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Pellet Conversion Tips
It's not always easy to get your feathered friend to eat a healthy diet. I prefer to include pellets as an addition to the rest of my birds' diet. Sometimes they simply won't have anything to do with them though, so here are a few things you can try to get your friend on the path to a better diet. (Source: Bird Talk, July 1998)
1.
Eat (or act like you are eating) pellets while the birds are watching. Make lots of happy sounds and say something like "Yummy, yummy, mommy really likes these," as you are doing it.
2.
Sprinkle pellets on a tabletop or similar surface that the birds are allowed to play on. They will think they have discovered something on their own and may have a greater interest in them.
3.
If your birds will eat from your hand, offer some pellets from your hand or held in your fingertips.
4.
Crush some pellets into powder and sprinkle on other foods that your bird enjoys. Foods that are wet work best, such as corn, peas, pasta, etc. But remember not to leave them in the cage all day when they are wet, because they are susceptible to bacteria growth.
5.
Mix some pellets with vegetable baby food (the kind that is all natural with water added), such as sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, or green beans. Remember not to leave it for more than two hours though, as above. Also, this is only to be used for a short period of time with only the most stubborn birds because the birds may decide that they only want a moist meal and may not want to eat their pellets dry. It's only an interim measure to get them used to the taste of pellets.
6.
In addition to providing the pellets in the cage, emphasize the conversion process while the birds are out of the cage. Incorporate it into their daily "fun" period during their out-of-cage recreation time, and interact with your birds at this time.
7.
If the birds' cages are not situated where they are within sight of your own eating area, rearrange them so they are, at least temporarily. Eat your own meals in front of the birds with only pellets in their cages so if they want to join the flock activity of eating, they have to eat the pellets.
8.
Once the birds are eating at least some pellets via one of the "fun" methods, remove the seeds out of the cage entirely and just leave the dry pellets all day. If the pellets are not being eaten, offer the seeds at the end of the day. (Note: small birds such as parakeets and cockatiels have fast metabolisms and should not pass long periods of time without eating. Always monitor food intake during conversion. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your avian vet before and throughout the conversion process. Never convert your birds when they are ill or under stress.)
9.
One of the most successful tips of all: Place a small cardboard box at the bottom of the cage filled with scraps of paper and little pieces of wood to chew. Also sprinkle some pellets in the box. Many times, once they get the taste for them while "foraging" they will automatically convert themselves from the box to their own bowl.
10. Be consistent. Work on conversion every day, multiple times in a day if possible.
11.
Dispose of any uneaten pellets daily and pour fresh pellets in the bowl, preferably with the birds seeing you pour them in. You may feel like it is a waste, but nothing tastes worse and stops the conversion faster than old, stale pellets.
12.
Weigh the birds during the conversion process. Purchasing a cheap gram scale is a wise investment anyway, so you can keep track of your bird's weight.
Remember that each bird has different tastes. If your birds don't like one brand of pellets, maybe trying a different one will do the trick. Our birds here at Avian Avenue eat ZuPreem (natural), except for Lancelot who is quite partial to Lafeber's. Harrison's Pellets are a great pelleted diet... All Harrison's Bird Foods are certified organic by the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA). Harrison's Bird Foods contain NO chemical insecticides, herbicides, or fungicides, NO preservatives, NO double-dosed vitamins, and NO bacteria, or mycotoxins. Harrison's Bird Foods is the only pet bird food committed to all of these. Ask your Veterinarian for Harrisons... you can't buy it from a pet shop.
Pellet Conversion For Toughies
You know how I finally got our budgie switched over to pellets?

I gave him his pellets at night before bed so that he would have them in his cage bright and early the next AM when he was good and hungry. Then you decide what 2 evening hours you want to give your budgie seed. It's usually done from 6-8pm or 7-9pm, that way they can fill up on seed (if they aren't eating any of their pellets), and they don't have to go to bed hungry. Plus they won't starve to death until they realize that the pellets are actually food. Only give them the seed for these 2 hours and then return the pellets to the cage.

Every couple of days toss the old uneaten pellets because they get stale from exposure to the air and are very yucky. Fresh pellets have the best chance of being sampled.

It's always good to weigh your bird during a conversion process; an investment in a scale is always a good one. Never try to change a bird's diet if you feel they arenít healthy.