Why we don’t add vitamins and preservatives to our bird food blends

Some bird food brands advertise the fact they supplement their foods with calcium, vitamins and preservatives. Often the additives are give fancy names, and the preservatives might be referred to as “microbacterial” or able to “prevent bacteria growth”.

When I started mixing my bird foods, I felt like I was missing a trick – should I be including an extra vitamin in my foods? Were my foods of lower value because they didn’t contain a preservative? Would customers choose a different blend over mine because mine was lacking the extra supplements? It was only when I started really diving into the research that I learned that the lack of additives in my food was actually a good thing.

When bird food blends are made up of lower quality ingredients, such as wheat, maize (or even the dried peas, rice, lentils and dog biscuits included in some commercial blends), they need the nutrition to be added back in. When foods are less likely to be eaten, they hang around in the feeder and rot, so are more likely to spread diseases.

Because I choose better ingredients in my blends, they are already packed with nutrition that can be easily absorbed, so there is no need to add any extra. My bird food blend for this month (The New Families Blend) contains fatty acids, essential oils, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, potassium, vitamins A, E, C, B-3 and B-6, iron and amino acids within the ingredients I use. At other times of year, I change the ingredients to meet the birds’ needs. When the birds need a little extra calcium during breeding season I use oyster shell grit – a natural ingredient packed with naturally occurring calcium.

As any of my customers will tell you, my bird food doesn’t hang around – the birds can empty a feeder within a couple of hours, so your food blend from A Little Bird Co is unlikely to sit for long enough to need any kind of preservative or antibacterial additive. I suggest putting out just enough food for the birds to get through each day, emptying any uneaten food (in the unlikely event there is some) at the end of each day and thoroughly cleaning your bird feeders with a warm water and mild detergent solution every couple of weeks to prevent bacterial growth.

Just like it’s not ideal for us to live on McDonalds supplemented by a multivitamin, it’s not great for the birds in your garden to eat nutrition-free food containing additives!

My bird food blends are available in 1kg, 4.5kg and 12.75kg bags, so you can buy just the right amount for your garden, and all of my packaging is compostable.

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