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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. melissasparrots

    melissasparrots Rollerblading along the road Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran

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    Things that stand out as going wrong:
    1. I had one apparently very healthy quaker baby drop dead for no apparent reason while I was cleaning the brooder. Necropsy showed a heart defect. I've raised over a couple dozen babies from that pair, so I don't think its bad genetics. Just bad luck for that chick. If he'd been sold unweaned (he was on about 3 feedings) the owners would have had a fairly traumatic experience. Most of those sorts of things will have shown themselves by the time the baby is weaned. So by purchasing weaned, not only do most breeders have a much better health guarantee, but the bird has also been in the world long enough for at least most congenetal issues to become apparent.

    2. Splay legs and learning how to make a hobble to fix it.

    3. Toes not in the right position and learning how to fix that.

    4. A brooder that stopped heating consistenly and caused slow crops on day ones.

    5. Parent parrotlets that overstretched the babies crop and figuring out how to get enough food into the bird but not have it go rotten sitting in the bottom of a flacid crop.

    6. Baby swallowed a pine shaving on the eve of a major holiday when our emergency vets don't see birds. Parrotlet chick weight 11 grams when he did it. It took me a couple days to get it manipulated just right to get it out of him. Trying to keep him hydrated and then catching him up from lost growth time was a challenge. He made it though.

    7. Babies pulled out of the nest with bacterial infections. Which after antibiotics turns into a fungal infection. So far in 25 years of doing this small time I've never had a chick get an infection after being pulled from the nest and only a couple times before pulling from the nest. Got a crash course in why its best to just spring for the culture and sensitivity right from the start rather than just settling for a gram stain to diagnose. You can't wait to try on a few different antibiotics meanwhile a bird is going down hill. You need to get the right drug the first try. At the very least a little more up front expense will save you by preventing multiple trips back and forth the vet, several weeks of drugs when you could have gotten it done in 10 days, and babies feeling icky longer than needed. Sometimes my vet needs to be told what I want him to do because more often than not he's happy prescribing after just a gram stain and thinks he's doing me a favor and saving me money. Not.

    8. First flight and all that goes with that. Usually its directly into a wall, sliding down like some cartoon character and hitting the floor with a thud. I've personally never had one get hurt, but I have heard cracked beaks, brain injury and death from that.

    9. Learning how to deal with the first independence phase and training to be gentle. My amazons can sometimes go through one heck of a push for independence at around weaning. Don't touch me, leave me alone, your too boring and old to bother with anymore. Most inexperienced hand-feeders don't have the skills to deal with that. They seem to be under the impression that buying unweaned they will get to shape the babies behavior, form a wonderful parent child bond and everything will be great all day long after that. Not. Baby will still at some point try to experiment with some new and not so desireable behaviors. Better to get that out of the way at the breeders than risk a bunch of hurt feelings and being sold to someone else again anyway.

    10. Almost forgot-babies that for no apparent reason don't want to eat or have a lousy feeding response. I've had a few amazon babies that I fed so well when tiny that they got to be super lazy feeders. A couple of the girls even decided that regurgitating just swallowed food for a second tasting was fun, very self rewarding and thus habit forming not to mention messy. I can see someone inexperienced aspirating a baby or subjecting it to all sorts of vet visits trying to figure out whats wrong with it when really nothing is wrong. Not to mention if they turned to the internet message boards for help they'd be referred to a vet and likely given all sorts of advice to deal with a medical issue the bird doesn't have. I did have to learn that sometimes with some species letting them go empty between meals so they get a little hungry is a good thing. Some other species need every calorie they can get in order to reach full size. Just because I hand-raised a bunch of 'tiels, parrotlets and quakers didn't make me ready for all the little quirks that amazons and other species have. They are all different and I learn something new usually through my own mistakes any time I take on a new species. I don't sell unweaned because I can't imagine how it could possibly be better for the baby to go from someone experienced and familiar to someone not experienced. People will absolutely come out of the woodwork trying to convince me how experienced they are with hand-feeding and how nothing ever went wrong before so they can buy a baby from me unweaned. I'm not so concerned that nothing ever went wrong. I want to know how your going to deal with it when something does go wrong and that only really comes from experience. In many cases its a judgment call to go to the vet or deal at home. Is this baby dropping weight like crazy because its sick or is it just getting ready for its first flight? Only previous experience with that particular species teaches those sorts of things.

