The Green Day Diet

 

The Green Day Diet was formulated at Gulf Coast Finches in Beaumont, Texas. It has
been used for a few years with success. Even though it seems a bit work-intensive, the
results are worth it! Once you have prepared it a few times, you will find it not that
difficult to make.
It is served every morning at lights on every day of the year. There is a two-fold reason
for this. When the finches wake, they are hungry and it is better to be eating a nutritious
morning meal than stuffing their crops with seed. Secondly, new hatchlings must be fed
and receiving the nutritious soft foods supplies everything needed for fast-growing
bodies. It insures that they will develop successfully. They will also wean faster, which is
a consideration when the parents have gone back to the nest to start a second clutch.
Maximum digestive efficiency is reached with vegetables and eggs—less crop time
before being digested. Seed spends 75% of its time in the crop, as it has to be broken
down first by enzymes and saliva. Pelletized and other dried foods also slow down the
digestive process, as finches must take on additional water and wait for the dried foods to
soften. The better the digestive efficiency, the more net energy is attained, and that can
translate into triggering egg production.
Although the diet was first developed as a breeding diet, it soon made sense to feed it
year ‘round. With the many species being raised here, breeding times differed throughout
the year and when the breeding cycles came up, the birds needed to be in top condition.
By eliminating what has sometimes been referred to as an austerity diet, birds can
successfully breed when they should without fear of them not being nutritionally
prepared. Well-fed birds are also less susceptible to becoming sick.
The many people using the diet report their birds are healthier, breed easier and for those
raising show birds, they are placing their finches on the top bench. You will notice better
coloration of feathers after the first molt on this diet. It is a result of carotene in the diet.
Also, form improves and succeeding generations show many characteristics of being “at
optimum.”
The Green Day Diet is vegetable- and egg-based, but is NOT a mash. All of my birds are
cage-bred or flight-bred indoors. The food is served on a 5” dia. plate with 4 piles on it.
One is the Cole Slaw mix, one is broccoli, one is the dark leafy green of the day, and the
largest pile (about 35%) is the fresh egg mix. Finches can discern which foods they need
and demonstrate that they are self-regulators. It is not necessary to mix all together “to
get them to eat what they should.” Instead, by not making it a mash, the finches can
clearly identify which foods they need rapidly, as well as making their food plate
interesting and inviting. This is especially critical for parents feeding newborn, as the diet
they feed their hatchlings is usually all egg food.
Even though I place the same amount of food on the birds’ plates each day, some days,
some of the plates are cleaned off, and other days there may be leftovers. They have eaten
what they need. Birds also must see there is an ample supply of food before they decide
to raise a family, so I always try to make sure there is more than enough served.
Here is the veggie breakdown:
One vegetable mix that is given daily is cabbage and carrot, which is low in iron and
oxalates, but has a good level of carotene and several vitamins. Carotene not only
provides color to feathers, but stimulates the ovaries of hens for egg production. I used to
buy a pre-pack Cole Slaw mix with the two already shredded. Then I cut them down to
beak-size portions. Due to the larger amount of food I am now preparing, I have since
switched to buying the cabbage and carrots separately and use a food processor for the
carrots, but still prefer a chef’s knife for the cabbage.
Broccoli is nature’s most abundantly nutritious vegetable and is served every day. It is
relatively low in iron, but packs Vitamins A, C and K. Select tight heads with no flowers
open. Once flowers open, the incidence of mold accelerates fast. I cut at least an inch
below the florets, as it is in the stem where potassium resides. So when picking out
broccoli, turn it upside down and look for the greenest stems. When I finish cutting them
up and processing them, the results resembles a pile of small green crumbles.
Other vegetables used on a rotating basis are collard, mustard and turnip greens. These
greens are packed with vitamins and minerals, yet don’t exhibit any high toxicity levels. I
usually wash the leaves, pinch off the stems or “de-vein” the larger leaves with thicker
stalks, then bundle them up and start slicing. I kept slicing and dicing until they are beak
sized. The collards have the highest amount of bioavailable (soluble) calcium of all of the
vegetables used, so collards appear on the finches’ plates at least 4 times a week.
