Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Feeding Shamas Dried Insects

For those who feed dry food to their shamas and want to improve the quality, the addition of dried insects will be a welcome addition for the birds.

Chwee Bang or dried water flies from China is a very useful addition to the dry food. They should be obtained freshly dried i.e they should not have a dusty look about them and the heads should be intact. If anyone knows where I can buy a kilo in Singapore at this time, please let me know.

John Yim and others used to improve the nutritional quality of the Chwee Bang by adding raw eggs and then frying the lot over a very slow fire. The result was dried flies that had a shiny look and that smelled delicious. There were no problems with keeping the dried flies with egg added in storage. The value of this food may be seen in some owners feeding their birds only this food though I myself would not do so as I do not think it will be good for the birds in the long term in eating only one type of food.

For severl years now I have purchased dried Green Ants from Cuttle Bone Plus. I still have some stock left for my birds but my recent visit to the site could not turn up this item. Perhaps it has been discontinued. The birds love the ants which have a very high protein content and very little fat. An alternative in the form of freeze-dried Asian Tree Ants may be found at: http://www.zoofood.com/ants.shtml. I have not tried this product but intend to do so soon.

I recently ordered dried Ants Eggs and Insect Mix from:

The Ants Eggs have a wholesale price of US$8.61 per 100g. While the wholesale price for the Insect Mix is US$4.83 for 50g. I think I saw a larger packing available on some other website. The order has not yet arrived. I will report to the Forum after my birds have tried them.

My practice is to add about 25% by volume of the total of whatever dried insects I use to the Chee Sen (Synlin) dry food that I feed my birds. Please note that in addition to the dried food and dried insects, my birds get crickets, mealworms and other live food in the evening.

Additional input from Jeffrey Low
Thanks David, for all the sites to source for the dried insects. If I may, I would like to point out that freeze-dried products are generally better than dried products in retaining the food value.

Apart from dried insects, another option which is cheap and easily available from aquarium shops locally is dried shrimps (those sold for feeding aros and louhans). The cheaper ones come in tin cans for S$5 each. They can be simply rolled over with a pastry roller a couple of times and break easily into crumps which can then be added to the dried bird food. Shamas love it and it is a a very good protein source too.

Jeffrey Low.

David's comment

Jeffrey, you are right about the dried shrimps being good food for the shama. The shrimps come in different sizes. Buy the smaller ones and make sure that the sharp spear has been removed. Koi shops also sell silk worm pupae from Japan and China. The Japanese ones may have better quality control. The pupae are about the size of a five cent coin and will need to be broken up into smaller sizes.

Jeffrey's comments

The silkworm pupa sounds good David. Exploring and finding more ways to keep our feathered pets in tip top condition is an enjoyment by itself.

Regarding the feeding of crickets, here is 1 suggestion from me for those that find that having live crickets at home is not convenient for some reasons. They can be bought in bulk and the whole packet dumped into the freezer. Once frozen, they can then be stored in tupperwares. Give it a few shake initially after they are frozen so that they do not stick together in lumps. Thaw out the amt to feed daily. Freshly frozen, they retain their nutitional values well. Also, apart from being free from the noise of live crickets, it is much easier to handle frozen ones than trying to grab the live ones come feeding time. This way, u can also buy in bulk without having to visit the shops so frequently. Besides, crickets have a short-live span and when bought alive, some could come to u near to the end of the life-span hence there is always wastage involved when keeping them live. It is very much cheaper to buy in bulk too.

Jeffrey Low.

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