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Feeding


Over the years I have tried plenty of seed diets, additives and supplements for the birds... and have come to one conclusion. It's best to stick as close as possible to nature with a little help to supply extra nutrients needed by the exhibition budgerigar of today.

BASIC FEED MIX:

I buy my seed in bulk (50 lb bags) from a local farmers feed store and mix inhouse.

Budgie Mix

The basic seed mix consists of 4 parts Plain Canary, 2 parts White Millet, 1 part Oat Groats, and one part Finch Mix (a tonic seed comprised of several Millets, Vegetable and Grass Seeds).

This mix is fed year round, however leading up to breeding season the precentage of Oat Groats is increased.

TONIC SEEDS:

Finch Seed

Finch Mix is offered in a separate dish twice a week... Additional grass, herb and vegetable seeds are added to the tonic seed as available.

Finch Treat with herbs added

Sunflower, Safflower, Hemp and Niger (higher oil content) is also offered during the cold months and during times of heavy moult.

Seed Nutritional Values: Since the nutritional value of the same seed type varies based on growing conditions, fertility of the soil, amount of rainfall etc, I always attempt to use seed grown in different regions. The more variety the better. I have found and excellent source of herb and vegetable seeds are health food stores and ethnic supermarkets.

HERBS, VEGETABLES & FRUIT:

Herbs

Excellent sources of natural vitamins, minerals, vegetable protein... the birds get a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruit each morning.

Based on seasonal availability the veges provide variety the birds would also find in nature.

Spinach, cilantro, parsley, swiss chard, red chard, broccoli, red beet, golden beet, striped beet, carrot, apple (minus core), wheat grass, barley grass, celery, garlic (cloves & leaves), chicory, endive, turnip greens, fennel, basil, mint, tarragon, oregano, thyme, apple, pear, grapes, sweet potato (yams).. whatever is available at the stores, or leftover after preparing meals... all cut into strips or large pieces so the birds gnaw it down like they would in the wild.

Any uneaten fruit or veges are removed after 3-4 hours.

SPROUTED SEED:

Sprouted Seed

My birds get sprouted oats 3-4 days a week, year round. Care must be taken to ensure the oats do not sour of go mouldy, otherwise the birds will become ill.

I initially soak the oats overnight and then thorughly wash them, allow to drain, and repeat the process twice each day until the small shoots start to appear. They are then ready for the birds.

Before feeding wash and drain the seed an additional time, then add any softfood or suppliments. Allow to sit for 15 minutes so any moisture is absorbed. Add any chopped vegetables, fruit, and freeze-dried mealworms, and they are ready to feed to the birds.

My breeding pairs get a scoop (a couple of tablespoons) twice a day, and the balance is fed in a dish in the flight. Any leftovers are removed after a couple of hours.

How I do it..

ANIMAL PROTEIN SOURCES:

Pick Blocks

Budgies need both plant and animal protein. The plant protein comes from seed, grasses, and vegetables you feed.

I load up on animal protein when the birds are in a heavy moult and when young are in the nest. I find the youngsters that have animal protein in their diet are much more robust and put on weight faster.

Many of the "starter crumbles" used for chickens and game birds are high in protein content. The birds will take to them fast if moistened and fed with soaked seed.

"Game Bird / Pheasant / Turkey Pick Blocks" are a favorite in my flights and are offered year round. The blocks I buy from a local farmers feed store are approximately 18"x18"x18" and are 26% protein. The birds make short work of them.. Gnawing holes and tunnels, especially in the weeks leading up to breeding season. This activity sends the hens into a breeding frenzy and they are ready to go to nest as soon as they are paired up. I am not sure how much of the block they actually eat but seed consumption is certainly less than when the blocks are not available.

Chicken Carcasses don't last long in the flights either. After removing all the meat for a meal I boil the carcass for 30 minutes to make sure everything is thoroughly cooked, then baked in the oven for an additional half hour. After cooling it goes in a dish in the flight. Within 15-20 minutes it is totally stripped and everything eaten except the larger bones.

Mealworms

Mealworms are a big hit, and again fed year round, 2-3 times each week. Despite what others may say budgies love them and take to them fast. It is not unusual for outcrosses, that have not had them in the past, line up as soon as they see how the other birds enjoy them.

The breeding pairs get freeze-dried mealworms so they will not wriggle away..these are soaked in warm water to plump them up and thoroughly rinsed before feeding. Live mealworms are fed in a steep-sided dish in the flight. They don't last long .. a feeding frenzy as soon as the dish goes in.

Mealworms are easy to breed if you buy a few hundred to start. Mine breed in plastic tubs in the birdroom that are loaded with bran flakes. Vegetable scraps are all they need for food and moisture. Eventually the mature worms turn into beetles that lay eggs for the next generation. Just be careful not to empty out the "fine sand" material at the bottom of the tub during the dormant phase of the life cycle. It is loaded with eggs that will hatch in the coming weeks.

More About Protein Sources

A Step By Step Approach To Breeding Mealworms

GRIT & EXTRA CALCIUM:

Cuttlebone

Cuttle bone is always available in the flight and breeding cages. I usually buy cuttlebone pieces. They may not "look as nice" but the birds don't know the difference and the cost is way lower.

Like with seed, I try to obtain grit from as many sources as possible.

Chick (fine poultry) grit, usually crushed granite, is the base. Fine crushed oyster shell, crushed egg shells, crushed cuttlebone, mineralized pigeon grit, and sea sand are mixed together along with a little powdered kelp (seaweed) and coarse sea salt. Interesting to observe that the small shells in the sea sand are the first things to go.

Over the year the "Grit or No Grit" has always been a debateable topic... Only thing I know is that when birds come home after 2-3 days off at a show, the first thing they go to is the grit pot. They must be looking for something.

Extra Calcium - Calcium is used in the formation of bones and eggs, and is needed for normal nerve and muscle functions. I do not rely solely on the "grit pot" to supply this essential mineral in the necessary quantities. To avoid problems like soft shell and chalky eggs, egg binding, rickets, splayed legs and feather plucking, a liquid calcium suppliment with vitamin D is added to the drinking water on a regular basis, and calcium powder is included in the softfood. More about Calcium Deficiency.

Dry Food Mix - A dry food supplement called "Birds Choice" is available in a separate dish year round.

Birds Choice

It is surprising how much time certain birds spend picking around in this dish. The mix contains Canary Grass Seed, Whole Oat Groats, Ground Corn, Dried Brewer's Yeast, Rape Seed, Niger, Flax Seed, Lettuce Seed, Sesame Seed, Soybean Meal, Cod Liver Oil, Powdered Eggs, Wheat Bran, Anise Oil, Calcium Carbonate.

Newcomers to the hobby are always searching for a Magic Supplement that will turn pet quality birds into show winners...

Mineral Blocks are offered year around. Large blocks in the flights and mini-blocks in the breeding and stock cages. These are easy to make. Check Out My Recipe

Of course your birds should always have access to Good Clean Drinking Water.. The drinking water, and the supplements I add, have a major impact on the health of my birds

 

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