Sprouting is a wonderful way of feeding your birds a nutritional bonanza. And you can easily learn to do it in your own kitchen saving you money and a lot of worry. Many leaders in the field of Aviculture encourage sprouting.
Ann Brooks, Founder of Phoenix Landing, a Non-Profit, Parrot Welfare Organization strongly advocates sprouting: “In the wild, parrots feast on freshly harvested pods, nuts, fruits, legumes, flowers and seeds; in other words, live foods. In captivity, our foods are primarily processed or bought a few days after harvest. However, sprouts are alive and growing, and a real nutritional powerhouse for all birds, from parakeets to macaws!”
Sprouting can be done easily, efficiently and safely. Using basic equipment normally available in many stores and specialty shops. You can purchase organic sprout mix and begin kitchen farming almost immediately.
- Organic sprout mix
- Glass jars, bridal netting and a rubber band or a Sprouting Kit
- Grapefruit seed extract (Sometimes called GSE it is found at most health food stores and online. GSE has been found to have natural anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti bacterial agents.)
Pour the amount of sprouting mix needed in a clean, glass canning jar and fill with water. (Ball Brand mason jars work quite nicely and are commonly found in many grocery stores.) Add three or four drops of grapefruit seed extract. Place the netting over the mouth of the jar, fit the ring over the net, and screw the ring on to hold the netting in place omitting the metal cap. The ring with no top allows the jar to breathe through the netting. Refill and empty the water in the the jar several times. Drain and refill the water until the water rinses clean, clear and fresh. Refill the jar with lukewarm water until it covers the mix and let sit undisturbed overnight.
The following morning, drain the water and rinse the sprouts several times ensuring that the sprouts are rinsed and the water is clean and clear. Empty the jar of water keeping the netting on the jar and place the jar upside-down at a 45 degree angle on a dish rack or in a bowl so that any remaining water can escape and the mix is allowed to breathe. It is crucial that air circulates around the sprout mix inside the jar.
Repeat the rinsing process by rinsing the sprouts two to three times a day with fresh water and once again place the jar at a 45 degree angle to allow water to drain and the sprouts to breathe. Keep the jar out of direct sunlight but ensure the jar is in a place where it is kept at room temperature. If all goes well, in two to three days, you will have little nubs emerging from the seeds of your sprouting seeds. These are the plant shoots emerging out of the seed shell, alive and growing. The plants look like little tails that keep lengthening.
These are your sprouts, living little plants loaded with nutrition ready and waiting to benefit your bird.
Storing the Sprouts
Because sprouts are living organism, they need to be stored properly. Refrigerate them after they have begun sprouting in the same upside-down position to drain excess water and ensuring air circulation. Wet sprouts will tend to decay so make sure they remain moist but not sitting in water. Placing the jar in a deep-sided bowl in the refrigerator achieves the draining process and still allows your sprouts some breathing space.
Sprouts can be transferred to a produce bag after they are done growing. Ensure they are dry to the touch before storing them in the produce bag.
The best way to ensure they are fresh and have no “Off smell,” The “sniff test” is the best way to know if they are still good. They should appear robust and alive, and they should smell fresh. If your sprouts feel or appear slimy or if their smell is offensive, throw them out and begin again.
Feeding sprouts on their own occasionally works with pet birds. Many birds will take to them right away, but if your bird resists, add the sprouts gradually to other foods he already is fond of. You can add them to the infrequent meal of scrambled eggs, add them to raw or cooked vegetable mixes or mix into a bean mix.
Offering them s a treat or a reward makes a sprout special and they will learn that sprouts are a fun food. Eating sprouts in front of your bird sometimes make them irresistible. If these methods fail, you can always chop them finely and add to their food until they get used to the texture and taste.
Repeating the Process
Begin the sprouting process again about two days before you think you’ll need more. Repeat the process and you will find you will always have these wonderful little packages of nutrition available for your birds. Sprouting need not be intimidating. Once you are comfortable with the process, you will find your own rhythm and pace with the sprouting and harvesting process. Make sprouting work for you and you will reap the benefits!