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Raptors: nutrition

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Abstract

Properly balanced nutrition is fundamental to the correct husbandry and performance of the captive raptor. They require a diet balanced in terms of quality, quantity and affordability that should reflect their requirements. This chapter informs the reader of nutrients, available foods, food preparation, supplements, hand-rearing and feeding in special circumstances.

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Figures

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17.2 Hepatic lipidosis in an owl. The bird had been kept in an aviary all its life. (© John Chitty)
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17.3 Nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism. ‘Rickets’ in a young African Eagle Owl. In the author’s opinion this is a particularly prevalent problem in Eagle Owls; they are large, fast-growing and often kept by more inexperienced owners. A young Harris’ Hawk with many bones affected. Not all changes are obvious on physical examination. This young imported Bateleur Eagle had trouble flying. Radiographs revealed distortions in the radius corresponding to the insertion sites of the tensor patagialis tendons. (© John Chitty)
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17.4 Thiamine deficiency in a juvenile Saker hybrid. The bird is unable to stand and is throwing its head upwards (‘stargazing’). (© John Chitty)
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17.5 Falcon feeding on its captured quarry. Many birds ‘deplume’ quarry and discard most of the feathers. After a brief feed the bird is removed, the quarry is opened and inspected, and a small portion of breast meat is fed on the fist. (© John Chitty)
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17.6 Nutritional content of various raptor foodstuffs. DOC = day-old cockerel. ( ; reprinted with kind permission of Honeybrook Farm Animal Feeds)
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17.7 Infected chick yolk sac. Removal will not make this chick an acceptable food item; note how wet the carcass is. The whole chick must be discarded. (© John Chitty)
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17.8 Normal leg colour of a defrosted day-old cockerel. Reddened leg of a DOC that has been defrosted, refrozen and then thawed again. This should not be fed to a raptor. Given the potential problems of feeding avian prey (possibly carrying avian pathogens) to raptors, it is vital that storage and handling of DOCs is optimal. (© John Chitty)
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17.9 Infected digit 2 of a Harris’ Hawk resulting from a dermatitis caused by an accumulation of food debris under the talon. Note how the toe appears ‘knocked up’, indicating rupture of the flexor tendon or destruction of its attachment. (© John Chitty)
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17.11 Rabbit vertebrae obstructing the distal oesophagus. Harris’ Hawk. Note the placement of an air sac tube. On initial presentation the bird was dyspnoeic due to penetration of the oesophageal wall and a purulent pneumonia. Northern Goshawk: endoscopic view. Post-endoscopic removal. The spine has been fed as too large a piece. (© John Chitty)

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