Homemade Cockatiel Seed and Grain Mix Recipe

Did you know that there are no laws or restrictions governing the production of commercial seed mixes??

That means that everything from the quality of the grains used to chemical additives goes without supervision. Did you ever notice the handful of “dust” at the bottom of your pre-packaged mix? While a certain amount of dust is to be expected as seed hulls break apart, much of the dust in these bags are due to the disintegration of old, dry and brittle product, non-food related shop dusts and “whatever else”. When I found this out years ago, I almost fell over.

Seed is an essential part of the diet for my cockatiels, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I called my vet and asked her what she feeds her cockatiels and she told me she uses only human-grade grains. The production and processing of these grains ARE subject to government regulation.

All of the grains I use in making my seed mix are human-grade and organic. They can be found in the bulk bin department of Whole Foods, or a similar establishment. The directions are easy: Buy ’em, put ’em in a bowl and mix ’em up! 

If you find some of these ingredients in this recipe are not currently available you can omit them until they are back in stock. I usually keep a pound or two of the seed mix ready for use in an air-tight container and freeze the rest.

If you take the time to get as much air as possible out of the bags, they will keep for about six months. Vacuum sealers are great for this purpose.

Cockatiel Seed Mix Recipe 

1 cup whole wheat berries

1 cup pearled barley

1 cup quinoa

1 cup hulled barley

1 cup whole spelt

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup oat groats

1 cup hulled millet

1 cup rye flakes

1 cup rye berries

1 cup steel cut oats 

Note: Be sure to stir your mix up before serving as the smaller grains like quinoa, millet and steel cut oats tend to fall to the bottom.

Seed should be about 10% of the diet of small birds. The rest should be made up of organic pellets (45%)  and our Seasonal Feeding System (45%). 

Take a look at the difference between a store bought product and my seed mix. Note the difference in color. The lighter colored homemade mix on top is clearly fresher and offers more variety without any unnecessary ingredients.

Note: The homemade mix at the top contains only fresh, organic, human-grade grains. The colored seed at the bottom is a non-organic store bought seed mix.

To my surprise, my cockatiels had a problem with switching to this new blend. They were accustomed to and comfortable with their old store bought brand.  My feelings were hurt when they shunned my mix. So, I did what any good mom would do: I tricked them into eating what was good for them! I added a 1/4 lb of my mix to 1 lb of their old mix to start with, slowly upped it to 50/50, and eventually weaned them completely off of the old seed. They love it now.

While I don’t recommend seed in the diet of many birds, it is the largest part of the diet for some species in the wild and access to seed provides them with emotional as well as physical well-being.

One super easy method of sprouting is to spread a thin, sparse layer of seeds over a damp (not quite “soaking wet”) paper towel before you go to bed. I put the paper towel and seed mix on a plate or in a shallow container and cover loosely with a dry paper towel. Leave it on the counter in a warm spot over night and you will have the beginnings of sprouts in the morning or afternoon.

The key to success in this is finding just the right spot in your kitchen (or wherever) to place the paper towel. Try different locations if your kitchen counter isn’t working for you.

It is not necessary for the seed to have a plant growing out of it. The benefit of sprouts begins at the first stages of germination. The tiniest little nodule coming out of the seed means is has sprouted and is ready to eat. Don’t leave your sprouting mixture out beyond the afternoon. The wet paper towel can easily pick up bacteria the longer it stays in the air.

Cockatiel seed can yield sprouts that are appropriate for any sized birds. Have fun!

Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.

16 comments

Dawn-Marie

Just bought the seasonal freeze.dried which my new Eckie lives n the pellets which he also loves. But he shreds them to powder, is there anything else I can do with the powder to not waste it or make something else from it for him??

Dawn-Marie
Stephanie

I LOVE the seed mixes. But not as much as my birds. I’ll be trying the cockatiel one soon. The only adjustment that I make is that I do not add millet. The reason for that is because I sprinkle a small bit on their chop. I don’t give too much millet because I use the spray millet for training the budgies & want to make sure that they really want it. Thanks to BirdTricks we went from a green cheek conure in 2021 to adding 6 more birds over the past couple of years. Every single bird was converted to the seasonal diet & pellets within 2 weeks. Some were easier than others though. Granted they were all babies & probably wondering what was going on but I have yet to have a problem. Getting that green cheek, a cockatiel, an Indian Ringneck & 4 budgies to transition to a great diet was the easiest part of having these wonderful creatures in our lives.

