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Handfeeding Tips - Day One through End of First Week

Gloria at Whitewings Farm


1. Needed supplies:  syringes....lots of O ring syinges,  from 1 cc through 10 or 20's.  The first week you will be using oners and threers with practically all babies.  It's slower...but you're not likely to overfeed either. 

2. A bottle of Pedialyte or a bag of Ringers lactate.  The Ringers is better actually....because you can keep it in the freezer and it doesn't go flat so quickly.  The pedialyte is no better than sterile water after two days. 

3.  A gram scale...a good supply of the proper hand feeding formula,...

4.  A jar of  Probiotics.....

5.  A new bottle of Adolfs Meat Tenderizer....unflavored.

6. A brooder you can keep at about 92 degrees with about 30 to 40 % humidity.... (aqua brood is wonderful, towels to keep it soft,  dark and quiet , and a digital thermometer. 

The first 24 hours (day 0) is nothing but Pedialyte with a pinch of the Probiotics and a pinch of baby formula.  Every hour......I start it at 101 degrees on the themometer....if they're not happy...it goes up ...one degree at a time.  Most babies feed at temps ranging from 101 to 106 degrees.  It depends on the species.  Our Princess of Wales like it HOT.  And if it's not....they won't eat..and if we forced it..they developed slow crops.  Not worth the upsets.  You weigh the baby before feeding ....and   you weigh the baby after feeding.  And you keep meticulous records with it all written down.....the date, the time, the weights..before and after...and how much you're feeding.  This first day ( day 0...hatch day)  the formula is very very thin.....it's really gruel.  I feed all day until midnight.  Get up and feed at 2am...and get up and feed at 4 am.  Then start the normal day at 6...first feeding the babies.  This first week is just miserable for persons who like to sleep.....but empty crops and crying babies are worse to me than a few lost half hours of sleep. 

Day One:  I go to a six parts pedialyte or ringers, to one part baby formula and a pinch of Probiotic.  Same schedule.  And ususally up a bit on the amount.  Don't forget the weigh-ins.  If something starts to go wrong...this information is needed by the vet. 

Day Two:  We're to 4 parts ringers or Pedialyte and one part formula with a pinch of the pro biotics.  By now we're sliding to every two hours approx.   Check in at an hour and a half...see if they're crying....if the crops are emptying.  You want them just about empty at feeding time. 

Day Three: You can slide into three parts ringers or pedialyte and one part formula with a pinch of Probiotics.  By now, say with a Umbrella Cockatoo chick, you're probably feeding 4 cc's of formula every two hours.  Maybe every hour and a half if that baby is emptying quickly.  

The formula mixture continues the same as on Day Three for quite a while; 3 to 1....and adding one cc per day for quite a while as well.  Just remember.... take your time...don't rush yourself.  This is your time to start the ever so important socialization process.....the gentle handling,....the talking....the cuddling close.  All these things are part of the hand feeding process.

Be careful not to fill the crop to the top,....and keep a close eye on how quickly the crop is emptying.  

One thing that helps if the crop seems slow...a tiny pinch of Adolfs meat tenderizer in the formula.  But first...just some hot pedialyte or ringers, with a pinch of Probiotic....and a GENTLE massage of the crop.

[Sibylle Faye's remark -- Please note:   GENTLE massaging of the crop.  If done WRONGLY, the baby can aspirate because the massaging can move food into the bird's lungs.  Been there, done that -- killed one baby this way.   Please, be very careful with this procedure, if in doubt discuss with vet and let him show you how to do it right]

And here's my last tip on how to get that baby back into the brooder with a full crop without bumping and hence, aspirating it.  Feed on a clean tea towel....(have about 24 of these on hand....) When the baby is all fed....gather the towel by the four corners,....lifting the baby in a safe teatowel hammock back to the brooder.  Our brooders are always lined with a full bath sized turkish towel...all crumpled and lumpy..with clean tea towels on top.  Little toe nails cannot get caught in tea towels.  This is wonderful for more than one baby...so they can snuggle...or for a small brooder.  Other wise...we have used various sized plastic cartons....yoghurt, margerine, creame
cheese...etc..made a mattress of paper towels folded to fit....topped with soft toilet tissue.  Feeding time is with the tissue in the bowl of the scale....weigh in before and after...then return to the carton bed and papertowel mattress....again creating a safe hammock transport for that baby.

Good luck.  Keep them warm...keep them humidified....watch the crops.....watch the heat of the formula...sterilize those syringes or pippettes....keep the towling always changed and fresh and clean..and wash down gently those baby faces after you have fed them with warm water. Keep  them dark ...and soft and safe.  And in the words of one of the all time great avian vets...Dr. Barton Huber... DON'T GET COMPLACENT. 
Bright be all your days, my friends.

Gloria at Whitewings Farm

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