Although at Feldy we would always recommend feeding Wild Birds all the year round, certainly as the colder months start approaching our thoughts may turn to stocking up on our favourite brand of Bird food. What are your reasons for choosing a certain brand...? Price could be a major factor but maybe it's time we started to take a closer look at the nutritional value of some of the low cost feeds in particular fat balls.... Do we actually know what ingredients go into them and do they really have any benefit to our wild birds...?
Feldy's Gerald Rivett, who has a very specialised interest in animal nutrition, has his say on the nutritional values of certain cheaper brands of fat balls in comparison to the Feldy Golden Food Ball.
"Prior to starting Feldy we took a really good look at the Fat ball market and analysed our main competing products to find some intriguing discoveries. The Wild Bird Market is outside the Feed Legislation so all companies declare what they want on the packaging. Feldy choose (for IP protection reasons) to not declare on our products but to be totally open when asked and to show the actual ingredient mix in the raw."
"A perfect single food for a bird would be about 7% Oil 16% Protein and less than 1% Ash. The daily dry food intake of a bird is approximately 35% of its bodyweight and the minimum water intake should be 50%. A Blue tit for example weighs approximately 20 grams and will eat up to 6 or 7 grams per day. Ongoing analysis of Fat Balls in the UK is 21.85% Oil 6.4% Protein 23% Ash. This means that if the bird was fed only this by itself there would be in time clear signs of protein deficiency and due to the high Ash content it would have to eat 23% more each day which is virtually impossible. "
"This high Ash content is due totally to the inclusion of Calcium Carbonate as a cheap filler but occasionally cleverly sold as a Calcium provider to improve shell quality at breeding time. When we can get sexed birds into our gardens so that only females eat Fat Balls then I might buy this story but as a male bird does not lay eggs it is of zero value!"
"Feldy Golden Balls at the moment are an ongoing 17.32 % Oil 16. 7% Protein 1 .4% Ash. This allows us to claim that if a bird was fed only Golden Balls it will thrive in its lifetime. Hence why we say that Golden Balls are a Complete Diet Food Ball from 12 ingredients. One of the worst samples, after work carried out by Sciantec Laboratories nearly 2 years ago, was a UK produced ball for a well known chain which was 34 .3% Ash and the best was 10 .9% Ash.... It beggars belief that a company would tolerate selling a product which it should know is one third useless and indeed a manufacturer would agree to do this."
"Another key difference is the fat source. Feldy selected Pure White Beef Dripping for its saturated fat levels which most match an avian species rather than beef tallows or indeed palm oil. Saturated fats tend to produce a harder ball which is more shower proof and it is lighter in colour thus being more attractive to the bird."
"Certain manufacturers will also use 'Biscuit Meal' in their fat balls. Biscuit meal can be formed from cakes, biscuits, sweets, breads but more importantly, as shown in a recent publication, it is impossible to completely remove the packaging materials. Therefore minor traces of plastic and paper shards are still found in the actual raw material and most worryingly in the finished product. Certainly very damaging for our Wild birds."