Archive for August, 2009

The Misuse of Weight Management

Thursday, August 20th, 2009


I have written about Food and Weight Management before; they are valuable techniques when used correctly, carefully, and appropriately. In general, Weight Management is not something that a companion parrot owner even needs to consider. By careful management of the required daily diet of one’s birds an owner can usually achieve their training goals. So it was with great disappointment that I came across a blog article recently entitled “Are Pet Shop Birds Trainable?” It is a great example of what not to do.

The subject of the training was a Budgie or Parakeet. The concept of using Weight Management on such a tiny bird is just plain scary. What was even scarier was the extent to which this bird must have been deprived of food in order to achieve the writer’s goal. The writer noted that the bird had a “super stuffed full weight” of some 42grams. I have to assume that this weight was when the bird had free access to food with no rationing. There was also an “average” weight, I have no idea what that means since the weights and the number of samples were not published. However there were two more weights given; the first was the “training weight” and the second was a “too highly motivated” weight. Just the expression of a “training weight” shows how completely the writer misunderstands the proper use of weight management. If you refer back to my previous articles (links below) you will understand that there is no single training weight.

However that is not my biggest issue with this article. Let us examine the percentage weight reduction used to motivate this tiny bird (42 grams is about 1.4 ounces). If we consider the so-called training weight of 27grams we find that this represents a 35% drop in weight! Plus, the writer says that they learned the “proper” weight in a week. Can you imagine the extent of the food deprivation to reduce this bird’s weight by 35%? in a week The abuse does not end there because the writer notes a third weight, the “too highly motivated” weight; in this case the bird weighed 25grams, even less. As a percentage drop that is 40% below the highest weight reported, almost half its body weight in less than a week. Of course the bird was highly motivated … it was on the path to starvation. In my opinion this was clearly abuse of the bird.

These levels of weight reduction are simply not justified on so many grounds. The process described by the weights recorded by the writer of the article appears to take place over short time period, suggesting extreme food deprivation in order to motivate this bird.

Now who is the writer you may be asking? Well I am sure that you are all capable of using Google to track down the article, I do not propose to even mention their name I am so appalled that they did this and then had the complete lack of judgment to write about it as an achievement. I will note that the trail leads back to somewhere I think you will find enlightening, but perhaps not surprising.

I trust that everyone reading this will see the folly of what was described and tell everyone you know about the article.

See: Food and Weight Management and A follow Up