All About Sprouts: How To Sprout Seeds For Birds
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Welcome to sprouts 101
Today we will be discussing the wonderful world of sprouted seeds for parrot nutrition.
In captivity, parrots are lucky to eat what they would in the wild: freshly harvested pods, legumes and nuts, flowers and seeds, and the ripe fruits of their native lands.
Poor diets are responsible for the vast majority of our parrots’ health and behavioral problems. They don’t just deserve to eat a diverse array of densely nutritional foods. It is their right, and our responsibility to provide them.
- Sprouts are packed with trace minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals and enzymes that are necessary for tissue repair and digestive health.
- Sprouts are a powerhouse for amino acids- the building blocks of protein.
- Unlike our birds’ seed mixes themselves, sprouts are low in fat because they utilize the fat in the seeds for the growing process.
- Sprouts tend to be more easily accepted by “seed addicts” who reject fruits and vegetables and can help ween birds off of millet diets.
- Sprouts are enriching for our birds and encourage their natural foraging instincts.
Set up your germination jar or container
Sprouts can be stored in the fridge without going bad for 2-6 weeks, so choose a setup that will fit!
We recommend the following germination setups:
- For 1-3 birds, use a Mason jar topped with a sprouting lid, pictured below.
- For a larger flock, or if you would also like some sprouts for yourself, the sprouting system on the right grows four tiers of sprouts at once.
We have tried and tested the sprouting system on the right and love it! Click the images to view them each on Amazon.
Select a wide variety of raw seeds, nuts, lentils, and grains
Options to consider:
- Adzuki beans, Alfalfa, Almonds (shelled), Amaranth
- Barley (hulled), Black garbanzos, Black lentils, Blue and yellow corn, Brown and golden flax, Brown and beige garbanzos, Brown rice, Buckwheat (in hull)
- Chia, China Rose Radish, Crimson lentils
- Daikon, Fenugreek, Flax, French blue lentils
- Green lentils, Green peas
- Millet, Mung beans
- Oats (hulless), oriental mustard
- Pumpkin seeds
- Radish, Rapeseed, Red clover, Red lentils
- Sesame, Speckled peas, Sunflower (in shell)
- Yellow peas
Or, CHOOSE a ready-made seed mix, like these:
Give 'Em A Good PRE-WASH
No matter where your seeds come from, it’s very important to pre-wash a few times before soaking them with cool water. While you’re at it, be sure to remove any debris.
Take extra special care to pre-wash quinoa. Quinoa is naturally coated with saponin, which is toxic to budgies if not removed.
To pre-wash, simply grab a clean, metal strainer that your seeds won’t fall through, and rinse, rinse away.
You will need about one teaspoon of seeds per bird as they expand quite a bit. A little goes a long way!
Soak, Rinse, Drain, Repeat
After you have rinsed your little heart out, fill your jar halfway with clean water, then add the seeds to soak for at least nine hours, or overnight while you sleep.
Next, drain the water, rinse another three times, drain again, and prop the jar on a stand so that it can drain for another nine hours.
Once you return, you will notice that the seeds have expanded, although most likely no sprouts have appeared quite yet.
Not to fear! Progress is being made. Repeat the rinse and drain process until tiny sprouts appear.
Note: the warmer the temperature in the room, the faster the seeds will sprout.
EXAMINE AND SERVE
After about 3-5 days of soaking, rinsing, draining, and repeating, tiny plant shoots will burst from the seeds.
At this point, the sprouts are ready to be served. They are most nutrient-dense when fresh and newly sprouted, however, bigger sprouts are great for your birds to forage through.
Birds enjoy sprouts by themselves, but they can also be added to chop or mixed in with seed mixes to help ween birds off of seed-only diets.
If your birds are hesitant, let them see you eating the sprouts yourself, and add some to a plate for them to try.
Sometimes birds (budgies especially) are more likely to try new foods that are plated because they can see everything in front of them, similar to how they would forage from the ground in the wild.
Before serving sprouts to your flock, Examine them to ensure they are fit for consumption.
- Give them the “sniff test” to check for freshness and earthiness. Toss them if their smell is foul or musty. Sprouts should never smell “off.”
- If your sprouts look or feel slimy, they are no good. They should appear healthy and be a nice, clean white.
- Broccoli, Radish, and many grains have a fuzzy appearance to them. These are root hairs, and not to be confused with mold.
- Root hairs are bright white and congregate around the root itself.
- Mold, on the other hand, can be many different colors. Don’t take chances if ever you’re unsure.
Store Sprouts Safely
Like we mentioned before, sprouts have a potential shelf life of 2-6 weeks when stored properly. The key is making sure they are dry before storing them.
- Spread the sprouts on a double layer of paper towels and allow them to dry completely.
- Seal the sprouts up in an airtight produce bag or place them back in a dry mason jar, and stick them in the fridge (or freezer).
- To extend their shelf life, rinse the sprouts daily and re-dry them before placing them back in the fridge.
- Always check the sprouts for mold and give them the old sniff test before serving them to your birds.