The Basics of the Chop Concept

An Easy, Nutritious Way to Feed Your Birds

Patricia Sund

"Chop" refers to a finely chopped mix of cooked and uncooked food such as vegetables, grains, and seeds that you can feed your pet birds. The mix allows you to incorporate a diverse array of nutritious ingredients into your bird's daily diet that you otherwise couldn’t include every day without an enormous amount of waste. The "chop concept" is a method of preparing chop and feeding your birds that provides them with the nutrition benefits of chop while freeing you from chopping vegetables twice a day, every day. Not only can you make a big batch of chop all at once, but you can freeze it in meal-size portions taking a serving out the night before to thaw in the refrigerator for the next day’s meals. It’s not unlike making a large batch of spaghetti sauce and freezing it for later use. If you’re going to make it, you might as well make a lot of it. 

Following the Chop Concept

"Chop” is easy, quick, convenient, and extremely nutritious for your birds. But it is only as nutritious and healthy for them as the ingredients you choose to put in it. The wider the variety and the more nutritious the ingredients, the better it will be for your flock. 

To put the "chop concept" into action, you'll start by setting aside the time to make a big batch of chop, bag it into individual servings, and freeze it. Depending on how big the batch is, how many birds you are feeding, and the ingredient's freezer life, a big batch can last weeks or even months. 

What to Include in Your Chop

What ingredients to include in your chop mix is entirely up to you. Do your research on healthy food for your species of parrot to learn what is healthy and nutritious for them. Often, chop is made up of lots of leafy green vegetables as well as cooked brown or wild rice, cooked whole wheat pasta, cooked quinoa, soaked and cooked beans, root vegetables, squash, and other healthy ingredients. Adding dry ingredients such as raw uncooked oatmeal, wheat grass powder, healthy seeds such as hemp seed and flax seed, coconut chips, and even tiny uncooked orzo pasta will keep the chop drier, which results in a better frozen product. Your frozen chop will last longer if you keep it on the dry side. 

Making your big batch of chop over a two-day period is often the easiest method. On the first day, cook the pasta, rice, beans and other items that need cooking and refrigerate them. On day two, shop for the fresh vegetables, prepare them, and add them to your cooked items. 

Adding other healthy toppings such as fresh fruit, a drizzle of flax seed oil, or extra seed such as milk thistle seed will get your birds interested in the chop and can keep them interested by adding more variation to the appearance and flavor. 

Vegetable Ingredients

Consider including a mix of:             

  • Carrots with tops
  • Broccoli rabe
  • Celery with leaves
  • Acorn or other orange squash
  • Green cabbage
  • Purple cabbage
  • Kale
  • Beet tops
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Green pepper
  • Collard greens
  • Watercress
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow squash
  • Red pepper
  • Ginger root
  • Nori (Japanese seaweed)
  • Broccoli slaw,
  • Jalapeno peppers,
  • Poblano peppers
  • Cooked beans
  • Cooked lentils
  • Unsweetened coconut 
  • Turnips
  • Parsnips
  • Jicama
  • Dandelion greens
  • Swiss chard
  • Asparagus
  • Cilantro
  • Daikon radish
  • Brussels sprouts

Grain and Seed Ingredients

Balance your vegetable choices with dry ingredients like:

  • Quinoa
  • Brown and wild rice
  • Dry oatmeal
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Hemp seed
  • Rape seed
  • Flax seed
  • Wheat grass powder
  • Spelt
  • Celery seed
  • Amaranth
  • Boiled popcorn

Preparing the Chop for the Freezer

First, cook your ingredients that require cooking. Then using a food processor, roughly chop your vegetables and add them to the cooked food and dry ingredients. Mix it well, place in zip-lock bags, and store in the freezer until ready to use. Do not over process the vegetables. You want them appropriately sized for your flock, but you don’t want “mush.” Pulsing the food processor is the easiest way to ensure you get a nice rough cut on the vegetables.