Sprouting Seeds - Lady Gouldian Finch
Nature's Miracle Food
Unbalanced diets leads to other problems like organ failure, cancer or immune system suppression that eventually cost the bird it's life. Sprouted seeds, will help balance your bird's diet by adding a nutritious supply of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, chlorophyll, and protein.
Good Quality Seed a Must
For success with sprouting, use quality seeds. Soaked and "just-sprouted" "oil" seeds eg: niger and rape are rich in protein and carbohydrates while "starch" seeds eg: canary and millets are rich in carbohydrates but lower in protein. When germinating seeds the starch is transformed into glucose and this in turn is more readily absorbed into the digestive system.
Niger Seed is one of the many kinds of oily or fatty seeds that is suitable for inclusion in the diet of Gouldian finches. Niger seeds are very beneficial to Gouldians during the colder parts of the year, but they also should be available to hens in the spring prior to the breeding season. Niger seeds are high in protein (about 21%) and extremely high in oil (fat about 40%) and Carbohydrate at about 13%. They contain almost 4% minerals, including relatively high amounts of calcium and potassium. Additionally, essential amino acids including lysine, cystine, tyrosene, and methionine make this an all together very useful addition to the diet. However, it should not form more than 5% of the total diet and it only should be purchased in small amounts at a time as its high fat content renders it quickly rancid if damaged or spoiled.
Gouldians are crazy about Millet Spray!
Gouldians will spend hours busy in a bunch of millet sprays hung up in the corner of their cage or aviary. In order to provide my "Fussy Eaters" their required supplements (after refusing to eat anything but seed), I use "soaked" spray millet and they are crazy about it!
Many of my "Fussy Eaters" will not eat "Soft Food". However, they will eat fruits, vegetables and greens. Sprinkling the Feather Fast or Breeders Blend on their "Deli Plate" is another way to get them to eat the additional supplements that they require especially during breeding and molting season.
How much to sprout
You will have to do some experimenting to determine how much sprouted seed your birds will consume and how frequently you wish to feed the seed. This will help you decide with how much to start. Keep in mind that the seed will double in volume with sprouting and that you may store the finished living sprouts in the refrigerator for two or three days.
There are many good ways to sprout. The most common method is jar sprouting. The size of the container will depend on the number of birds in your flock. In these instructions I will assume that you are using a 1 quart sprout jar.
Ideal Sprouting Temperature
The ideal sprouting temperature is between 65 to 75 degrees.
Maximum Enzyme Activity
Keep your sprouts in indirect light and allow no more than 1/4 inch growth for their maximum enzyme activity.
Important Rules of Sprouting
Always use a good quality water, either bottled, purified or water generated by reverse osmosis. We all not know that there may be pathogenic bacteria and parasites in our tap water. I do not have either of the before mentioned water options. I receive my water from a well. I use Aviclens or Saniclens in my water to stop all the algae bacteria, fungi etc. growing. This makes it far more healthy for my birds to drink as well as making it much easier to clean out drinkers.
Safe Clean Water up to Three Days
I use Virkon S or Aviclens for soaking my seeds. Many nasty germs (particularly yeast) are present on the surface and in the nooks and crannies in seeds. They multiply like mad when the seed is moistened. Unlike products like Vanodine, which stops working in a matter of hours, Aviclens will be effective for at least three days. This means safe clean water even for birds that poop in their drinkers. For busy bird keepers changing water need not be a daily chore. It is particularly useful when I go away for a weekend.
No Harm to the Good Bacteria in the Gut
Aviclens is used in tiny doses. In theory, there is only enough there to stop microbial multiplication rather than to kill the bugs. When it is swallowed by the bird, it is immediately swamped by all the food and organic matter in the gut so it has no negative effect on the beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Aerate / Over-Crowd
Aerate your sprouting seed mix by rotating the jar or container several times during each 24 hour period. Do not over-crowd your seed.
Drain your seed mix well after each rinse.
Fresh and Sweet Smell
Smell the seed and even taste it before you feed it to your birds. It should smell fresh, sweet and healthy. If in doubt, do not feed.
How to Sprout
You will be amazed at just how simple the procedure is. Some of the benefits that I have seen since starting my sprouting program are an increase in chick survival and faster molting into adult feather. To me, this is a tremendous benefit for a routine that takes about 5 minutes a day.
1. Add 1-2 inches of seed to your sprout jar. Fill with quality water to within one inch of the top. Screw on your wire sprouting lid. Swirl several times to mix and invert the jar to drain. Repeat this step. The draining water should appear fairly clear after the second rinse, but, if in doubt, rinse a third time.
2. Add 7 drops (¼ ml) per 16 fl.oz. or 18 drops per quart of Aviclens to your rinsed seed.
3. Add 2 cups (16 fl.oz.) of quality water to your seed. Stir the mixture with a large spoon to mix the Aviclens with the soaking seed mixture.
4. Leave the jar on your kitchen counter or other surface for minimum 3 hours to maximum of 4 hours. Soaking it longer makes it soggy, slower to dry increasing the risk of pathogens.
5. Invert the jar in the sink to drain and allow your sprouts plenty of air between rinsing.
6. Rinse your seed mix once as you did in step 1. This time be sure to drain thoroughly to remove all standing water.
7. You are now ready to begin sprouting by simply placing the jar with the bottom of the jar elevated to an approximately 45 degree angle. Better results will be achieved, if you can aerate the sprouting seeds by rotating the jar several times during the next 24 hour period.
8. After 24 hours repeat steps 6 and 7.
9. At the end of another 24 hours you may chose to feed sprouts. Seeds develop at different rates, but most are ready at three or four days. If you store mature sprouts in an airtight jar or bag in your refrigerator, they will stay fresh for three days.
Sprouted seed should be fed daily during the breeding & molting seasons, and twice a week during the resting season. Do not feed sprouted seed during periods of austerity. Offer only enough sprouted seed that will be eaten within 24 hours.
Teacher Birds to Improve Diet
If you have birds which seem to enjoy dry seeds only, sprouting seeds can be the answer toward providing them with all the vital nutrients. To overcome this see "Teacher Bird" for some other helpful hints to expand your birds diets.
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