Can My Bird Eat Barley?

Barley is a type of grain commonly used for feeding pigeons, crows, and other city birds. And although it can be safely consumed by all birds, it might not be the most appetizing or appropriate food for some.  

Birds that are used to eating a diet consisting of fruits, veggies, and seeds may not be interested in pecking grains from the ground.

However, this does not mean that barley is not nutritious. Birds can eat barley as part of a balanced diet. It is a nutritious grain that is high in fiber and contains a number of vitamins and minerals. It can be added to seed mixtures and can also be served cooked.

In this post, we’ll explore how you can incorporate barley into your bird’s feeding routine and how it benefits them in different ways.

Nutritional Benefits Of Barley For Birds

Barley is a nutritious grain that can provide many benefits for birds when included in their diet. It is high in fiber, which can help promote healthy digestion and regular bowel movements.

It also contains a variety of vitamins and minerals. Here are a few ways feeding barley could benefit your bird. 

Dietary Fiber

Barley is an excellent source of dietary fiber, which plays a crucial role in supporting a healthy digestive system and keeping a bird’s bowel movements regular. When birds consume foods that are high in dietary fiber, it can add bulk to their stools and promote regular bowel movements.

Blood Sugar Control

Due to its low glycemic index, barley can help with blood sugar spikes, and lower the risk of diabetes in birds. Barley is rich in a variety of nutrients that contribute to the health of a bird.

It contains nutrients like vitamins B1, B2, and Vitamin E. It is also high in fiber and protein. Barley supports metabolism, regulates blood sugar levels, and provides energy for daily activities.

Potential Risks Of Feeding Barley To Birds 

While barley is nutritious, it is after all a grain. Just like an all-seed diet can be bad for your bird’s health, an all-grain diet lacks many vital vitamins and minerals necessary for the well-being of your bird.

Ideally, your bird’s diet should be composed of fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and grains to get the most nutrition.   

Cooked vs. Raw Barley

Cooked and raw barley both have nutritional benefits for birds, but they may be better suited for different purposes. Cooked barley is soft and tender, and has a nutty flavor that can complement the food mix.

It can be used as a base for soups, stews, and casseroles. On the other hand, raw barley is hard but can be readily served to birds such as pigeons, crows, and doves.  

Cooked Barley 

Cooked barley is softer and easier for birds to digest, as the cooking process breaks down the hard outer shell of the grain.

This makes it a good option for older birds who might have a weakened digestive system. Cooked barley can also be mixed with other foods to make a more palatable and nutritious diet. 

Preparing Cooked Barley To Feed Your Bird

  • Rinse the barley thoroughly in cold water to remove any dirt or debris.
  • In a pot, bring the water to a boil and add the rinsed barley.
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer the barley for about 30-40 minutes, or until it is tender and cooked through.
  • Drain any excess water and let the barley cool before serving to your bird.
  • To make the meal more nutritious, you can also add some fresh veggies or fruits to the barley bowl. 

Raw Barley 

Raw barley on the other hand has a higher nutritional value as the cooking process may lessen some of the nutrients. It is suitable for city birds that are used to eating the grain raw.

However, you can also prepare barley for feeding by soaking it. To soften the food for your birds without losing much of its nutritional value, you can soak barley overnight. This can offer additional benefits of enhanced antioxidants and fiber.

Can Birds Eat Barley Grass?

Barley grass is safe for birds to eat. In fact, Barley grass is one of the most nutritious types of grass out there that you can feed your birds. It has a good density of nutrients, more so than grains.

Barley grass also aids in digestion for the bird as it is high in fiber. However, it should only be given as a treat. The digestive systems of birds are different from those of grazing animals and cannot process too much raw plantation. 


Barley is also a popular ingredient in homemade bird feeders or suet cakes, which can be a fun and inexpensive addition to your bird’s diet. When feeding birds barley, it’s important to ensure that the grain is clean, dry, and free from any mold or contaminants. As with any new food item, it’s best to introduce barley slowly into a bird’s diet to avoid digestive upset.

Dorson Joseph
Dorson Joseph

I'm Dorson, a bird enthusiast who's had a lifelong fascination for the avian world. I am a parent to my beloved Senegal parrot and budgie, which has deepened my love for avian creatures and taught me a lot over the years. I co-run a bird store and care center with my friends, where we work with experienced professionals to care for our flock. Now, I find great joy in sharing my knowledge with others, hoping to assist fellow bird keepers and enthusiasts in understanding birds and helping them live happy lives.

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