Helpful Information

Feeding Dehydrated Foods

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I’m a big fan of a whole foods sprout based chop style diet with supplements. If a chop style diet works for your birds, then stick with it! However, dehydrating that same diet could be a convenient way for your birdsitter to feed your birds when you’re away from home. Or you might just want to use dehydrating as a way to provide healthy treats for your birds. Or you can serve an occasional meal of dehydrated birdfood in the morning that will be safe in the cage all day long if you know you won’t be home to serve birdie dinner on time. Dehydrated foods can be both nutritious for your bird and convenient for you.

The recipes on this site are meant to serve as examples for someone new to dehydrating to go by. When I make dehydrated food I don’t actually follow a recipe, but I do sometimes jot down the ingredients in case I want to make something similar in the future. My recipes may be a good place to start if you are unsure of what your bird will like. Anyone making dehydrated birdfood should feel free to experiment with recipes and customize the ingredients and flavors for their birds.

 

Dehydrated Meals

None of these recipes on my site represent a complete diet. I use the dehydrated foods as a convenient means for getting my birds to eat some of the fresh, whole foods that they won’t always consume on their own. You notice I don’t include foods such as nuts or apples in my recipes, because my birds voluntarily eat as much of these as I will serve them. Yet the kale based crackers shown above include other nutritious vegetables, berries, sprouts, spices and herbs mixed in and they are readily consumed by my birds.

Because none of the meal recipes on my site are nutritionally complete, I suggest only using them as occasional meals. Ensuring your bird has a well rounded diet that covers all the nutritional bases is important and using any of these recipes as a large a portion of the diet will make that more difficult.

When serving dehydrated food as an occasional meal, you might want to weigh out each portion. The dehydrated food can vary in thickness and just eyeballing it hasn’t worked as well for me. Below are the amounts I use for a single serving. Since each bird is an individual and things like activity level will affect how much a bird eats, you should use these amounts only as a guideline. Start with a few grams more than what I have listed below, because you don’t want your birds going hungry until you’ve determined the right amount to feed them.

  • African Grey: 12 grams
  • Umbrella Cockatoo: 13 grams
  • Blue Crown Conure: 8 grams

It doesn’t seem like much food when you put it in the bowl! But remember that all of the moisture has been removed and that greatly decreases the weight. When I feed a mash or chop meal I’m usually feeding at least double these weights.

 

Dehydrated Treats and Snacks

It’s easy and fun to make dehydrated treats and snacks for your bird! You should experiment with recipes that help you sneak lots of nutrition into each batch. Just remember that these treats and snacks should be served in limited amounts and make up only a small portion (5% or less) of the daily food intake.

Dehydrating Tips

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Some general info you might find helpful if you’re considering dehydrating for your birds. The information about the actual process of dehydrating and storage is on the conservative side, but these are the guidelines I follow for my own birds.

  • There are lots of dehydrators on the market, but the Excalibur has long been a favorite of raw food fans. We have both the 5 tray and the 4 tray model and have been very pleased with them.
  • Don’t worry about following the recipes exactly. The most important part is the spices & flavorings. These make the healthy foods more palatable, like masking the bitterness of greens.
  • Feel free to add your usual supplements to the recipes if you will be using the food as an occasional meal.
  • We generally grind everything up. The best method we’ve found for grinding dry seeds and grains is in a chopping attachment for our hand blender, but an unused coffee grinder works as well. Everything else goes through the food processor. Small seeds like amaranth or quinoa can be added whole.
  • One large batch of food (enough to fill the 5 tray Excalibur) takes about 1 – 1.5 hours to get ground up & spread out on the trays.
  • We always use parchment paper on the dehydrator trays as this makes for super easy clean up.
  • We use the back of a large serving spoon to help spread out food on the trays.
  • If you live in a humid area, try dividing the food up into two or more sections on the dehydrator tray, then score it help it dry more evenly. The scoring can be done with a butter knife.
  • The general rule is that food can be dehydrated for up to 24 hours.
  • Dehydrating at temperatures below 110 degrees will help ensure beneficial enzymes remain intact. To speed up the drying process, you can dehydrate for the first 2 hours at 155 degrees and then decrease the temp to 110 degrees. The moisture in the food keeps the food from reaching the higher temperatures during those first 2 hours.
  • We always flip the food about half way through the dehydrating time and remove the parchment paper at this time to speed up the drying process.
  • When the food is completely dry or you’ve been dehydrating for up to 24 hours, turn off the dehydrator and allow the food to come up to room temperature. This can take up to an hour, but don’t let the food sit longer than that.
  • Be sure to check for dryness by breaking the food up into smaller pieces before storing it. You should be able to tell if an area isn’t completely dry and this food needs to be stored separately from the dry food.
  • Food that has been thoroughly dried can be stored in an air tight container away from light at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.
  • Any food that isn’t completely dry can be stored in the fridge to be served within a few days or in the freezer for up to a couple months.
  • Be sure to always indicate the date on the containers you store your food in.