    I'll post more if I think of them later. Ooops just remembered #11-ruptured air sack leaking air bubbles into the skin around the crop forcing formula into one small area of the crop and not emptying out of that and turning hard. Vet couldn't figure out what was wrong because he wasn't experienced with avian pediatrics and his old eyes wouldn't let him see the nearly microscopic air bubbles under the skin around the crop. Grams stain showed no bacterieal issue but baby was prescribed baytril just in case and because vet had no clue otherwise. Unfortunately, birds on medicine often feel icky because of the meds and don't eat as well or vomit. With babies needing food to grow, unecessarily medicating a baby just in case isn't always the best way to go. I ended up treating that one myself by poking a sterilized needle under the skin and squeezing the air out. Had to do that twice, plus a few more days for all the little bubbles to disipate and the baby needed plenty of TLC after to get caught up and not end up stunted. Have no idea how he ruptured an aircell sitting in a kleenex lined bowl. Baby was about 7 days old when he did that. I have to wonder if I over filled his crop a little bit and stretched the surrounding tissues too much. I can't see how that would rupture and air sack, but ????? I'll probably never know. I never did end up using the baytril on him. By far the huge majority of babies I've had with problems have survived. Its very rare for me to loose a chick.
    Melissa
     
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  2. featherbabies

    featherbabies Sprinting down the street

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    One thing I do is to make sure that every baby that has weaned, still stays for a week or two, just to decrease the chances that the baby will regress. Luckily it has never happened, but I do have a plan in place. I would recomend that they offer warm mushy foods from a little spoon, like oastmeal, or cream of wheat. The baby could get the comfort while decreasing the chance of the new owner aspirating the baby. Just let the little one have a few nibbles from the spoon rather than putting it in the mouth.
    As breeders, we never stop learning. A fun aspect is that different species behave differently as babies. My tiels would always begin refusing formula when they were getting ready to fledge, which I expected. But my gcc babies would refuse a lot earlier in the process. I panicked until I realized it was a pattern. As soon as the babies "felt" they dropped enough, they began eating better again.
     
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  3. palmtoolady

    palmtoolady Moving in

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    I've been a breeder/handfeeder since the late 90's and have done thousand's of hand feedings. I shudder every time I see that someone is going to buy an unweaned baby especially when they have no experience. While you don't have to be a rocket scientist and good old common sense goes a long way there is a lot more to it than mixing some formula and feeding a baby. One of the most important things I have learned from feeding so many babies over the years is that the more experience you have the more it helps. An experienced hand feeder can usually quickly recognize that there is a problem and know what to do about the problem whereas someone with little to no experience might be wondering if there is even a problem or trying this or that until it is too late. I have a personal policy of when there is a problem to consult my avian vet first rather than fool around and be on the internet asking for home remedies or advice. I'm a firm believer in going to the vet first and then write about it on the internet in order to share the experience with others. I am very proud to say that with the hundreds of babies I have had, greys, eclectus, caiques and rosies mainly that I've ever only lost one baby. I found a rosebreasted cockatoo baby dead in the brooder one morning when it was 3 weeks old. Of course it had a necropsy and was sent for histo which came back that it had a hematoma on its liver that it was most likely born with and it ruptured and the baby bled out. There was nothing anyone could have done to save that one. I have also never aspirated a baby or burned one's crop. Even though I've had a lot of feeding experience I'm always careful. I have another personal policy that no matter how much of a hurry I'm in or how stressed I am that if I am feeding a baby all that is put aside and I make sure to slow down and pay attention. That's not to say I've never had problems with babies because I have and the more babies the more problems, law of averages. LOL I've had everything from a runny nose and slight bacterial infection, to a ruptured air sac, broken legs, yolk sack peritonitis, aspiration pneumonia (I didn't aspirate the baby, he was having foot problems and my vet had him in a hobble which upset him so much that at some point he managed to aspirate a bit of formula) and I'm sure a few others. Luckily with the help of my vet we got all the babies through these problems. Unweaned babies are more supseptible to problems than weaned babies. I don't think the average person is capable of handling these types of problems nor should they have to. I'm a big believer in proper equipment for raising babies. The younger the baby the most critical the temperature and humidity. 2 degrees can mean life or death to a new hatchling. A professional breeder usually has state of the art brooders to keep their chicks in rather that the person who is going to buy an unweaned baby and try keeping it in an aquarium with a heating pad. They simply don't want to make the investment in equipment they are only going to use for a short time and I don't blame them.

