Seeds We Feed Our Birds
By Jack Burn

For many years I like a lot of others have taken a lot of interest in the seeds we feed to our birds, not only in their food value but also where they are grown. You will find that seed grown in certain places have a higher food value than identical seed grown somewhere else. For instance, wheat grown in Tasmania is not as good for bread making as wheat grown in New South Wales, yet it is the same type of wheat. It all depends on the soil and the climate where this seed is grown and so it is with other seeds. You get some Canary seed that is better than others and so on. But, taken on average when tested they work out about the same to feed birds.

Here is an analysis of a number of seeds that have been tested in Australia.

 
 
    SEED     PROTEIN FIBRE   FAT  ASH CARBOHYDRATE
    RICE          8%    9%   2%   5%   65%
    OATS         12%   12%   4%   3%   58%
    WHEAT        12%   12%   2%   2%   72%
    CANARY       14%   21%   4%  10%   27%
    WHITE MILLET 13%    9%   2%   4%   62%
    MILLET SPRAY 15%   11%   6%   6%   51%
    JAP MILLET   15%   11%   6%   6%   60%
    PANNICUM     13%    9%   3%   4%   59%
    SUNFLOWER    15%   28%  25%   3%   17%
    NIGER        19%   14%  43%   3%   12%
    RAPE         20%    6%  45%   4%   18%
    FENNEL       16%   14%  12%   9%   32%
    CARAWAY      20%   16%  17%   7%   29%
    POPPY        21%    5%  50%   7%   10%
    LINSEED      24%    6%  37%   4%   22%
    SAFFLOWER    14%   28%  31%   3%   16%
    MILO         12%    2%   4%   2%   69%
 

This is what they are used for:

PROTEIN
This is for building up muscle tissue; protein provides the essential nutrients for building up muscle and for growth. Of course, if used in excess and no exercise it will just go to fat. All excess protein is stored as fat. The body must have exercise to use up the extra protein.

FAT
Any material excess to thy body's needs, will be stored as fat. Fat of course can be used to insulate Hie body in cold weather.

FIBRE
Fibre is essential to the body as it cleanses the digestive system, ours as well as the birds (we all should have plenty of fibre in our diet). It insures regularity of the bowel movements and help to assist the body to better utilise other much-needed vitamins and nutrients.

ASH
This gathers up the waste products of our bodies, it does the same for birds.

CARBOHYDRATES
This is most important as a fuel for the body. Carbohydrates in any food finally end up as glucose and are essential in all diets. Foods high in carbohydrates yield more energy and again any excess ends up as fat. However, excess carbohydrates are not as harmful as excess protein. A diet high in protein combined with exercise will be good for building up muscle. A diet high in carbohydrates will be for energy and endurance. Now I don't say you have to use all of these seeds, but from the list you can work out what you think is a well balanced diet that will suite your birds and keep them active, warm and healthy.

Make sure that the seed is fresh, clean and free from dust and dirt and is not contaminated by mice or rat droppings as these can often carry fatal diseases. You can try feeding various seeds in separate containers and by checking on the quantity consumed; you can find out the bird's preferences and tailor the mix accordingly. Be wary of excessive consumption of the fat rich seeds as some birds will eat these exclusively and thus will not receive a balanced diet. I have separate mixes for winter and summer and also a breeding mix. You must have good mixes for breeding to be a success.

Copyright remains with the author.

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