Baby birds should be fed on a routine schedule allowing the chick's crop to empty (or nearly empty) between feedings and to determine if bird is being fed the right amount. This prevents any food remaining too long in the crop and possibly spoiling. If the time between crop emptying suddenly increases, and the crop appears to be slowing down, observe the chick closely. See "IMPORTANT NOTES" regarding crop-slow down.
1. Feed mixture with a clean, disinfected syringe, spoon, tube, or other comfortable method. A separate implement should be used for each baby to prevent spread of disease.
2. Dispense food along with the chick's feeding response (rhythmic bobbing motion). This is more natural and decreases the likelihood of formula being inhaled.
3. Feed until the chick's crop is nicely rounded or it refuses any more food, whichever comes first. Do not overfeed or regurgitation may occur. Generally, each meal should consist of a volume equivalent to 10-12% of the bird's body weight.
4. Clean and sanitize feeding equipment after use. Clean any spilled food from the chick and change bedding after each feeding. Good hygiene is critical for a baby bird's health. exact Hand Feeding Formulas are designed to be the only food for baby birds. Additions to the diet may include fruits and vegetables (such as strained baby foods) but should not exceed 20% of the total diet. Additional vitamin or mineral supplements should not be added.
To encourage the weaning process, exact Conversion diets should be offered when "exploration" begins. When the baby bird is fully feathered, offer exact Conversion diet, or an adult daily diet of exact Natural food or exact Rainbow food in a clean food cup, in addition to routine hand feeding. The baby bird will slowly begin to prefer these new forms of the food. Fresh water must be provided at all times. Prolonged use of hand feeding formula beyond the normal weaning age, or excessive feeding, may result in health concerns. A chick will lose up to 10% of its body weight during weaning as it begins to eat on its own. Birds wean easily onto exact Conversion diets or exact adult daily diets because of compatible taste and ingredients.
Monitoring A Hand Fed Baby Bird
Monitoring weight gain and loss is the best way to identify a problem before it becomes visibly obvious. Weigh and record the weight of each baby bird every morning before the first feeding.
A healthy chick should gain weight every day until it begins the weaning process. If weight gain stops, but weight is maintained, watch the bird closely. Loss of weight indicates a problem and should be investigated immediately. Contact your avian veterinarian for more information.
An otherwise healthy bird may not gain weight if it is not receiving enough nutrients. This could happen if the hand feeding formula is mixed too thin (contains too much water); if the formula is diluted with other ingredients; if the bird is not fed enough; or if it does not get enough food at each feeding.
Diet Change: For babies previously fed another hand feeding preparation, including any other exact Hand Feeding Formula, a minimum of 24 to 48 hours is recommended for the dietary changes. During this period, both products should be prepared separately (as directed) and mixed together, with the exact Hand Feeding Formula slowly being increased in proportion until the previous diet has been eliminated. An immediate conversion to exact Hand Feeding Formula may cause crop slow-down due to the dietary change. Use a more dilute formula the first couple of feedings in an attempt to prevent this.
Crop Slow-Down: If crop slow-down should occur, first check for proper environmental temperature as this is a frequent cause of crop problems. Then, mix equal parts of exact Hand Feeding Formula and infant applesauce, or provide additional water by preparing exact at the ratio of one part exact food to two or three parts water. Provide this mixture for approximately 24 hours and then slowly return to the normal concentration of exact food over an additional 24-hour period. During this time, massage the chick's crop gently to break up any food aggregates that may develop. NEVER massage the crop when it is more than half full. Allow the crop to empty before
feeding again. This method will quickly allow the gastrointestinal tract to stabilize and become fully functional again. The appearance of dark green droppings in a hand fed baby may indicate a temporary shut-down of crop emptying (or the lack of food in the digestive system). If this occurs and the crop contains food, the rate of crop emptying should be immediately evaluated. If no improvement is noted within 36 hours, professional assistance is advised.