    Earlier in this post I mentioned that common sense went a long way. A few years ago I joined a hand feeding list thinking that I could offer some good advice when asked. After a few months I found that it was causing me too much heart ache listening to the problems people were having because they bought an unweaned baby. I would try to explain to them the importance of a good thermometer and carefully checking the temperature of the formula. They would tell me how they didn't need one they could test a bit with their lips and know if the temperature was right or not. I'd try to explain the importance of daily weighing their babies and funny but some people would tell me how they could just look at them and tell. My final straw when I couldn't take any more was when a girl told me her baby had formula running out of its check and when I told her she had a crop burn and needed to get to an avian vet ASAP she insisted she could not have possibly burned the crop and was going to put skin glue over the hole. I know most people would have far more sense and listen and really try to do a good job but I think its much better to buy a weaned baby. Just one final thing I'll add here is that yes, a baby will bond to its hand feeder but they will just as easily bond to the next person that takes care of them. You definately do not have to hand feed to bond.

    Pat
     
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  4. Greycloud

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

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    Excellent info Pat! I wish people would just realize it is not a game. Little lives are at risk. :(
     
  5. Ziggymon

    Ziggymon Biking along the boulevard Avenue Spotlight Award

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    Very informative thread, even to someone like me who has no intention of ever getting a baby bird. Thank you.
     
  6. Kathie

    Kathie Biking along the boulevard Avenue Spotlight Award

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    Short and sweet.

    I have no time for any breeder, pet shop or bird store that will sell an unweaned baby. I think it should be against the law.

    Even the most experienced hand feeder can make a mistake.

    To allow an inexperienced hand feeder to take a baby home is incorrigible. Further, it is a bunch of monkey drizzle that a bird will bond better if the new owner feeds it. All it does is allow more room for new babies to come in to sell. Move one out and bring more in.

    Steps off soap box.
     
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  7. avianantics

    avianantics Rollerblading along the road Premium Vendor Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran

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    I no longer breed or raise babies, but I did for nearly 30 years and will be happy to share my experiences. But, it's late and there's no room on the soapbox, 'cause Kathie won't move over. So.... I will delay my input until tomorrow. Goodnight all.
     
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  8. Leza

    Leza Biking along the boulevard

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    I personally wouldn't consider this an opinion or an emotion, but the cold hard TRUTH!! :highfive:
     
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  9. Merlie

    Merlie Biking along the boulevard Avenue Spotlight Award

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    Shelly ..

    Would still love your input on the subject. I know you'll have great info.



    No worries Kathie ... I feel the same way you do on all counts. :heart:
     
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  10. Jaybird

    Jaybird Walking the driveway

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    Oh goodness, I just saw this thread. I've been a breeder and handfeeder a few decades now; I have horror stories to tell you. Keanu, my Blue and Gold, was purchased by a young man at five weeks old-- the man watched handfeeding videos, and thought he'd save himself a few hundred dollars on a macaw by buying him unweaned. Keanu, until the Kaytee horror began, WAS very healthy. We were lucky.

    In our local parrot group, there is a lot of buying, selling, trading of unweaned babies-- to breeders. I don't find this quite a reprehensible as selling babies to the public, which has now just begun. However, one of the first rescue cases I came across was a woman that bred tiels and other small birds. She decided she wanted a macaw, and purchased a GW unweaned, without knowing about their predisposition to slow crop. When the baby finally came to me, I could SMELL the infection from her mouth. She was anorexically thin, too, to the point of muscle wasting. She didn't survive the weekend to make it to the vet. That little chick has been in the back of my mind constantly while dealing with Keanu's issues.
     
