Seeds and pellets
Seeds and grass are the main nutriments of the wild cockatiels. A common misconception is that the seeds don’t contain any valuable nutrients and that they shouldn’t be fed to cockatiels. Seeds are, however, good food which not only contain the nutrients but also will be accepted by every cockatiel. The seeds alone can’t still keep the bird fully healthy and they have only small amounts of the vitamin A. Therefore seeds, even as the main part of the cockatiel diet, should not be the only thing on your cockatiels food dish. Kuva: Shutterstock / Africa Studio
You will find different seed mixtures from your pet store. The parakeet seed mixture is the most suitable for cockatiels but you should see that the mixture doesn’t contain too much sun flower seeds. The sun flower seeds should only play the role of a delicacy. You may also give budgerigar or canary mixture, millet and hemp but do not let them be the main food. The seeds alone aren’t enough; the cockatiel also needs other foods to maintain its health. The seeds are at best when sprouted. The nutriment they contain is the greatest just before the sprouts are breaking through.
A good quality cockatiel seed mixture is worth investing, especially if your cockatiel is otherwise a bit picky – as they sometimes tend to be. You can add some variation by combining a few different mixtures together. An appropriate mixture includes often canary seed and a variety of different millets, linseed, oat groats, oilseed rape and hemp. There can also be some sunflower seeds, though they should not be playing too big part of the mixture since they are kinda fatty. Still, there is no reason to dislike sunflower seeds since among the flax seeds they are a very good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are important for health. White sunflower seeds are said to be a bit healthier than the black-white striped ones.
Pet stores often sell also seed bars containing different flawors like honey or dried berries. These seed bars are fancied by many cockatiels. You can also make honey seed bars by yourself by dipping a cleaned wooden stick in honey and rolling it in a seed plate.
You can also change the form of the food at times. Seeds can be served also straight from the stalks, ears or cobs. Cockatiels love to peel the seeds away from those kind of sources and that’s why it is also a great form of activity. Some seeds are harder to find in other form than as mixture, but especially millet can be very commonly bought in millet ears. Millet is usually the number one goodie for your cockatiel and it’s a very handy training treat, too. On the right: This cockatiel is enjoying his meal of different heys, wheats and millets.
The benefit of the seeds can be taken when sprouting them. The sprouts or germs are richecht in nutriment just before you can see the germ pushing its way out from the husks.
Pellets are the dry food of birds. They consist of crushed seeds with their peels, some color substances and supplements. Pellets can be found in different colors, shapes and sizes. The bright colored ones tend to dye the excrement, so the excrement easily becomes slurry, though there are also those kind of pellets where the use of color substances has been avoided.
Even though some parrots may have pellets as their main food you can’t say the same when it comes to cockatiels. The cockatiel breeders outside Finland tend to avoid giving pellets at all. There are, for example, too much of proteins for cockatiels in many pellets. It has also been noticed that if the cockatiels have been fed only with pellets the bird’s bowel might suffer because the pellets are digested too easily, and so the digestive organs gets used to a faster speed digesting. Because of this the natural foods might not become digested as easily as the body has already used to the way too easy digesting of pellets.
On the other hand the pellets, used as supplement, are a good source of food especially for the weak birds. They are also good food for the nesting parent birds when moistened in water since they are easy to vomit for the chicks. As a supplement the pellets can help improving the quality of the feathers. Still you shouldn’t wait for your cleaning to become easier when offering pellets. Especially cockatiels that are just starting to eat their pellets and getting used to them often mess up, as the breaking pellet crumbs are slung to the surroundings. If the pellets are grind by the bird and the powder somehow gets moisten the powder will turn hard and it will no longer be that easy to remove – unless you remove it right away! If the pellets also contain the color substances, the dirtiness is granted.
One of the problems is that especially if there are only a few cockatiels at the same house and the flock is small the cockatiels don’t seem to accept pellets very easily. One of my birds still eats rather the cover papers than touches to pellets. Since there are so much different pellets it might take a while to find the right product for your bird. Offer the pellets persistently but remember that the pellets alone aren’t that good thing and that you should offer also some seeds to keep the digestion healthy and strong. The best pellets for cockatiels are the kinds of where the slight need of protein is taken into concern.
The pellets can be found on pet stores or from web pet stores (In Finland for example Espoon eläinkeskus.) Some examples of pellet products are for example Harrison’s, Kaytee, Pretty Bird and Zupreem. If your cockatiel doesn’t approve one option, it might approve another one.