Seed taste test

Learn what to feed your birds.
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Icearstorm
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Seed taste test

Post by Icearstorm » Tue Nov 06, 2018 8:28 pm

Bought four types of seed at Earth Fare today, and plan to see how my birds like them. Unfortunately, I'm out of tube feeders, so I guess I'll just have to put them in some open containers.

Clockwise from top: flax, sesame, chia, quinoa.
WIN_20181106_19_14_34_Pro.jpg
What types of seeds do your birds like to eat, and how will they eat them (dry, sprouted, cooked, etc)?

(On a semi-unrelated note, they should make stress balls out of chia; it's pretty fun to play with when it's in a bag.)

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Re: Seed taste test

Post by Dave » Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:47 pm

Sheather and I have posted about this, and we both see Canaries have different preferences in different seasons. I'm interested in how this works out for you, thanks for posting!
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Re: Seed taste test

Post by Icearstorm » Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:19 am

Dave

I think I was looking through that exact thread while I was deciding whether to buy the seed. It makes sense that their preferences would change; I imagine their nutritional requirements are quite different depending on their activities.

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Re: Seed taste test

Post by wildbird » Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:38 pm

The chia and sesame will probably go first. I give a pinch of chia on top of dry food. Don't have any sesame. The quinoa can be cooked. Mine don't really like it, so I haven't offered it in a long time. Sometimes they will eat a little couscous cooked. I offer them Japanese millet seed, Healthy Select Finch and Canary seed, canary grass seed, white prozo millet seed, hulled oats, and the Javas get some Goldenfeast Australian Blend once a week.

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Re: Seed taste test

Post by Icearstorm » Sun Nov 11, 2018 10:30 am

wildbird

Thank you! Mine haven't gone near it yet, but I'll give them some more time.

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Re: Seed taste test

Post by Icearstorm » Fri Jan 11, 2019 3:54 pm

The results:
Favorite: Amaranth and sesame
Will eat: White Quinoa, Tricolored Quinoa
Pretty much no: Yellow flax
Didn't touch: Brown flax, chia, black quinoa, perle morbide

I'll keep trying these and see how their preferences change. I also got anise seed, timothy and alfalfa grass cubes, and Roudybush pellets, but it's too early to tell if they like the anise or are actually eating the grass, rather than just using it to build a nest. They seem meh about the pellets, but ate a few along with the seed once I ground them. I remembered I had spirulina, and they quite like it, so I added to their eggfood and mixed veggies while they were moulting. They look great, so I guess something worked. Unfortunately, Tacocat still gets that grey stripe down his deck feather no matter what I feed him; I figure it's probably genetic. The Feather Fast came in and they eat food dusted with it, but they were mostly done moulting by then.

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Re: Seed taste test

Post by Dave » Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:12 pm

Icearstorm, that is a nice post.

What kind of finches do you have?

At one time earlier this fall I posted about rape seed (canola) and how my birds weren't eating any.

My canaries live in an unheated aviary. Now that it has gotten cold, quite often below 32° F (0° C) at night they eat quite a bit of rape seed, along with brown flax and sunflower chips. About 1/4 of their seed usage is canary seed. The amount of boiled egg they eat has dropped way back. They still eat a lot of greens, which I offer when the temperature is above freezing.

That is way too much in the oily seed category, but their aviary is 18' x 6', with two outside cages attached, so they get a lot of exercise. The birds look good and even at 9:45 hours of light the hens are fooling around with some nests.

Where do you buy amaranth?

I had the same results with Perle Morbide. Finally I put it out for the wild birds and they didn't go for it, either.
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Re: Seed taste test

Post by Icearstorm » Fri Jan 11, 2019 6:44 pm

Dave

They're all societies, and are in an indoor flight (4' x 1.5' x 4.5' tall). I haven't noticed a large difference in their eating habits, except that sometimes they eat more of the dry eggfood and other times they only want fresh. I find it interesting that the finches only seem to eat what they need; if you gave an unlimited amount of a variety of food to a budgie or a dog or a lizard, it would probably just eat its favorite and become fat, but that hasn't been a problem with the finches. The only time I've noticed them getting fat deposits is if they're in a breeding cage and don't have much room to fly.

I got amaranth at Earth Fare; they sell a bunch of organic stuff in bulk for a semi-reasonable price. Even if they are a bit on the expensive side, the birds don't eat nearly as much as a human, so I don't mind buying bird food at 2-5x the price per pound as my own food. There's also a seed and feed store nearby, so I'll have to check them out too.

I tried the perle morbide dry, so that could have been the problem. But if I need to wet it to get them to eat it, then what's the point? I might as well only feed fresh veggies, since the whole point of using a "soaked seed replacement" (in my opinion) is being able to stock a feeder with it so the birds can eat it at any time. Looking at the ingredients online, I don't see how it has similar nutrition to soaked seed or green veggies; it's mostly corn and wheat, so it doesn't seem to be any better than a good-quality pellet that you could get for a fraction of the cost. The perle morbide I have was a free sample from a bird show, so I'm not particularly salty, but still.


