Parrots, Zinc, and Powder Coating

Owlet

Well-known member
Oct 27, 2016
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Colorado
Parrots
Lincoln (Eclectus), Apollo (Cockatiel), Aster (GCC)
Hi guys, its been awhile since I've been here, but I came across a topic that I think might be interesting to discuss.

I was watching a video from toucan.tv discussing the resent death and necropsy of one of his toucans. In this video he mentions how the necropsy showed many things, one being that the bird (Beatrix) had elevated zinc levels in her liver that might have contributed to some of her physical conditions such as poor beak and feather health. This immediately peaked my interest as Lincoln consistently has poor beak health and i could never really figure out WHY and I'm more than willing to go down any road I can if it means helping him achieve a better quality of life. He also has poor feather conditions but that could easily be many things.

So I decided to look into zinc and zinc in parrot more and I came across this fascinating article (that I will link below) that talks about how a parrot may come to ingest zinc. It lists many of the easily known and common sources such as plated metal toy pieces and galvanized cages. However it ALSO mentions powder coated cages. They say they scraped some of the paint off the cage and it tested a having 1200ppm of zinc. Wow! Now it doesn't clarify if ALL powder coated cages have high levels of zinc, or if it was just this specific brand in the case they are describing. But it really makes you take some things into consideration. Most large parrot cages are powder coated. And as we all know parrots use their beak to climb around a lot. So even if they aren't avid bar chewers, there's still potential of ingesting possibly zinc laced powder coating. I'm going to read into it more and see if I can figure out how I can test Lincoln's cage for zinc.

Here is the article, what do you guys think about this?: https://www.forthebirdsdvm.com/blogs/news/1586462-zinc-and-parrots-more-than-you-ever-wanted-to-know

Powder coated cages have always been toted as the best cages available next to stainless steel. So its shocking to hear they may not be as safe as we thought.
 
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I'm trying to find a fool proof way of testing if metal has zinc or not and im... not having much luck. What I'm finding is mostly saying either look at them, weigh them, or try magnets. But stainless steel acts and looks very similar to zinc in all those regards.
 
Powder coated cages have always been toted as the best cages available next to stainless steel. So its shocking to hear they may not be as safe as we thought.

Powder coated cages are no where near as good as stainless in terms of cleanliness and hygiene. That's why we see stainless used in areas of high sanitation such as hospitals and kitchens. It's a shame it's so expensive but with its high nickel content it has to be.

Powder coat is like spray paint or any other kind of coating or even plating. If the bird chews on it then it might be able to chip it off and ingest it.
 
I'm trying to find a fool proof way of testing if metal has zinc or not and im... not having much luck. What I'm finding is mostly saying either look at them, weigh them, or try magnets. But stainless steel acts and looks very similar to zinc in all those regards.
Cages would be made from austinetic stainless steels such as 304 and 316. Their the most common and suit most applications.
This class of stainless steel in not magnetic. Steel on the other hand is magnetic and so is zinc, nearly all metal are.
So then you can just use a magnet. If it doesn't stick then it must be stainless
 
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Everything I'm reading is saying zinc isn't magnetic while stainless steal is sometimes magnetic and sometimes not. So magnetic isn't reliable.
 
OWlet, if you want to find out more about powder coating, why not just go to a company that makes the powder? Most are polyester based, but it wouldn't surprise me if some formulations have zinc in them. FWIW, 300 series stainless (302,303,304,316) are non magnetic under MOST conditions. WHen you cold work the material, like making bolts, they can acquire a mild magnetic influence. Now the 400 series (410,416, 420) are non magnetic in the annealed condition but become magnetic once heat treated, like in knife blades.
 
Everything I'm reading is saying zinc isn't magnetic while stainless steal is sometimes magnetic and sometimes not. So magnetic isn't reliable.
The cages aren't made from raw zinc, they're zinc plated steel. Their still magnetic. Put a fridge magnet on it and you'll see.

Cages are made from austinetic stainless 304 or 316 which are NOT magnetic, or have extremely low magnetism.
 
Powder coated cages are challenging for me as 2 of my parrots (conures) like to make the situation worse if they can get to an area where the coating is chipped or worn off. Powder coating also seem to rust too after multiple washes if you look at the hollow areas. Stainless steel is expensive. I feel like I am forever replacing cages. I can’t imagine what macaw owners go through. They have such a strong bite force. The coating probably isn’t hard for them to bite through.
 
Great and highly informative Post by my good friend Wrench.

