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John Burns' Blog

Nice and slim; who chooses what to eat; RSPB; feeding wild birds

Published: Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nice and slim
On my walk this morning I met a woman with a young but very arthritic Labrador.  In the course of chatting I told her I was a vet and gently tried to tell her the dog was a “bit” overweight but she was having none of it.

Who chooses what to eat
I recently had an email from a vet who complained that “modern pet food, including Burns fails to provide any dog with a self-selected natural diet, and all pet food is some nutritionist’s idea of what an animal should eat.”

I plead guilty, m’lud. But, in mitigation I should like to say that I think I know better than the average dog what it should eat.  With due respect, the dog has the level of intelligence of a young child and most responsible parents don’t think that the child should decide what to eat. One of the biggest difficulties with pet nutrition is that many pet owners do feed their pets on what they like to eat rather than what is best for them.

Last week we were at the Royal Welsh Show where Burns received a “Highly Commended” i.e. runner up award in the RSPB Spirit of Farming competition.

On their visit to Penlan Farm the judges spotted over 60 bird species.  Much of the credit for that is due to Roger Mathias our biodiversity manager.  Roger kept very quiet that he himself had won the Silver Lapwing award from FWAG (Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group.)  He is modest to a fault. He’ll now go forward to the national final.

Feeding wild birds
On the subject of wild birds, the letters page of the Independent was buzzing (or chirping) about whether or not to feed wild birds in the summer.  The RSPB view is that we should.  A countervailing argument is that this stops young birds from learning to forage.  There can be no doubt that feeding wild birds artificially boosts numbers thereby altering the “natural” population.  I see this as a good thing bearing in mind that there are so many factors working against the wild bird population.  I continue to feed the birds in summer, both in the garden and when out round the river walk.  Not only are the birds out waiting for me but I’ve spotted a fox, squirrel, mouse and even a weasel where I scatter the food.

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