Preparing an Egg-Mix & Other Soft Foods
The following information should help you to create some valuable supplements for your birds, but keep in mind that supplementing is only effective if the birds eat the supplements. See Introducing New Foods
to learn how to encourage your birds to try new foods.
The Egg Mix
The basis of an egg mix, as the name implies, is an egg. I prefer to use a hard boiled egg that has been crushed shell and all. The eggshell is an excellent source of calcium in the form of calcium carbonate. It is one of the least expensive and most effective ways of supplementing calcium into the diet. Any seed-based diet is likely to be deficient in calcium, as calcium and phosphorus need to occur in a 2:1 ratio (twice as much calcium as phosphorus), and seed can have 9 times as much phosphorus as calcium!2
This is why the eggshell is so important to include in the mix. Below are ingredients and instructions for creating a custom egg mix to meet
your finches' needs. Egg mixes and other soft foods can be used to supplement the diet and are especially important for molting and breeding birds. They should be provided several times daily to breeding birds to be used as a nestling food, and provided to non-breeding birds at least 3 times per week, if not daily. Increase feedings of egg mix for molting and growing birds, especially if they are on a seed-based diet.
- 1 large egg
- 1½ tsp. hulled, unsalted sunflower seed kernels, finely ground
- optional: additional safe fruits and vegetables of your choice, chopped fine
Makes approximately 70 servings
- Hard boil the egg. (The best way I have found to boil the egg is to bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, add the egg to the water, and then reduce the heat on the stove to medium-low. Allow the egg to sit in the hot water for approximately 15 minutes. When you remove the egg, cut it in half to check the color and consistency of the yolk. A perfectly cooked egg has a light yellow yolk that is cooked all the way through; an overcooked egg has a green tinge on the surface if its yolk, and an under-cooked egg will have a yolk that is not cooked all the way through. Adjust the cooking time appropriately to result in a "perfectly boiled" egg.)
- Mash the entire egg, shell and all, until it is ground fine. I highly recommend using a coffee bean grinder to do this job, as it saves time and labor. It is also the perfect tool to grind the sunflower seed kernels and other fruit and vegetable items for your birds.
- Mix the ground sunflower seeds into the egg mash.
- Optional: mix or sprinkle any additional bits of fruits and vegetables into your egg mix.
- Serve in small treat cups. Any fresh, left over mix can be frozen or refrigerated for later use, but should be discarded after 3 days time.
- Remove and discard of the mix you provide to your birds within 4 hours to prevent spoilage.
for non-breeding birds (as each non-breeding finch will eat approximately ¼ teaspoon of egg mix daily).
Adapted from information provided by the USDA National Nutritional Database for Standard Reference (2004). The "Nutrition Facts" table below does not include any of the optional fruits and vegetables you may have added to the mix; it is based solely on the egg and sunflower seed "base."
|Serving Size||¼ tsp. (.8g)|
|Servings Per Mix||About 70|
|Amount Per Serving||Egg & ground sunflower seeds|
|Total Fat 0.11g|
|Total Carbohydrate 0.02g|
|Dietary Fiber 0.007g|
|Vitamin A||4.2 IU|
|Vitamin D||0.01 mcg|
|Nutritional Value of a Large (50 grams), Whole, Hard-boiled Egg (without shell)|
|Total lipid (fat)||5.3 g|
|Total dietary fiber||0 g|
|Vitamin C||0 mg|
|Pantothenic acid||0.699 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.06 mg|
|Total folate||22 mcg|
|Vitamin B12||0.56 mcg|
|Vitamin A||293 IU|
|Vitamin E||0.52 mg|
|Vitamin K||0.1 mcg|
|Nutritional Value of 1½ tsp. Dried Sunflower Seed Kernels (4.75 grams)|
|Total lipid (fat)||2.36 g|
|Total dietary fiber||0.5 g|
|Vitamin C||0.1 mg|
|Pantothenic acid||0.321 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.037 mg|
|Total folate||11 mcg|
|Vitamin B12||0 mcg|
|Vitamin A||2 IU|
|Vitamin E||1.64 mg|
|Vitamin K||0.1 mcg|
Other Soft Foods2
Grind 1½ cooked eggshells or an equivalent amount of oyster shell into a fine powder (calcium carbonate). Soak a monkey biscuit (ZuPreem and Science Diet are quality brands of primate biscuits) in either orange juice or warm water until soft. Knead the biscuit into a dough ball and combine it with 1 teaspoon of shredded cheddar cheese and all of the calcium powder you made. Add in 1 teaspoon of your favorite avian vitamin and mineral supplement. Optionally, you may wish to mix small portions of minced fresh greens or yellow meaty vegetables into the dough. Roll the dough into small balls and serve to your birds. (To make a larger
batch of this soft food, soak 30 monkey biscuits in orange juice or water until soft, add in ½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese, 100 grams of ground-up eggshell or oyster shell, ½ cup of an avian vitamin and mineral supplement and roll into small dough balls. Surplus quantities can be frozen until needed. Serve thawed with fresh, finely chopped vegetables.)
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