Millets for Birds:
In the last Kharif season, when I visited a research farm on Millets, could find net covering all over the crop field. When enquired, could know that birds were damaging the crops. No doubt, there were other crops, but the birds loved only Millets.
Today, I thought of sharing about millets and why millets are good for birds. I am a Certified Farm Advisor on Millets and promoting Millets from Farm to Plate. In this blog, I will be covering the following points:
- Millets and types of Millets
- Why millets are good for birds?
- Spray Millets for Birds
- Best Millets for Birds
- Precautions to be taken while feeding Millets
- Where to buy Millets for Birds?
Millets and Types of Millets:
Millets are the small, round to oval shape grains belonging to the Poaceae family. They are ancient grains that were cultivated over 7000 years ago. It was consumed as staple food grains and also used for brewing. In the 18th Century, Millets were cultivated in the United States of America mostly Foxtail Millet. It was used as bird feed in the western countries. As you know, India is the highest producer of Millets and most of the millets were exported from India for bird feeds.
Now, in India, about nine types of Millets are grown. If you are new to the millets and want to know more, you can definitely watch the video below. It will surely help you in the identification of millet grains.
Why Millets are good for Birds?
As we know millets are highly nutritious and rich in nutrients and their demand is increasing in every household in India and abroad. When it comes to bird feed, we need to select the right kind of grains so that the loved birds remain healthy without falling sick. During the COVID-19 pandemic period lot of people fed their birds with cooked rice, puff rice, and other junk feeds which made the birds sick. I came to know that there was a shortage of bird feed in the market.
Now, let me say you why millets are considered as right feed for the birds:
- Millets are highly nutritious. They are rich in Magnesium, Phosphorous, and Calcium.
- It is a healthy and palatable treat for the birds.
- It is low in fat and high in good carbohydrates.
- It contains high fiber so that it is easily digestible.
- Millets are weaning food for the small birds.
- The texture of millets grains is appealing for birds.
- Millets are alkaline which counteracts the acids in birds.
- Millets build the immune system in birds.
- It acts as a natural stress reliever for birds.
- It supplies essential vitamins like B1, B2, B3, and B6.
Spray Millets for Birds:
In Spray Millets the grains are densely attached in a cluster along the long stalk. This pattern can be found in Foxtail Millet (Setaria italica). Millet spray is enjoyed by the birds due to its natural form. It encourages foraging and keeps the birds busy. The Millet spray is tied inside the cage or it can be kept in the Millet Spray Holder to avoid wastage. For small birds in the cage, the millet spray is made into small pieces and attached with Snack Clips.
Best Millet for Birds:
When I am asked, which millet is best for birds. I will always recommend 3 millet among the 9 types of millets. They are:
- Proso MilletProso Millet is bigger in size among the small millets. It has a glossy appearance and it is shinner than Foxtail Millet. The grains are spherical to oval in shape. There are longitudinal lines on the grain. It contains 12.5 gm protein, 70.4 gm of carbohydrates, 5.2 gms of fiber, 206 mg of Phosphorous per 100 gm of grains.
- Foxtail Millet
Foxtail Millet grains are yellowish creamy in color. It is smaller than Proso Millet. It contains 12.3 gms of protein, 60.2 gms of carbohydrates, 4 gms of minerals, 6.7 gms of fiber, 290 mg of Phosphorous, 31 mg of Calcium per 100 gms of grains.
Pearl millet comes under major millet. It is ovoid, globose, and hexagonal in shape. It contains 11.8 gms of protein, 67 gms of Carbohydrates, 2.3 gms of fiber, 240 mg of Phosphorous, 42 mg of Calcium per 100 gms of grains.
Related Post: Millet Grain Anatomy
Precautions to be taken while feeding the birds:
- Don’t overfill the feed bowl as the grains may fall down.
- Put the clean paper on the bottom of the cage so that waste can be minimized.
- Don’t overfeed the birds.
- As millet grains are small, sometimes they may stick to the bird’s nostrils especially parrots. So, when you hear the change of sound or nasal discharge, give a check to the birds.
Where to buy Millets for Birds:
It is always advisable to buy millets in bulk, as it will cheaper. But, if you are not getting in your local market, then you can prefer to buy online.
Please leave your feedback in the comment section below. I will be happy to hear from you.
Author: Tapas Chandra Roy, A Certified Farm Advisor on Millets, ‘Promoting Millets from Farm to Plate’. In a mission to take the forgotten grains- Millets to Millions. To remain updated on my blogs on millets you can join my Telegram Channel – Millet Advisor.