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Feeding Birds - Pellets or Seed


Traditionally commercially grown seeds have fed captive birds for decades. Everyone accepts that seeds alone are not a complete diet for birds and the seed quality changes from year to year. To try and balance out the variation most bird keepers try and vary the diet (depending on species) using fruits, vegetables, vitamin/mineral supplements, oil additives, native plants and any other feed source they can find. There is no doubt that many good birds are bred using this traditional approach.  

There are some drawbacks though.  Seed quality-cost of supplements-fruit and vegetable availability-preparation and feeding time-removal of waist and cleaning of aviaries-ensuring a balanced diet when you don't know the contents of the feeds offered.

There is an alternative you may want to consider.  Pellets are produced using computer feeding programs, expensive processing machinery and a large amount of nutritional and scientific knowledge. The benefits are well documented and when it comes to reducing waist, pellets win over seed hands down.

There is no seed hull waste - The whole pellet is consumed.

There is no rejected, lost or wasted seeds which contributes to feed costs, attracts bugs, other pests and rodents.

Reduced need for additional fruit and vegetables supplements as pellets are fully fortified.

There is no wasted time feeding, pellets are quick and easy to feed.  You can spend your extra time improving cages, setting up for breeding, spending more time enjoying your birds.

Nutritional levels are kept more consistent which improves breeding performance. Malnutrition is replaced by larger hatch ratios, more birds in the bush...

Far less time spent cleaning cages and aviaries.

Far less hull mess for indoor cages and aviaries.

Here are a few common comments when pellet diets are discussed...

"My Birds Will Only Eat Seed" Birds did not evolve in the wild on a diet of sunflower seeds, millets or oats. They all evolved eating a wide range of wild seeds that are totally different from the modified seeds we grow in our agricultural areas. They have been converted to the seeds and grains in their current diets. Yes they like them and yes they have been eating them for many years but don't kid yourself that they are a complete natural diet.  It's a known fact that the seed grown commercially these days has little nutritional properties because it's grown on heavily farmed land with little or no natural mineral content left in the soil.

"I've Fed Birds Seed for Years" True and you have likely been quite successful however did you know that most common problem seen by bird veterinarians worldwide is malnutrition due to seed diets! Malnutrition does not necessarily mean the birds are thin, they may in fact be fat, but their nutrition is not right. If seed diets are all that successful, why do veterinarians see so many birds with nutrition related diseases?

"I Give a Lot of Extras and Supplements" They will certainly help. Fruits, vegetables and other prepared supplements are absolutely necessary for many species of birds, especially when feeding them seed diets. Not only do these help with vitamins and minerals, they act to stimulate the bird. The problem is that we still don't know what nutrition the birds get from fruits, veggie's and supplements unless we weigh each piece, work out exactly how much each bird eats and then look up the nutritional analysis.  This is far too costly and time consuming for the average bird enthusiast.

Considering the rising cost of seeds in today's commodity markets and the nutritional quality being questionable, perhaps it's time to rethink how you feed your birds...