So their diet looks something like this right now:

Available at all times:
-White proso millet
-Canary grass (bought at bird show, $2/lb)
-Black oil sunflower (barely eat it; will remove)
-Roudybush pellet, ground (recent addition)
-Herb salad (don't eat much)
-Oyster shell, ground
-Salt block, roughened with knife (recent addition)
-Charcoal (recent addition)
-Mineral block (recent addition)
-Clay block (they don't like it much)
-Cuttlebone
-Foraging toy (they ignore it)

Not available at all times:
-Vegetables (broccoli tops every other day; riced broccoli, carrot, cauliflower(?) mix other days); dusted with spirulina (less often when not moulting/breeding) and occasionally Feather Fast
-Timothy hay/alfalfa cubes, shredded
-Seeds listed in post above
-Boiled egg with shell, ground, dusted with Rep-Cal (supplement not necessary; will not use once I cook up next batch)
-Dry eggfood (available 24/7 when moulting and breeding)
-Spray millet
-Rolled oats (a favorite)
-Nut museli (can't remember which brand, but no added sugar, salt, preservatives, color, flavor, or other ingredients; they love it)

Items available at all times are offered separately and water is plain, so birds have more control over what they eat. I also use supplements on food sparingly since overdosing is a concern. There has been little waste, and I can easily monitor what they are eating. I'm working on making other dry food feeders so I can add the seeds and other dry ingredients to the enclosure, but for now, they get some in the same container as the veggies or when they're out of the flight. When I need to get the birds out of breeding mode for the year, I don't provide them any of the extras for a couple of weeks, and then keep eggfood away for most of the nonbreeding season; this has worked in the past.

I managed to get a lot of this stuff for cheaper than it is listed by ordering a bunch of add-ons at one time and going to stores in person where things may be offered for less. A few of the items were also free at a local bird show (herb salad, perle morbide, foraging toy). I'm still seeing what they like and trying to introduce them to new foods (sweet potato would be good), but they seem to be getting good nutrition. I'm also considering using powdered egg whites for a high-protein supplement or addition to a breeding diet, as it is 90% protein; commercial dry eggfood mixes are only about 14% protein, so mixing in a few tablespoons of powdered egg white should bring the protein up. I also read this article, and it recommended leaving in a container of epsom salt, as well.

I'll probably be taking an animal nutrition course next year... I expect I'll learn that all this is a bit excessive :/

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Re: Seed taste test

Post by Dave » Fri Jan 11, 2019 8:44 pm

The animal nutrition course will be interesting. I don't know that chicken / turkey / game bird nutrition guidelines transfer well to finches. Are there many peer-reviewed studies on finch feeding?

I also offer almost everything in separate dishes, so it is easy to monitor what they're taking.

Years ago there was a pigeon book written by a man that raised thousands of birds to sell the squabs. ('The Pigeon' by Wendell L Levy. He's been dead for years but the book is periodically re-published). He fed his pigeons a mineral grit mix, corn, milo, wheat and peas (dried). Nothing else. He was successful, year after year. That has always made me wonder. He also pointed out that his birds changed what they ate, depending on the season and nesting stage.
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Re: Seed taste test

Post by isobea » Mon Jan 14, 2019 11:28 pm

Icearstorm - Hi, I would monitor how much sesame they eat. It is a very oily seed (sesame seed oil) and might not be the best in larger quantities for societies. They, like waxbills, should eat mostly starchy seeds.
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Re: Seed taste test

Post by Icearstorm » Thu Jan 17, 2019 7:57 pm

Dave

Oh whoops, I had the window open to respond to you a few days ago, but I guess I forgot :/

I imagine poultry nutrition will not translate perfectly for finches, but it is a good place to start. Both are monogastric omnivores, so it's likely that they have similar essential nutrients that they must consume (unlike ruminants, which seem to have no requirement to consume any specific amino acids since they get enough from digesting microbes that live in the rumen). I figure the class will at least give me a basic idea of how nutrition works and how it doesn't.

There don't seem to be many articles on finch nutrition; Google scholar turns up plenty of human nutrition articles by a guy named Finch, but hardly any finch nutrition articles specifically. Finch keeping is pretty niche and doesn't play much of a role in the economy here, so it might be difficult for scientists to get funding for research. The way of studying dietary requirements may also be opposed by many aviculturists. Since experimental nutrition studies provide groups with different levels of a specific nutrient, one or more of the groups will not be getting optimal nutrition, and may suffer as a result. Experimental studies also benefit by killing animals and analyzing their tissue and bone composition at different stages of life, which I don't imagine most finch-keepers would be particularly pleased with. Maybe they could use other methods of data collection instead (behavior, poop composition, etc), but this may be too time-intensive or ineffective.

I think I've heard of him. Simple diets can certainly be effective. Just look at poultry and swine feed; it's primarily soy, corn, and supplements. While something so restricted may not be the absolute best, there are no doubts that it does work, as evidenced by the success of commercial animal agriculture. It seems that if you know exactly what your animals need, they'll do well on a diet that meets those requirements, even if it uses only a handful of ingredients.

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Re: Seed taste test

Post by Icearstorm » Thu Jan 17, 2019 7:59 pm

isobea

I haven't got it in there yet, so I suppose I could just offer it as a treat when they're free-flying.

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Re: Seed taste test

Post by Icearstorm » Thu Jan 17, 2019 8:03 pm

Taste test #3: I ate some of the brown flax. It's a source of omega-3, and pretty good (reminds me of barley, but only sorta). Maybe I'll taste the rest of the seeds and tell you what a human thinks of them? It looks like my birds don't like most of them, so I might as well eat the uncontaminated remainder.

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Re: Seed taste test

Post by isobea » Thu Jan 17, 2019 8:31 pm

Icearstorm - think if you want to add oily seeds to their diet, perilla seed (hard to find in the US) would be a healthier choice for your birds.
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Re: Seed taste test

Post by Icearstorm » Thu Jan 17, 2019 8:39 pm

isobea

Interesting; I don't think I've ever seen it. Thank you!

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