Budgie Feeding System: The Mineral And Trace Elements For The Budgerigar

Author: Rob Marshall – Avian Vet:

The Mineral And Trace Elements For The Budgerigar

The minerals and trace elements are the most neglected part of good nutrition for budgerigars.

Seeds are a very poor source of minerals and trace elements. Fanciers do not pay enough attention to the role and necessity of the minerals and trace elements for breeding and show performance, believing that the grit they use provides their flock with all the minerals and trace elements required for good health.

However, this is not so. The regular grits contain calcium but are deficient in iodine, iron and most trace elements. The wild budgerigar forages the dirt and river edges in search of minerals and trace elements.

Shell grit provides the budgerigar with a source of digestive stones and contains calcium, but is a poor source of mineral salts and trace elements.

Cuttlefish bone is a source of calcium, but is lacking in other minerals. Budgerigars love searching through the soil on the roots of grass clumps for minerals and trace elements.

The soil contains minerals especially iron, magnesium and other field elements, for which the budgerigar craves when feeding of young.

Soil, however, is a potent source of bacterial and fungal infections to budgerigars and must be avoided.


Shell grit is not the best form of Calcium supplementation for laying birds.

Laying hens need more than twice the calcium of the aviary bird and a concentrated mineral supplement (F-vite)* is the best and safest method of providing the Calcium, which is largely unavailable in shell grit.

Far too much shell grit is eaten to satisfy their calcium needs. Laying hens fall ill, vomit and may die from gizzard obstruction after engorging on the shell grit.

An abnormally high incidence of egg binding, cloacal prolapse, leg problems in the babies or poor eggshell quality points towards a low level of calcium in the diet or a poor absorption of calcium into the bird.

Wet grit creates a major health hazard to budgerigars, because the moisture in the grit promotes harmful bacterial growth and contamination.

E.coli and related bacteria are commonly found in wet grits originating from the dead and decaying mollusks, which inhabit the grit shells.

Some of the bacteria produced by these decaying marine animals are toxic. Wet and contaminated grit is a common cause of enteritis, wet nests and poor breeding performance in budgerigars.

Budgies search for minerals and trace elements when the levels in the body are depleted. Depletion of minerals occurs mostly when the hens are laying eggs and when the parents are heavily feeding young.

The budgerigars become agitated, and chew on anything in search of minerals. Depleted birds over-engorging on grit or Cuttlefish bone causing vomiting and occasionally death from a blocked gizzard.

Hen birds feather pick their young and cock birds kill fully feather chicks between five and six weeks of age.

Trace Elements

The most important trace elements for breeding budgerigars Iodine, Iron, Copper and Zinc.

A deficiency of any trace element will decrease breeding performance. Iodine is the most important trace element for breeding. Trace element supplementation is best given in the water or soft food mix during the breeding season.

Iodine activates the metabolism of budgerigars and is used to stimulate the aviary into breeding condition, to accelerate the moult of young birds and to “peak” the birds for the show.

An audible whistling or squeak indicates iodine deficiency. Iodine deficiency tends to be a regional problem. Several reliable iodine supplements (Ioford NF) are available.

Further Budgie Reading

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