Research and Development

During the spring of 1984 market research was begun on a vitamin-mineral supplement for birds. Dozens of existing bird foods and supplements were examined to get a feel for the level of nutrition science applied to commercial products. It was determined there was a need for a properly formulated product that was also practical and efficient.

Prime is based on the principle of premix supplementation that is comparing the individual nutrients content of the staple diet (seed/vege-legume/fruit ratio at about 6/3/1) with the estimated requirement and formulating to meet the deficiencies.

While vegetables, legumes and fruits (soft food) will reduce the overall fat intake, they do not contain high enough levels of many minerals, vitamins and the limiting essential amino acids. They do act as an efficient vehicle for the necessary supplement.

The result of our research is a unique formulation in the form of a water soluble concentrated powder of 14 vitamins, 9 minerals and 2 limiting amino acids which birds cannot manufacture themselves. Additionally over other supplements beneficial bacteria, acids, electrolytes and enzymes were included in the formulation. Prime however is not a dumping ground for every nutrient known to man - ingredients and their quantities were selected on the basis of need.

A closer look at Prime indicates its advanced and improved formulation.


Prime contains 14 vitamins with extra vitamin E and C for improved breeding and to act as antioxidants. While vitamin C is not required by many birds it does act as a natural anti-oxidant protecting the other important vitamins from inactivation. Unfortunately many products are missing this 14th Vitamin, especially those that are water based whose vitamins are more rapidly oxydized. Vitamin C also acts as a natural preservative of the lactobacillus bacteria found in Prime. It helps reduce disease during stressful periods.


Calcium is one of the most important minerals, yet is found in significantly low levels in seeds and fruits. Interestingly, the staple diet of companion birds contains enough phosphorus (P) even when bioavailability is taken into consideration, but a significantly lower level of calcium (Ca) when compared to the estimated requirements. The resulting Ca to P ratio, which is important for proper utilization of these minerals, is far from the recommended 1 1/2 to 1.

Our new supplement contains calcium gluconate as the major ingredient and carrier and will boost diet calcium to the desired level. Calcium gluconate is a very absorbable form of calcium and is recommended by several professional breeders and avian veterinarians.

Other supplements contain very low levels of calcium requiring another supplement to improve these deficiencies. For instance Nekton recommends that 10 yellow mantled parakeets receive 2 g of their S supplement provides 8 mg ({2g/1000g}x4000mg) of calcium for these 10 birds. Two grams of Prime contains 82.3 mg ({2g/.55g}x22.64) or ten times the level of Nekton S. Prime clearly provides the superior level of calcium. Compared to the other supplements presently marketed, Prime also has a higher calcium level.

Proteins - Amino Acids

Plant proteins (those in the staple diet) are of poor quality because of inherent deficiency in the essential amino acids, lysine and methionine. Standard seed mixtures do have sufficient protein to supply either the nonessential amino acids or nitrogen for their synthesis.

Feather protein contains a higher amount of cystine than other body proteins. During maximum feather growth in a nestling or molting in an adult, the relative requirement for cystine increases. Methionine readily undergoes metabolic conversion to cystine in the bird's body. Therefore cystine, an essential amino acid, is also available to the bird when methionine is supplemented.

Amino acids are required at much greater levels in the diet than vitamins since their total requirements is equal to the protein requirement of which they are constituents. In order to improve the quality of the diet protein, these limiting amino acids must be added for the total amino acid profile to closely match that required. This means that lysine and methionine should be supplemented at much higher dosages which we've achieved with this advanced new supplement.

The supplements presently on the market contain a little of all the amino acids, including many of the nonessential amino acids already found in seeds at sufficient levels. By trying to produce what appears to be impressive lists of amino acids, these supplements do not provide sufficient levels of the essential amino acids which are low in the staple diet protein.

Comparing Prime to a so called leading supplement Nekton S, we again see Prime's superior levels of these important nutrients. Prime contains 75.9 mg ({1/.55}x41.745) lysine and 52.3 mg ({1/.55}x29.315) methionine per gram. These levels are significantly higher than the 2.32 mg lysine and 2.26 mg methionine that Nekton S supplies per gram.

Beneficial Bacteria and Acidification

Prime also has a unique combination of digestive enzymes, micro-encapsulated, sporulated probiotics (beneficial bacteria) and various acids which slightly acidify the final mixture. These living probiotics, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, suppress the growth of potentially disease causing organisms and remain stable much longer in room temperatures.

The benefits of acidifying handfeeding food with Prime include maintenance of optimum conditions for crop lactobacillus, crop yeast and mold (candida) inhibition, acid replacement of the regurgitant usually secreted from the proventriculus of the parent bird improved digestive enzyme activity. The living bacteria in Prime produce metabolites which acidify and suppress the growth of pathogens. The net result is an overall synergistic response in changing local alimentary tract conditions to favour growth of normal flora.

Nutrient Carrier vs. Sugar

Several supplements use sugar as a carrier. They try to cover this up by using technical descriptions of the sugars such as glucose, dextrose or fructose on the product label. These sugars tend to cake up over time making accurate measuring of dosages difficult. Another problem with sugar bases is that they provide an excellent food source for unwanted micro-organisms in the drinking water. These harmful bacteria may cause an imbalance in the normal gut flora - exactly what Prime is trying to correct.

Prime uses a required nutrient ingredient as a carrier, namely calcium gluconate.

Fruit Penetrating Fine Soluble Powder

The fine powder form of calcium gluconate has excellent anti-caking properties making it an ideal nutritious carrier. There are other benefits of Prime's dry, water soluble ingredients. Higher stability provides a longer shelf life than liquids. Add to this, Prime's ability to penetrate popular high moisture soft food treats due to it's great dissolvability. Most other powdered supplements are coarse, simply coat the surface of the soft food then falls off or is avoided by the picky bird.

Exotic Fruit Flavour

Birds love the exotic fruit flavoring of Prime. When mixed into a soft food mixture or sprinkled over fruit it blends in a pleasant homogeneous flavour.

Some other supplements use yeast as a carrier. Yeast has a strong smell which many birds try to avoid.


Stressed birds, those being moved, and others who are not receiving or eating any soft food can receive the supplement through the drinking water. However, since birds may only drink 1/4 of their water, 4 doses of supplement must be added to that particular water container. Because of this, administering supplements via drinking is less efficient. Especially since the water must be changed daily, resulting in much going down the drain.

We recommend Prime be sprinkled over your birds favorite fruits and vegetables rather than in the drinking water.

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