Feeding Your Cockatoo For Good Health
Cockatoos need a balanced diet of equal shares of seeds and vegetables with a small quantity of fruits, nuts, proteins, cooked rice, bean mixture and table food, such as cheese, corn, cereal, pasta, meat etc.
Some vets may recommend adding pellets as well or exclusively. When feeding pellets to your pet, please be aware of the fact that overly feeding citrus fruits (including oranges) or vitamin-C-rich foods to your birds can lead to "Iron Overload Disease" as vitamin C increases the amount of iron absorbed from foods and supplements.
Provide a high quality parrot / bird mix (some are listed below - but also prefer above for species-specific diets), supplemented with various fruits, green foods, millet spray, and occasionally some mealworms is generally regarded as suitable.
I would look for preferably "organic" or at least "all-natural" dry bird mixes. "Fortified diets" are not necessarily good as often inferior, artificial additives are used, which may have no health benefit at all or indeed may even be harmful. It is far better to buy unfortified mixes and add a good quality bird supplement instead.
A quality mix may contain the following ingredients:
- Safflower Seeds ... Sunflower Seeds ... Pumpkin Seeds in Shell ... Fennel Seeds
- Macadamia Nuts .. Pine Nuts ... Walnuts ... Filberts ... Cashews ... Brazil Nuts ... Pistachios ... Pecans ... Almonds ... Peanuts in Shell (some bird owners remove peanuts from their bird's diet because of potential aflatoxin contamination)
Dried Fruits / Veggies / Greens
- Papaya and Papaya Leaf ... Soy Beans ... Whole Corn ... Apricots / Pineapple ... Carrot Dices / Apple Dices ... Banana Chips ... Orange Peel Strips ... Cranberries / Mango Dices ... Peaches/ Pears ... Nectarines ... Garden Peas / Green Beans ... Broccoli / Zucchini ... Green and Red Bell Pepper ... Spinach / Parsley Flakes ... Celery Stalk and Leaf Flakes ... Red Clover Blossoms ... Dandelion Leaf ... Calendula Flowers ... Echinacea ... Angustifolia Herb ... Alfalfa Leaf / Thyme Leaf ... Oat Straw / Rose Hips ... Rosemary Leaf / Peppermint Leaf ... Basil Leaf / Red Raspberry Leaf ... Raisins (small quantity only!)
Other Healthy Ingredients
- Bee Pollen ... Coconut Chips
The following food item should be included in your pet's diet:
Cockatoos particularly like the seeds of the Eucalyptus tree, Casuarinas and Marri seeds. They will also eat bull banksias seeds and occasionally Angophoras, Hakeas, Acacias and fruit seeds. Please note that fruit seeds are toxic to some cockatoos. If your pet is on a seed-only diet, it is likely to suffer from malnutrition; in this case, a supplement of vitamins may be necessary to keep your pet healthy.
A Balanced Diet would consist of ...
- 25% vitamin enriched seed mix (or 50% without pellets)
- 25% pellets
- 25% vegetables, dark leafy greens and fruits
- 15% cooked rice, corn, and bean mixture
- 10% table food, cereal, bread, pasta, cheese, meat etc.
The vegetables should be colorful, with green, dark green, orange, yellow or red vegetables being provided - for maximum nutrition. Vegetables typically fed are: carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, broccoli, greens, green peppers, asparagus, ripe tomatoes and spinach.
Convenient Sources of Fruits / Veggies:
- Baby Food: Human baby food with fruits and vegetables (i.e. Gerbers)
- Dry Fruits / Veggies: When fresh fruits and vegetables are not available, dehydrated fruits and vegetables work wonderfully. Many birds love their crunchiness, or they toss them into their water dish (creating a "soup" of some sorts) and then eat them once they are rehydrated. Be prepared to change the water more often throughout the day. Dried fruits and vegetables have the advantage that they don't go off. You could literally leave them in their cages for days (unless they get wet, of course). This surely comes in handy when traveling. Dried fruits and veggies also help convert "seed junkies" to a healthier diet. When you are at home, you can moisten the dried fruits and veggies with warm water to rehydrate them. Birds tend to LOVE warm fruits and veggies, maybe because it gives them flashbacks to the times when they were chicks and were fed warm regurgitated food by their bird parents.
- It is important to keep in mind that some companies add artificial coloring to their dried fruits and veggies to make them visually appealing.Only purchase naturally dried fruits without any sulfur dioxide, as this preservative is known to increase hyperactivity, aggressiveness, feather shredding or picking due to allergies.
Healthy fruits include: apples, pears, peaches, pomegranate, bananas, berries, plums, oranges, kiwi, citrus, pomegranate, grapes, raisins etc.
Nuts make great treats, as cockatoos really like them. If given whole nuts, they love to crack open the shell to extract the seed. This is good exercise for their beak and also provided entertainment.
Food items high in proteins are legumes, cooked eggs, grated cheese, sprouts, ripe tomatoes, cooked beans and spinach. They can also be fed with freshly cooked lean beef, chicken or fish in small quantities. Occasionally, you can give them cooked meat bones.
Cockatoos should always have access to clean, fresh water. Don't use tap water that is likely to be contaminated with heavy metals and chloride, or may even contain a bacteria and parasites. Recommended is distilled or purified / filtered water.
Vitamins and Minerals:
If the bird's diet has a variety of all the nutrients, then supplementation is not required.
Make feeding times special for your pet by incorporating lots of fun foraging ideas.