Budgies are nomadic moving from place to place during the dry season in search of new foodstuffs and water, they can cover many kilometres in one day. In the wild, the trigger for our feathered budgie friends to breed is normally the rains coming. The rains coming means that budgies have access to water and an abundance of food this can be seed germinating on the surface of the ground (sprouted seeds).
In captivity, we can replicate this process by giving our budgies sprouted seeds on the run-up to pairing and breeding. This has two functions, firstly the abundance of food triggers the budgies natural urge to start to pairing up. A hen budgie looks for a good feeding cock bird and the sprouted seed helps fill the hen up, satisfying her additional nutritional requirements on the run-up to breeding. Secondly, the additional nutrition not only helps the adult budgies but also that of the young budgie chicks, giving them the best start in life.
What are the best seeds to sprout
All seeds can be germinated or sprouted, the key is, feeding them when they will give the budgies the most nutritional value. I buy a specially selected group of seeds that sprout at similar times, this affords the birds a greater choice in one sitting. The brand I use is Johnson & Jeff Seed for soaking. [see pic]
Johnston & Jeff has several types including canary seed, rapeseed also known as canola, white millet, naked oats, safflower seed, mung beans, red dari, wheat and jap millet. In addition to this, I add a further 5% more mung beans to this as this seems to be a favourite for the feeding budgies. Further, when I sprout the seed I also sprout the same amount of wheat again as this is what appears to be what is fed more readily to the chicks. [see pic]
Seed Starting to Germinate (Sprouting Seed)
What you require to start the process
I use an electronic seed sprouter that requires very little attention after setting up. [see pic]
Intelligence Electronical Seed Sprout Maker
One Peak Bean Sprouter
There are few types out there, I have tested the two pictured and I would say that both are good, I prefer the sprinkler top setup, but either will give good results.
For the budget conscious the One Peak Bean Sprouter is the one I would recommend.
If you have a little more to spend then the Intelligence Electronic Seed Sprouter is great, the sprinkler system ensures even watering and foolproof seed sprouting.
If you want to go low tech and plastic-free, the Geo Terradisiena Terra Cotta Sprouter is a great choice. Not only does it work well for growing your own sprouted seeds or grains but they also look good on any kitchen countertop, so you might be able to keep this one inside!
Without upsetting your partner.
In addition to your chosen sprouter, you will also require a sieve or colander to wash and clean the sprouted seed, and of course the seed you intend to sprout.
Terradisiena Terracotta Sprouter
The Seed Sprouting Process
As usual, the key to a healthy budgie is hygiene, once you have determined which sprouter you intend to use and what seed you wish to sprout. Using the instructions provided with your chosen brand, set your sprouter up in advance of the seed preparation.
You must now pay particular attention to ensuring the seed is thoroughly cleaned. To prepare the seed, take the desired amount (I use a tablespoon full per pair daily) and put into the sieve rinse the seed for about a minute under hot tap water ensuring the water runs clear then repeat the process with cold water, this kick starts the germination process.
Now your prepared seed is ready to be transferred to your sprouter and we simply let the sprouter do its job. I check my seed every day and usually refresh the water in the sprouter every 24 hours.
Ideally, you want the seed to have just started the germination process and no more.
How long does sprouting seed take
It is quite a quick process, depending on the temperature of your sprouter or the room temperature the process should not take more than 24 hours. Some sprouter’s have trays that are stackable, this means you can have seed at varying stages of germination. [see pic]
Once your seed has sprouted to its optimum nutritional value, you must remove the sprouted seed return it to the sieve and thoroughly rinse in cold water again until the water runs clear, then simply serve the sprouted seed to your feathered budgie friends. The new sprouted seed will be readily taken by budgies they all appear to love it.
This is also your opportunity as a breeder to add any supplements to the seed, I sprinkle mine with various additives throughout the season, be it additional calcium, a probiotic, or even Triple C antibiotic, however, this can be difficult to buy where I am in the UK
When to remove the sprouted seed
Many breeders say the reason they don’t feed sprouted seed to their budgies is that there are too many health risks related to the seed as the seed may go off. Usually, this happens when your bird room temperature is too hot or the seed is in direct sunlight.
I use sprouted seed all year round without any issues. Usually, I set the seed first thing in the morning and the birds go to it throughout the day, this is fine during the winter which is when we breed in the UK and the bird room temp is not usually more than 5 degrees.
However, in the summer the temperature can go above 10 degrees it is then I make the decision, usually around noon to remove the sprouted seed. This means the likelihood of any bad bacteria forming is sufficiently reduced and the birds are not at risk.
However, that being said as a precaution I regularly give my budgies a dose of S76, this kills a multitude of mites including crop mites. [see pic]
If you follow these basic procedures and rules I am sure you will see your feathered friends enjoy a natural treat and reap the benefits of a healthy stud in the future.
Please see the accompanying video of the preparation of seed and also of my birds enjoying it.
Germinating seed creates a positive nutritional balance in your birds. The seed becomes far more easily digestible, by sprouting the seed you create changes in the seed in various positive ways. Germinating the seed starts the enzymatic process, this increases the vitamin content, which includes vitamins A, B & E, in addition, amino acids are also triggered. Starch, which is usually indigestible by birds is turned in to sugars.
Overall, I believe that soaking your seed before feeding it to your budgie is far more beneficial to your bird providing that you follow the basic hygiene highlighted in this article.