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BirdTricks Blog | Parrot Training

Is Red Palm Oil REALLY Good For Your Parrot?


Camelot macaw

Maybe it’s my suspiscious nature, but whenever a doctor or vet “highly recommends” a name brand product (especially if they sell it), I think twice. To be fair, I must acknowedge that many may carry products because they truly beileve in their health benefits. But there are also those who carry products, and push them, because it benefits their bank accounts.

Many medical professionals receive kickbacks for promoting certain brands of products. (A kickback is a payment of money, favors or something else of value offered in exchange for pushing ...

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Is Red Palm Oil REALLY Good For Your Parrot?

Camelot macaw

Maybe it’s my suspiscious nature, but whenever a doctor or vet “highly recommends” a name brand product (especially if they sell it), I think twice. To be fair, I must acknowedge that many may carry products because they truly beileve in their health benefits. But there are also those who carry products, and push them, because it benefits their bank accounts.

Many medical professionals receive kickbacks for promoting certain brands of products. (A kickback is a payment of money, favors or something else of value offered in exchange for pushing a product. It is, in a word, bribery.) If the product is a good one, you may say no harm, no fowl. But what if that product has a dark side? One such questionable product is red palm oil.

Umbrella cockatoo

It seems like anytime someone takes their bird to the vet, even when a well-bird exam turns up perfect health, they report that their doctor has recommended a lifelong regimen of red palm oil. When the more probing clients ask why their bird needs this supplement, the answer usually relates to improved feather condition.

However, vets often neglect to mention the product’s downside: LDL cholesterol raising, artery clogging, heart disease instigating saturated fats by the truckload. (Heart disease in parrots has shown a sharp increase over recent years.) Worse, by pushing this “quick fix” product, they are blowing the opportunity to teach their client about proper diet.

Red palm oil IS loaded with beta carotenes, which convert to vitamin A in the body. But so are carrots, winter squashes, peppers, dark leafy greens, apricots, mangoes… If your bird is deficient in vitamin A, doesn’t it make more sense to improve the diet than to use a supplement, especially one with such an unhealthy downside?

Congo african grey

Vets will often recommend red palm oil to clients (a common brand is AVIx Sunshine Factor) with plucking birds claiming that it will help to stop or reduce this behavior. It is true that vitamin A improves feather and skin condition, and red palm oil has plenty of that. Dry itchy skin is sometimes the cause of plucking.

However, most of the “evidence” that red palm oil is responsible for eliminating plucking is purely anecdotal. For instance, the person who brings home the plucked macaw from a rescue and starts him on red palm oil – when the plucking stops, the credit is given the red palm oil, not the improved diet and the more suitable environment. There is no conclusive evidence that red palm oil fixes plucking.

Plucking issues are more successfully treated with medical investigation, change to the environment and improved diet and social interaction (which includes training).

Blur throated macaw

Your vet should only have YOUR bird’s best interests at heart and products should be recommended only as they are needed. I think you would agree that the money you budget for your parrot’s needs each month is better spent on a foraging toy than on an unnecessary, and potentially dangerous, dietary supplement.

If your bird is already in fine feather and on a good diet, please ask your vet this: “why does MY bird need red palm oil?” If it is suggested for valid medical or dietary reasons, ask your vet how to make adjustments to your bird’s diet to account for the increased fat.

NOTE: As red palm oil increases in popularity, it is having a devastating environmental impact on our planet and wildlife. Please read this.

Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987. 

11 comments


  • Dear Jamie,
    Long time fan. I have personally used some of your products and follow on fb. I am a veterinarian. I usually love your articles. I often direct my clients to them. However if you continue to malign my profession and show a lack of respect then that may have to stop. And I am not alone. Vets do not get kickbacks from companies unless you can call pens or scratch pads kickbacks. Saying we get significant rewards for pushing product is not professional behavior. I’m sorry but is not true. If it were we would all be driving mercedes, not have the highest debts of any profession, the highest divorce rates, and the highest suicide rates. In general if we recommend something it is because we care for our patients and are truely trying to help. I do keep a few products in house. Not to sell time after time, but so the owner can get something right away if needed, or to try converting to a better diet. It isn’t for repeat sales. While I agree some products are best if used only short term (to enable education and make real, healthy, and effective changes) bashing an entire profession is something that’s aftereffects are anything but short term. I work in an boarded exotics deficient area, though I work under a boarded mentor and routinely send cases to the universities exotics unit. A few years ago you had some inflammatory things in a separate article along the same theme. I was shocked and waited to see how you would respond. Thankfully I didn’t see that kind of downtalking after, until today. I understand not knowing any better, or just making a mistake, but this is repeat behavior. I used to have your info in my new bird packet. Sadly I think this must now change. Myself and my ABVP friends on fb are frankly shocked and saddened.
    PS. I don’t care if you post this or not. It’s just my personal opinion. Hopefully it will help you edit your articles with more care.
    Dr. Lisa Hatfield

    Lisa on

  • I want to put a healthy oil on my B&G’s pellets and dry food to help adhere spices. Was using a few drops of olive oil and my vet recommended Red Palm Oil as a better choice, but to still go lightly.

    Jackie on

  • What they use red palm oil for bird and parrot too ?

    Mary Green on

  • I keep trying my Quaker on different Pellets. I can’t get him to eat any of them. I really wish I could find one he would eat so I can get him off of seed. He loves his fruits and veggies but when it comes to pellets he just won’t eat them

    Donnie on

  • We are a bunch of volunteers and starting a brand new scheme in our
    community. Your website provided us with useful info to work
    on. You have done a formidable activity and our whole
    community might be grateful to you.

    Sherry on

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