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Hazards of buying unweaned birds - Breeder's input appreciated.

Discussion in 'Bird Emergency Highway 911' started by Merlie, 1/4/12.

  1. Merlie

    Merlie Biking along the boulevard Avenue Spotlight Award

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    While I know we all have our opinions on buying unweaned birds, I'd really like to open this thread up to our experienced, responsible breeders here on AA. I'd like to hear the challenges they face, the things that can go wrong, the unexpected and unknown.

    Perhaps, with some solid information to present from people who raise birds for a living, we can educate and enlighten anyone thinking of going that path before things go horribly wrong.

    Please, don't turn this thread into a bash. Please, only reply if you have actual, practical, hand's on experience. I don't want the thread to get flooded with unnecessary comments/opinions. I'd like this to be an informative, learning thread from those who really live the life of bird breeding and the hand feeding aspect of it.

    Even if you're not a breeder, but have extensive experience in hand feeding and it's hazards, I'd like to hear from your. People in rescue, vet related fields, etc.

    Thank you in advance for your cooperation and contributions.

    A note from Birdiemarie: This thread is now a sticky so please keep it on topic for information purposes.
    :)

     
    Last edited by a moderator: 1/9/12
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  2. Greycloud

    Greycloud Joyriding the Neighborhood Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran

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    Excellent thread topic Teresa! I actually started a whole paragraph and deleted it. I need a bit of time to think out how I want to write this. I have been retired from breeding for several years but would like to share my experiences of 15 years as a breeder. I will come back in a while and post. :D
     
  3. Merlie

    Merlie Biking along the boulevard Avenue Spotlight Award

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    Judy, can't wait to hear your experiences. I value you input very much.
     
  4. SandraK

    SandraK Joyriding the Neighborhood Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran I'm a SECRET SANTA - Are you?

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    I'll be very interested in seeing what comes up on this thread. I suppose you would call me a hobby breeder as I don't set up any of my birds to breed. I usually never have more than 3 chicks max in any one clutch and they're parent raised though inside the house with daily human contact once they've fledged. Personally I've been scared away from trying to handfeed because of the many things I've heard can go wrong and chicks are so very fragile.:rolleyes:
     
  5. Merlie

    Merlie Biking along the boulevard Avenue Spotlight Award

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    Interesting ...

    Sandra .. what would you do if the parents couldn't or wouldn't feed their young? What is your back up plan?
     
  6. AmberMuffinz

    AmberMuffinz Rollerblading along the road

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    I'm not a breeder but I have raised 5-6 clutches of baby cockatiels with my aunt. We don't set them up to breed but they do twice a year anyway.

    I would say the biggest hazard of buying unweaned is that most people don't know how to hand feed. It isn't as easy and shoving something to their mouth and having them eat. They have to be fed from the side, not straight on, and you can't do it too fast. Sometimes it's hard because they're birds and they squirm. We never feed ours before they have their pin feathers but I'm sure there are a lot more dangers when they are younger and more fragile.

    You also have to have the formula at a certain temp and consistency or else you risk putting your chick(s) in danger. If it's too hot they might get crop burn and if it's too cold you could get sour crop. We are very aware of this and so we always check the temperature with a candy thermometer and a little on our skin to make double sure.

    Plus you have to feed them every so and so hours, which new owners might not be cut out for since they may work or something.
     
  7. SandraK

    SandraK Joyriding the Neighborhood Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran I'm a SECRET SANTA - Are you?

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    So far, thank God, I've had responsible parents and only two established "couples" in the whole flock. I do have the necessary baby bird food on hand, special syringe, eye dropper and instructions w/visual instructions as well. I have, on occasion, fed fledgelings but have never pulled any on purpose. Whenever I've been lucky enough to be around people/ friends who are feeding pulled chicks I pay as much attention to the "how to" as possible. But, as all of us know, watching a bicycle being ridden doesn't a bicycle rider make. :rolleyes:

    I will add something else. I have never bought an unweaned chick and will not let anyone take a chick home until he/she is at least 2 1/2 - 3 months old, is completely weaned, can fly and has been vetted.
     
  8. Birdiemarie

    Birdiemarie Feather Snuggler Celebirdy of the Month Avenue Spotlight Award

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    We can use a good thread like this. If it goes well we will make it a sticky to be readily accessed to link to to show new members the dangers of taking in an unweaned baby. Thanks Merlie.
     
