Bird Nutrition Birds Budgerigars Canaries Feeding Finches Parrots Seed Seed Mixes


Sound nutrition is about adequate nutrient delivery to birds daily according to their physiological needs at the time. It is about knowing what nutrients are needed and the amount being delivered to each bird daily to maintain its health, wellbeing, and reproduction.

The seed ingredients we feed are a means to an end. Feed ingredients are packets of nutrients which can be combined in numerous ways to meet the bird’s daily nutrient requirements. However, birds have preferences for certain ingredients, and this must be considered when choosing ingredients to be included in their daily diet. Choosing ingredients that contain components suitable for their ability to digest and assimilate nutrients from them is critical. Selecting ingredients that they like and are happy to consume daily is also important.


 Our first feeding philosophy is as follows. People may ask, why have we chosen to promote whole seed/grain feeding with appropriate nutrient supplementation to all aviculture species of birds in captivity? The reason is simple, whole seed/grain feeding is good for gizzard development and function with subsequent nutritional and health benefits. There is a myth out there that the gizzard is merely a glorified hammer mill designed to grind up seed/grain, and we can enhance this further by feeding a mash feed or pellet (which is a finely-ground feed, formed into a pellet) which quickly breaks down in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) into a fine meal-form. Nothing could be further from the truth. This food in meal-form has a significant adverse impact on gizzard development and function. This is reflected in gizzard size, which is much smaller in birds not fed on whole seed. The commercial Poultry Industry fed crumbles and pellets to their birds for many years and found that the addition of whole grain to these diets improved feed conversion and bird health. Gizzard development and function returned, when fed a proportion of whole grains/seeds, and there were positive nutrition and health benefits, particularly with the control of coccidiosis.

 Scientific evidence has shown that a fully developed and functional gizzard has both nutritional and health benefits. In addition to reducing particle size of the seed/grain entering the GIT, feeding whole seed allows proper gizzard development and function which also impacts significantly on critical GIT motility. In the GIT the duodenum is just below the gizzard, and bile acids and emulsifiers from the gall bladder and enzymes from the pancreas are secreted into the duodenum (upper part of the small intestine).  The fully functional gizzard has a significant influence on GIT motility, and there is a reverse peristalsis (backward flow) of food contents from the duodenum back into the gizzard. Through its muscle function, the gizzard enhances the mixing and exposure of these bile acids, emulsifiers and enzymes with the seed contents increasing the digestibility of the seed. In addition, these very potent bile acids lower the pH in the gizzard environment which assists in the activation of pepsinogen secreted in the proventriculus (located above the gizzard in the GIT, called the true stomach) to pepsin, an enzyme important for efficient protein digestion. This acidic condition within the gizzard is hazardous to potential pathogens, such as Salmonella Sp, pathogenic E. Coli, and Coccidia.  Without a proper developed and functioning gizzard, this reverse peristalsis does not take place to the potential detriment of the bird.

 Our second philosophy is as follows. Seeds are the main source of energy for birds providing starch and some sugars which are carbohydrates and are easily digested by the birds. The starches and sugars are ultimately broken down to its basic component, glucose, which is the primary source of energy for cells in the body. Some seeds contain other carbohydrates which are not so easily digested. These include cellulose, pectin, and other non-starch polysaccharides (NSP), such as arabinoxylans and β-glucans.  These carbohydrates, some of which are soluble and insoluble, are not digested in the GIT and these soluble NSPs can have an anti-nutritional effect on the bird by increasing the viscosity of GIT contents and thereby inhibiting key nutrient absorption. As an essential part of our supplementation philosophy, carbohydrase enzymes are included in our TummyRite™ Plus supplements to assist the bird in the digestion of these soluble NSP anti-nutritional carbohydrates. Also, additional enzymes are added to assist with the protein and fat digestibility present in the seed mixes, resulting in better utilisation of the seed.

Our third feeding philosophy concerns predominantly the Parrot seed mixes but applies to all seed mixes. Oilseeds such as Sunflower seed, Safflower seed, Rapeseed, Niger seed, Maw (poppy) seed should be used very sparingly in parrot diets. Parrots love these types of seeds, but the feeding of large quantities of these oilseed seeds to parrots over a prolonged period will lead to problems of obesity. Applied Nutrition's parrots’ mixes do contain small amounts of one or more of these seeds at levels below 1% or 2% and are restricted to ensure the total level of fat in all our seed mixes is no more than 5.0% to 5.5%.

Our fourth philosophy is that a single seed type or a combination of seeds do not meet the nutrient requirements of birds and therefore they need appropriate nutrient supplementation, including calcium, vitamins, trace minerals, selenium, and critical amino acids to meet their daily nutrient requirements at maintenance, for growth and feathering. The overfeeding of high protein, high fat seed mixtures or any seed mixtures without proper supplementation of key nutrients is not good for the birds as the amino acid balance is usually poor and can lead to obesity, particularly in birds being fed for maintenance. The amino acid requirements for birds at maintenance are very low which can be satisfied by a good seed mixture of low protein, low fat seeds with adequate supplementation. Many of our seeds, particularly the millets and buckwheat are low protein and low fat and are suitable. However, we just need to plug the essential amino acid and mineral deficiencies in these seed mixes made with these seeds with an appropriate supplement, such as TummyRite™ Plus. In breeding birds, obesity can lead to poor fertility and poor breeding performance. I will discuss in another blog about the effects of obesity in birds.

Our fifth feeding philosophy is as follows. Young Passerine and Psittacine birds grow extremely fast, especially in the first fourteen days of life, and therefore need additional balanced protein and essential amino acids to supplement their seed-based diet. The provision of a complete softfood diet such as Prosperity (for breeding birds) and StartRite (if you are hand-rearing birds) to supplement their seed mix is ideal for this purpose. Contact Applied Nutrition for further information on these products.

To meet the objectives above, and in line with our feeding philosophies, APPLIED NUTRITION has developed a range of PREMIUM FORTIFIED FORMULATED seed mixes which contain the appropriate TUMMYRITE™ PLUS supplements FORMULATED to provide those missing nutrients in the seeds we are feeding. TUMMYRITE™ PLUS coated on the outside of the seed contains over 50 components, providing both nutritional and health benefits. Our seed range provides birds with a full range of nutrients to ensure proper maintenance, growth and feathering of the birds in your care. See the individual TUMMYRITEbrochures for more details.

TUMMYRITE™ PLUS is much more than a nutrient balancer. TUMMYRITE™ PLUS also provides a range of natural specialty feed additives to allow the birds to cope with disease challenges, by binding pathogens, feeding the favourable micro-flora within the gastrointestinal tract, and enhancing the bird’s natural immunity.

Since 2015 field experiences in aviaries and bird rooms with seed mixes supplemented with TUMMYRITE™ PLUS have shown excellent results in maintaining the health and wellbeing of a range of aviculture bird species. For serious health and disease problems in your birds we recommend you consult your Avian Veterinarian.

For further information on our individual PREMIUM FORTIFIED FORMULATED Seed Mixes are under their respective products.

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