Good mixtures give the birds all the nutrients they need. Different seeds give a variety of fats, proteins and carbohydrates as well as vitamins and minerals but which ones do we need ? There are many mixtures on the market today with some of them quite expensive, especially the ones branded as tonic grains. I have tried some of these over the years and found with most of them that only certain seeds were taken which made them an expensive waste.

My own birds only have access to the seven seeds that I personally think gives them all that is required in a hard seed diet and they are :-

                                             CANARY SEED.

The main basic diet seed. It is low in fat, rich in protein and rich in carbohydrates. Basically classed as a grass seed. A few years ago I read an article about fanciers in Australia. Many of them grind this seed into a powder and add it to their soft food to give it extra protein. I took the opposite route and placed it as a soaked seed.

                                            BLACK RAPE.

An oil seed which is high in fat and rich in protein. Disliked by a lot of my birds in its hard state but some of them take it readily. Most will take to it when sprouted. Usually at a ratio of 25% in a commercial mixture because of its high fat content.

                                             NIGER SEED.

An oilseed which is very high in calories and fats. It is also very high in protein but low in carbohydrates. It is one of the few seeds which has a good source of calcium content.


An oilseed which is very high in fat and high in protein. It contains iron and is high in fibre which gives its usage a positive effect in the digestive system. It is a dangerous seed to use in the breeding season when chicks are in the nest. I withdraw it completely when breeding is on going.

                                               JAPANESE MILLET.

A cereal seed which is high in protein, vitamins and minerals and is easily digestible. A good addition to any mixture.

                                                BLUE MAW SEED.

An oilseed which has a good source of protein, calcium and iron. This seed is only offered added to the soft food.

                                                 PINHEAD OATMEAL.

A cereal which is high in protein. 


I find no valid reason to offer my birds any other hard seeds other than the seven mentioned above. I may be wrong but I do not think any of the fancy tonic seed mixtures can offer anything extra. My birds are healthy, breed well and have content lives whilst in my ownership.

Most of us as fanciers have no idea how old the seeds that we purchase are, or how they have been stored. We take it for granted that we are purchasing an ideal product. Whatever seeds we use from wherever they are obtained  must be of good quality or the birds will suffer with their health.

Each time I purchase seed of whatever kind I do a germination test on it to make sure it is viable. I take ten teaspoons of seed and soak it for about 12 hours then rinse it and leave it to germinate for a further 48 hours. Eight of the ten teaspoons of this seed must germinate for it to be viable. A little less it is just passable and if only about 50% of it germinates it is useless.


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