The Winnower system

This is a great method of saving seed. So often in this hobby we throw away seed that can be re-used, I’m not condoning bad practice by feeding my bird’s unfit food, certainly not, but there is a strong argument for winnowing seed in my book.

I made this contraption myself and it cost next to nothing – and it looks like it as well.

The story with this piece of simple kit is this.

I feed my birds in the flight using an open tray and topped up on a daily basis – I don’t clean it out every day, I’m a firm believer that at times, our birds should be encouraged to forage for food, by not cleaning off husks daily I have found that they are quite happy to dig for food, as it were. Of course I don’t leave them without food at any time. The outcome is that the tray becomes quite full with a mixture of husks and seed, so when this mixture is put through the winnower, the husks are gone and just plain seed remains. Previous to making the winnower I was throwing out a lot of seed, but now I hardly waste any – a good, cheap investment.

I made my own system out of bits of plastic plumbing stuff that I had in the work-shed, of course if you want to buy new stuff then it will only cost a few quid, but will save you many times that in saving seed rather than just throwing it in the bin with all of the other crap from the aviary.

I don’t recycle any seed from the breeding cages, just to clear that point up.

The first photo shows the seed tray full of the seed from the main flight, the plastic container gives you some idea of quantities. That container will take just over 1.5 litres of seed. I will winnow the seed about once per week.

This is the winnowing process. Just out of shot, on the right hand side, is the vacuum cleaner hose just sitting in the tube. The seed and husk is emptied into the tube on the left hand side – poured at a steady rate to allow husk to be drawn away into the vacuum. The rate of suction is controlled by the sliding valve on the horizontal tube.

I can sometimes get away with just one pass of winnowing, however, sometimes it needs 2 or even 3 passes dependant on the strength of the vacuum. You are able to see the quality of the resultant seed.

This shows the amount of seed that I saved from that grey tray in photo 1. In normal cleaning this amount of seed would be discarded into the bin – just think how much I’m saving over the period of a year …… quid’s in I think.

Make yourself one, if you don’t like it, then you’ve only wasted a few pounds, worth a try?