  9. Leza

    Leza Biking along the boulevard

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    Ok here goes nothing! :D I raised tiels for about 6 years as a teen. I was lucky that if anything went wrong(thank god nothing did) that the woman I was breeding them for would take over for me. it was a great experience and a valuable life skill I'm glad I learned. Now I work in a bird store and we care for many parrot babies at the same time: macaws, African greys, cockatoos, tiels, parakeets... What ever my boss decides to purchase. I am glad there's three of us who trade off and feed on the days we each work, as handfeeding is a fulltume job in itself!

    Now problems can and do arise. Of course babies small enough have to be fed into the night, but what about the ones who won't eat? Only a great handfeeder will be able to make sure and know the chick is eating enough. And from time to time a sour crop will develop(usually tiels) and proper measures need to be taken immediately. Having a good trained eye and knowing signs of lethargy and potential illness can save a chicks life. It is no childsplay, this is a life being raised!

    Being the handfeeder also means these birds believe I am their mother. This is a natural life balance for them.
    When I get people asking to learn handfeeding all the time and i always say no. It is not going to secure any bond by putting that babies life at risk of aspiration. I refuse to teach anyone and if they screw up, the burden or blame come back on me, it is just too risky. Also our policy is that if you are allowed the purchase of an unweaned baby(very low percentage) your health guarantee goes out the window.
     
  10. crystaljam

    crystaljam Biking along the boulevard Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran

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    I've handfed and hundreds of babies...at one time I could do it in my sleep. we had chicks on anywhere from 1-4 feeds, so some days we were feeding every two hours due to the variant feed numbers.

    The worst thing that happened was one Christmas a part timer who had been away at school came back. We were busy on the floor and it was feeding time (only the full timers were to prepare/feed unless a full timer was with a part timer). The guy who was JUST back from school decided he could feed instead of waiting for us to get off the floor to start the formula. Because of his idiocy (AKA feeding formula that was WAY too hot), we noticed a half hour later that an Umbrella Cockatoo (Shasta) and African Grey (Comet) were acting funny. I looked at Comet and was in tears - he had pellets coming out of his front. We checked all the other parrots who had been fed during the last feed, and Shasta was also literally exploding pellets out.

    Sorry to be graphic. It still stays in my mind, and I think about it once in awhile.

    As I was the only one in the department with a car, off to the vet I went with another co-worker (a girl who has since become a veterinarian). Both parrots had severe crop burn. We met up with the bird purchaser/manager (who fought for any parrots who became sick...she rocked), who had us go back to work while the parrots had surgery to try to suture the skin together.

    It was devastating.

    They came back to the store (we pre-cleaned & had set ups in a private room in the back of the bird room during the surgeries), and we were to handfeed them every 30 minutes, no more than 5cc of formula.

    The next two days, this was the drill, and they both had to go back for surgery during this time as the skin continuted to tear/sutures weren't working. Then it was Christmas. My co-worker took Shasta home, I took Comet.

    Shasta didn't last the night - she couldn't take another surgery.

    We were devastated that we lost Shasta - she was the sweetest U2.

    Comet went through another 4 or 5 more surgeries, and 3 months of being slowly weaned up to more formula in longer intervals.

    This is what can happen when formula is fed too hot.

    I fathom to think of the cost of the surgeries and medication. I really did love our bird purchaser - she fought the toughest fights along with us.
     
  11. Conurekidd

    Conurekidd Jogging around the block

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    I do know that's it's critical for a baby bird of any species to go through more than one parent. Not just inexperienced people. It's the phycologlical impact it has on the babies emotions. My boss purchased a hand fed scarlet macaw at 11 months. (we found out). It took 5 weeks to re assure her that were friends not enemy's. She was bought by a chain distributor. And warehoused for 3 months. So all the myths on creating a stronger bond from before weaned is false and proven false. By yours truly and any other breeder who has given dear friends birds after weaning. Birds move on instinctively from the nest. Maybe give a few acceptions. But they do. I find it more rewarding to earn the trust then forced upon.
     
  12. AmberMuffinz

    AmberMuffinz Rollerblading along the road

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    I also forgot to mention how important it is to keep babies warm. When they are pulled for hand feeding they go into a brooder. We make ours with a fish tank and a heating pad underneath on low. We monitor the temperature inside the aquarium and also have the heating pad on only one side under the aquarium under a few blankets so it doesn't get too hot. If they get too hot on one side the babies can walk to the other. Depending on how young you buy the unweaned baby, the importance of this varies. Since babies can't regulate their own body temperature, a particularly young unweaned baby going to a home that isn't warm enough might freeze to death. This isn't really a danger of hand feeding per-say but it can be a consequence of it if a baby is sold young.
     
