What to feed underweight budgie and transitioning off seed diet
We recently lost one of our two parakeets. He was too sick to do any testing at the vet, but was found to be very underweight (23g). I wasn't able to monitor this (nor did I know to) because the birds are not hand tamed at all. I had only been recently getting anywhere with that.
Our other bird was brought in to the vet as well, she was starting to act like the other bird, but not as weak etc. They found no problems except for also underweight (25g) with goal weight of 30g. She is getting a week of antibiotics just in case. We were recommended the Harrison's super fine pellet food.
We got the birds 6 months ago from a friend (babysitting turned into adopting). They were fed some generic seed mixture in a teacup and given more food every few days. I continued a seed mixture diet, obviously giving fresh food daily. And tried to introduce some variety to their diet with very minor success.
How do I transition our budgie to this new food without the risk of her losing more weight? When it is mixed in with the seed (or put on top which gets mixed in), I can't tell how much she gets. When it's by itself, it is ignored. I have heard of making bird bread?
In the meantime, I continue to try to add variety to her diet. I think she has accepted some pecan (chopped fine) and hulled hempseeds in effort to help her gain weight, but again, it gets mixed in with the seeds. At this point I am more concerned with the weight gain than her accepting a some commercial "balanced" diet, although probably that could lead to weight gain too if she accepts it.
On a side note, I will be monitoring her weight with a foodscale. Also, have had a lot of success in the past week with taming since I've been administering the med and then I let her sit on my lap on the couch.
You might try "top dressing" some steel-cut oats on top of her present seed/pellet mix.
Steel cut oats is usually accepted well and it's higher fat content and attractiveness
might help her gain some weight. Keep offering veggies and try hard boiled egg yolk bushed through a fine wire strainer. Make sure fresh foods are taken out after 2 hours max.
I don't think it is good to try to transition your bird to a new diet when she is already underweight. Transitioning to a new diet is stressful and takes time. If it was my bird I would feed a high quality seed mix along with offering veggies and egg food. You can crush the Harrison's pellets and sprinkle on the seed mix to start. My birds get seed and pellets in separate dishes and it took a long time before they started eating the pellets. As Philw said oats are good, my birds love them.
I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your other little one. I do agree with the above posters that because your budgie is underweight, you should not transition to a new diet at this time. A diet transition is stressful and should only be started when a bird is healthy and eating well.
Definitely give her high quality seed and mashed boiled egg yolk. Crushed raw almonds are also a favourite. Oats are also a great option.
I hope that soon your little one begins to gain weight and feel better!
Please keep us posted on how she's doing.
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and Princess Mallorn!
Thank you to Deb for her wonderful Faery magic
You've been given good advice - the most important thing is that your budgie have a high quality seed mix she will eat
so she can get her weight up.
Sprinkle Harrison's High Potency Mash over the seed - that will help her begin to associate the taste of the mash with a food source.
You can offer her hard boiled egg, flax seed, oats, hulled sunflower seeds (chopped fine), and cooked quinoa (rinse this very well three times before cooking). Keep offering a variety of fresh vegetables and consider adding a pro-biotic supplement such as Avi-Bios as well.
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So what I'm gathering from everyone's responses is to NOT take the seeds away. Instead transition to a better quality seed mix and offer other food options and maybe she will eat some of them. Should I chop the steel cut oats? Are theses better than rolled oats? What about flaxseeds- whole or grind them up?
The vet gave me a sample of the Harrison's fine (waiting for super fine to arrive) and have been chopping them really small and I think she is eating some of it. Has been eating some chopped nuts and might have taken sunflower seeds. Hemp seeds are working out still. I definitely do not feel comfortable taking the seeds away and will read all the stickies including the high quality seed one!
Meanwhile she is doing really well when I take her out of the cage at night and actually flew back onto my shoulder. I think this is lifting her spirits a bit forming a bond, which I hope will keep her appetite going strong.
You are correct, do not take the seeds away. No need to chop the oats or the flax seeds. You can observe the droppings to make sure she is eating enough, when birds are not eating the droppings will be few and small. If she sleeps in one spot overnight there should be a small group of them under that spot in the morning.
I haven't tried steel cut oats, but would recommend just unprocessed or hulled oats, they still look like an oat so may be accepted more readily than chopped ones. Oats are nice and fattening, as are sunflower seeds, which I also have always just fed whole, so add just a small amount to their food each day and it should help with the weight unless there is a more significant issue. Add them slowly so as not to cause a digestive upset.
I agree with not trying to change the diet at this time. Harrison’s “High Potency” super fine or mash is the formula to start on. It provides a richer food with higher calories than the maintenance formula. Harrison’s is superior nutrition. Budgies also benefit from eating seed as mentioned above. Crossing fingers she likes it, and gains to a healthy weight. After she’s stable at proper weight, you can try to introduce variety.
My budgies get almost all seed (with some supplementation, especially for vitamin A). Their weight is great and they are super-energetic—flying around like jet planes through the house all day. So I don't think seed is the culprit for the weight problem. Something else is going on.
There are some exceptions: old or bad seed. Seed contaminated with mold can make a budgie sick. Old seed loses its nutritional value over time. My vet has a story of an underweight budgie that came to her. It turned out the owner had had a budgie in the past, stopped and got one again, but she used the seed (years old) that she had for the original budgie. The new bird was eating all day and still starving.
Use a good quality mix (I use Volksman, but I hear they just got bought out and the vet has noticed some quality differences) and make sure its fresh (buy it as you need it and from somewhere with a good turn-over).