Feeding Finches: Proper Diet and Nutrition

Feeding Finches: Proper Diet and Nutrition

Seed

Part of this section is to discuss the dietary requirements of your finch throughout the year. For those trying to breed their finches you must understand that certain species of finch require set nutritional feeds during and prior to breeding. But before we go in that section let’s focus on what seeds are offer substantial nutrition for your finch. Finches in their natural environment feed on a variety of foods and not just seeds. Yes it may be an easy solution for us bird keepers to just pour and fill the feeding station with a box of seed purchased from coles or the local pet store but I am sure that overtime you will start to notice a large amount of wasted untouched seed remaining. If you are happy with this result by all means continue, your other option is to develop your own mix of seed.

Dry seed forms the basis on any finch diet. Most of the prepacked finch seeds purchased at local pet sores includes the following mix of seeds:

  • Yellow Pannicum
  • Japanese Millet
  • White French Millet
  • Red Pannicum
  • Shirohie Millet

Some prepacked mixes labelled as Finch or Canary Blend may also include Canola seed, Linseed, Hulled Oats and also Fine Shell Grit.

Don’t be afraid to ask your local Bird shop or supplier what mix of seeds they have available. I know my local Birds Shop supplies a premium grade finch mix which includes Canary Seed, Yellow Pannicum, Japanese Millet and White French Millet. I also provide a separate feeding station for Red Pannicum alone. I know of a few breeders who only provide Red Pannicum as the base diet and conclude that is very acceptable and preferred by their finches. I must admit I have yet to do this myself but will report back.

You may notice that some pet shops sell little bags of seeds separately off the shelf. A few of these seeds may include:

  • Niger
  • Hulled oats
  • Black and white lettuce
  • Phalaris

Be mindful that these seeds are quite costly in comparison to the prepacked or mixes offered from your local store and also monitor your supply as generous and copious amounts of this may cause obesity to certain species of finch.

Greens

Greens play a very important role in the well being of Australian Finches. The use of Greens during the breeding season is equally important and assist in the rearing of Finch chicks. The terms Greens actually refers to half-ripe grass seeds, broad plants and weed seeds.
Examples of Greens – Milk Thistle, Pit Pit Grass, Chickweed, Dock.
Not all breeders will have access to to greens and so alternative methods are used. This is knowns as Sprouted Seed. Sprouted is actually dry seed that has been washed and placed in a moist environment allowing the seed to germinate or at least reach the first signs of sprouting. During this initial period the seeds hold high nutritional value and are a well received treat for any species of finch.  Of course this process doesn’t happen straight away  bacteria may form around the seeds, this needs to be addressed before you feed the sprouted seed to your birds. Begin by thoroughly washing the sprouts through clean fresh water. this should get things moving long nicely. To effectively kill off all of those threats such as bacteria, yeast and fungus you will need to run the sprout through a broad spectrum disinfectant. Virkon S is a well utilised disinfectant and achieves safe results. You can

PREPARATION of SOAKED SEED:
As advised by CF Aviaries.
1. Place required amount of seed in small ice-cream bucket and fill container to top with water.
2. Add small amount of one of the many brands of chlorhexidine solutions available to the water.
3. Leave on top of fridge or somewhere warmer for about 24 hours -or basically until the seed has swelled with water.
4. At end of 24 hours wash through a sieve with clean water and place sieve onto a sponge to draw the water through. Make sure that you DON’T take all of the moisture from the seed.
5. Place somewhere warm (mine into the mealworm room at around 25 degrees Celsius) until seed is beginning to sprout or is at the stage that you wish to feed.
6. Place unused portion

in fridge until required. Some may frown at this last step but that is ‘what works for me’.
7. Before serving place a multi-vitamin powder over the seed.

The seed used is the finch mix previously mentioned with extra Red pannicum added. During the breeding season we also supply soaked Grey sunflower which is relished by the cup nesting finches and, perhaps surprisingly, by a wide variety of ‘normal’ finches. This soaking is also reputed to lower the oil content of the seed if you have any such worries. The Sunflower seed is soaked using the same technique as outlined above.

 Livefood

I must admit that in first year of finch keeping I never really knew what to do with Live-food and finches. I would also see that illustrious Tub sitting at the bottom of the fridge at the store and always walked on by. And in saying that I did have success in breeding. But I soon started realise that providing these sources of nutrition is rather important for both the parents and their young.  The live-food I am referring to above is known as mealworms. A mealworm is the larval form of the mealworm beetle. They are high in protein which makes them very useful as a food source.  A fairly inexpensive livefood and readily available at most bird / reptile and pet stores across Australia. They are particularly important  during the breeding season. I have continue to offer mealworms during fledging and weaning.

Alternative livefood types include: Termites, Fly larvae, white worms. I cannot say that I have been involved in live food apart form mealworms but have heard that all have equal amounts of success.

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