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Feeding Cockatiels

              

Feeding Cockatiels

Seed Mix

Fresh Foods

Sprouting:

Supplements

Make your own calcium block

Extras

Feeding cockatiels is a topic that raises many different opinions and often arguments as to what is correct and what is not. I have my own ideas and have outlined these below. The feeding regime I use  gives me healthy, happy, large birds that are willing breeders and wonderful parents. They do not have any health nor behavioural problems and are active, bright and alert. Having said this though, I am always eager to hear new ideas and am not adverse to change if it can be proven to me it will benefit my birds. Most of my feed requirements are purchased from Wholesale Pet Products and feed is always good quality and the service friendly and reliable with the advantage of on-line ordering.

Enjoying some bottlebrush

The birds diet is basically grouped into three main categories. Seed mix, fresh foods and supplements. They do get treats and extras as well but they are not a significant part  of their daily nutritional intake.

For those of you that are wondering where pellets come into this then look no further. I do not feed pellets to my breeding birds and have my own personal reasons why I don't. I have considered it and read up on pellets but am not completely convinced they are the best for my birds. I will not get into the seed/pellet debate as that is an article all on its own but I have heard negative reports on the use of pellets as well as seed and have decided that 'when I see a pellet tree growing in the wild and birds feeding from it then I will use them'. For now though I will admit to the occasional inclusion in my young handraised birds' diet of 'Prettybird Daily Select' but this is only to introduce them to all different types of foods before being placed in new homes.

Seed Mix

The basic seed mix I use for my birds consists of a mixture of the following: White French Millet, Panicum, Canary, Jap Millet, Grey-striped Sunflower, Safflower and Hulled Oats. In winter I add extra Hulled Oats and Grey-striped Sunflower to fatten the birds up a bit so they don't stress during the cold weather. It also has them in good health ready for the Spring breeding season.

 

Hulled Oats           Grey-striped sunflower           Cockatiel seed mix           Panorama millet sprays

I also give them sprays of Panorama and White French Millet a few times a week as a treat and to give them something extra to do I hang the millet in spots that require them to work to get it. They really enjoy the sprays and spend ages trying to access every seed. This helps alleviate boredom and reduces problems such as feather plucking.

I used to replace the seed daily but found by doing this they tend to pick out their favourite seeds like the sunflower and leave a lot they don't like as much. I have recently changed that practice and now only give them fresh seed every second day. This means that there is less waste and they eat all the seed. I do however blow out the husks each day so only full seed remains.

 

Fresh Foods

 

Each day I feed some type of fresh food. By fresh food I mean vegetables and fruits and breads. I vary what they get every few days and each time there is always a choice of a few different selections. The different things I offer are:

 

Wholegrain bread

Corn Flakes Frozen peas & corn Corn kernels
Silverbeet Baby spinach leaves Bok Choy Beetroot leaves
Broccoli Celery Spinach Grated beetroot
Grated Apple Grated carrot Chickweed Dandelion
Endive Snow pea sprouts Sprouting mix Egg & Biscuit mix

 

Most of these are purchased fresh from the supermarket when I do my family shopping. There are also numerous recipes available on the net for birdie bread or mixes you can make yourself. Personally I am not a cook and find the above list caters for what my birds need.

With the exception of any dry foodstuffs all the fresh foods are cut up and served as a tossed salad. I find by serving it this way the offering is bright and colourful and will tempt almost any bird. Also by having everything in together it is easy to substitute items or add different things and the birds don't notice the change. Often something new added to a birds cage will cause them to stress as they have no idea what it is. Curiosity will eventually win over and they will check out the new addition but this can take days. By having everything mixed together it remains familiar and so getting them to try something new that is added is a quicker process.