Since parsley and spinach are high in iron content, I use them only once a week and they
usually are mixed in with one of the regular greens. Iron and calcium are the two main
building blocks of growing hatchlings, but too much iron prevents the calcium from
being absorbed and over time can cause oxalates to form in the kidneys.
I don’t use cucumbers or iceberg lettuce, as they do not contain nutrients of any
appreciable value. Think of them as unique vessels for holding water.
Two important things to remember: all of the food should be processed or cut down to
BEAK SIZE portions. A finch will not wrestle with a whole floret of broccoli. It is also
key to weaning fledglings faster.
Secondly, do not leave out or substitute parts of the diet. It has been formulated to be
nutritionally balanced. It has also been designed so vitamins and minerals do not reach
toxic levels.
Here is the fresh egg recipe:
In a 3 qt. sauce pan, I boil 18-20 eggs for 15 minutes, remove from heat and drain. After
about 10 minutes, I use a regular potato masher and go at them, cracking them open.
From there, they go to the KitchenAid mixer shell and all, using the paddle attachment.
They are mixed until there are no lumps of egg present and the shell pieces are no larger
than ¼” across. The paddle collects much of the membrane from the eggs and when I am
finished, I remove the paddle and peel off the membrane and dispose of it.
(Tip #1: It’s a lot easier breaking the shells when the eggs are still hot. Tip #2: If the
yolks are not firm, you need to add a little cooking time. If sulfur has started
accumulating around the yolks (that greenish look), then you have boiled the eggs a little
too long, so back off your cooking time. They are still usable, however.)
I replace the cleaned off paddle and sprinkle the powdered contents of two 400 mg
capsules of Horsetail Shavegrass on the egg. This herbal product can be found in health
food stores. It delivers the highest amount of bioavailable silica, which is used to form
collagen, the fibrous material that attaches bones to muscles. Mix in the powder for about
two minutes.
Next, add 1 teaspoon of Wheat Germ Oil (nature’s most abundant source of Vitamin E)
for every 4 eggs and 1 teaspoon of Cod Liver Oil (nature’s most abundant source of
Vitamin D3) for every 4 eggs. Mix these oils in well. Finally, I add about a cup and a half
of Corn Meal (fortified with niacin) and mix until the egg mix is crumbly. The finished
product may still appear to be more sticky than crumbly, but if the mix sits 15-30
minutes, you will see the consistency change as the corn meal absorbs moisture. There
you go. Done.
Oil-soluble vitamins deteriorate faster than those in the rest of the food and can lose their
potency. If you are making a batch larger than what you need, refrigerate the rest. And
here’s the neat thing about using both the Wheat Germ and Cod Liver Oils. Vitamin D3
is very transitory in the body and can only be pulled from the stream as it goes by. Excess
is thrown off. The molecules of Vitamin E in the Wheat Germ attach to the Vitamin D3
and hold it in reserve in the body for later use. Can scientific serendipity get much better
than this?
Notation: For those of you who have been using this diet, an amendment was made in
November 2009. Horsetail Shavegrass was added to the egg food.
FAQs (in advance of them being asked)
1. Why do you leave the shells in with the eggs? I hate peeling eggs, but why throw
away one of the best sources of calcium? My birds eat them, and if there are a few
pieces too big for consumption, they leave them on the plate.
2. Have your finches ever experienced egg binding? Not a one. Even though the
vegetables are the most efficient in satisfying calcium needs, egg shell, cuttlebone and
oyster shell make a good backup. Sufficient D3 moves calcium in the bloodstream to
where it is needed, such as in egg production, and reduces the risk of binding
This Vitamin D3–you’re saying that if they get enough in their diet, they don’t need
light to produce it? Theoretically, they could survive. But practicality dictates they
have light to set their biological clocks—a day length—so it will trigger mating. Plus
the fact they need to be able to see to find their food, water and the bathroom. I’m
sure they’d make it, though, if all they had was their Hello Kitty nightlight.
