Jeb Stuart:

Taste tester

090914JebStuart_VEWe've mentioned before how important a really good diet is for birds like Jeb who are battling aspergillosis. It is critical that he get the best natural sources for nutrients like vitamin A, calcium and vitamin D. Using supplements can be dangerous, as a bird can actually get too much of some fat soluble vitamins. The most easily metabolized vitamins are those found in foods.

In order to make sure all of our birds have a good diet with all the necessary nutrition, we serve a mixture known as chop. We mix chopped, fresh vegetables, cooked grains and beans, herbs and other greens and then freeze it.

Chop is not a recipe. It is a concept. The whole premise is that if we make food in a large batch and then freeze it in single-day serving size, we can afford to give our birds a much better diet. And because the produce is finely chopped in a food processor, birds are not able to pick out and eat their favorite things. If they eat a piece of corn, there is broccoli or sweet potato stuck to it. Even picky eaters get a much better diet. Chop can be made of any bird-safe vegetable. We tend to buy what is seasonal, fresh and affordable.

About once every two to three months we all work together to make a huge container of chop. We like to have a bird help supervise, to make sure we are doing things right. Today was Jeb Stuart's turn, and he took his responsibilities very seriously, making sure to taste each ingredient as it was added.