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
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.