by Bill Van Patten

 

The Save the Gouldian Fund has developed a very simple 4 Step Method of delivering complete nutrition for breeding and maintaining Lady Gouldian Finches. One of the most frequent questions that we are asked is how to feed a Lady Gouldian Finch to maintain health and breeding vitality.  And many of the questions we get regarding health and breeding problems arise from poor nutrition.

 

Here is the diet and nutrition program used at the Save the Gouldian Fund.  It follows Mike Fidler's Annual Dietary Cycle for breeding Lady Gouldian Finches as described in the book "The Gouldian Finch" (Fidler/Evans).  This dietary cycle simulates the natural availability of food to the wild Gouldian, and will condition captive Gouldians for optimum health and fertility. It features a diverse and nutritionally rich diet of dry seeds, sprouted seeds mixed with a softfood, and calcium grit to allow your birds to forage for the nutrition they need (as they do in nature).  This diet contains everything your birds require, and represents the most current scientific information on Gouldian finch nutrition.

 

Your Gouldians will have to learn how to eat healthfully.  It takes a finch several months to typically accept a new food.  You must be consistent, and keep new food offerings fresh to attract your bird's interest.  Over time you will see nibbling at first, and then complete acceptance as they discover and crave your nutritionally rich offerings. You will also find that during different times of the year, your Gouldian will eat different parts of your offerings more heavily than at other times of the year.  That is his or her body telling them what it needs.

 

Mike Fidler's 4 Step Annual Dietary Cycle for Breeding Lady Gouldian Finches as used by the Save the Gouldian Fund:

1. Maintenance & Resting Season Diet (3 months)

2. Pre-Breeding Austere Diet (1 month to cease hormone flow and rest the reproductive organs)

3. Breeding Season Diet (6 months)

4. Molting Season Diet (8 weeks)

Then restart the annual cycle at Step 1.


Why did we start the cycle with the Maintenance & Resting Season Diet. If you have new birds they need time to adjust to your food and their new cage environment and be given time to come into breeding condition. Starting off your new birds by breeding right away is the primary reason for pitching of nestlings and infertile eggs. When you hear about Gouldians frequently pitching their nestlings it is usually because the breeder does not understand Gouldian nutrition and the dietary cycle. The use of Society finches to foster Gouldians is the unnecessary result of poor dietary management.


You'll notice the schedule doesn't have months assigned to it, as the Gouldian's life cycle is primarily driven by diet (they breed well into the shortest days of winter).  So you can assign the months as you wish, as long as you stick to the sequence of the schedule over a 12 month period. If your birds typically begin breeding in the Fall, then set up the cycle to suit!


For the companion article to this article read "Breeding Gouldian Finches: What Wild Gouldians Can Tell Us."   Combined with the food schedule listed below, it is everything you need to know to be a successful Lady Gouldian Finch Breeder. You will notice the foods are very simple and there is no mention of artificial supplements as they are completely unnecessary with this diet and entirely guesswork at best. Before I was trained at the Save the Gouldian Fund my birdroom looked like a GNC store and pharmacy combined. We now use only 5 natural foods and fresh water. 

 

Water Schedule - Fresh Daily

Sun:    Fresh Water

Mon:   Fresh Water

Tue:    Fresh Water

Wed:  Fresh Water

Thu:    Fresh Water

Fri:     Fresh Water

Sat:    Fresh Water

 

1. Maintenance and Resting Season Diet

Seed (Fresh Daily or Constant Supply Provided by Seed Hopper):

Gouldian Pro Australian Grassfinch Seed "Maintenance & Resting Season Blend"

 

Softfood (offered continuously mixed with the dry "Maintenance & Resting Season Seed Blend" at the ratio of 2 heaping tablespoons of softfood to 2 lbs of dry seed and 1 teaspoon of sunflower oil to bind):

STGF Complete Softfood Concentrate

 

Calcium Grit (offered continuously):

ABBA Premium Mineral Grit

 

2. Pre-Breeding Austere Diet

Seed (Fresh Daily or Constant Supply Provided by Seed Hopper):

Gouldian Pro Australian Grassfinch Seed "Austere Diet Blend"

Nothing else in the cage except fresh water during the Austere Diet Period - No Softfood, Sprouted Seed, Calcium Grit, Vitamins, Fruits, Veggies, or Greens

 

3. Breeding Season Diet

Seed (Fresh Daily or Constant Supply Provided by Seed Hopper):

Gouldian Pro Australian Grassfinch Seed "Breeding & Moulting Season Blend"

 

Softfood and Sprouted Seed (offered fresh daily):

STGF Complete Softfood Concentrate mixed with Birds R Us Black & White Sprouting Mixes

 

Calcium Grit (offered continuously):

ABBA Premium Mineral Grit

 

4. Molting Season Diet

Seed (Fresh Daily or Constant Supply Provided by Seed Hopper):

Gouldian Pro Australian Grassfinch Seed "Breeding & Moulting Season Blend"

 

Softfood and Sprouted Seed (offered fresh daily):

STGF Complete Softfood Concentrate mixed with Birds R Us Black & White Sprouting Mixes

 

Calcium Grit (offered continuously):

ABBA Premium Mineral Grit

 

 

Summary

The research at the Save the Gouldian Fund has taken the guesswork out of what used to be a homespun effort that very often produces inconsistent results. With the STGF diet you can bypass constant dietary experimentation and focus on enjoying and breeding healthy Gouldians. If you have been told that Lady Gouldian Finches are difficult to keep, or you are experiencing inconsistent results, the STGF 4 Step System will work as well for you as it does for them.

 

P.S.  Don't forget a Cuttlebone.  They are something fun to do, good for beak maintenance, and an additional source of free choice calcium!

 

For the companion article on why you should use this feeding schedule visit:

Breeding Gouldian Finches: What Wild Gouldians Can Tell Us