size as seeds in the dish, and adding them to the food dish.

If your little one isn't touching pellets, only offering pellets needs to be monitored. A tiel will starve him/herself before eating foods they don't want. Sometimes they will get hungry enough to try it, but a stubborn one won't.
 

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Some very knowledgeable people are currently recommending a diet of 30-50% pellets for cockatiels. I wouldn't say that cockatiels do better on seeds than on pellets, since seeds are severely deficient in vitamin A and lacking in some other vital nutrients. But cockatiels are granivores (seed eaters) in the wild, and having some seed and other healthy natural foods in the diet is good for their psychological health. Pellet formulas have been refined to the point that feeding an all-pellet diet might be as safe as any other way to feed your birds, but this only meets the nutrient needs. It's too monotonous to satisfy their desire to forage.

Contrary to what the internet would have you believe, the available evidence indicates that sprouting doesn't actually change the nutritional value of a seed very much. But it does make it softer and more digestible, and reduces anti-nutrients like phytate which can make the mineral content more bioavailable. There's more info here if anyone is interested: http://www.littlefeatheredbuddies.com/info/nutrition-sprouting.html The last section discusses some scientific studies and compares the nutrients in mung bean sprouts versus unsprouted mung beans.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Maybe I'll try sprouting soon! Right now I'm more focused on getting him trained and balancing his diet so it's healthier.

I would try hand feeding him the pellets but we aren't quite there yet with training. He will step up on my finger and sit there as long as he's out of his cage. But while he's on my hand he bites me the entire time. Think he may like the feeling of my acrylic nails. I've been trying to stop that since I'm sure chewing on them isn't good for him. But he still refuses to take any treats from me. When I offer them to him he gets angry and bites.

I'm definitely monitoring him with the pellets. The vet told me that if I completely cut off seeds he will starve. I guess one day of not eating for birds is like three days of not eating for us.
 

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Birds are instinctively resistant to unfamiliar foods - in the wild there are a lot of toxic plants around, and a bird that eats something "different" could end up dead! It's important to go slow with diet transitions, because birds have been known to literally starve to death when the human tried to force things. Birds need a good diet for long-term health, but in the short run the only thing that really matters is getting enough calories every day. If that short-term need isn't met, there won't be a long term future to worry about.
 

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You can try grinding the pellets up I know members on another forum have had success grinding them up into a powder and slowly increasing the coarseness. Also feeding pellets made for parakeets might help because other than size they are the same as cockatiel pellets
 

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Well something amazing just happened. Lorenzo went over and started eating his pellets. I'm thrilled!
Yaaaay for small miracles! **Dances**

It seems you won't be needing the below 'help' since Lorenzo's been eating the stuff you're offering, but I'll post it anyways in case you need something to read up on :)

What helped me convert my birds to pellets was that I mixed them with their seed at first and gradually increased the amount of pellets in the seed until they were eating mostly pellets. Once I was sure they were eating the pellets, I put a bowl of all straight pellets in the cage and another of seeds so when one ran out, they could eat the other. So far it's worked and I regularly see the conure and the tiels eating both like little gluttons.

It also helps if you pretend you're eating the pellets, too. In total, with my conure teaching the cockatiels how to eat pellets, it took 3 months to convert them.

As I said - probably advise you don't need now :) You go, Lorenzo!!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks! I'll keep that advice in mine in case he decides to be stubborn again! I did act like I was eating the pellets so maybe that helped!
 

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Wait, if a pellet only diet is unhealthy, then why do vets recommend it? And whats healthy? I feed almost strictly pellets with sunflowers and millet every once in a while. She wont eat veggies :/
 

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Wait, if a pellet only diet is unhealthy, then why do vets recommend it? And whats healthy? I feed almost strictly pellets with sunflowers and millet every once in a while. She wont eat veggies :/
Excellent question! My vet, too, pushes the pellet diet (Harrisons of course). I wonder if it's their training? Does anyone else have a guess?
 

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Vets don't actually get training on nutrition, at least not much of it and especially NOT in birds unless they specialize. Even then, there is no real answer as to what is the perfect diet for birds because it's so hard to recreate in captivity. But when a vet starts pushing a particular brand, such as Harrisions, it's because they have an agreement with that company. All the info they get on bird nutrition comes from that company. The BEST diet is one that is a combo of seeds, pellets, and veggies.
 

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I was talking to staff who care for the cockatiels and budgerigars (they have 650 of the latter in their enclosure!) at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, and they recommend three quarters of the birds' dry diets be pellets with less than a quarter seeds - mainly millets. Sunflower as a treat, some fresh vegetables on a daily basis, and eggfood once to twice weekly. They fed their teils slightly moistened pellets mixed with the fresh treats and the teils seemed to love it.
 

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Yea it's usually about a 60/40 ratio that I've seen recommended. Variety is key to a healthy diet.
 

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In the past, it looks like pellets contained excessive amounts of vitamin A which may have caused problems in some parrots. This problem has been fixed, and now it's likely that feeding an all-pellet diet is as safe as any other diet you could feed your birds. But it would be a very monotonous diet that wouldn't have the psychological benefits of a more varied diet, which is the reason that almost nobody recommends an all-pellet diet. I have an article on the nutritional value of pellets and assorted pellet myths at http://www.littlefeatheredbuddies.com/info/nutrition-pellets.html
 
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