Ask Lafeber

Question:

October 26, 2020

How to get Parakeet to eat pellets


I can’t get my parakeet to eat pellets. Would it harm him to omit seeds for a day to see if he’ll eat the pellets?


Answer:

Hi Carol,

I would not recommend doing that. All birds have a high metabolism, and small birds like parakeets can’t go more than 8-10 hours without food or it can risk their health.

The good news is that it isn’t necessary to make your bird eat pellets if you can get him to eat our foraging diets – Nutri-Berries, Avi-Cakes or Pellet-Berries. Parakeets do eat seeds in the wild, and it is important that they have some whole seeds in their diet. But of course whole seed mixes do not have the nutrients they need and added nutrients are lost when they hull the seeds. Our foraging diets are formulated the same as a pellet, but they are not ground up. They contain whole, hulled seeds so the added nutrients are not lost when the bird eats.

A parakeet will convert to Nutri-Berries or Avi-Cakes much more readily than a pellet because of the whole seeds. I find the Nutri-Berries work best, and crumbling them will do the trick. Crumble the berries on top of your bird’s regular diet, and you should find that he will try them out after a few days at the most. Generally birds will convert in 7-10 days, but some are more stubborn or hesitant. You can try removing the seed cup just before you turn the lights off at night, to prevent any early morning eating. Then give him the new food first thing in the morning. This is only recommended if you are an early riser because most birds will start to eat at first light. So you don’t want to starve your little guy, but it will make him more eager to eat if you give him the food without it just being there already. You can also replace all of his regular diet with the new food at bed time if you are afraid to leave him without food at night. This way if he does get hungry enough, he has something to eat. Then in the morning, you can add some of his seed and mix it together. He is bound to try the pieces of Nutri-Berries when it is mixed with his regular seed. Once you have observed him eating the Nutri-Berries, you can then reduce the amount of his old diet each day until he is only eating the balanced food. Once he is eating the crumbled Nutri-Berries, you can start adding some half and whole berries to encourage him to eat those without being crumbled. Converting to pellets is the same process, but it can take longer since pellets look nothing like seeds. However, as a granivore, it is good for a budgie to have whole seeds in his diet. If you click below, Dr. Lafeber explains why this is important for granivores.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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