Stephanie
Renate

Just wondering if a female can be a light blue on her cere. Cant let if my blue is a male or female budgie. Thought blue was a female but starting to if its a male

Renate
Michelle

Hello! Thank you for this amazing mix! :) I’d love to see a diy snack mix!! Thank you kindly!

Michelle
Lidia

I have 4 birds but they sadly all share one cage I’m trying to get more places for them to eat I have 2 budgies a cockatiel and a cinnamon conure so right now they are all somewhat on the “budgie seed mix” except I give my conure more vegetables and more of a snack later to my other 3 birds but the problem is they are so close they end up switching bowls and places so I’ve eventually just fed them in their cage the same thing along with your pellets another hard obstacle is I’m 13 and babysitting I get 5 to 10 dollars a day and it’s not much to feed my birds so usually i can only focus on the same diet instead of switching because I can’t afford to waste the money is it okay for my 4 birds to be eating the budgies food? Or should I put some other stuff into it for my cockatiel and conure?

Lidia
JANET M DELANEY

I have a Cockatoo, an African Grey and a Single Yellow Amazon. None of them care for plastic toys. Also I wish you would include your replies to questions on your site. I am 84 and my Amazon has been with me for over 50 years, yet I still have questions concerning their feeding.

JANET M DELANEY
Linda

With feeding seeds do they need grit? Please email answer 🦜👍

Linda
Marilynn Stacey

I’m having difficulty finding answers to when transitioning my cockatiel to your recipe, do I withhold the old seed mix/or new mix/or 50-/50 mix to only regular intervals of feeding times? Or do I keep the seed mixture available all the time?

Marilynn Stacey
Gene m Davis

I’m really happy that you decided to open your home to cockatiels. I have 4 of them that I love incredibly. I live in a 1 bedroom apartment and they are the best neighbors I could ever want. I’m 70 years old and don’t do a lot of socializing. My 4 birds are my life. I spend my time with them as much as I can. I need them as much as they need me. Keep the cockatiel content coming. I trust you.

Gene m Davis
Lynn Spillane

Where can I buy all of this to make my own seed mix?

Lynn Spillane
Cindy

So how often should we sprout this vs. just giving it dry? I’ve seen both that you should sprout the seed every day and that you should only sprout once or twice a week and feed dry the rest of the time. Thanks!

Cindy
Diane

I have a 9 month old Love Bird I purchased 2 weeks ago. I saw the homemade seed mixture for cockatiels & made it & have been feeding it to my love bird. Is this mixture ok for him? I have since watched the utube for the budgie seed & read online that the budgie mixture should be used for love birds. My love bird came with cockatiel seed so when I saw the recipe I thought it should be perfect. Is the cockatiel mixture still ok for a love bird, should I add some of the budgie seed. I’m trying to feed the best & correct foods. I have purchased the natural feeding system & have made chop & purchased your pellets. Working on converting.

Diane
Marnie Trebilcock

When I googled wheat berries this is what it said “Wheatberries – Again, this is not a designation of a type of wheat; it refers to any whole wheat kernel (except for the inedible outer husk) grown in cold weather climates. That means it is chewy and takes a long time to cook” is different from spelt trying to understand if there is another name in Australia

Marnie Trebilcock
Debbie Dean

I was wondering if this recipe for cockatiels would be ok for a mustache parakeet?

Debbie Dean
Terri Malen

Thank you so much for this email on cockateil diet. I have struggled so hard with my rescued Emma that I’m worried about her health and wellbeing. She was only on Finch seed for four years and refused everything but millet. I just ordered and finally it’s all here to start the seasonal diet this week. I have been giving here fresh greens. This new receipe is perfect for Emma and me now! Thank you Birdtricks for saving my Emma and making the struggle to feed your bestfriend so much easier! Love love Birdtricks!

Terri Malen
grace

i have African Grey, what is food can suit ?

grace

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