Sprouting Basics


Denise Newkirk

SkyeDiamond Ranch


Copyright Denise Newkirk March 2001. All rights reserved. Parts or whole may not be reprinted without express written permission of the author.

Many people have found feeding sprouts to their birds an excellent way to: 1) introduce vegetables to "seed junkies", 2) greatly increase the vitamin content of their bird's diet, 3) feed live food, and 4) provide a natural highly-concentrated source of digestive enzymes.  For more detailed information on sprout nutrition, Sprout People is an excellent site.

When clients approach me for assistance in converting their seed-addicted birds to a more balanced diet, I tell them it is relatively easy to use the seed addiction in making the conversion by simply sprouting the seeds.  For instance, if you have an African Gray who prefers to eat only sunflower seeds, you would start by sprouting the sunflower seeds.  From there, the bird will usually quite willingly try the addition of other sprouted seeds. 

For birds who are not necessarily seed addicted, a good well-rounded mix can be found at Feathered Kids 'N Stuff.  All ingredients are human grade and certified organically grown - very clean.  Some people make their own mixes by raiding the bulk food bins at their local health food store.  A good mix can be made with just mung beans, sunflower seeds (without shell is fine) and whole wheat berries.  (I always recommend including wheat berries in a mix because, to my knowledge, they are the richest source of vitamin E on earth.)  Seeds will not sprout well if they have been heated, oiled, salted, vitaminized or they are not fresh.

There are as many different methods of sprouting as there are people who sprout, not to mention the plethora of sprouting devices on the market.  Below is a simple technique that the beginner can adopt immediately without investing in expensive equipment.

Buy three stainless steel fine-meshed colanders or strainers.  The size will depend on how much you are going to sprout and should be large enough to hold three times the amount of dry seed (sprouts expand as they grow).  Also, have a glass jar or bowl that will hold the dry seed you are going to use plus about twice that much water.  Put your dry seed in the jar along with grapefruit seed extract (GSE) to inhibit the growth of mold and bacteria.  Use approximately 10 drops GSE per cup of dry seed.  Add at least two times the dry seed amount of hot tap water.  Let your seeds soak overnight.

In the morning, pour your seeds into the strainer, cover with a clean damp towel and place in the kitchen cupboard or on the counter.   Rinse your sprouts in the strainer thoroughly with hot water at least twice per day, more often is better.  Feed on the third morning.  Start two more batches on the second and third day.  Using this method, you will have fresh sprouts to feed every morning.

Sprouts should be fed first thing in the morning, before your bird has a chance to satisfy its hunger on something else.  Fresh fruits and vegetables can be mixed in with them, but do not add anything warm from cooking.  Sprouts will keep quite well throughout the day unless they are heated, which causes them to spoil rapidly.

Disinfectant Note:  Pamela Clark tells me she has had very good success using food grade peroxide in place of the GSE.  She pays $9.00 for 16 oz. of 35% peroxide.  Many health food stores carry the food grade.  To use, she removes 10 ounces of water from a gallon of distilled water and adds 10 ounces of the peroxide.  This makes a 3% solution.  Pamela says it makes the seeds sprout much faster.





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Last Update:  03/28/01