The diet that you provide for your budgerigars is important, as birds in breeding or showing condition need to be properly fed. The type of diet will depend on the climate in your area, as in hotter weather birds will require less starch and protein to build body fat. If the climate is cold, extra starch will need to be provided through the birds' diet. The best way to decide on the diet for your budgerigars is to approach local breeders or societies and see what they recommend.
In the wild, budgerigars feed on grass seeds, eucalypt leaves, buds and bark and other greens. Budgerigars are vegetarian, and should not be supplied with meat, milk or other animal proteins. The birds' digestive systems are not able to properly digest such food, and these proteins tend to go off quickly.
The feed mix you provide for your budgerigars should resemble the natural diet of the wild birds, modified to suit the larger framed domestic budgerigar. The feed mix can be bought pre-packed, but for those who prefer to have more control over the diet can mix their own. A basic mix would consist of 40 % canary seed, 20 % French millet, 20 % panicum, and 20 % oats. For colder climates the percentage of oats can be increased to provide more starch in the diet. Cod liver oil or wheatgerm oil can be added to provide more protein.
Budgerigars enjoy greens in addition to the seed mix provided. Leaves off vegetables are good, and grass is also a good source of food, especially the growing stems or sprouting seeds. The best form of greens that you can supply are branches from trees, as they provide a source of exercise as well as leaves, bark and shoots. Eucalyptus are best, but if these are not available in your area then try other types. (Make sure that the tree you are supplying is not poisonous, as this could have a negative effect on the health of your birds!) The best way to find out what your birds like is by experimenting.
Calcium is an important mineral that must be supplied to your birds, especially for development of the young and for nesting hens. It can be supplied in the form of a calcium block, or cuttlefish bone. An alternative is to save egg shells from your kitchen, dry and grind them and supply them as a powder.
Grit is needed for aiding in the birds' digestive process. Grit is used by the bird to grind food in the stomach. Loose sandy soil will suffice, or grit can be bought commercially. Grit can be added to the seed mix or provided in a separate dish.
Vitamins are needed by birds, in particular the B group of vitamins. Vitamin preparations can be purchased from pet suppliers in liquid or soluble forms, or as a powder to mix into the seed.
Water must be kept clean at all times. Although budgerigars can go without water for up to 3 weeks, this is not the best way to raise birds, especially in hot weather. The birds will bathe in the water, and usually manage to get a large number of droppings in the water. The water supply should be out of direct sunlight, as the warmth increases bacteria growth. Water can be supplied in a bowl, but an automatic feeder that only releases a small amount of water at a time can reduce the chance of the water becoming dirty. Raspberry Cordial is added to the water by some breeders, as this seems to kill bacteria and make the birds healthy. A weak solution of raspberry cordial in the water can reduce the chances of your flock becoming sick. Be wary of this technique with show birds in show time, as a raspberry stain down the front of the bird will not be viewed favourably be the judges.