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Old 11-11-2018, 09:22 AM
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Diet requirements for Budgies

I chatted with a small bird breeder yesterday who used to hand-raise and handfeed Budgies. She hasn't bred them in awhile, but she did send me some links to articles she wrote about Budgies.

I have Lovebirds, but recently I have taken in the two Budgies my friend inherited from someone else. I want this to be their final home; they've transitioned enough. They require some work, and my biggest question is about their diet and how it differs from that of the Lovebird.

The breeder told me Budgies require seed as 50% of their diet, and dark, leafy greens and pellets make up the rest. She stated they don't really need fruit because the sugar content is too high.

So, apparently, I've been doing this all wrong. I have been trying to convert them to Harrison's super fine pellets, and have been offering a variety of chop (same as what I feed my lovebirds) and they have been eating it! But now I am told to cut all that out.

So do I or don't I convert them to pellets? Would it be detrimental to their health to stop offering seed? I have never had Budgies before so I feel like I'm at a total loss.
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Old 11-11-2018, 09:47 AM
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Re: Diet requirements for Budgies

They do need seeds. mine get seeds and leafy stuff. I would like them to eat some pellets.
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Old 11-11-2018, 11:11 AM
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Re: Diet requirements for Budgies

You sound like you're taking care of the budgies right! Seeds don't have much nutrition, and just serves as food to make your bird full. They are also high in fat.

Pellets are the better way to go, but my birds are really picky so I feed them Nutriberries, which have as much nutrition as pellets due to the amino acids and stuff they coat the seeds in. The only cons of pellets are that they can be slightly more expensive than seed and are harder to convert your bird to once it's eaten seeds, but the benefits make it worth it in the long run. Birds on pellets typically also live longer than birds on seed. Since you're already trying to switch the budgies to Harrison's, I wouldn't put them back on all seed. You sound like you're doing a great job of trying to feed them right!
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Old 11-12-2018, 10:17 AM
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Re: Diet requirements for Budgies

In my opinion ALL PARROTS, not just Budgies, should have their main "staple" diet be a healthy, natural-flavored pellet, however, they ALL should get at least a little healthy, low-fat seed-mix every day as well, as a supplement to the pellets. And then all the fresh veggies and dark, leafy greens that they want to eat...Fresh fruit should be considered a treat, as it is very high in sugar, so only a few times a week in small portions.

****Here's the deal: Pellets do not exist in nature. They just don't. However, because captive birds don't fly miles and miles every day and are pretty sedentary, they can't really get away with eating only seeds as their dietary "staple", because they usually do develop Fatty Liver Disease, Diabetes, and become Obese. It's not that "seeds don't contain much nutrition", as birds in the wild have been thriving on seed-only diets for longer than we've been around. It's that seeds contain too much fat for a captive, pet bird who isn't getting a ton of exercise every day to eat as their "staple" diet.

That being said, bird's bodies are designed to eat seeds, grains, and legumes, specifically their GI Tracts (their Gizzards in particular). So seeds do actually help to keep their GI Tracts healthy, from the Crop all the way through to their Vents/Cloacas. And in addition to their physical health, there is also a psychological component to the act of shelling/eating seeds that birds just innately possess. So totally depriving birds of eating any seeds is not good either. Pellets don't possess these natural physical and mental health benefits at all. They are simply healthy nutrition that is low-fat for captive birds. That's it.

So all birds should be on a staple of a natural-flavored pellet (meaning non-fruit flavored pellets, too much sugar), and they should have access to them all day long. Then the key is finding a healthy, varied, low-fat seed-mix that contains NO sunflower seeds/safflower seeds, NO nuts/peanuts, and NO corn. There are lots of these available at any Petco or Petsmart, or other pet shops and online, including Tops seed-mix, all Volkman seed-mixes, Tropimix, Zupreem Sensible Seed, Higgins California Blend, etc. I give all of my birds, including my Budgies, a 1/4 cup of healthy, low-fat seed-mix every single day, right along with their pellets. That's it. It's not much at all, but it's enough to keep them happy and healthy, and not near enough that they won'g eat their pellets. Then I give them some type of fresh Chop/fresh Veggies at dinner time when I eat my dinner every day, and some fresh Fruit as an occasional treat maybe 3-4 days a week. And the sunflower seeds and the nuts (no peanuts) are special treats for training, when we go out and they behave well, at the Vet, special occasions, when I want them to do something, etc. And they get a bit of people food occasionally too, when I'm eating and they beg, because I'm a push-over...anything in moderation (except peanuts and corn, except for fresh corn on the cob once in a while)...
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Old 11-12-2018, 10:28 AM
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Re: Diet requirements for Budgies

