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Seed for Parrots

The amount of parrot seed your bird needs will depend on its size. For most breeds, seeds will form between 15% and 50% of a parrot's diet.

Sun Conure feeding
Sun Conures, like most parrots, eat a lot of seeds

Ideally, the seed you use as the basis of your parrots' diet should be organic, clean, and fresh. You can test the freshness by sprinkling a sample of the seed over some soaked cotton wool in a dish. Within a couple of days fresh seeds will sprout. Anything that fails to do so is old, and it will have lost most of its nutritional value. Unfortunately, many of the widely available seed mixtures found in pet stores fall into this "stale" category.

Some seed mixes combine the seed with nuts, dried fruit and veg. As long as this is all high quality, it is a perfectly acceptable option. Your birds will still appreciate fresh food, though - lots of it!

Homemade seed mixes should be based on the following.

  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Canary
  • Corn (dried)
  • Flax seeds
  • Hemp seed
  • Millet (red, yellow, white)
  • Milo
  • Oats (whole)
  • Poppy
  • Pumpkin
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Sesame
  • Spelt
  • Sunflower
  • Wheat groats

Sprouting Seed

Many parrot species feed on sprouting grains in the wild. These are packed with nutrition. You can gather sprouted grasses in summer for your birds, or you can "sprout your own" using sunflower and canary seed at home.

Eclectus parrot food
Going to seed? Not if they get a good balanced diet! This Eclectus Parrot is enjoying a good mix.

To sprout seeds, wash them in a sieve and then soak them a bowl in fresh cold water for 6-8 hours. Rinse, and then place on wet cotton wool or wet kitchen paper, on a flat plate. Cover it. Between 24 and 48 hours later the seeds will begin sprouting; but you should rinse them every 8 hours to prevent mildew from forming, as this will kill the seed and prevent sprouting.

Once sprouted, dry the seeds on a tea towel before giving them to the birds. Drying them in this way minimizes the chance of molds forming. The sprouts can range from just-germinated seeds (a favorite of budgies, parrotlets and smaller parrots), to ones that have sprouted up to half an inch. This way you will catch all stages of the seed sprout's development, in terms of good enzymes and nutrients. For example, a batch of sprouted seeds offered over a three-day period will give your parrots three different stages of sprouting.

(Note: grains, especially oats, are not suitable for this home-sprouting method, as they soon go mouldy. Another one to avoid is flax, which goes slimy as part of the germination process.)

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