Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Preparing EGG FOOD for Breeding Birds or "Egg Food For Young" ... Grin.

Flame and Fuchsia's 3 well-fed youngsters. Photo taken today,
April 24, 2013. Babies growing strong with added egg food.

Egg Food is inexpensive, nutritious and easy to make. My birds love it and I feed it to them throughout the breeding season. The American Egg Board tells us that eggs contain many essential vitamins and minerals along with high quality protein. They are one of the few foods naturally rich in vitamin D, which plays a role in calcium absorption and formation of strong bones. So it’s good for Mama and her babies. In case you’ve never made Egg Food before, we’ve created a detailed step-by-step pictorial for you to follow. Remember, this is a supplemental food and should not be fed exclusively! If given in the morning, remove it in the evening, or sooner if the weather is very hot. Keep it fresh, and always have parakeet seed available, as well.
Before We Begin…
The first problem you’ll encounter when feeding hard-boiled eggs to small birds is getting it into a form that they can eat. Most of them don't pick up chunks of food. So your first task, after you’ve boiled your eggs is to convert them into a fine enough form that your birds will eat them.
We’ll accomplish this by mashing the cooked eggs and combining them with dry bread crumbs. When mashed, the yolks tend to become gummy and the dry bread provides texture. The laying and rearing process takes a lot out of the mother bird. Don’t be surprised if they begin to appear noticeably thinner. Bread flours are typically enriched, so the crumbs you mix in provide nutritional benefit as well as calories for energy. Be sure to save the shells when peeling your eggs; they are an important source of calcium.
You may be tempted to use a blender or food processor to make your Egg Food. I try to make mine in small batches so that it remains fresh and I’ve found the quantities involved to be too small for the blender to process efficiently. I also use a small coffee grinder to reduce the egg shells to a floury consistency. It’s probably not necessary, but it disperses in the mix easily that way. Be sure to dry the shells in the microwave or oven before grinding them.

With that out of the way, let’s make some Egg Food

1. Gather Everything You'll Need

Egg Food is definitely a Lo-Tech project. All you need is a bowl; some fine, dry bread crumbs; your eggs, a fork, a potato masher, and a way to grind the shell. Instead of using a grinder, you could also put the dry shells in a plastic bag and go over them with a rolling pin.

2. Peel Your Eggs and Save the Shells
3. Coarsely Mash the Eggs

4. Use a Fork for Finer Texture

Keep working the tines of the fork through the mixture to break up the larger pieces of egg white and combine it with the yolk.

5. Oven-Dried Shells Ready for Grinding

6. Add the Shell and Blend

Spoon the powdered egg shells over the top of your pulverized eggs and use the fork to disperse it throughout. It is much easier to do this while the egg mixture is still a little gummy. The addition of dry shells will help give the mix a better texture.

7. Add Dry Bread Crumbs to the Mix 

You'll find recipes for Egg Food that give specific quantities of crumbs to eggs. I prefer to add a little at a time and test always following the cook's motto that it's easy to put it in, but hard to take it out. As a rule of thumb, I add about as much bread crumbs as eggs. You'll notice that I use a commercial product. You can, of course, make them yourself from bread crusts and loaves going stale. However, it's more work and saves very little money.
Store your Egg Food in an air-tight bowl in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. As I said earlier, I try not to make too much at a time so my birds always have a fresh supply. 

Close-Up of the Final Texture

The Result -  Happy and Healthy Birds. This is Rhett.

Rosie and Pretty Boy's four offspring. Also benefiting
from added egg food. Photo taken today, 4/24/2013.

Rhett and Cherry's three babies. Photo taken today, 4/24/2013.
Baby on top has pink eyes. Others have dark eyes.
 Peace and Blessings.


Melissa Korhonen said...

Gail, Thank you! These are wonderful, easy to follow instructions and pictures. Today I'm making a batch for my bourkes. However, the last few weeks I have been making the boiled eggs with out anything mixed in and only the male will eat it. That is okay because he feeds it on to the female. But I noticed when he eats the egg he gets Diarrhea. I thought it might be the egg yolk doing that so then I only fed him the egg whites. That did the same thing. Any ideas why the boiled egg would cause Diarrhea? I'm using fresh, store bought eggs.

G. A. Lewis said...

The bread crumbs should help. Female Bourkes that are parenting do have looser stools, especially right after egg laying, but even as they're feeding their young. I've not noticed a difference in the males.

Melissa Korhonen said...

Okay, the bread crumbs did fix that situation. About how long does the egg food last in the refridgerator?

G. A. Lewis said...

I would not store it for more than a week in the refrigerator, at most. Less is better. We typically make enough to last four or five days and keep it refrigerated. If it's not going to be used up in that amount of time, we have wrapped it in a zip lock bag - pushing all the air out - and froze it to be defrosted to use later.

We boil one egg per pair of birds to mix with the bread crumbs. That seems about right for five days use.

D. Smith said...

Adding to Melissa's query about loose stools when feeding egg plain.
Don't if you can help it for digestive reasons. The recipe given here works because of the combinations of ingredients. It's wonderfuly simple and effective. Protein, important fats and vitamins, especially B12 and D3 from the egg, carbohydrates and fiber from the bread and vital extra calcium from the egg shell. Its like a three leg stool,
each leg is important for it to stand. I add a pinch of powdered vits
for each parent bird fed as breeding is stressful work and health is precious.

Anonymous said...

maybe cooked egg yolks chopped and sprinkled onto finely chopped raw carrot good food supplement f or pet bird.good protein-low fat.the egg whites may be mostly fat.parakeets may not need that fat.seed based diets may be low in protein and minerals found in veggies.

Twerzle said...

I was told to add corn meal to the egg instead of bread crumbs. Also not to give greens till chicks are 3 weeks old. Does this sound reasonable?

G.A. Lewis said...

Hello Twerzle, Our Bourkes aren't eating much at 3 weeks of age. However, when they are ready they will eat. We give them spray millet to begin eating, and buy a breeding and nestling formula that all the birds like. I've never made egg food with corn meal, but Bourkes do love cooked sweet corn so it would probably be okay to make it with corn meal. The proof is in the eating ... will they like it? Smile. By the time the babies are willing to try greens, I can't imagine it would harm them. Just have plenty of the right seed available so they can choose. Don't force them to eat greens because it's all they have. A diverse diet is the best way to go. They will eat what they need. - Rosie

Gail (aka Rosie Bird) said...

An Anonymous reader asked a valid question. However, the Spam filter removes Anonymous commments. I happened to check them today. They asked how often to feed egg food. When parents are breeding, it can be fed daily or less frequently. When parents are feeding their young, it's advantageous (although not a requirement) to feed it daily. It provides calcium and other healthy ingredients to their diet. For the 2nd half of their question, Feeding egg food to a pair of birds you want to breed is good for them, but it alone won't make them mate or raise offspring. A pair that like each other (some don't) still need enough daylight (or artificial light) and an appropriate nest site. See other blog posts for more info. on this.