4. Can the finches overdose on Vitamin D3? No. The known cases of D3 overdose are
outside of the bird world and are attributed to manufacturing accidents. When the
body has used all of the D3 it needs, the rest of the available D3 degrades into the
system and heads toward the Exit sign.
5. Do eggs contain protein? Yes, over half of it is in the white portion, so make sure
your kids eat the whites as well as the yolks.
6. Is it really that important to feed your finches eggs? Egg contains everything a bird
needs to live on.
7. Why fresh eggs and not a dried egg mix that may contain starches and sugars? My
birds love the fresh egg mix I prepare and it quickly goes into the digestive tract for
almost immediate use. My birds are not fed any manufactured mixes for the same
reason. Dry mixes must be softened up in the crop with an additional intake of water
and it greatly slows down the time it is in the crop. This is not digestive efficiency. I
also know exactly what they are eating, that it is fresh, and that it is totally healthy for
them. Fresh egg food becomes more critical when feeding hatchlings so they expend
less energy on digestion and more on growing.
8. What do you do with leftovers? I cook as closely to possible for one day’s feeding,
but if there is any left over, I will refrigerate it and save it for one day only, just in
case I run short. If not, I make sure it gets used the next day.
9. How long do you leave the egg food in the cage? Until the next morning when they
get a fresh plate. Wait a minute! That goes against what you’ve heard. Believe me,
most of the egg food is eaten in the early hours of the day. If not, it’s left on the
plates. The birds know when to stop eating it. It’s also one of the reasons there is no
fruit in this diet, as the natural sucrose produces mold fast and can contaminate the
plate. I’ve also written in other articles about the importance of a good air circulation
system to keep pathogens at bay. But they do have to see there’s enough food on a
plate where there will be enough to raise and feed a family. So most of them do get
oversized portions each day and food that is left over on the plate indicates to me that
I have also fed their instinct to breed successfully. “Successfully” includes a higher
ratio of hens that are born. This answer is getting too long and needs its own space at
another time.
10. What is your operation’s mortality rate since you seem to be tempting fate here?
You’re still not convinced. Excluding birds I have brought in to breed–in other
words, birds that have been hatched and raised here: Zero.
11. So what about the birds you bring in? Still an extremely low mortality rate—not
enough to start up my Finch Keychain business. I have bought from various sources
in the past and have just about eliminated this problem by using one broker I trust.
Yet, there are a bird or two that look healthy upon arrival and symptoms of being sick
don’t show up for awhile. It is my perception that quarantine stations load up the wild
caught birds with antibiotics (tetracycline for 5 weeks) that mask but don’t cure some
health issues. They pass through a bird purveyor’s hands looking healthy and arrive in
fine shape as the antibiotics are still masking. Secondly, once you have gone through
a quarantine procedure and introduce new birds to your breeding areas, they are
susceptible to pathogens that are present which they previously have not been
exposed to. Read my article, Quarantine 2.0, for a more detailed explanation.
12. Are any of your finches obese? No. The vegetables are low-cal and the birds utilize
the energy from the eggs. It appears they can eat an endless supply of this diet.
13. Do you also provide seed for your finches? Yes, they always have seed available.
Seed is a good source of phosphorous, but it should never exceed 35% of a finch’s
diet. Water is also provided, fresh daily.
OK, that’s about it for the food. If you colony breed, you may want to give a 2nd serving
later in the day. Also, cages with new hatchlings and fledglings require more food, and
they may need to get their food refreshed.
There are several other articles that are companion pieces to this subject. They appear
from time-to-time on several Yahoo finch groups and websites. If you have any
questions, you may email me at gulfcoastfinches@yahoo.com
Doug Taylor
Gulf Coast Finches
Beaumont, TX

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