Why Your Lady Gouldian Finch Diet Probably Needs a Revamp
Feeding the Lady Gouldian Finch
There are many brands of healthy foods on the market, and many ways of feeding birds. The Gouldian finch diet in particular needs to be revamped for about 90% of owners in my opinion. I recently met a woman whose family had bred birds for years before she took over. She does what mom and grandpa did. I feel strongly that in cases like these, doing it “like it’s always been done” s not the best way.
Yes, our parents might have raised birds in the 1980s and 90s. Or maybe we did, if we’re old enough. The finches survived. But did they thrive? What I mean is, were they beautiful and covered in shiny, strong feathers? Were they healthy? How long did they live?
The majority of pet birds in the pre-Internet days were fed seed. Not just any seed, but boxed bird seed from Kmart or someplace — barely better than wild bird seed. And that’s all they got to eat.
So if that is what you are feeding your birds today, you’re about 40 years behind. Would you like your doctors to treat you medically from protocols of 40 years past?
I didn’t think so.
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They survived. But did they thrive?
My own bird keeping has evolved considerably, and continues to change. Yep, I was one of those! I got my first cockatiel from a pet store in the 80s and kept him in one of those small inappropriate cages and feed him seed-only. Fortunately for my flock, I’ve moved from seed to seed + pellets to fresh foods and then more fresh foods.
The 2021 Suggested Diet for Lady Gouldian Finches
- Egg or Egg food/Insects
- Pellets, maybe
About Pellet Food
Seeds are packaged by many different companies today, and they can be purchased at big box stores, at small “Mom and Pop” type stores, and online. I’m using a combination of seeds. I’ll put some links at the bottom of this post. I *usually* order thru Amazon, by the time you add shipping at other stores, they have the best price. However my local parrot rescue has a small shop and I like to support them also; if I can find what I want there, I purchase there.
Gouldians, and most finches today, eat much more than seed. Lots of people have gone the pellet route. Pellet food is an extruded form of corn, wheat, and so forth that’s a lot like dog food in that it’s a convenient, easy way to feed birds. But, like dog food, it can be high quality or not. Check your labels.
Most vets are suggesting the use of pellets in the diet, but their recommendations are all over the board. I see 20% up to 80% from various vets. We feed little seed at Gouldian Gardens and even less pellets. We feel pellets are still commercially processed foods and since we humans shouldn’t base our diet on 100% processed foods I figure our birds shouldn’t either. So I provide a high quality pellet but I don’t serve even 50% pellets.
It’s 2021, and I’ve been feeding even less pellet food than ever. I’d say pellets are 5-10% of our flock’s diet, and that is only because I keep them familiar with pellets so that if I have a bird sitter they can easily feed all my birds.
Finches need extra protein, especially during breeding or molting, so one way to provide that is via eggs or commercial “egg food.” We do both. For eggs, I just hard boil a bunch at once, maybe 6 or 8 (because that’s what my pot holds) brought to a boil on the stove then lowered to simmer for 12 minutes. You can even leave the shells on, throw them all into the food processor, and grind. Don’t mash them too much or they’ll turn to glue.
If you don’t want to serve the shells, or you want to grind the shells finer, peel the eggs before chopping. Egg shells can be ground in a nutri-bullet or coffee grinder — here’s one that you can control the coarseness on. Serve them sprinkled on food or in a separate dish; birds go crazy over them.
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If you prefer it, use dry egg food. Here is a popular brand
I like to use Higgins, linked below. Dry commercial egg food is good for people who work because it can be left out in a dish like pellets and seeds.
Another good protein source is mealworms, termites, or other “bugs.” Freeze dried worms will do for those who are a little squeamish or don’t have time to raise their own. Here is a quality mix (not an affiliate link) and here are the straight freeze dried mealworms. (affiliate link)
The longer I have birds, the more I’m feeding fresh foods. I have seen proof from others that fresh foods are working for them. Birdie cholesterol levels drop when switched to a plant-based diet. Other numbers fall into line as well. So I chop lots of salad-type foods for my birds: spinach, kale, broccoli, squash, corn, peas, green beans. Basically every time you fix fresh food for yourself, you can cut up a little and set it aside for the birds. Here’s more information on that: What is Chop and also the printable CHOPP Food Pyramid .
Fruit tends to lead to yeast infection, especially in the smaller birds, so I do not give much to my Lady Gouldians. They do get some because I have bigger birds that love fruit — so once in awhile the little guys get some blueberries, strawberries, or similar. Mostly I try to avoid fruit with them.
Calcium, iodine, probiotics, and multivitamins are my go-to supplements. (here’s an article on supplements) Veterinarians suggest that because pellet food is “complete” and has all the nutrients your bird needs, it isn’t necessary to supplement. That is true if you’re feeding `100% pellets. Since I am not, I give 50% or less of the recommended vitamins. I put calcium in the water once a week. I do use probiotics, which I sprinkle on their food, every day; these do not harm them. Kelp provides iodine, and I’ve switched from Avivita Gold to Nekton-S for no particular reason.
*Let me stress that you can over-supplement your birds. The aforementioned method is what works for me. If you feel or your vet feels that you should not supplement, then don’t. According to Dr. Jason Crean, if you are feeding with enough variety in whole, fresh foods, you should not need to supplement.
That’s the run-down! Hope it helps. Let me know how you feed and supplement your finches.
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