Getting the Best out of Beans ... Sprouting for Extra Nutritional Value


W ould you like to offer your parrots the type of living foods that wild parrots choose for themselves? Are you concemed about the hundreds of pesticides used on conventionally-grown produce? Would you feed your birds organic foods it were affordable? If so, sprouting for your parrots will be of interest to you.

Many aviculturists avoid sprouting because they believe that it is difficult and time consuming. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is surprisingly easy and takes very little time. If you have access to a health food store, you can purchase everything necessary for successfully sprouting many healthgiving seeds, grains and legumes safely and at very little cost.

If you have hesitated to try sprouting because of the fear that sprouts are dangerous and full of bacteria and fungi, hesitate no more. It is so easy to sprout safely that fear of microbial contamination is no excuse for passing up the opportunity to give your birds the live food that they are biologically adapted to consume.

If we observe the basic rules of food hygiene and keep in mind that germinating seeds are fragile, .growing baby plants, we will handle them carefully and they will not become damaged and therefore easily tainted with


harmful organisms. It is best to buy seeds for sprouting from reputable sources. Seeds that are second rate in quality and price are not a bargain. EB Cravens, popular writer and aviculturist from Hawaii says: "I cannot overemphasize how important quality seed stock is to a sprouting program. To take a standard mass-produced birdseed mix and attempt to sprout it for your pets is asking for trouble! We utilize only health food and human-grade seeds, pulses, and grains."

Sprouting for Increased Production

One of the goals of most avicultural programs is a good production rate. With optimal care, most healthy parrots are able to reproduce and raise healthy babies. However, there are many pairs that frustrate their owner's by never reproducing for no apparent reason. Sprouted or germinated seeds have a rejuvenating effect on humans and animals alike because of the RNA, DNA, protein, and essential nutrients that are found only in living cells.

Studies have shown remarkable changes in damaged human DNA upon the introduction of a compound found in young growing plants like wheatgrass. These studies were done on reproductive cells, and the results suggest that live plants may improve


and even restore fertility. Many of the benefits of various foods appear to affect parrot health in much the same equivalency as to human health. Raw sprouts and grasses are easily-digested foods and have a higher biological efficiency value than cooked greens, seeds, and beans.

According to Greg Harrison and Branson Ritchie in Avian Medicine:

Principles and Application, "Bean sprouts are considered highly nutritious and are thought [by many aviculturists) to stimulate breeding ... "

Mike Owen from Queensland, Australia, a successful breeder of many parrot species says, "I am a regular sprouter of seed for my birds, especially when they are breeding. The first thing to note is that one of the major effects of sprouting is to increase the protein content, by up to a factor of two. Thus sunflower, which normally has a protein level of around 20%, has this increased to around 35% with sprouting - all that oil (fat) is being converted! The highest protein and nutritional value is achieved when the tip of the root first appears. As the root gets longer, and the shoot appears, the level of protein and vitamins sinks rapidly. This high protein level is one reason that sprouted seed is so useful to breeding birds, with their higher protein requirements. Birds in a non-


breeding situation can be fed less sprouts. I would give about a tablespoonful to a bird out of breeding condition, but as much as they want to eat during breeding season, at least a cup full. Sprouted seed is also of value to moulting birds, which have an increased protein requirement."

Common sense dictates that animals in the peak of health are more likely to reproduce than those that are only marginally healthy. In numerous studies of cattle, the addition of sprouts to the diet was found to increase the production of milk and to restore fertility to cows that were sterile. This is not surprising because wheat sprouts, for example, supply more and higherquality vitamin E than does wheat germ, a noted source of the fertility vitamin. The vitamin E content of wheat triples when it is sprouted. Oats and rye also are excellent sources of the fertility vitamin as are all sprouted seeds and nuts. The point of the studies is that the reproductive function of animals can be rejuvenated and restored to its normal healthy state when the diet contains an abundance of sprouts.