Powder Coat, as stated above is a polyester base product, which does not include Zinc! Well, that is true for near all First World sources. Sadly, there is one major supplier that cannot be trusted regarding contain, which is also a major bird cage Manufacturer /Supplier!

Zinc is problematic when welding is required as it interferes with the quality of the welding.

Bird cages are welded together, surfaced prepped, cleaned, dried, then powder coated and placed in an oven to cure. Because of this process, it becomes very important that the cages do not set very long between each process as rust can occur!! Powder Coating cannot occur over a rusted surface as it would quickly begin to flack-off.

Adding Zinc to the polyester based Powder Coating would increase cost and likely cause problems during the heat curing process as the zinc would likely separate out of the Powder.

Your comments Al!
 
Great and highly informative Post by my good friend Wrench.

Powder Coat, as stated above is a polyester base product, which does not include Zinc! Well, that is true for near all First World sources. Sadly, there is one major supplier that cannot be trusted regarding contain, which is also a major bird cage Manufacturer /Supplier!

Zinc is problematic when welding is required as it interferes with the quality of the welding.

Bird cages are welded together, surfaced prepped, cleaned, dried, then powder coated and placed in an oven to cure. Because of this process, it becomes very important that the cages do not set very long between each process as rust can occur!! Powder Coating cannot occur over a rusted surface as it would quickly begin to flack-off.

Adding Zinc to the polyester based Powder Coating would increase cost and likely cause problems during the heat curing process as the zinc would likely separate out of the Powder.

Your comments Al!
Zinc plating is not done in combination with powder coating, they are different processes.
Both proces start by fabricating a cage from mild steel. Then to zinc plate it is dumped in a molten bath of zinc which protects the steel from rusting.
Traditiinally Zinc plating is more expensive and better than powder coating because it plates the surfaces that the powder coat cannot reach like hollow sections. These unprotected hollow sections can cause the frame to rust from the inside. Also the zinc plating is harder to chip off than powder coat.
 
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Different types of coating for bird cages is really educational to learn about. I actually have to replace both of my conures cages. Stainless steel for smaller parrots is hard to come by. I’ve found 1 cage that is for smaller parrots, and it’s so small that it would be really downsizing. I really don’t have a choice but to go with a coated cage for my smaller parrots. If someone has a powder coated cage that lasts please do share. Mine generally speaking last 3-5 years. I don’t think I’ve ever had a zinc coated cage. I’ve seen 1 aluminum cage in my entire life at a shelter I volunteered at. I’m sure that is also extremely expensive.
 
I’ve seen 1 aluminum cage in my entire life at a shelter I volunteered at. I’m sure that is also extremely expensive.

I'm surprised to hear about aluminium being used as cages. They should be cheaper than stainless but I wouldn't get one.

There are different types of aluminium but I can safely assume that their not using 7000 series, which is used on aircraft and even more expensive than 304 stainless. Their probably using 5000 series which is most common in fabrication.

The thing is that raw aluminium still corrodes, especially outdoors, it goes white. For that reason aluminium is often anodised (unlikely for a cage), spray painted or powder coated.

Sanitation-wise, aluminium is one of the most toxic metals for humans and i assume its the same with birds.
If your wondering about our coke cans yes they're aluminium but have plastic inner coatings.
If your wondering about cookware yes some use aluminium as it conducts heat very well but the inner lining that makes contact with the food is always a different surface.

So a big NO to aluminium in my opinion.
 
I'm surprised to hear about aluminium being used as cages. They should be cheaper than stainless but I wouldn't get one.

There are different types of aluminium but I can safely assume that their not using 7000 series, which is used on aircraft and even more expensive than 304 stainless. Their probably using 5000 series which is most common in fabrication.

The thing is that raw aluminium still corrodes, especially outdoors, it goes white. For that reason aluminium is often anodised (unlikely for a cage), spray painted or powder coated.

Sanitation-wise, aluminium is one of the most toxic metals for humans and i assume its the same with birds.
If your wondering about our coke cans yes they're aluminium but have plastic inner coatings.
If your wondering about cookware yes some use aluminium as it conducts heat very well but the inner lining that makes contact with the food is always a different surface.

So a big NO to aluminium in my opinion
The aluminum cage was extremely (yes I want to use this exaggerated word as it was shocking to me) light in weight. It was silver/gray in color. I know nothing about them. I was amused with the weight of this cage to the point that I had to ask the person who ran the shelter what it was. It was easy to clean like stainless steel. I myself know nothing about the chemical makeups of cages. I followed this thread, and wanted to be apart of it because I am consistently having issues with my parrots cages. I want one that will last.
 

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