I see a lot of requests in bird groups and forums all over the web asking for a good recipe for chop. It’s hard to give a definite or correct answer to that question because there simply isn’t any right way to do it.
(Chop, for those who don’t know, is simply a name for “bird salad” or “mash” as some call it. It usually consists of veggies, fruits, legumes, and grains, or some combination of those. It’s a way to give our feathered friends a tasty, healthy variety of good things to supplement their diet. For my crew, it makes up about 30-40% of their diet.)
Here, I find that making fresh chop roughly once a week gives me the best results. I make enough to last me about seven days; sometimes it lasts five, others it lasts nine. Whatever it is, I just don’t want it to spoil before I have a chance to feed it! For some reason, and maybe it’s chef’s error, but whenever I try to freeze chop, the birds turn their beaks up. I find the added benefit to this method is that their foods are always changing from week to week, and seasonally with what is on sale, which provides greater variety. It keeps them interested and eating it!
So my recipe, because it is small scale (only feeding three at this home!) and because it changes all the time, is really more a formula:
- 1 to 2 orange veggies
- 1 dark leafy green vegetable
- 3 to 5 “other” veggies
- 1 grain, rotated
- 1 legume, rotated
- 1 fruit, optional
Let’s take a look at these a bit more!
1 to 2 Orange Veggies. Orange veggies are a fantastic source of beta carotene, which gets converted in the body to Vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiencies can result in issues throughout the body, including the immune system, reproductive organs, respiratory system, and digestive tract. While orange veggies are not the sole source of Vitamin A, they are one of the richest, and beta carotene is one of the most readily converted and absorbed forms of it. I tend to stick to carrots and sweet potatoes, but you can also use squash and pumpkin. You could also use papaya or mango for the fruit portion of your chop.
1 Dark Leafy Green Vegetable. Dark leafy vegetables, like kale, turnip greens, broccoli, collards, swiss and mustard greens contain so many vitamins! You can count on fiber, vitamins A, C, K, and calcium in all of them. They pack a nutritional punch that is a fantastic way to get a lot into each bite your bird takes.
3 to 5 “Other” Veggies. This helps round out the chop, offering variety while still providing nutrition. I love to add hot and bell peppers, beets, cauliflower, peas, sprouts, and zucchini!
1 Grain, Rotated. I do not always add a grain to my chop. The reason for this is that they get grains in their pellets, in their bird bread, and some of the cookable mashes. So it seems largely a waste of space. I do like to add corn, quinoa, and wild rice a lot. I usually will add either a grain OR a legume, not both.
1 Legume, Rotated. This includes green beans, chickpeas, black eyed peas, kidney beans, lentils, mung, adzuki, etc. Legumes do contain many vitamins, fiber, and are a great source of protein. While I say “1 legume”, it usually ends up being a small mix of a few. Again, I usually add either a grain OR a legume. This is mostly to keep things simple, and to not make more chop than my birds can safely consume in a week!
1 Fruit, Optional. Fruits are also a great source of vitamins and fiber, but they have something that the rest on this list do not: a copious amount of sugar. In the wild, they would eat a lot of fruits, but they would need the energy sugar provided for their long flights through the tree tops. In our homes, birds do not move enough to justify feeding a lot of sugary foods. I also have a couple of birds who will eat all the fruits out of a chop first, leaving their vegetables behind. The less fruit they have to eat, the more room they will have for veggies! My favorite picks for this are berries (blueberries, cherries, pomegranate, cranberries, etc.) and orange fruits (mango, papaya). Most other fruits are used as a treat! In this example, Koopa was given one raspberry with her bowl of chop:
Just remember that there are always some foods to avoid!