Why do we keep records about our animals?

Recording the data

Record keeping is crucial for animal care. As the habitats in the wild for many threatened and endangered species continues to shrink, it’s our responsibility as a institution to take care that we record the most information possible of the animals in captivity. The survival in a long term of captive populations requires management that will include gathering and recording data about genetics, ethology, nutrition and veterinary care.

Fortunately there are some very good software programs that we can purchase, but we also can do a lot just working with some excel files. If we don’t keep records in big collections, for example about the bloodlines (who is the parent of that bird, how many babies he had last year etc.) it will be really easy to make mistakes crossing birds with the same bloodlines!

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Registration systeem

This is not conservation of species because we are creating birds that will be genetic under represented and therefore with a tendency to be more prone to diseases, growing problems among others.

Despite what I spoke before is quite obvious for most of the readers, there’s much more to take as an advantage when we have a good record keeping system. Nutritionally it is very important to control what the bird eats in a daily basis to avoid over or under weight problems, decide when we supplement for breeding season and to decide when it’s necessary to add or remove something.

Keep the data

Let’s see for example a bird that every day eats an average of 190-200 grams of food. It’s like this for years and the bird looks great. At some point he starts to eat 170-180 grams. In volume you will not see a big difference so you keep doing and assume it is ok. If you have data from the past you’ll see that this bird eats a quantity of food for years and now it’s less, so something is wrong! At this moment if we can find out what is the problem (it could be from just an environmental change to a disease starting) maybe we can save/improve the birds life, instead of notice when he is already skinny with no appetite.

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Report

There are so much more advantages as I can mention right now such as the veterinary history of the bird, number of eggs per clutch etc. But being a blog and to not extend too much, just finishing about the discipline that will come if we start to do a good record keeping. Involuntarily the person that will do, will be obliged to pay more attention to details as he or she will have to write a short report every end of the day!

It becomes a routine at some point, and you’re gonna notice it when you don’t have anything to write. This is the point you’ll start to pay attention in the small things and that’s when the difference will be made.

Therefore we can say that we are taking really good care of the animals under our responsibility!

The perfect time to change your bird diet!

Time to change your bird diet

Many people ask when it will be the best time to change a diet of a bird. Well, now will be perfect! The best time is outside the breeding season, witch for the most of the species is between October and March. This way you have time to make a proper adaptation without interference in this sensitive period.

And why? It’s simple. Stress. Any change results in stress. Stress can be good of course and it’s a natural consequence of any change. However stress release for example adrenaline, which is a hormone that can be connected to all the body hormone receptors. This will result in less receptors for the hormones released during the breeding period which can result in infertility, pairs that enter in breeding mode at different times and loose of breeding behavior between many others.

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Wisbroek Parrot Fruit Blend Booster - 10kg

Switch to new diet

These observations can lead to a wrong conclusion: The diet we choose to replace for the old one was not good because the birds didn’t breed. Wrong! This could also be a reason of course but a new diet needs time to have an impact, whether it’s good or bad. So most likely the bad results of the breeding season in this case could be just stress caused by a diet change in the wrong period.

We always need to keep in mind that it is not enough to just have a better product. You also need to provide the best advice and guidance. As Wisbroek we aim to have the best food. However this needs to be supported with husbandry knowledge and that’s what we do and work for every single day.

So, if you think of changing to Wisbroek feed, as we hope so , the best time will be outside the breeding season. Again: this depends on the specie, the place in the globe, the weather, etcetera. We are talking about a period that can be between 6 to 8 months so you will have plenty of time to let your birds adjust to the new diet.

Advice

The way you should change is quite important. Never do it in one time.

We advise the following way:

Day 1 – 3: 80% Old pellet, 20% Wisbroek pellet

Day 4 – 6: 60% Old pellet, 40% Wisbroek pellet

Day 7 – 9: 40% Old pellet, 60% Wisbroek pellet

Day 10 – 12: 20% Old pellet, 80% Wisbroek pellet

After day 13: 100% Wisbroek pellet

And there you are! Your bird is now eating Wisbroek pellets, minimal stress, gradual change and prepared for a super breeding season!

Good luck, and if you have any questions feel free to consult us.

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How can our pellets be used as a supplement?

It’s a fact that some species of birds don’t like te eat pellets due to their feeding strategy. When this is the case, we need to use supplements to fulfill the gap of nutrients that the other foods present.

Continue reading

Nutrition of “wild” animals in captivity

Nutrition of wild animals

The nutrition of wild animals in captivity represents an incredible challenge. There are hundreds of species to consider, each of them represents millions of years of evolution and adaptation to their particular ecological niches.

For a long time the nutrition has been one of the most neglected aspects in the management of wild animals in captivity. Fortunately nowadays the improvement is substantial. Wisbroek is proud to participate actively in this. The development of high quality extruded pellets is without any doubt a milestone when we talk about nutrition of wild animals under human care.

