[custom_headline type=”center” style=”margin-top: 0;” level=”h1″ looks_like=”h2″ accent=”true”] Budgie Nutrition[/custom_headline]

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Safe food Sources[/feature_headline]
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[accordion_item parent_id=”faq-1″ title=”The wonders of Chickweed – Terry Tuxford”]

Terry Tuxford | May 23, 2012

Chickweed

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Over the years there have been many references to providing our birds with Chickweed because of its benefits. I thought I would do a little research to try and find out why.

Chickweed is a plant of Eurasian origin that’s made itself quite at home everywhere that Europeans have travelled and is now a common weed almost world-wide. Chickweed is an annual but it often germinates in the autumn as well as year-round, and survives through the winter, flowering and setting seed in the early spring and then dying off by summer. It’s at its best in the spring and autumn, as it greatly prefers cool and damp conditions, and will not survive where it’s dry and hot.

Chickweed has shallow, fibrous, fragile roots and is easy to uproot accidentally, but will quickly recover if put back. The plant’s weak stems mostly trail along the ground, for up to about sixteen inches, but the growing ends may be upright and up to eight inches high. The stems branch very frequently and take root at the leaf junctions. If you look very closely at the stems, you’ll see a single line of hairs running up the side, and you’ll notice that the line changes sides at each leaf junction. The leaves are smooth and oval with a point at the tip, and the older leaves are stalked, while the new leaves are not.

Chickweed always seems to be flowering, except in the dead of winter. It has tiny white flowers, about a quarter inch in diameter. The flowers close at night and open in the morning and when it’s about to rain.

The flowers develop into small capsule-like fruits which contain many tiny seeds – up to 15,000 per plant

Herbal Medicinal Benefits

Chickweed, a mild herb, is used primarily to support the urinary system. Some use it to provide nutrients that must be present for the body’s metabolism-balancing functions.

Chickweed is commonly used as an external remedy for cuts, wounds and especially for itching and irritation. If eczema or psoriasis causes this sort of irritation, Chickweed may be used with benefit. Internally it has a reputation as a remedy for rheumatism.

Chickweed has a significant nutritive side which is of great benefit with exhaustion and fatigue conditions. Chickweed’s energy dynamics include large amounts of proteins and minerals and may help to restore strength.

The plant’s leaves are excellent sources of vitamins A (in the form of beta carotene), B, C, and D and are also a rich source of minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, magnesium, copper, and iron. It is also very high in alpha linolenic acid, an Omega-3 fatty acid that is important to cardiovascular health. Other plant sources of alpha linolenic acid commonly fed to cage birds include flaxseed, rapeseed, soybeans, wheat germ, purslane, and green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and broccoli. Of these, chickweed and flaxseed are the best sources of this vital fatty acid.

Acts As A Digestive Aid And Helps Regulate The Metabolism

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Chickweed taken internally acts as a digestive aid and helps regulate the metabolism. The steroidal saponins in chickweed increase the permeability of the mucous membranes thus increasing the absorption of nutrients, especially minerals from the digestive tract. This same action helps to neutralize toxins, weaken bacterial cell walls and dissolve growths such as warts and cysts.

This same sterodial saponin action that increases the permeability of mucous membranes by partially dissolving them, produces an expectorant effect in the throat, and together with its cooling and moisture effect, is useful in heated chest conditions, such as bronchitis and other heavy respiratory congestion.

Chickweed has been used to “lubricate” the joints, soothe rheumatism, gout and arthritis, and regulate intestinal flora, absorb toxins from the bowel and regulate colonic bacterial and yeast. It has traditionally been used for obesity, dissolving and liquefying the membrane around fat cells and allowing them to pass easily out of the body, cleansing the blood and ridding the liver and kidneys of harmful wastes.

Chickweed is useful for stomach conditions where there is dryness and hunger and thirst, also for dry, unproductive coughs including whopping cough. It benefits bladder infections, helps promote urination, and is good for local congestion in tight cramped muscles. Its significant iron content makes it useful in anaemic conditions.

Now To The Birds

As the name “chick weed” suggests, this plant has been given to birds for nearly as long as birds have been kept in captivity. In fact, John Gerard wrote of chickweed in his classic 1597 English text on medicinal plants Herbal or General History of Plants that “little birds in cages (especially Linnets) are refreshed with the lesser Chickweed, and also rabbits; cows and horses will eat it; sheep are indifferent to it, but goats refuse to touch it”.

When feeding any green food to your birds it is essential that it is clean and free from any contamination. The practice of picking chickweed from gardens, wasteland and roadsides is fraught with danger and should not be encouraged unless it can be guaranteed as safe.

Fresh chickweed does not freeze well so it must be used fresh or dried. Good quality dried herbs should retain a deep green colour. If the leaves lose their colour, the herbs should be discarded. Dried chickweed may be placed in a plastic freezer bag and stored in the freezer for 6 months or so. The most practical form of chickweed to use during the winter months is the dried form. This can be purchased at a reasonable cost through bulk herb suppliers.

Another alternative is to grow your own in a greenhouse or garden. Seed can be easily purchased and are really cheap with a 1 gram packet averaging 2,000 seeds costing about £4 plus postage and packing – Google chickweed seed for sale.[/accordion_item]

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Optimum Nutrition[/feature_headline]
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coming soon.[/accordion_item]

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Coming soon.[/accordion_item]

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Larkwood Feeding

It is important for breeders to investigate as many feeding programs as possible and then to decide on one most suitable for themselves and their activities. It would make little sense to have such a complicated feeding program that it takes hours to prepare and then is difficult to provide consistently. Who wants to spend hours and hours preparing food when it is not beneficial to the birds?