Quote: Originally Posted by EllenD View Post
In my opinion ALL PARROTS, not just Budgies, should have their main "staple" diet be a healthy, natural-flavored pellet, however, they ALL should get at least a little healthy, low-fat seed-mix every day as well, as a supplement to the pellets. And then all the fresh veggies and dark, leafy greens that they want to eat...Fresh fruit should be considered a treat, as it is very high in sugar, so only a few times a week in small portions.

****Here's the deal: Pellets do not exist in nature. They just don't. However, because captive birds don't fly miles and miles every day and are pretty sedentary, they can't really get away with eating only seeds as their dietary "staple", because they usually do develop Fatty Liver Disease, Diabetes, and become Obese. It's not that "seeds don't contain much nutrition", as birds in the wild have been thriving on seed-only diets for longer than we've been around. It's that seeds contain too much fat for a captive, pet bird who isn't getting a ton of exercise every day to eat as their "staple" diet.

That being said, bird's bodies are designed to eat seeds, grains, and legumes, specifically their GI Tracts (their Gizzards in particular). So seeds do actually help to keep their GI Tracts healthy, from the Crop all the way through to their Vents/Cloacas. And in addition to their physical health, there is also a psychological component to the act of shelling/eating seeds that birds just innately possess. So totally depriving birds of eating any seeds is not good either. Pellets don't possess these natural physical and mental health benefits at all. They are simply healthy nutrition that is low-fat for captive birds. That's it.

So all birds should be on a staple of a natural-flavored pellet (meaning non-fruit flavored pellets, too much sugar), and they should have access to them all day long. Then the key is finding a healthy, varied, low-fat seed-mix that contains NO sunflower seeds/safflower seeds, NO nuts/peanuts, and NO corn. There are lots of these available at any Petco or Petsmart, or other pet shops and online, including Tops seed-mix, all Volkman seed-mixes, Tropimix, Zupreem Sensible Seed, Higgins California Blend, etc. I give all of my birds, including my Budgies, a 1/4 cup of healthy, low-fat seed-mix every single day, right along with their pellets. That's it. It's not much at all, but it's enough to keep them happy and healthy, and not near enough that they won'g eat their pellets. Then I give them some type of fresh Chop/fresh Veggies at dinner time when I eat my dinner every day, and some fresh Fruit as an occasional treat maybe 3-4 days a week. And the sunflower seeds and the nuts (no peanuts) are special treats for training, when we go out and they behave well, at the Vet, special occasions, when I want them to do something, etc. And they get a bit of people food occasionally too, when I'm eating and they beg, because I'm a push-over...anything in moderation (except peanuts and corn, except for fresh corn on the cob once in a while)...
Thank you, EllenD! This is VERY helpful, useful info! Do you give each Budgie 1/4 cup seed mix or is that for more than one bird?
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Old 11-13-2018, 09:04 AM
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Re: Diet requirements for Budgies

Okay, I just ordered two types of seed mixes from Top's parrot food. I love their products...probably more than the birds! Lol!

I also have their pellets for small hookbills, but I worry those are too big even for my Lovies. I will have to ground them to add to the seed mixture to encourage the Lovies and the Budgies to eat them. I also have Harrison's High Potency Super Fine pellets that I've offered the Budgies. The Lovies, however, seem to be insistent on eating only Zupreem fruit-blend pellets.

I am persistent though, and I hope it pays off in the end! Also, I'm offering dark, leafy greens to both species but neither seem to care for it. I've sprinkled some seed on the greens to encourage them to associate it with good, yummy food, but to no avail. They haven't touched it yet. I'm not giving up though.

Any other suggestions?
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Old 11-15-2018, 07:13 AM
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Re: Diet requirements for Budgies

I think I got them to eat some pellets with their seed! I followed the methods seen on this forum to ground the pellets to a powder. In this case, they were Top's small hookbill pellets. I added the powder to a small bowl of seed for Budgies and added a bit of water to mash it up. Each seed is coated in pellet powder now, and THEY ARE EATING IT! They have two different types of dry pellets in a bowl in their cage at all times, but they don't peck at it much, so I am really excited to see this!
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