I know everyone’s heard of the virtues of sprouts at least once in their life, it’s a super food right? All the possibilities of the plant squeezed down into a tiny sprout, full of trace elements, minerals, vitamins, and oodles of things that I can’t spell, things that promote a healthy immune system, digestion, and overall health. As soon as a seed or grain starts to germinate all the stuff in them that require work to digest and store start to break down and turn into pure good stuff so there’s very little required to digest and make use of them, they’re like nature’s vitamins. Sprouts sold for people are fully sprouted plants and that might make it seem a little intimidating to think you need to produce that for your birds, but in fact you don’t. Sprouts are actually at their most nutritious when you first see a tail coming out of the hull, the whole process taking about 2 days.
By a landslide, the all time favorite around here is wheatberries and they’re all waiting every morning for them, in fact that is the only sprout I am feeding these days. Other great things to sprout…….brown and wild rice mix (takes longer to soak and germinate), sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, whole lentils, pretty much any whole grain or legume but keep in mind the size of your lovies….they like small things, and can be finicky (you know, in case you didn’t already know that :)) so plan on yours not appreciating all of these. Mine used to like sprouted mung beans and now don’t, some things they prefer more sprouted than others, and it varies between the birds, too. My birds don’t like the barely germinated sprouts as much as ones that are a bit more sprouted, so I never serve soaked for mine but that doesn’t mean yours won’t like them. You should serve a variety of stages of development to see which they prefer.
Whole Foods Store has a vast selection of whole grains and seeds in their bulk section: Japanese field rice, buckwheat, 3 or 4 kinds of wheat, mung beans, adzuki beans, other things I know I’m forgetting, but I used to would go in there and get a large variety and mix them together when I get home and that would be my sprouting mix. You can also sprout wild bird food….millet is great for sprouting and even milo which is not so good normally. You can sprout any seed mix that doesn’t have extra stuff in it. That makes it a great idea to try to keep a seed only mix on hand…mixes have lots of things that will spoil the whole process of sprouting.
I always recommend anyone start with wheat berries, they are inexpensive and readily available in bulk at Sprouts or WholeFoods. I have never heard of any lovebird not taking to wheat sprouts right away, they really are just like lovebird crack, it’s crazy. Here’s what I do, firstly I put a TINY bit of diluted bleach into a small container (I keep a bottle of water and bleach at a ratio of 10:1 under my sink for daily cleaning of birds’ dishes)
to head off any bacteria that might be there to produce fungus later, then I add filtered water (I always use filtered water for my birds), then add whatever I am soaking. Let that soak for about 10 hours (even soaked seeds are better for your birds than unsoaked seed!) then I pour it into a small colander with small holes (mine are from the dollar store) and rinse thoroughly. I place the original container under the colander to catch drips and cover the top with a wet paper towel to prevent drying out. I rinse about 3-4x each day and do this for about 1.5 days (depending on temp and humidity!), at which point wheat berries are perfect for my lovies!. When you decide they are ready to be stored in the fridge you want to be sure they are very well-drained, if they are wet they won’t keep long in the fridge. I put mine in a plastic baggie and squeeze out as much air as I can, these can stay in the fridge for up to a week if they are not too moist, you can smell when they start to go bad. To help keep it from being too wet, lately I’ve been putting a folded papertowel on top of the sprouts and putting it in the fridge top down, so if there’s too much water the towel soaks it up and I can easily toss it.
Sprouts are awesome for any lovebird but especially so for any lovebird who may be ill or undernourished. They’re also great for a lovebird who you might be trying to switch to a better diet. Once your lovie is eating the sprouts well, just sprinkle a bit of another new food on top of the sprouts, they’ll try it, it may take a time or two, but they’ll try it. In my experience birds who are eating sprouts are far accepting of other new foods. Sprouts are also a fun way to interact with your pet lovebird! If you already knew about sprouts, that’s awesome, but if not, I hope I gave you the courage to try, it really is easy and your lovebird will be so appreciative 🙂