Making and Feeding “Chop” mix to your bird

What is Chop?

Chop refers to a finely chopped or processed mix of fresh and cooked foods to be fed to birds.  Breeders have been making mixes like this for many years but popularity has recently increased in pet birds. 

 

Why Chop?

Chop mixes are a great way to introduce new foods to birds who are fussy about what they eat.  It is an easy way to offer a wide variety of foods daily, as mixes can be made in a big batch and frozen, thawing a daily amount as needed.

 

What goes in Chop?

There are endless lists of ingredients and combinations that can be put into a chop mix.  The general idea is to have everything finely chopped, but not mash, so that birds can pick through.  Initially, I would make the mix so that about 1/3 of the mix is food your bird is familiar with and enjoys eating.  The mix will be moist but you don’t want it too watery.  All vegetables (except onion, avocado and rubarb) can be used and raw is fine.  I usually rinse, coarsely cut and then do small batches in a food processor on low speed before mixing it all together in a bowl.  As a rough guide, I would aim for 50% vegetables, 40% cooked grains/legumes and 10% dry ingredients.  Chop mixes can be as simple or complicated as you want.  I have included a simple recipe on the next page as well as a list of possible ingredients.  For further examples, go to http://www.parrotenrichment.com/nutrition/recipes.html, which also has many other enrichment ideas.

 

How to feed Chop

Chop mix may look very unfamiliar to your bird when first introduced so they might need some help to realize that it is in fact food.  For birds with a favorite fruit or vegetable, this can be cut into coarse pieces and mixed into the mix prior to feeding.  If they pick out these favourite pieces, then they will likely put their beak on and get a taste for other ingredients.  Always throw out uneaten chop after 24 hours.  For birds who do not eat fruit or vegetables yet, their seed mix can be mixed in with the chop.  How much will depend on the bird.  For really fussy birds, 3 parts seed: 1 part chop might be a starting point.  Once they are familiar with the new diet, gradually reduce how much seed you are adding and increase the chop as they eat that.  You will probably find they do not eat all of it initially, but with time, become more adventurous.  You can also add fresh sprouts to the chop mix before feeding, a favourite for many birds.  Do not give excessive amounts where your bird can exclusively pick out favourites and not be hungry for the new foods.

 

Ingredients:

Cooked grains and legumes

Quinoa, oats, barley, rye, spelt, whole grain pasta or rice, chickpeas, lentils, beans – all cooked as per label directions.

Dry Ingredients

Rolled oats, barley flakes, millet, chia seeds, flaxseeds, amaranth flakes, sesame seeds, crushed nuts (almonds, walnuts).  Try to keep nuts and seeds as a low proportion of the mix.

Chopped raw vegetables

Kale, bok choy, parsley, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, fennel, beetroot, pumpkin, sweet potato, capsicum, snow or sugar snap peas, parsnips, cauliflower, beans, corn, chillies, pomegranate, paw paw, tomato, passionfruit, kiwi fruit, melons.

Finely chop all ingredients or put in food processor until very finely chopped.  I find that processing in small batches and with low settings are best to avoid creating a soggy mess. Mix it all together in a mixing bowl.

 

Example Recipe:

1 cup dry quinoa (makes about 2 cups when cooked), 2 carrots, 1 broccoli, 1 medium beetroot, 6 chillies, ¼ cup flaked almonds, ½ cup rolled oats.  Cook quinoa, chop all other ingredients and mix everything together. 

Once made, refrigerate enough for 3 days.  Freeze the rest in portions big enough for 1-2 days.  Depending on the size of your bird, you may do this in an ice-cube tray, small Tupperware containers or freezer bags.  A convenient freezer method is to scoop the mix into the cups of an egg carton, pressing firmly down.  The cups can then be fed frozen in foraging toys.

 

Quantities to feed:

Depends on your bird, but as a rough guide.

Budgerigar: 1-2 teaspoons

Cockatiel/Conure/ringneck: 1 – 2 tablespoons

Eclectus/Galah/Cockatoo/Amazon: 2-4 tablespoons