Sprouted or germinating seeds presents the simplest method of providing your birds with fresh greens. They are a healthy food addition for all birds, but are absolute necessity for the feeding hen and for the newly weaned young.
What is Sprouting?
Sprouting is the practice of soaking seeds overnight, draining them, placing them into a sprouting jar and then rinsing the seeds several times a day until they start to sprout (they usually start sprouting after about 24 hours) - at which time they are ready to feed.
For the next days, the seeds will continue to grow. The different stages provide different nutrients to your bird. For a few birds, a few tablespoons of seeds are sufficient. If properly attended to, the sprouted seeds will last for up to 5 days. If early spoiling is an issue, adding a few drops of GSE or apple cider vinegar added to the rinsing water will prevent early spoiling. In most cases, this may not be necessary.
Benefits of Sprouting for birds:
- Sprouted or germinated seeds are usually more easily accepted by "seed addicts" than fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Sprouted seeds are more nutrient-dense as they are high in vegetable proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and chlorophyll.
- Sprouted seeds are lower in fat, as the process of sprouting utilizes the fat in the seed to start the growing process - thus reducing the fat stored in the seeds.
- It is an invaluable food at all times; however, it is especially important for breeding or molting birds. Sprouted seeds also serve as a great rearing and weaning food as the softened shell is easier to break by chicks and gets them used to the texture of seeds.
Don't want to go through the trouble of sprouting? Germination offers an easy, clean and safe way to provide superior nutrition to your birds. Simply soak the seeds to the point where the root tips show and feed to your birds ....
Process: Soak a daily portion of seeds, grains and legumes in pure, clean water overnight. If you keep the seeds at room temperature (on the counter, for example), the seeds start germinating after 12 hours. If you keep the soaking seeds in the fridge, it will take around 24 hours to germinate). Germination is safer as the process is shorter and the seeds or grains don’t have time to deteriorate - and yet, germinated seeds also offer superior "living" nutrition similar to sprouts.... Note: only germinate one portion at a time.
Sprouts offer an inexpensive and convenient way to feed fresh greens to your birds daily. (Please note sprouts should be rationed in "hormonal" birds - or those suffering from kidney disease. Rather than feeding daily, feed a few times a week, or per vet's recommendation.) Little time, effort or space is needed to make sprouts.. In addition to the regular bird seeds, many seeds for sprouting are available in health food stores.
You start with a good sprouting mix - the parrot shop carries a few of them that are tagged below.
Step 1: First you want to purchase a good sprouting container. The easy sprouter is an amazing product that makes sprouting super simple. If you are not using the easy sprouter, it is important to make sure that whatever container you use has air flow so the sprouts can breath.
Step 2 - Soak: Take 1 cup of the dry sprout mix and put it into your easy sprouter. Rinse the seeds well and then cover it with water. Place on your counter for approximately 8-10 hours. You can add some apple cider vinegar with the initial soak water to prevent bacteria/mold from growing. You can also use GSE which can be purchased HERE
Step 3 - Rinse: Drain the initial soak water and rinse well. You will want to rinse at least 2-3 times per day. The trick is to keep the sprouts moist. The process usually takes 2-3 days.
- Your sprouts should have an agreeable / sweetish scent. If you can detect a foul smell -- an indicator of bacteria or mold growing on it -- toss it. Don't feed to your birds. There are ways to prevent your sprouts from going off prematurely, one of which is to rinse frequently and thoroughly to rinse off mold, etc. Other tips are discussed below.
For those of you who want to feed sprouts but don't have the time to do this. The Parrot Shop offers freeze dried sprouts for your convenience here!
Have you tried sprouting? Post your experiences in the comments below!