 

Sprouting:

I sprout my own seeds for the birds and find it simpler and easier to keep a fresh supply at hand at all times. I am currently using a 'Pigeon Mix' to sprout that contains a large variety of seeds that easily sprout and are quickly devoured. I add mung beans and extra wheat to the pigeon mix to make it a more complete offering. The method I use for sprouting the mix is:

 

1. Place required amount of mix in plastic container and fill with water.
2. Stir thoroughly to loosen any dust and debris and rinse.
3. Place mix in a strainer or colander and run water through mix until mix is clean.
4. Place seed back in plastic container and cover with warm not hot water.
5. Leave mix soak overnight so seed swells.
6. Next morning pour seed into strainer and rinse well.
7. Continue to rinse seed every few hours for next day or so until seeds begin to sprout.
8. Sprouts are ready to feed when sprout has just broken free of seed.
9. Sprouted mix can be kept fresh in the fridge for a few days.

Wheat                   Sprouts                   Pigeon Mix

Some people claim that an anti-bacterial solution should be added to the water such as Aviclens but I do not use it and have had no problems. It is important to rinse the mix regularly and you will tell that it is fresh by its sweet nutty aroma. If the smell changes then the mix has become tainted with bacteria and mould and should be discarded. Do not feed it to your birds if it is at all suspect.

Supplements

I do not feed many supplements to my birds and have not found it a necessity. Sometimes it often can cause more problems than it is worth by overloading your birds with extra things that they do not require. Too high a level of one substance can cause imbalances in others and it is often a snowball effect. You then need another supplement to fix that imbalance and the food bill climbs higher as your birds poop it all out.

Petshop calcium bellThe only supplement I use is calcium in the form of calcium/iodine blocks or cuttlebone. Calcium is especially important for hens when they are laying eggs and I have each of my breeder cages with a permanent supply of the calcium blocks and cuttlebone. I have only ever had 1 minor case of eggbinding which was quickly cleared up with a dose of Calcium Sandoz. That hen was 1 year old and it was her first egg that was the problem but since then she has gone on to lay with no further issues.

Make your own calcium block
It is possible to save on costs and make up calcium blocks yourself. Here is only one of many recipes I have found to work well:Homemade calcium bells

 

Ingredients:   1 part Calcium Carbonate
    1 part ground Limestone
    1 part Plaster of Paris

Method:

  Place all ingredients in a bowl and add water. Stir well to form a smooth paste.
    Pour mix into moulds and insert a wire loop to enable the block to be hung up.
    Allow 1-2 days for mixture to set then remove from mould. If mixture is still damp allow a further day to dry.

 

This recipe was actually written by a person by the name of Steve Jones and was printed in the Australian National Cockatiel Society Journal. The gentleman concerned researched into the probablity of making his own blocks and came up with this. It contains 56% calcium in the form of calcium carbonate.

The consistency of the blocks can be altered to be made harder or softer by adjusting the amounts of ingredients ie. less plaster and more calcium or lime will give a softer block and the reverse will give a harder block. Grit or charcoal can also be added to the mix if preferred.

 

Fine ChargritThe only other extra I give my birds is fine chargrit which is charcoal and grit mixed. I do not however leave it available for birds feeding chicks as it has been known for birds to feed it to chicks and block the crop.

Autopsies done on wild birds have shown that small rocks and the like have been ingested by the birds and were present in the crop so it seems to be a natural requirement.

 

 

Extras

 

Chewing on some branchesThe only other thing I give my birds is fresh branches weekly. These branches are usually either bottlebrush or grevillea and are cut from trees of my own or friends so I can ensure they are chemical and poison free. Within minutes of adding these to the aviaries the birds are busy chewing on leaves and bark and totally tearing it apart.  I am unsure if there is actually any nutritional advantage to be gained by giving them branches but it certainly keeps them occupied. Within a day or so of putting the branches in all that is left is a pile of dried leaves on the ground and some well chewed sticks. I am sure they do ingest some of the leaves but regardless of this I find it helps relieve the boredom of being confined. They spend hours climbing through the branches and playing acrobat trying to get the last leaf or the biggest flower and plus it adds a natural look to my aviaries.

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