How to Sprout for your Parrots – A Step by Step Guide

Sprouted grains, seeds and legumes are a powerhouse of nutrients. Fed whilst still growing, there is no loss of precious vitamins, minerals and all important enzymes.

Let’s get started!

Choose a big jar (depending on how much you intend to sprout). Wide and fat is better than tall and thin as more air can circulate inside. I’m going to use the jar on the left. The one on the right is a standard sized jar and would be ok if you were going to sprout very small quantities.

The open end of the jar needs to be covered by mesh or netting to stop the seeds falling through when draining. Gauze from a chemist/pharmacy works well.

For demonstration purposes I’m using 2 level tablespoons of sprouting mix (see further down for content).

Soak overnight or around 8 hours in plenty of clean water.

Next morning/8 hours later tightly secure the mesh/gauze around the open end of the jar with an elastic band.

Throw out the soaking water and rinse the contents thoroughly by filling with fresh water and draining again.

Do this a few times.

Leave the jar on its side so that air can circulate.

Morning and evening rinse and drain again a few times, and leave the jar on its side.

And watch them grow.

They are ready to eat when the tails are approx. 0.5 to 1cm long.

Include them in your bird’s fresh bowls.

Alternatively special sprouting jars are available to purchase. Biosnacky does one.

Another method uses tiers. Tiers are great for sprouting lots of different things at the same time, or are useful if you don’t have much draining space.

If you use the tiers then each layer will need proper rinsing with clean water in a sieve twice a day. Letting the water trickle through from the top tier to the bottom is asking for trouble re bacteria.

It’s easy to get a system going so that some are soaking, some are growing and others are being eaten.

What to Sprout?

Choose organic if possible (pesticides are not good for our parrots) or at least the freshest supply from a store with a fast turnover. Those that cannot be sourced from a good health shop or supermarket can be ordered online.

Listed below are some common grains, legumes and seeds that are easy to sprout. Legumes contain the amino acids that grains lack and vice versa so include 50% of each in your sprouting mix and then add seeds.


Wheat, Spelt, Kamut, Rye, Buckwheat, Quinoa, Wholegrain Brown Rice, Popping Corn

Note: Popping Corn takes much longer to first soak (24 hours) and then sprout, so sprout it on its own. They also need warmth – they sprout much better in summer.


Mung, Lentils – Green, French, Puy (not split red), Snow Peas, Aduki Beans, Chickpeas (Garbanzos)

Note: Chickpeas are better sprouted on their own as depending on the batch, some don’t sprout and they are easy to pick out and throw away. Chickpeas are another popular sprout with parrots.


Sunflower seeds, Safflower, Brown Sesame, Fenugreek, Radish, Broccoli, Red Clover, Pumpkin/Pepita, Hemp (doesn’t usually sprout so soak only)

Note: Many sunflowers from health shops and supermarkets are heat treated to make them crunchy and taste nice for humans. Sadly this will have killed them and they won’t sprout. If you find proper raw sunflowers, they take only a day and a half or so to sprout.

Pumpkin/pepita are another fast sprout that can be mixed with sunflowers.

Hemp only needs soaking as they don’t usually sprout. They can be soaked separately from the rest. Parrots love them.

The above grains, legumes and seeds written in bold text across the three categories can be sprouted together as they take roughly the same time.

Be careful of Alfalfa – the unsprouted seeds contain the toxin canavanin.
Don’t sprout
 large beans such as Anasazi, Black, Kidney, Lima, Navy, Pinto and Soy as these can cause toxicity and are hard to digest.
Don’t sprout Amaranth – the unsprouted seeds have caused liver damage in chickens.
Don’t sprout split legumes such as split peas or split lentils. They won’t sprout and will turn to slush.
Don’t sprout pearl and pot barley – they won’t sprout. Barley grains have to have their jackets on.

Clockwise from left: Alfalfa (green), Green Lentils, Chickpeas, Wheat, Kamut, Aduki, Mung, Sunflower.

A spoonful of corn sprouts.

Sprouting sunflower seed is a good way to introduce parrots to sprouts. I always sprinkle some sprouted sunflower on top of the other sprouts. When I added safflower and hemp to my sprouting mix I quickly got 100% parrot interest!

If you are new to sprouting try starting with a mixture of 25% Mung Beans, 25% Wheat, 25% Lentils (green or puy) and 25% Sunflower seeds. Mix them together in a storage container and keep in a cool cupboard.

I have never had a problem with mould, etc. in 20+ years of sprouting, even in very high summer temperatures of 32C/90F. If something goes off then it’s usually the fault of the batch of seed/legume.

Happy sprouting!