Maybe it’s my suspiscious nature, but whenever a doctor or vet “highly recommends” a name brand product (especially if they sell it), I think twice. To be fair, I must acknowedge that many may carry products because they truly beileve in their health benefits. But there are also those who carry products, and push them, because it benefits their bank accounts.
Many medical professionals receive kickbacks for promoting certain brands of products. (A kickback is a payment of money, favors or something else of value offered in exchange for pushing a product. It is, in a word, bribery.) If the product is a good one, you may say no harm, no fowl. But what if that product has a dark side? One such questionable product is red palm oil.
It seems like anytime someone takes their bird to the vet, even when a well-bird exam turns up perfect health, they report that their doctor has recommended a lifelong regimen of red palm oil. When the more probing clients ask why their bird needs this supplement, the answer usually relates to improved feather condition.
However, vets often neglect to mention the product’s downside: LDL cholesterol raising, artery clogging, heart disease instigating saturated fats by the truckload. (Heart disease in parrots has shown a sharp increase over recent years.) Worse, by pushing this “quick fix” product, they are blowing the opportunity to teach their client about proper diet.
Red palm oil IS loaded with beta carotenes, which convert to vitamin A in the body. But so are carrots, winter squashes, peppers, dark leafy greens, apricots, mangoes… If your bird is deficient in vitamin A, doesn’t it make more sense to improve the diet than to use a supplement, especially one with such an unhealthy downside?
Vets will often recommend red palm oil to clients (a common brand is AVIx Sunshine Factor) with plucking birds claiming that it will help to stop or reduce this behavior. It is true that vitamin A improves feather and skin condition, and red palm oil has plenty of that. Dry itchy skin is sometimes the cause of plucking.
However, most of the “evidence” that red palm oil is responsible for eliminating plucking is purely anecdotal. For instance, the person who brings home the plucked macaw from a rescue and starts him on red palm oil – when the plucking stops, the credit is given the red palm oil, not the improved diet and the more suitable environment. There is no conclusive evidence that red palm oil fixes plucking.
Plucking issues are more successfully treated with medical investigation, change to the environment and improved diet and social interaction (which includes training).
Your vet should only have YOUR bird’s best interests at heart and products should be recommended only as they are needed. I think you would agree that the money you budget for your parrot’s needs each month is better spent on a foraging toy than on an unnecessary, and potentially dangerous, dietary supplement.
If your bird is already in fine feather and on a good diet, please ask your vet this: “why does MY bird need red palm oil?” If it is suggested for valid medical or dietary reasons, ask your vet how to make adjustments to your bird’s diet to account for the increased fat.
NOTE: As red palm oil increases in popularity, it is having a devastating environmental impact on our planet and wildlife. Please read this.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.
Oil palm seed. I have tried giving once per week for 6 weeks…my buffon becomes like baby with right wing twitching and hungry noise… It took about 3 weeks to wear off.. I tried again but after 5 days the same bad habits came back…haizz…so i decided to stop completely… From Singapore 21 feb 2021.
Hii, birdtricks please always stay honest and dont let dokters opinion take the best out of you its a big industry and for most dokters its all about the money! (Not all) but MOST! Don’t ever let other people influence your ways of writing! So many peeps are happy with your honesty and thats what matters!! And the things you write about and your vids is what makes you unique✌🏾🌻
Dear Jamie, Long time fan. I have personally used some of your products and follow on fb. I am a veterinarian. I usually love your articles. I often direct my clients to them. However if you continue to malign my profession and show a lack of respect then that may have to stop. And I am not alone. Vets do not get kickbacks from companies unless you can call pens or scratch pads kickbacks. Saying we get significant rewards for pushing product is not professional behavior. I’m sorry but is not true. If it were we would all be driving mercedes, not have the highest debts of any profession, the highest divorce rates, and the highest suicide rates. In general if we recommend something it is because we care for our patients and are truely trying to help. I do keep a few products in house. Not to sell time after time, but so the owner can get something right away if needed, or to try converting to a better diet. It isn’t for repeat sales. While I agree some products are best if used only short term (to enable education and make real, healthy, and effective changes) bashing an entire profession is something that’s aftereffects are anything but short term. I work in an boarded exotics deficient area, though I work under a boarded mentor and routinely send cases to the universities exotics unit. A few years ago you had some inflammatory things in a separate article along the same theme. I was shocked and waited to see how you would respond. Thankfully I didn’t see that kind of downtalking after, until today. I understand not knowing any better, or just making a mistake, but this is repeat behavior. I used to have your info in my new bird packet. Sadly I think this must now change. Myself and my ABVP friends on fb are frankly shocked and saddened. PS. I don’t care if you post this or not. It’s just my personal opinion. Hopefully it will help you edit your articles with more care. Dr. Lisa Hatfield
I want to put a healthy oil on my B&G’s pellets and dry food to help adhere spices. Was using a few drops of olive oil and my vet recommended Red Palm Oil as a better choice, but to still go lightly.
What they use red palm oil for bird and parrot too ?
I keep trying my Quaker on different Pellets. I can’t get him to eat any of them. I really wish I could find one he would eat so I can get him off of seed. He loves his fruits and veggies but when it comes to pellets he just won’t eat them
We are a bunch of volunteers and starting a brand new scheme in our community. Your website provided us with useful info to work on. You have done a formidable activity and our whole community might be grateful to you.
Top picture is in fact a Catalina….
I have been feeding my eclectus(female SI) Harrison’s high potency for 4 years. (9 pellets each morning). She has never toe tapped or wing flipped. She is healthy and very sweet. My Vet prescribed Harrison’s when she came from the breeder weighing 198 grams at 16 weeks! He put her on this immediately! She liked this and improved daily,gaining weight and has remained a healthy bird,weighing 415 grams.She has been eating this since. In the evening she eats a healthy mash made up of veggies and brown rice and beans etc. She also forages during the day and stays mentally challenged. This is extremely important!!!! Thanks to Harrison’s, a good “mash” and good parronting I have a great and very healthy bird. I think you get what you pay for concerning the Harrison’s.
There was a group I belonged to online and gave alot of different information My group I joined was a cockatoo group. I believe i typed freecycle.com and joinrned from there it was very helpful When a avian vet was available they had trained people to guide all the steps Anyone who can find this group also for many other animals Is worth joining Good Luck
I completely agree. Suspicion is well needed. But in the end, they gotta make money. Blame the system!
I have 2 Red Front McCaws and have used Harrison’s for years. The interesting thing is that birds have different tastes just like people do. Some like Harrisons and some don’t. It is very frustrating to read these posts that bash companies just because your birds don’t eat a certain food. The key is this… it is sometimes a trial and error to find a pellet that your bird likes. I have spent 6 months trying to find a pellet that my male Red Front would eat. I finally found that he likes and that is ZuPreem Nut-Blend. I was able to convert him from seed in a matter of a week. In addition, I purchased a “multivitamin” and add it to his water. Now my birds have their pellets as a main stay and also get fresh fruits, vegetables and grains everyday with very few seeds. They are healthy, happy and very active. So I hope those that can’t get their birds to eat Harrisons, will stop complaining and quit bashing the companies. It sound like a political arena in here like Obama and Romney!!!
Hi again it’s me audrey u knw my birds love to sit shoulder w me they enjoy watch & love to view so cute! My question does cop will catch me if they r sit my shoulder or other stand without cage ok with them? Pls advise me tks audrey
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