Seed or Pelleted Bird Food


Date: July 18th, 2011

Abortion. Suffrage. The chicken or the egg. While these debates have been argued for decades, none are as fiercely disputed as which diet is healthier for pet birds; seed or pelleted bird food?



While we may have gotten a bit carried away, this topic is heavily argued among pet bird owners. Pelleted bird food was first offered in the early 1990s as an alternative to seed. Some avian specialists believe that seed diets are poorly balanced and unhealthy, while others feel that seed diets suit birds just fine. Who is right? Let’s examine just what goes into seed and pelleted foods.


Seed Diet


As early as birds were kept as pets, seed has been used as a staple of the diet. Seed, combined with grains, fruits and vegetables offers a variety in the bird’s diet. Most seed diets also include some type of pelleted food to incorporate additional vitamins and minerals.


For smaller birds such as finches and canaries, grit is often added to help the bird grind and digest the seeds. Soft-billed birds are unable to chew and break down the seeds so the grit is necessary for digestion.


Seed diets for small hook-billed birds such as parakeets usually contain smaller seeds that are primarily grain-seeds. Seed mixes for medium and large hook-billed birds such as cockatiels, lovebirds, and conures may include sunflower and safflower. Larger birds like parrots and macaws have fewer small seeds in their mixtures but have more nuts and larger seeds like pumpkin and pine nut.


On the market today, many of the seed offerings are colorfully coated to attract birds. The coating also serves as an additional vitamin source.


Seed diets are formulated to provide complete and balanced nutrition when all components of the mix are eaten completely. However, in many cases, a bird will pick around certain seed varieties and focus only on seeds they prefer. This leaves many ingredients uneaten and can lead to an unbalanced diet.


Pelleted Bird Foods


Due to bird’s picky nature of only eating selected seeds, grains, and nuts from their seed diet, pelleted food was incorporated into bird’s diets in the early 1990’s. Pelleted foods combine nutrients that are essential to bird diet and health in one kibble.


Similar to seed diets, some pelleted kibbles rely on colorful shapes and fruitlike aromas to appeal to the bird. However, there are also all-natural pelleted foods that have all the nutrients but none of the spunk. No matter the type of pelleted food, if you are switching from seed to pellet, it will take patience and resourcefulness to get your bird to accept the new food.


Birds will not be open to new foods so it’s best to try mixing the pellets in with your bird’s existing seed mix. Dogs and cats are much easier in transitioning from food to food then birds. Where a dog or cat will eventually give in to a new food, birds are capable of starving themselves rather than being forced to accept a new food.

If you are having a tough time switching your bird from one diet to the next, try moistening the pellets, crumbling them onto seeds or pieces of fruit, or even offering it to them as a reward or treat by hand.


Looking for an opinion? Both of the diets are beneficial in their own way, but neither should be offered exclusively. CountryMax suggests offering 50% of a diet as seed or pellet, and 50% as veggies, fruits and greens. Feeding solely pellets or seeds is an unhealthy diet. Veggies, fruits and greens offer vitamins and minerals that are not available through seeds or pellets.  


If you have any further questions, email them to, or visit your local CountryMax store today!

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