The goal of nutrition programs in zoos/breeding centers is to provide adequate diets to all the animals in the collection. Today these institutions should be committed to the conservation and reproduction of threatened species, so we have to know how to develop appropriate diets to meet all physiological (growth, reproduction…) as well as psychological needs, while economic conditions are valued.

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Treatment

When preparing a diet, we must take into account a number of factors:
1. Food habits in the wild: In the wild, the acquisition of food occupies most of the time, since the spatial and temporal distribution of the food is usually very complex, which is not even constant throughout the year, neither in quantity nor in quality. A fact that may be important is the time the animal spend taking this or that food, to get an idea of ​​their dietary preferences.

2. Anatomy and physiology of the digestive system: The lips, the dentition, (if present) polycavitary or monocavitary stomachs, the type of beak etc., usually give a lot of information about their natural diet. Although there are exceptions such as the Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens). With teeth designed to tear more than to grind, with a mouth unable to chew in circles and a simple digestive system and without fermentation chambers; he has an exclusive diet of bamboo. This, which today seems obvious, cost the lives of many captive pandas and they were fed diets typical of faunivorous carnivores many years ago.

3. Bibliographic data: There is a lot of data reviewed and supported in laboratory analysis, and we already started to have a lot of published information available to anyone.

4. Needs of similar species (domestic or not) whose requirements are known: Domestic animals can serve as a model to match the requirements of a specie that we do not know this about. Ex: By knowing the structure of the digestive system of an elephant we realize that it is very similar to the digestive system of a horse, so it is possible that their requirements are similar in some approximate way too.

5. Structure of the facility where the animal lives in captivity and feeding behavior: Important to know if the animal is able to develop its feeding behavior in a normal way. This includes not only the feeding but in covering all the biological needs of the species. It would be absurd to make a perfect diet for giraffes and put it in a feeder at ground level! Feeding an individual animal with a strong hierarchical family group is therefore not the same as feeding different groups that share facilities.

6. Specific data of each animal or group of animals: It is important to know if they are young or already mature.

With all this information we are ready to start giving an optimal diet to our animals!

We have to say that many animals can survive or adapt to deficient diets for long periods, until there are extra metabolic efforts such as growth, reproduction, disease, fight for territory, adaptation to new environments, etc. Therefore it is not permitted to think that with keeping a living and apparently healthy animal is being fed satisfactorily.

Bad diet

A bad diet can go unnoticed if it is not very severe. The first symptoms can be very ambiguous and not very specific. These tend to be highly susceptible to infections and digestive processes, low fertility, low neonatal viability, thin animals, apathetic, bad hair/feathers and growth retardation.

Now that we know what the general process of developing diets is, we want to emphasize that it is also our goal to provide each animal with a way to develop its own eating behavior, while we have the obligation to ensure that all of them, even the most subordinate of the group, receive their daily ration.

The physical form of food can greatly influence aspects such as ease of storage, transport, stability against decomposition-oxidation but also in palatability, digestive function, eating behavior, etc.
Not only do you have to prepare a balanced diet with nutrients, but you have to present it to the animals in such a way that they take advantage of it in an optimal way. It is also important to know  what the habits of our animals are, which may be different from others of the same species in other places!
For many animals it is better to give small meals several times a day, in order to stimulate them or because their way of eating is to eat everything we prepare, whether they like it or not, that is, palatable or not. Or to avoid accumulations of unused food. On the contrary, many others need only one meal at a certain time of the day. And for others it is important to distribute the food at several points so that the dominance of certain animals does not prevent everyone from having access to the food.

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Extensive research

I also want to include a small section about the change of diets. This is a critical moment in the life of an animal. Just as domestic livestock have a peak of losses at this time in their lives, wild animals in captivity are very susceptible to developing pathological digestive processes and infectious diseases when they change their diet abruptly.

It must be done gradually, especially in the case of animals that depend heavily on their intestinal flora to obtain a large amount of nutrients. You have to adapt it little by little. The process can last days, weeks or even months. We have to check if the animal eats, if it eats the new diet or if it shows signs of illness or malnutrition.

One way to see this is to isolate the animal and follow it individually. This may or may not work, since isolation, by itself, can be a sufficient stress factor for the animal to stop eating.
As far as possible, dietary changes should be avoided during times of stress or excitement or in times where an extra contribution of nutrients is necessary.
Finally, it is very important to always be interested in their previous diet when sending or receiving new animals. And we must also share this information, even if it is not required.

During the development of the Wisbroek feeds, we conducted extensive research and always included the above aspects. All Wisbroek feeds have been developed with the idea to imitate the natural diet of the birds as well as possible and to cover all nutritional needs. We focus on diversity, as many different raw materials as possible are used, which are combined in an extruded pellet containing all necessary nutrients, resulting in a balanced diet.

If you have any further questions, we would be happy to advise you. Please contact us via info@wisbroek.com.