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Feeding a pure seed diet, or a pure nugget based diet, can lead to dietary disorders, obesity and psychological problems. It is important to try to mimic what your bird would eat in the wild as much as is practical.
Adult birds only have low requirements for Vitamin A, Calcium and other nutrients, so signs of deficiencies can be subtle and slow in onset.
Seed diets on their own are often deficient in Calcium, which is an essential mineral for strong beaks and bones. If you notice a flaky beak then this could be a due to a lack of Calcium.
Growing chicks and laying females have higher requirements than adult birds. In growing birds, a lack of calcium and/or Vitamin D will lead to bone deformities, whilst with laying birds, soft shelled eggs may be produced, and the bones become brittle.
Nuts, beans and vegetables such as spinach are also good sources of calcium.
Vitamin A deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency found in birds, especially when they are fed on a seed only diet. Lack of Vitamin A, or Hypovitaminosis A, causes Squamous Metaplasia, leading to changes in their vision, immunity and reproduction. Often birds are presented with white plaques in their mouth, blocked nostrils and secondary respiratory infections.
Vitamin A is plentiful in mangos, carrots, spinach, red peppers and sweet potatoes.
Other vitamin deficiencies can occur when a seed only diet is fed.
A common problem in birds that are fed on a high seed diet and do not get any exercise. Birds in the wild must work hard to search for their food. They also tend to be crepuscular, meaning that they feed mainly at first light and again later in the afternoon.
Obesity can be fatal and may lead to diseases such as fatty liver syndrome, xanthoma or lipomas. Ensuring that your bird is fed a good varied diet, which is rationed through the day, and gets lots of exercise will help minimise the chance of developing such a problem.