Diet confusion

Learn what to feed your birds.
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Dave H
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Diet confusion

Post by Dave H » Tue Jun 18, 2019 3:41 pm

The following 3 paragraphs are from 3 seperate 'reputable' sites. I'm confused with what I should be feeding my Finches & as Im a completely new bird person, I just want to do right by my birds.


Fruits and veg should be fed daily, making up 50% of the food offered to your finches (25% if you are feeding pellets). All leftovers need to be removed from the cage at the end of the day, as they quickly spoil and rot (or attract mice, rats and wasps in aviaries).

Because seeds should not comprise more than 20% of what a finch consumes on a daily basis, a total of 80-100% of the diet should be provided "from the kitchen".
Fruits and vegetables should always be fresh, prepared hygienically, and removed from the enclosure within 4 hours to prevent spoilage.

Seeds should only be a small part of a balanced diet but should never be the entire diet. Pellets should ideally represent approximately 75-80% of the bird's diet. 

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Re: Diet confusion

Post by Dave » Tue Jun 18, 2019 5:56 pm

And you've hit on the difficulty of working out nutrition plans for birds.

First of all--the word 'finch' is too broad. There are species differences that should be taken into account. If we really knew what we were doing, that is.

There isn't much actual scientific research done on finch nutrition. Most of what you read are people's opinions based on watching caged birds over time.

The things that I look at to help figure out nutrition on my birds:
---do they molt at the right time and end up with a nice looking new set of feathers?

---do they breed at the right time of year (depending on species)?

---do their nests have a good number of eggs with firm shells?

---do the young hatch out properly and grow on schedule to the fledgling stage?

---do your birds have a normal lifespan?

Nutrition affects all those factors, but there are other issues that can also affect those factors.

Using a nutrition program that long-time breeders are successful with is a good way to start. There probably isn't a need to re-invent this.

By the way--many people here are not happy with the results from pellets (but some are very happy with them). I don't know what the majority would say about pellets.
Dave

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Re: Diet confusion

Post by Dave » Tue Jun 18, 2019 5:57 pm

Dave H, which three sites are you quoting?
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Dave H
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Re: Diet confusion

Post by Dave H » Tue Jun 18, 2019 7:01 pm

vca.hospitals & omlett. Can't seem to find the other one but I'm sure I originally found it typing 'correct Finch diet' in Google :roll:

I really new to the hobby & the info out there is like a big old confusing mine-field to me. Its all a bit overwhelming.
My Societys are seed addicts & I'm struggling a bit with the veg feeding. I have only seen 1 of them eating a carrot & egg food mix I put in. The other just eats millet & the 24/7 seed supply. I put a steamed mix of carrot, broccoli, sweetcorn & peas in a few hours ago but am yet to see them touch it. They're sleeping on their perch at the minute & Im not sure if to remove it soon because its been in there around 4ish hours now. Should I just persevere with that veg mix? Or try them on some leafy greens? (Which Im yet to do)

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Re: Diet confusion

Post by wildbird » Tue Jun 18, 2019 11:48 pm

This is what I feed my three Societies. They look good and it works for me. They get free choice seed mix: Healthy Select Finch and Canary seed from Petco, white prozo millet seed, canary grass seed, a treat cup with a little japanese millet seed from ladygouldianfinch.com. In a small saucer I put in about 6 or 8 frozen, then cooked peas and corn. I grate a little fresh carrot and dice an organic apple all in the same dish. It goes in about 10 am and I take it out about 6 pm. It's usually gone by then anyway. They get small pieces of dandelion greens (which they love), clipped to the cage wire. Sometimes I put chopped kale in a small cup. They love Twin Beaks Herb Salad and dried greens. There is a cuttlebone provided and crushed oyster shell, Higgins Mineral Mix, Bird Health Grit (ladygouldian.com), charcoal, kelp in one dish. They are all males, but sometimes I give a little finely crushed egg shell with the mineral mix. If they are molting, I give some Quicko dried egg food (Petco). They always have lots of seed to eat, as they are seed eaters. They also get fresh bottled spring water. And they have access to a separate dish for a bath.