  11. frankensteinflys

    frankensteinflys Strolling the yard

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    Excellent commentary. I used to breed years ago too. Too many problems can occur on an hourly basis when handfeeding baby birds. One just has to be experienced in knowing what to watch for, and must have the knowledge what to do IMMEDIATELY to fix the problem. Running to the vet IMMEDIATELY may save your baby bird's life. These forums are good for advice, but a lot of valuable time is wasted when bird emergencies occur, and there are days of discussion on forums on what a person should do when medical issues occur. GET THE BIRD TO THE VET. (I have also lost birds by delaying medical help, so I just want to help others out by stressing this fact.)

    NOTE: Good breeders will NEVER sell an unweaned bird. The trick is to stay away from anyone who promotes selling unweaned babies or one who doesn't want to volunteer any info on training a person on exactly HOW to handfeed a baby bird. As a kid, I tried to save baby birds falling out of their nests outside. I lost EVERY ONE of them within 2 weeks, usually within days. Heartbreaking for a kid. Losing an expensive parrot is heartbreaking also, plus money down the drain.

    I pet sat for a lady who got a "deal"on a goffin2. The breeder sold her the bird at a bird show. The breeder also didn't want to sell the lady any of her pipettes to handfeed the bird with! The breeder also told the goffin2's owner that if you are handfeeding a bird you don't need to give the bird water. The owner followed those directions, and ended up with the bird getting dehydrated, ending up in an incubator at the avian vet's for 2 weeks, and ended up with a $1,000 bill to try to keep the bird alive!

    So she REALLY got a deal on that cockatoo. I wish every person who wanted to finish handfeeding a cheap parrot would READ this thread!
     
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  12. frankensteinflys

    frankensteinflys Strolling the yard

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    Actually, I think selling unweaned baby birds is against the law in some states, but not in mine.

    I also do not think it is fair to blame all bird breeders for bringing in more baby parrots into this world. There are a LOT of people out there who are just not suited to adopt an older parrot which may come with some "quirks". Newbies should consider a baby bird for their first bird. If that one works out, all of the rest of their parrots can be rescues.

    I am older and have been on both sides of those fences. I have seen the mistakes that have been made in parrot ownership. The above is just my own opinion to help guide anyone else who wants to obtain their first parrot.
     
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  13. Minasmom

    Minasmom Checking out the neighborhood

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    I bought my U2 baby in PA. She was unweaned. I learned to hand feed her at the pet store because the owner really pushed me too. I took her home a week later. By that time she was down to a nightly feeding and when I got her to the vet he said I COULD try to wean her ( I didn't ) I waited till7 months. I'm kind of glad I did learn though because now Mina is very ill and not eating and I am hand feeding her again. No worries I just found a wonderful vet for her. But I think because of her medicine and because she is so sick she just does not want to eat her pellets.
     
  14. Ziggymon

    Ziggymon Biking along the boulevard Avenue Spotlight Award

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    I could not disagree more. Yes, some birds in rescue have quirks. Many do not, and are extremely easy birds, much easier than raising a baby bird.
     
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  15. frankensteinflys

    frankensteinflys Strolling the yard

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    This is absolutely one of the best replies ever! I have been on both sides of the fence too. Most of those problems I ran into years ago also. Including one where I was just taking a baby african grey out of its nest and it got scared and aspirated in my hand (died). For no apparent reason, sickness, or goof on my part. Absolutely heartbreaking...
     
  16. KatherinesBirds

    KatherinesBirds Biking along the boulevard Avenue Veteran

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    My thoughts on this are that hand feeding takes a certain "touch". One has to be sensitive to the birds needs, know how to handle a baby bird, know something about anatomy and the rather delicate art of hand feeding. Yes, delicate. I would only let a baby bird go to someone who had to take over hand feeding when I knew they were well aware of what it entails and had experience.
    My tools were always clean, dry and laid out on a towel for each feeding. The formula was tested to be at the exact temperature. The consistency was correct and it was always fresh. I knew the difference between the air passage and the "food tube". The amount was measured and feedings were always on schedule. Very important items!
    Makes me queasy just remembering what care I took in hand feeding. It actually takes something more than being a good parent to ones own child.
    Just my opinion. :heart:
     

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