  13. Deejo

    Deejo Biking along the boulevard Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran

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    Not a breeder, but I have done alot of handfeeding & raising chicks of various species - from GCC to GW macaws.
    One thing that I had NOT experienced in feeding other baby parrots in the past, was when one of the GW chicks had slow crop.
    Fortunately, I was well aware that this particular situation can occur.
    Of course it was an easy fix (ACV & sterilized/boiled water) but I often think that if someone with very limited experience were faced with the same scenario, things could go downhill very quickly.

    In addition, the juggling of brooder temps, and adequate/proper humidity is not something that an unexperienced person should take on.

    The whole process: sterilizing all equipment, providing safe substrate, formula temps, proper brooders, and the lack of sleep that in itself can lead to dangerous mistakes....well, to sum up, I would think long & hard before handfeeding for a breeder again. The times I have done it were "high stress" on certain levels - despite the rewards as you watch chicks grow.
    There are endless things that can and do go wrong. Being responsible for a LIFE is best left to experienced people.
     
  14. Greycloud

    Greycloud Joyriding the Neighborhood Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran

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    I as a breeder, never sold one baby that left my home unweaned. Ever! I don't care if the person who purchased a baby from me was a breeder themselves. It was my responsibility to make sure my babies were well socialized, weaned, fledged and ready for their new homes. It has been proven that purchasing an unweaned baby does not promise a better bond with your bird. Many things come into play. How the baby is taken care of, socialized and hopefully abundance weaned at the breeder"s. The parents of the baby can genetically influence the personality of the baby. When baby birds mature and reach an independent age they leave their parents. So it is quite natural for them to form new bonds as they grow. Coming into a new home as a fully weaned, well rounded baby will tip the scales in the positive direction.

    A responsible, caring breeder WILL NOT sell an unweaned baby, ever! Let me clarify this by saying a baby that leaves their home before being weaned and fledged. I always welcomed new owners to visit their babies. And all of them did. If they balked a red flag would go up for me. NEVER would I allow a new owner to handfeed their baby in my care. There is absolutely no purpose to it! I wonder how many of us get to bottle feed our pre purchased puppies and kittens?

    So lets say you purchase and unweaned baby on 3-4 feedings a day. Here is what you will need to absolutely ensure you are heading in the right direction.
    A brooder-either homemade or pre-purchased-set up and ready before baby comes home-$50-150
    Formula, syringes, thermometer-to start $50+
    An avian veterinarian for when things go wrong-$75+ per visit

    The baby will need to eat every 3-4 hours from 6AM to 10PM. Not when you want to feed baby but when baby is ready to eat.
    Prep, feeding, brooder clean and clean up after feeding you can count on 45mins-1hour

    Now remember this is barring any problems that arise. Aspiration, slow crop, yeast or bacterial infections, burnt crop, baby falls off table while your head is turned, (Yup it happens!) When a baby aspirates it is horrific to witness! They squeak, flap, rush at you and drop dead. End of story....How do I know? In my 15 years as a breeder it happened to me twice. It was tragic and I will never forget it.

    When having a baby to handfeed you must plan your day around the baby's feeding schedule, not yours. No vacations unless you plan on taking baby and brooder with you. Oh! And don't get sick! There is nothing worse then prepping and handfeeding while you are running to the bathroom throwing up!!

    You want the experience of hand raising your new baby but do you want the experience of seeing it ill, paying hundreds of vet bills and possibly seeing it lying dead on your table because of your mistakes? I hope not.

    You think you are also saving money because you will finish the weaning. Take into account the formula and supply costs. The vet bill when something goes wrong, and it will! Your little cockatiel that cost you $75 could end up costing you over $300+ easily.I know because I have been there too!

    We as breeders, bird parronts need to not be so selfish and try and cut corners or look for the easy way out. The breeder who sells an unweaned baby are just as guilty as the buyer who wants to save money or "experience" handfeeding their little charge. In my opinion and experience it is just not worth it! I have cried to many tears and I hope you will think twice before you may too...
     
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  15. topazldy

    topazldy Sprinting down the street

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    I am a breeder. I totally agree with Triton, with his suggestion of allowing the buyer to experience the feeding and weaning process thru the breeder. They can interact with the baby during this process, with the guidance of the breeder. I have done this with my own babies, and the transition to their new homes have gone very smoothly...ONCE THEY ARE FULLY WEANED!! The whole point is to allow the buyer to bond with the baby prior to weaning. I don't allow any babies to leave before they are weaned. This prevents the unknown and unskilled errors from arising unexpectedly. Babies can die very quickly...intervention has to be immediate. Without experienced help on site, it's very traumatic for both the baby and buyer. We the breeders, need to set protocols for the buyers that unweaned babies can be nurtured under direct supervision of the breeder prior to weaning. No exceptions. I'm in...anyone else?
     
