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  Two lineolated parakeets eat sprouted seedsSprouted seeds are a very healthy treat for birds, provided that this fresh food has been properly prepared. Please note that sprouted seeds spoil quickly, and may cause severe damage to your birds' health if fed in a spoilt state. For this reason, some experts and breeders advise against feeding sprouted seeds at all, which in my view is an over-reaction. If you prepare the seeds carefully and do not store them for too long or inappropriately, they are a very tasty supplement to your birds' menu without being a risk to its health.

Which seeds can you use?
Almost all food mixtures contain hulled oats, which the animals do not have to dehusk. These oats are not suitable for sprouting, as they perish and decay quickly. Hulled oats mostly don't sprout, they simply soften and get pulpy. Thus, you should not use food mixtures containing hulled oats for the preparation of sprouted seeds.

Quite a few specialised dealers offer special mixtures for sprouted seeds for budgies and other bird species. You can buy these mixtures on the internet and can be sure that the grains are suitable for sprouting.

First and foremost: Hygiene!
This budgie loves to eat sprouted seedsThe preparation and storing of sprouted seeds must be done under strict hygienic conditions. Sprouted seeds spoil easily and will smell sourly or rot or molder. Never feed rotten or mouldy food to your animals! Throw away spoiled food, even if only a small part of the food is spoiled - please throw everything away, as mildew threads may already riddle the food, but are not visible to the naked eye!

 Also, never leave sprouted seeds in the cage for more than 4 hours, particularly in summer, as they will rot quickly. After consumption, clean cups thoroughly with hot water and/or an appropriate disinfectant to eliminate potential bacteria, mildew etc.

Preparing sprouted seeds
Put the seeds into a sieve (preferably plastic) and rinse under the tap, cover them with water and let them swell for 8 hours maximum (e.g. over night). I use a standard pot, and leave it, uncovered, in the kitchen. Do not leave the seeds to swell for more than 8 hours, as they will begin to ferment.

After max. 8 hours, rinse the seeds again in a sieve under the tap. Let the water drip off, then suspend the sieve over the pot. Cover the sieve lightly with the pot's lid to keep dust off. Now leave the seeds to sprout for 24 to 48 hours at a constant temperature. A plastic sieve is the best choice, as a metal sieve may oxidize, although most metal sieves are made of "stainless" steel. But experience has shown that most "stainless" steel sieves do not pass the "sprouted seeds test".

To avoid mildew, I rinse the sprouting seeds about every 12 hours under the tap. After sprouting und repeated rinsing you can feed the sprouted seeds to your birds. Mine prefer seeds that have sprouted between 24 and 36 hours. They don't like seeds that have sprouted longer as much. Apparently "over-sprouted" seeds don't taste as good as seeds with tiny, barely visible sprouts. At the latter stage the seeds have the highest content of vital substances.

Storing sprouted seeds
Sprouted seeds are a favourite food of many pet birdsYou can keep sprouted seeds in the fridge for up to 3 days, but should use them quickly and rinse them thoroughly before serving it. Please remember to let them acclimatize to room temperature first. If you feed them straight out of the fridge, they are too cold for the bird's crop, and could lead to serious inflammations. Neither do birds like moist sprouted seeds. After rinsing, let the water drip off before feeding the sprouted seeds to your parakeets. This is the way I do it: rinse the seeds in a small plastic sieve. Take a clean tea towel and fold it several times. Put the sieve on the towel and leave it there for a few minutes. By then, the towel will have absorbed the excess water.

Prepare the right quantity
One teaspoon of sprouted seeds per bird and day. At first, your birds may hesitate to sample the food. Be patient! Once they're used to sprouted seeds, they'll love them and will enjoy their daily ration.

Tip: Shortly before serving, sprinkle fresh, chopped herbs on the sprouted seeds. Dried herbs are a tasty option, if you don't have fresh herbs at hand. My birds relish herb-flavored sprouted seeds. For those who don't want to go throught the trouble to prepare sprouted seeds as described above, check specialised dealers for sprouting devices.

Attention: This chapter was translated (German - English) by Claudia Neumann.

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