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Does My Bird Need Cuttlebone?

It depends on what else your bird is eating.

Margaret A. Wissman, DVM

Q) Does my pet bird need a cuttlebone or mineral block? Do male birds need a mineral block?

A) I recommend that all birds, male and female, be offered a cuttlebone (from the cuttlefish, a close relative to the squid) or mineral block, if they are consuming a seed-based diet. Both of these items are a good source of calcium and trace minerals.


Ever wondered what these are? These are cuttlebones, which come from the cuttlefish. 

Since pellets are nutritionally sound and contain all of the known nutrients necessary for the health of a pet bird, offering cuttlebone or a mineral block is not necessary, and, if over-consumed, may actually result in nutritional overload of certain nutrients, including calcium. In some situations, your avian veterinarian may recommend providing a bird that consumes pellets additional nutrients in the form of a supplement, especially if certain clinical signs are present or blood tests show a deficiency.

Egg-laying hens that consume seeds usually require supplemental calcium because seed is deficient in that nutrient, and a hen can become rapidly depleted of calcium in the bones when producing eggs. When in doubt, check with your avian veterinarian before supplying a bird with cuttlebone or mineral blocks.

Want to know more about cuttlebone and bird health?

What's In Cuttlebone Anyway? 
The Scoop On Bird Supplements

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Posted: July 30, 2014, 7:00 a.m. PDT

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