Your budgies’ diet
Your budgies’ diet is really important to their health and happiness – and they need plenty of exercise, too.
Follow our vets’ tips and give your birds a well-rounded diet.
Feeding your budgie
Here’s what our vets recommend for a balanced budgie diet:
- Good quality, pellet budgie food as their ‘base’ diet. We recommend pelleted foods specially designed for budgies because they contain the right nutrients in the right amounts. Pellets are better than seeds because your budgies can’t just pick their favourites. Follow the feeding guidelines on the back of the packet and make sure to give them fresh pellets every day.
- Fresh vegetables. You can give your budgies treats of fresh greens to boost their daily nutrition.
- Mineral supplements. Your budgies will benefit from a source of minerals such as mineral block designed for budgies or a cuttlefish bone.
- Water should be available at all times. You can buy a suitable water drinker from pet shops. Clean it every day to keep water fresh and safe to drink.
We now know that budgies do not usually need grit. This was historically recommended to help them grind their food but budgies can actually easily digest the ingredients in modern budgie pellets. Too much grit can cause more harm than good, so avoid it unless it’s been specifically recommended for your bird.
Introducing new foods to your budgies’ diet
Changing your budgies’ diet suddenly can give them an upset stomach and can make them quite poorly. It’s best to introduce new foods slowly over at least a week rather than giving them lots all at once.
If your budgie eats a seed diet and you’d like to change this to healthier pellets, you’ll need do so gradually. Budgies that are used to only seeds often don’t recognise other things as food and so you’ll need some patience!
It’s not a tricky change but does need to be done over a few weeks and if you’re not getting anywhere, ask your vet for advice.
- Before you decide to start the process of changing over your budgies’ diet, you’ll need to prepare them. Limit the food offered to your budgies to 1 tsp of seed. Only when they’ve completely emptied their portion should you top up their bowl with another 1tsp. Repeat each time they’ve completely finished each portion (don’t limit your budgie to 1tsp per day!). You can still offer small amounts of fruit and vegetables during this time if your budgies are used to having them.
- For the next week, offer your budgies a teaspoon of seeds for an hour in the morning and night but for the rest of the day, remove the seeds and use the same bowl to offer 1 tsp of pellets. If they eat the pellets, refill with another teaspoon of pellets. Once your budgies start to eat the pellets then you can reduce the amount of seed offered morning and night. Don’t take the seed away completely until you’re sure all of your budgies are eating the pellets and fresh food.
- If you’re struggling to get your budgies to eat the new pellets, you can try crumbling and mixing them in with your birds’ favourite vegetables (not with seeds), or use a tiny splash of fruit juice from their favourite fruit to slightly wet (not soak) the pellets. If your birds are very bonded to you, seeing you pretend to eat the food can encourage them to give it a try. Another tip is to sprinkle the pellets on a mirror, which can encourage your birds to eat to ‘show up’ their rival in the mirror!
Some budgies may take up to a month or two to swap over completely but most can be changed over much quicker than this. If you’re worried or would like more advice, speak to your vet who may have more tips and be able to tailor a conversion protocol to your budgies.
Budgie-friendly fruit and veg
Even though pellets provide everything your budgies need, it’s nice to have some variation and offering them fresh foods can help with this. Just remember to introduce them slowly if your budgies haven’t had them before.
Up to 10-15% of your budgies’ diet can be fruit and veg – this usually works out as one or two thumbnail-sized pieces per budgie per day. Focus more on vegetables which have lots of good nutritional value. Fruits are sweeter and more sugary but can be used as a treat. Out of the fruits, berries and wild fruits have the best nutritional value for birds compared to fruits grown for humans to eat (which are sweeter and more sugary).
Give them to your budgies in a separate bowl from their usual pellet food and clean the dishes daily so nasty bugs don’t build up. Make sure that food only stays with your birds for a few hours so they don’t lose their freshness – always remove any uneaten food by the end of the day. Once they’re used to eating fruit and veg, you can hide their favourite treats to encourage them to ‘forage’ for food to help reduce boredom, but remember to still replace them at the end of each day.
Try to use organic fruit and veg if possible and always wash them well, as it’s not good for budgies to come into contact with pesticides. Cooking removes important vitamins so only offer fresh, raw fruit and veg to your budgies.
Some fruit and veg that you can offer your feathered friends include:
- Berries e.g blackberry, blueberry, blackcurrant, strawberry, raspberry
- Sweet potato
- Leafy greens
- Salad cress
So that your budgies don’t have too much of one thing, just give a couple of small pieces of fruit and veg they like, a couple of times a week. This should help prevent them from getting bored and shouldn’t overload them, which could cause an upset tummy.
Stopping your budgie putting on too much weight
Just like any pet, budgies can easily put on weight if they don’t get the right diet and exercise. Pet obesity is a growing problem in the UK and causes all sorts of health problems.
You can keep your budgie at their ideal weight by:
- Choosing a good quality pellet food and following the feeding guidelines on the packet.
- Avoiding seed-based diets. Seeds are high in fat and aren’t a balanced diet.
- Keeping sugary or high-fat food like millet sprays and honey sticks as a very occasional treat.
- Giving your budgies an opportunity to spread their wings and fly in a secure environment – see our advice on the ideal home for budgies.
Budgie exercise: free flying
Help your budgies stay fit and healthy by giving them a spacious aviary that they can fly around in.
If your budgies are tame and used to humans, you can let them fly free from their aviary, in your home. This is great exercise for your birds. Make sure you only let them fly in a safe, secure room and that you supervise them at all times:
- Close all windows and doors.
- Turn off any fans, ceiling fans, extractor fans, and paper shredders.
- Keep other pets out of the room.
- Make sure that any venetian or vertical blinds are closed properly, so that budgies can’t become entangled.
Make sure they don’t nibble on things that could be poisonous to budgies – e.g. paint, curtain rings etc. Read more about household hazards for your birds.