  16. Merlie

    Merlie Biking along the boulevard Avenue Spotlight Award

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    This is actually a danger of handfeeding ... and good advice. I mean, if the baby wasn't pulled for hand feeding and separated from it's parents/siblings, then the need to regulate temperature wouldn't be necessary. Providing a proper temperature for a baby bird is a very big role in hand feeding.
     
  17. Merlie

    Merlie Biking along the boulevard Avenue Spotlight Award

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    I guess I should when I said "hand feeding" in the thread title I should have been a bit broader.

    There is more to hand rearing babies than just the feeding part. Temperature control, illness awareness, weaning onto solid foods, fledging .. are all part of it as well .. so advice regarding those issues are definitely included in the "hand feeding" experience.
     
  18. AmberMuffinz

    AmberMuffinz Rollerblading along the road

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    In that case, when they start fledgling it's important to cover all windows, mirrors, and the kitchen should not have been in use in the past hour. If you have larger birds it's also important to make sure your baby will be safe if he lands anywhere. Our babies always hit stuff and sometimes don't land very nicely when they start flying. But it is also important to LET them fly and not clip their wings when they are learning how. This is important even if the home they go to clips them. They need to learn how to fly and control themselves. Our baby is still a bit clumsy right now but he manages to slow himself and lower himself down when he's landing - a huge improvement from jumping into the air and flapping about trying to land somewhere only to land on the blinds where he can't even grasp.

    When people raise babies they are careful to be cautious about what doors are open and what is going on in the house before they even open the cage. All of our birds are very gung-ho about flying once they learn and it was very hard to keep them all in the cage when we opened it. They all would shoot right out and yell for freedom before landing on something that is not a good landing spot at all. It's pretty important, I think, to raise babies in a room that is big so that they can learn how to fly properly. If you raise them in a small room I think the risk is greater that they'll run straight into a wall. When I got Neelix's cage off craigslist I asked the lady what happened to the bird she had in it and she said that she flew into a wall and broke her neck since she was going so fast. We have never had this happen but it's very important to watch them as they fly and if they do get hurt to dish out the money to go to the vet.

    I think buying a young bird who is fledgling has it's greatest dangers if a house is not experienced in handling flying animals. Mirrors and windows should always be covered along with no ceiling fans going, the kitchen being off (no hot burners or anything). and anything dangerous put away. Baby birds will literally land anywhere, even if it's nowhere near a good perching place. Our babies found the most ridiculous places to land where they couldn't even stay sturdy and were scrambling until we went and got them off whatever it was they were on :rolleyes: If they can land on it, they will regardless of how silly it is.
     
  19. Greycloud

    Greycloud Joyriding the Neighborhood Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran

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    So very true Teresa!!! As the baby grows it's entire diet changes. It grows feathers and learns to flap it's wings. There is a very important point in this maturing where the baby must be gently guided to take flight. It is our job to make sure this occurs safely. Babies just learning to fly will take off willy nilly all over the room. Hitting walls, ceilings and windows. It is so very important to have the flight area safely secured from dangers.

    The baby will need to be introduced to different foods as it matures. Offering a variety of soft foods and soft seeds so baby can practice on different textures. As the baby grows harder foods can be introduced. All of this occurs as you slowly cut back on formula and feedings at the baby's request.

    Introducing toys is important to all little babies. Stuffed animals they can cuddle against. Balls that roll and jingle, soft leathers and wicker to chew on and soft wood as they grow older.

    Physical contact with humans plays a huge part in the baby's development. Introducing soft touch, scritches, teaching the "Step up" request all come with patience, love and time. Baby's should be introduced to different family members as well as supervised when introduced to children. This will all help a bird become a wonderful companion. It is a constantly changing atmosphere when raising a baby. Expect the unexpected. :D
     
  20. Anne & Gang

    Anne & Gang Riding the Skies Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avian Angel

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    our breeder, where we got Samantha, would not let us have her until she was fully weaned...three months old...mind you, she is a tiel..and since tiels have been known to regress after a full weaning, I would be interested to know how you would address this issue..since you would have to go back to handfeeding at that point. Our breeder told us to bring her back if that happened and she would either take over or give us complete instructions on how to handfeed.
     

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