Why a low iron diet for your softbill?

Iron storage

Iron storage disease occurs when too much iron is accumulates in the liver. In the wild, there is not much iron in the diet, so some bird species evolved a way to store it in the liver and use it gradually.

The body needs a certain amount of iron to produce haemoglobin, which is the molecule that carries oxygen molecules from the lungs to all the other cells in the body. In captivity, a lot of iron is available in food and water, among other things. When too much iron builds up, the liver becomes saturated and too much iron is transferred to the heart, lungs and other organs. Here it can do considerable damage, even leading to death without any prior signs.

22917006 - knobbed hornbill with large colorful bill


When symptoms occur, they may include: weight loss, depression, swollen abdomen with fluid accumulation, breathing difficulties and circulatory failure. Diagnosis is very difficult and can only be obtained by liver biopsy, which carries considerable risks for the bird. Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment yet, only some experimental ideas that have not been proven successful. A change in the diet by adding food with less iron will provide the best solution so far.

Although iron storage disease appears to be associated with an excessive intake of dietary iron, not all birds are affected on an equivalent diet. Stress or genetic factors may also play a role. Certain foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, increase the dietary iron intake. Excessive consumption of vitamin A can also play a role.


It is therefore important to prevent iron overload. It is therefore advisable to provide a low iron diet as standard. Wisbroek plays a major role in this. Our Wisbroek Softbill Diet (small and large) always has an iron content below 85ppm. As a reference it is advised to give feeds below 100ppm iron to the birds. Wisbroek Softbill Diet scores exceptionally well in this test.

In addition, we are constantly doing research at the Wisbroek R&D center on the influence of our feeds on the birds.  So the development of bird feeds does not stop!

We are proud of these results! It proves that our work is rewarded by developing the best food for these birds.

Are you interested in the results of the analysis report? View the report here.


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