In addition, when buying birds take note of the feeding program of the seller. If it is very different from yours then be aware that the birds may take some time to settle with possible poor breeding results.

Breeding pairs in the morning:

  • One heaped dessertspoon soaked oats per pair with babies. Level for others.
  • Add one heaped spoon of soft food mix on top of that per pair with babies. Level spoon for others. When the babies are on the floor or pairs with more than four babies I increase the soft food to one and half spoons.
  • Dry mix consisting of 4 parts white millet and one part canary. I often mix 8 parts white millet to I part canary due to cost of canary.
  • Water
  • Surplus soft food goes to the aviary every day. I try not to have surplus oats to keep the weight of the aviary birds in check.

Breeding pairs in the evening

  • Bread soaked in milk not to wet. Pairs with babies get an eight of a slice and no babies we divide the slice into 16 pieces.
  • Surplus bread goes to the aviary every day.

Ingredients and amounts of mix:

Soft food

  • We use the high protein AVIPLUS breeder mix
  • We use the EPOL chicken laying or growing mash

These we mix 50/50 and place dry in 5 litre ice cream tubs in the freezer.

We measure 16 heaped dessertspoons in a bowl. This is the base of the soft food mix. I guess we can find a cup or what but the spoon is habit.

Veggies/fruit

  • We grate 2-3 golden delicious apples, 4-6 large carrots and 2 medium beetroot and add to dry soft food.
  • When we have sweet potato that goes in as a treat whole on the floor as well as left over butternut, cabbage, etc.
  • We slice spinach and add the chopped up pieces to the soft food. So everybody get some.
  • We also add chickweed when available and fennel, rosemary and thyme. (all fresh out of the garden)
  • We provide sliced oranges and lemons to the aviaries and stock cages. The birds chew them peel and all.
  • Gum branches, rinsed and wet is a special treat to the birds. So re any other branches such as new shoots off the orange and lemon trees and peach/apricot trees. They love rolling in the wet leaves.
  • Sugarcane is enjoyed by the birds.
  • Fresh lusern are also be added to the soft food (when available) and is an excellent green food.

Other ingredients

  • Two dessertspoons olive oil
  • One dessertspoon PLUME PLUS oil. They use this for pigeons and it includes inter alia wheat germ oil. One can replace this with Ferti-Vit. Used as directed.
  • Two teaspoons Protexin – probiotic excellent for the prevention of diseases.
  • Heaped dessertspoon of crushed garlic
  • Two dessertspoons calcium powder
  • One and half cups soaked seed. Fine seed mix that contains approximately 21 different seeds. We soak that and add it to the soft food. (hemp, sorghum, nigger, poppy red manna, etc.)

Oats

We soak three and half cups oats every morning for the next day.

General

  • We add the de-worming powder to soft food mix twice a year and when required I add the Doxibiotic to this also. When we have a regular supply of gum branches we do not deworm as the eucluliptus oil is a natural dewormer.
  • Apple cider vinegar in the water for 3 days a week.
  • We also grow some oats, canary and white millet that we feed green when available.
  • Saturdays we replenish the grit (aviaries and breeders). Here we used to use exclusively sea sand. No I had to improvise due to distance and feed the sparky iodised pigeon grit and charcoal mixed 50/50. Also mix in all the different types of commercially available grit. I feel that way one obtains a nice balance. We add the sea sand still but a lot more conservatively.
  • Ivomec Sheep dip: twice a year one drop on the skin behind the head (neck area). Controls mite and other parasites.


You will have to test the quantities and then work out how much to suit your establishment. Remember we feed the parrots and the budgies the base mix. For the parrots we add sun flower and cooked pigeon racing mix. I feed two large aviaries, 40 breeders and 8 stock cages of budgies as well as the parrots with this mix. We remove 16 dessertspoons of mix for the parrots (one spoon per aviary). I have consistently during the year feed the same mix as we breed all year round.
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Soft food mix 

Courtesy of MR. Ford (Regal Budgerigar Society)

Growing crumbs (Meadow feeds) 1 500 g

Future Life 3 boxes (Oats) 1 500 g

Rosemary (make fine)   500 g

Oreganum (Make Fine)   250 g

Bone meal 1 000 g

Brewers Yeast   1 000 g

Glucose powder D3 1 000 g

Rape Seed (Make fine-mix together with sunflower  250 g

Sunflower keep in separate container) 1 000 g

Wheat germ                 1 500 g

Hemp seed (Make fine) 1 000 g

Morvite       2 000 g

B 12 powder   500 g

Vitamin E powder                500 g

Kelp powder x 3   360 g

Calsuba x 3 x 150 g   450 g

Ground Parsley   400 g

    

Grate 5 boiled eggs. Add one or two cups of rusk. Add two teaspoons salt. Mix well. Add five grated carrots, three medium sweet potatoes and plus minus three cups of chopped spinach. Now add one cup of above mix, one cup of mixed sunflower and rape seed. Mix all together. Soak two cups of oats, one cup wheat and 20ml Apple Cider Vinegar for 24 hours.  Rinse and allow to dry for 12 hours before mixing in with soft food. This creates a damp crumbly soft food.

This makes enough soft food for 60 breeding cages.[/accordion_item]

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Dangerous Food Sources[/feature_headline]
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