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Re: Diet confusion

Post by Dave H » Wed Jun 19, 2019 2:31 am

That sounds like a great menu!

And have you developed that through trial & error, or did you just stick with that until they took to it?

I work 12hr shifts for 5 days, then Im off for 5 days, so the timing of when I put in fresh food can vary? Will that confuse them? Like, do they do better off a consistent routine?

I never see them on the cage floor. They prefer to sit on their high roosting perch, unless its their 'active time' when theyre energeticly flying from perch to perch. However, Im gradually moving their food & water lower down to encorage them to be comfortable with the floor space. My avian lamp set up is arriving later today so hopefully, that will help illuminate the floor space a bit more.

I removed their grit bowl as I read it can be bad for them. Should I re-add that or is it not essential?

Im sorry. I have so many questions, & I really appreciate your help & advice

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Re: Diet confusion

Post by wildbird » Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:13 pm

Just don't put in much fresh food so that they will eat all of it before it spoils. I give mine a piece of dandelion green leaf and leave it in all day. It just dries up if they don't eat it, but they usually do. They like a schedule, but they can adjust to different times. I've heard that about grit too, but I still offer it to mine. If they want it, it's there. To start off with, you can offer a small amount of grit, but they still need crushed oyster shell. At first, you can put in oyster shell and sprinkle a little mineral grit, charcoal, salt on top. See what they do. Mine is on the floor. You might try putting a small rock or lava rock on the floor to encourage them to come down. Even a small tree branch for a perch right next to the floor might help.

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Re: Diet confusion

Post by Icearstorm » Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:19 pm

Dave H

Nutrition is definitely confusing. But from what I've seen from most finch keepers, a diet of grain seed, vegetables, and calcium sources can be provided free choice. Egg, fattier seeds, and sprouted seed are also good, but may need to be limited depending on the birds and time of the year. Some birds also enjoy livefood (insects), which need to be provided for waxbills and certain softbills to successfully breed. Pellets aren't as common for finches, possibly because the nutritional requirements for finches are not fully understood, so a full-pellet diet is unlikely to be the best.

I should be taking a course on animal nutrition later this year, so hopefully that will be of some use.

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Re: Diet confusion

Post by Dave » Thu Jun 20, 2019 9:05 am

Just to be sure everyone is one the same page:

***'Grit' means small pieces of sharp stone, like granite. It is fed to poultry and other birds that eat their seed whole. They don't hull the seed, and the grit in their gizzard helps them grind the seed. Finches do not need this.

***A better term than grit, at least for finches, is Mineral Supplement. Finches don't need sharp stones to grind their seed, because they hull the seed as they eat it. Mineral Supplement for finches has calcium, usually from mollusk shells, plus other minerals like magnesium, copper etc.

I do remove the Mineral Supplement from cages with new fledglings, because in their ignorance they will sometimes over-eat it. I put it back after a few days.
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Re: Diet confusion

Post by wildbird » Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:45 pm

Some of the labeling is misleading. Higgins Sunburst has "mineral grit with oyster shells" and Kaytee has "high calcium grit", ladygouldian.com has "bird health grit" which has the mollusk shells in it and similar to Abbas, but ground up more.

Dave H
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Re: Diet confusion

Post by Dave H » Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:44 am

I'll be going out soon & getting some oyster shell then. Im not entirely comfortable leaving grit in there but what do I know. Im way too new to this to make a definitive judgement on it, however, the stuff Ive read makes me a bit dubious. Im 90% happy with the diet side now, mainly cuz theyre more settled with it. Veg is carrots, peas, sweetcorn & a bit of dill mixed in with some egg food. They LOVE the sweetcorn. Cabbage leaf goes down well too. Then there's the constant seed supply.
Just need to get them to bath now & I'll feel much better. The branch going down to the floor is a great idea, so will try that. They have a ladder leading to the bath but doesn't seem to coax them towards it

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Re: Diet confusion

Post by Dave H » Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:45 am

Oh & they have cuttle bone in there 24/7. Wish I could figure out how to post pics

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