Currently in the UK, it’s possible to supply bird food without it first going through a cleaning process to remove dust, extraneous husk and debris.
Supplying dusty bird food isn’t something the government would consider a crime; they won’t shut down a manufacturing plant because the dust levels in wild bird food are too high – so why do we get hot under the collar when it comes to dust?
Our research shows that a number of bird food companies negate the cleaning process, in favour of profitability.
How does that work?
Cleaning seed generates waste material. The waste material is thrown away, yield is reduced and profit margins, therefore, are less. In short, cleaning seed costs money. No wonder some bird food companies avoid doing it.
We’ve analysed dusty seed mixes and uncovered that some of the worst offenders include over 3% dust, debris and waste husk. That’s 3% by weight that shouldn’t be in the bag. I say “shouldn’t” but, that’s only by the rules we play by; again, it’s not (to my knowledge) illegal to hold out for sale dusty bird food. We wish it were, though.
We want the public to know for sure that dust is dangerous to birds. That’s not a guess; we know scientifically that it’s a fact; dust is harmful to a bird’s respiratory system and extraneous husk can damage delicate tissues and allow entry of pathogens. This is what happens to an uncleaned diet when it’s placed on an agar plate:
It’s not very pretty, is it? To the trained eye, it’s telling us that...
“Far more bacteria and fungi (in terms of both numbers of colonies and species of organism) have grown from the dry mix than would be expected from a properly cleaned diet,” – Professor John E Cooper.
This sample was taken from a cheap bird food mix and the dust levels were appalling.
It’s not our job to point out the companies that don’t clean their seed. All we can do is point out that good quality clean seed is available from Haith’s. Thankfully, though, lots of companies do a good job of cleaning their seed. They might not (yet) fully understand why it’s vital to clean seed but at least they're doing it.
The market reacts to consumer reaction so – for the health of birds – vote clean seed.
Our veterinary advisor is:
JOHN E COOPER, DTVM, FRCPath, FSB CBiol, FRCVS,
Diplomate, European College of Veterinary Pathologists
European Veterinary Specalist in Zoological Medicine
RCVS Specialist in Veterinary Pathology