Sprouts are the single most nutritious whole food you can feed to you parrot. The reason for this is that they are a living food. They are a plant in the progress of growth, and it just doesn’t get any fresher than that
With regards to produce, the term fresh is relative, unless they are coming straight from your garden. The vegetables and fruits we see in the supermarket are far from fresh picked. Once they are harvested, they are brought to a plant where they wait for processing and packaging.Then they wait for several more days for a truck to transport them across the country to the stores. Then they wait some more until they are displayed, bought, and eventually cooked. It is now many days past their harvesting, and each day accounts for more and more nutritional loss. By the time we buy them and get around to serving them, they are far from what they once were.
I have heard people complain that sprouting is hard. It is not. Let me tell you a little story: One day when I was reaching on top of my refrigerator for a fresh scoop of cockatiel seed, I noticed my freezer door was ajar. I shut it, without noticing the moisture that had built up around the edges of the door. In the process I spilled a few seeds, and made a mental note to go back and clean it up, which I forgot to do. A few days later, there were plants growing in the rubber gasket on the door. So, no. It isn’t hard.
The only other concern is for the growth of bacterias and fungi on the the seed while they are sprouting. As long as you keep them properly rinsed and drained and keep them in an area where there is good air circulation (not in cabinets, for instance), there should never be a problem with that.
There are several kinds of sprouters on the market and I imagine they all work well. I use an Easy Sprout sprouter, which I bought for under $15. There are 6 pieces included in this lightweight, easy to clean sprouter, and they all have multiple uses. All the parts you need to sprout and store them are included along with directions. The Sprout People, who manufacture Easy Sprout also sell different varieties of sprouters, like grass sprouters, for wheat and barley grass flats etc, grain sprouters, micro-green sprouters, seeds, beans and more.
All of the seeds they sell are safe for your birds and they even have a mix especially for birds that come in three seed sizes for small, medium and large sized birds. This is one stop shopping for your sprouting needs, the prices are reasonable and everything is organic.
This is the effort you will expend to make a batch of sprouts:
- Soak the bean or seed mix for 8-12 hours.
- Rinse thoroughly.
- Drain well and set aside until they sprout.
- Snap on the enclosed lid and refrigerate.
It’s quite an undertaking, isn’t it? Each step takes less time than it does to change a roll of toilet paper. Do try your hand at sprouting the mung beans, which I find to be the yummiest of all the sprouts I’ve tried. They require 4-5 days to grow to their full potential and take a little more care, but are well worth it.
If you look around The Sprout People site, they offer many practical tips on growing and storage. They have videos that walk you through the process, as well as several recipes. I recommend the Beanie’s Awesome Mix, and The San Francisco Mix for beginners. They are super easy to sprout, and my birds love them.
In my shopping cart at the site is the flat grass sprouters and the soil-less growth medium. This kit will grow flats of grasses for your birds, like the squares of sod you buy for bald spots in your lawn, except they are made of edible, nutritious greens. I have bought wheat flats before from Whole Foods and tossed them in on the floor of my birds’ cages. What a ball they had rolling around in the wet grass! Linus, my umbrella cockatoo, had a the time of his life “mowing” his own personal lawn. And the grass continues to grow for some time.
If you have young children and are looking for a way to help them to be interactive with the family parrot, sprouting is a good place to start. The experience of growing things, especially food, is a wonderful learning tool for children. When that food is shared with, and appreciated by, your parrot, a special bond is made.
I hope I have eliminated any doubts that you can grow your own healthy sprouts, no matter what color your thumb is. It’s cheap, takes almost no time or energy, and there’s no clean up. And, it’s quite a lot of fun!
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.