Fred Wright Talks About His Feeding Methods – UK

I just cannot talk about feeding without giving a mention to good management and by that I mean keeping the birdroom, flights, cages, nest boxes and dishes clean. Many birdrooms that I visit can only be described as “lacking in good management”. Plenty of fanciers will talk about their methods but in the real world, far too many are feeding seed and water – (and not changing the water regularly) and adding a bit of softfood from time to time – not a lot more!

In my book far too many Budgerigar fanciers are keeping and breeding too many birds and are not giving them the time and care they need or deserve. Budgerigars benefit from a routine and need attention every day of the year. When I was working full time, I needed to limit the number of breeding pairs – when I started to work from home, I was able to increase the number of pairs, feed softfood several times every day and check nest boxes several times during each day. Given plenty of time, Budgerigars do so much better!

For years I mixed my own mixture from straight seeds, but in recent years I have formalised the mix with a large seed supplier and not only use it myself, but have sold the mixture to others. It contains just over 50 per cent plain canary seed with the addition of various millets, hemp, groats,nigerand others seeds in very small quantities. I use this mix throughout the year. I feel it’s a basic mix with the addition of the specialist seeds that would be included in any good tonic mix.

The birds always have access to a mix of mineralised grit and oyster shell grits and cuttlefish bone is always available. In the past I have tried all the egg-foods/soft foods and have found Orlux Egg-food to be the best for me and my birds. There is no dust and everything is taken by the birds, unlike many other commercially prepared soft foods.

I prefer to increase the protein levels during the breeding season and therefore add hard boiled eggs to the egg-food. I am not so sure it’s just about protein levels but I believe there are nutrients in the egg that are good for the hens when they are rearing youngsters in the nests. Softfood is offered every day and when there are chicks in the boxes a hen will be offered softfood up to four or even five times a day. Little and often seems much better than one lot for the whole day. Some fanciers add carrot to the softfood – I do not because I like to mix it in the morning, and keep it in the birdroom fridge for the remainder of the day. With carrot mixed in it never seems the same at the end of the day as it was in the morning. Sometimes I add frozen corn to the softfood – about twice a week.

Vitamin Supplement

Water is changed regularly and it’s always available to the birds. In advance of the breeding season I add a vitamin supplement to the water and this continues until the first eggs are seen to be fertile. If these supplements continue to be offered I find the birds become too aggressive towards their youngsters and attacks tend to take place. I am a great believer in the feeding of probiotics but unless the water is changed regularly and the drinkers are washed every time – forget it!

Millet sprays are offered to the birds all the time pairs are in the breeding cages. They are soaked in one of the modern viral/bacterial disinfectants and then thoroughly washed under running water before being offered to the birds. Once chicks are about three weeks old, sprays are cut into small pieces and placed inside the nest boxes. This encourages the chicks to feed early and then when they leave the boxes, they will instantly feed on the sprays in the cage.

With more time with my birds, I like to feed what I like to call “extras”. I do not think these are vital but the birds enjoy them and seem to keep the birds happy and interested. I offer something almost every day – these include spinach, chickweed, bean-sprouts, carrot and sometimes even a small piece of lettuce.

Cages, dishes, perches and drinkers are kept clean at all times.

Once chicks are taken from their parents, they are placed in small groups until they are about 10 weeks when they are placed into inside flights. I believe the weaning period can be one of the most stressful times for young birds. They are kept about8 to 10birds to a double breeding cage or stock cage. They get plenty of millet sprays every day with softfood two or three times a day – again little and often.

Non-breeding Diet

My feeding regime during the non-breeding season is quite similar. I separate all young birds and the non-breeding adults. Young birds get lots of attention in the flights. Plenty of seed in open trays is always available. I do not want my birds becoming stressed by the lack of room at a feeding station. Softfood is offered every day in the flights. I continue to add eggs to the mix as not only do the birds need the added protein for good soft feather but the addition of the eggs seem to improve the colour of the feather on the birds. Colour and feather quality is so important on the modern exhibition Budgerigar. I feed lots of dry oats to add a bit of weight to the young birds. I place open baskets in the flights attached to a perch. In these baskets I add carrots and green-food. I like to try and keep it off the floor of the flights. Any dishes that contain the softfood are removed at the end of the day to be washed and any uneaten green-food is removed too.

Water is changed at least once a day. Probiotics are added to the water a couple of times during the week as these help to keep the general health of the birds at a high level.

My birds love corn and during the summer, I freeze lots of it. I offer whole cobs once a week in the flights. I often cut apples and oranges in half and place them on a dish for the birds – and they love them. Fennel is popular with the birds and about once a week this is offered to the birds in the flights. Spinach is offered at least three days a week.

My standard seed mix is offered all the year and birds in the fights always have mineralised grit and oyster shell grit, and cuttlefish bone.

Only to bring birds into breeding condition do I give any supplements in the drinking water. This starts about six weeks before I intend to make any pairings.

The only other comment I would add would be that I am a breeder of Budgerigars rather than a shower. I still love the breeding after all these years and to breed hundreds of birds every year – as I do – it needs total commitment. Good management, a routine and hard work is all vital if we are to even think about doing well with Budgerigars. Success never comes easily!

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Fred Wright About the Author:

Fred Wright has been breeding budgerigars for more than 45 years.


He started breeding these birds as pets when he was at school in 1961. Within a year or two he joined a local club and was soon breeding exhibition birds – but continued to breed pets to support his exhibition interests and still believes that this is an ideal way to start with budgerigars. Even if the interest is just in exhibition stock, he believes the way forward should always be to breed and sell ten, to buy one good one!


Fred’s aim has never been to breed two or three super birds a year – it’s been to establish a very large stud of top quality budgerigars. Usually, in excess of 300 budgerigars are bred each year. He loves to show his birds to visitors and one of the comments made by many people is that it’s one of the better studs in the country, but disappointingly, they rarely get seen on the show bench.


Some 20 years plus ago, he was encouraged to write for magazines about budgerigars. Since then he has become a prolific writer and has articles published all over the world. Together with Roy Stringer, Fred wrote a series of books – the “All About …” series of nine books about all the colours and varieties of budgerigars. These books have become extremely popular.

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  1. Wonderful tips Fred Wright.Thank you very much.

    Habib Ur Rehman,Pakistan

  2. Adrian Praeger says:

    Hi Fred, thanks for the tips. Quick question – how do you serve the eggs? I have tried providing eggs, raw and hard boiled to my budgies on occasion, but they never seem to have more than a inspection of it.

    Thanks
    Adrian

  3. Dear Adrian

    Eggs = Protein

    We can not offer eggs in raw, but hard boiled either chopped with shell or without and keep track all the budgies since beginning and provide them regularly in small quantity or mixed with vegetables.Make them something special for giving ‘taste’ they will love to eat.

    Eggs are best source to get protein.

    Thank you.
    Habib Ur Rehman,Pakistan

  4. jerry hart says:

    my bird keeps bring seed up want do i do

  5. Terry Tuxford Terry Tuxford says:

    For cock birds regurgitation can be a normal thing and is a part of the courtship process when he feeds his chosen partner. Single birds are often seen feeding objects as a female substitute.

  6. Delia Smith says:

    Wonderful sensible advice Fred, guaranteed to get good breeding results if followed as you’ve given it. The magic in the eggs is in the yolks. Full of essential fatty acids and cholesterol needed for hormone and D3 production. Together with the pure bioavailable protein of the white it is natures perfect food.

  7. Jeff Hall says:

    Fred do you add vitamins with your probiotics? I give only one at a time in the drinking water .
    Thanks jeff hall

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