How Much Seed Do I Feed My Cockatiel?

Keep your cockatiel healthy with a varied diet, including seed.
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Providing a diet high in nutrition to your cockatiel means more than simply knowing what he can eat. It also means knowing how much to feed him so he doesn’t become a little pudge. Yes, your cage-confined bird can become overweight! Provide a diet with plenty of nutrients.

Talk about Seed

Seed should only be one part of your chirping friend’s diet. He needs a variety of nutrients, and seed should make up about 10 percent of everything he eats in a day. You don’t need to stick to a strict percentage -- simply offer a smaller amount of seed, along with other foods that make up a good diet for your little guy.

As you get used to what you should be feeding him, try not to fall into the trap of a seed-only diet. He will become malnourished and develop health conditions such as obesity, weakness, paralysis, feather picking and egg binding. Measure out 1-1/2 to 2 level tablespoons of seed per bird, per day, depending on the sizes of your cockatiels. If you have more than one bird, provide one dish per bird. Remove the bowls at the end of the day. Any seed that remains tells you that you may have put too much in the bowl.

Diet Variety

Along with that approximate 10 percent seed rule, provide bird bread, pellets, bean mix and some fruits and vegetables to your cockatiel’s diet. Pellets are designed to provide all of the most optimal nutrients your little bird needs. In addition to being jam-packed with nutrients, they come in a form he can easily eat.

Cockatiels who have been raised on a varied diet can live for 20 or even 30 years. Compare this to about 10 or 12 years for a seed-fed bird, and you begin to see the benefits of a diet that is loaded with nutrients and variety. Remember, your little chirper can gain too much weight, even if he eats only seed. Other health benefits include better resistance to infection and brighter feathers.

Other Good Foods

Take a look at what your chirping friend can eat. He enjoys foods ranging from a bean mix made for cockatiels, bird bread, some seed and healthy human foods. He may also look forward to berries, vegetables and fruits. Wild cockatiels have raided farmers’ crops, looking for foods they enjoy eating.

He’ll enjoy eating some of the same vegetables you feed your family, but do not allow him to eat avocado, which is potentially toxic. Light-colored vegetables high in water don’t give him enough of what he needs. Cut fruits and vegetables into small, manageable pieces. These can include anything from apples to tomatoes. Your bird may also enjoy hot peppers and bok choy, as well as brown rice.

Wild cockatiels also eat different grasses. Buy and grow some beans and chick peas. After the leaves have begun to sprout, offer these to your cockatiel. He will enjoy the variety.

Pellet Food

Your bird’s diet should consist of about one-half pellets and one-half other foods. Your vet can recommend the best type of pellet, depending on your bird’s age, because different formulations have been produced for different bird ages.

If your bird has eaten only seed, he may resist pellets, so help him along by adding a layer of pellets to the top of the seed. Reduce how much seed you feed him. Adding a layer of pellets to the top of his seeds allows him to slowly get used to how pellets look and smell. He has to eat them to get to the seed. Adding the pellets to his seed dish teaches him to associate them with “food.”

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