A goldfinch in New Zealand

Bringing out the best in seed-eating birds

Seed-eating birds like greenfinches, chaffinches, sparrows and yellowhammer will devour a feeder full of bird seed. But there is a big difference between Topflite's New Zealand-grown seed and imported, heat-treated seed. Here's why.

What are the benefits of NZ grown bird seed?

Over 80% of the seeds we sell are grown here in NZ, with the majority grown on our North Otago farm. Being the farmer and the wholesaler of a large proportion of our seed enables us to control the quality of the key ingredients in our products from the paddock to the shelf. This results in fresh, top quality seed that birds and small animals thrive on.

Secondly, and most importantly, NZ grown seed is not subject to NZ Customs biosecurity regulations. This means we can guarantee that NZ grown seed is not heat treated. Not all imported seeds are necessarily required to be heat treated, but most have to be.

What is heat treatment?

Heat treatment is a process that effectively cooks the seeds for 15 hours at a minimum of 85 degrees centigrade which kills them, ensuring they are unable to germinate.

How does heat treatment affect the nutritional value of birdseed?

The process negatively affects key vitamins and amino acids that birds need to thrive, namely vitamin A and reactive Lysines. In 2017 we had some testing performed at Massey university on a Topflite sample versus a 100% imported seed sample.

Below are some extracts of the report interpreting the results of the test.

“Marked differences were observed for Vitamin A contents. The ‘Import’ sample was devoid of Vitamin A’. Vitamin A deficiency is a common issue in pet birds and could have a major impact on health if the birds are given only an all-seed diet of heat treated products.

Vitamin A deficiency is very critical and will cause many problems in birds. The main effect is an increase in susceptibility to infections, but it also affects mucous membranes, reproduction, and feather health.

Differences were also observed in the % reactive lysine. This is of interest. Reactive lysine, as a % of total lysine, was 91% in the ‘Topflite’ sample versus 83% in the ‘import’ sample. Reactive lysine is a good indicator of heat damage to proteins and the actual availability of amino acids to birds. These results suggest that the protein and amino acids are more available in the ‘Topflite’ sample compared to the ‘imported’ sample’

There were no major differences in proximate components,(protein, fat,fibre and ash) except for protein and fat contents. The protein and fat contents were higher in the ‘Topflite’ sample. These are also favourable to bird nutrition.”

These results are evidence that heat treatment eliminates a lot of the nutritional value in seed for birds.

The tests also indicate that Topflite seed mixes do provide key vitamins, proteins and amino acids needed for healthy birds. Evidence of this can be seen in the continued high percentage of medal winning birds that are fed on Topflite products.

Calcium supplementation:

All seeds are quite low in calcium. If birds do not obtain enough calcium then it will transfer from their bones. For laying birds this is not sustainable in the long term. Birds should be getting twice as much calcium as phosphate for a maintenance diet and seven times as much for laying birds.

Therefore it is very important if feeding aviary birds to provide a calcium supplement like cuttlefish to ensure your bird is receiving sufficient calcium. One insect per day would provide sufficient calcium. Alternatively leaves and vegetables are rich in calcium. Wild birds, on the other hand, will acquire the calcium they need from green foliage and insects.

The Flushing Effect

Providing aviary birds with a “rising plain of nutrition” prior to laying season will help to boost reproduction numbers and quality. This can be done by feeding nutritionally dense food as laying season approaches. Topflite recommends adding sprouted seeds to your birds’ diet as one way of effectively providing this rising plain of nutrition.

Topflite Soak & Sprout mix has become very popular among New Zealand’s top breeders recently and provides a ready to soak mix that will produce highly nutritious sprouts for your birds.

Aviary Birds Finch garden birds

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