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7 month old tiel still hasn't weaned... despite all efforts

rorybird

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First post here, and unfortunately it is because I'm at my wits end.

I brought home a baby tiel from a reputable local breeder, and made the cardinal sin of doing so before the bird was weaned. Safe to say I will never make this mistake again. It has now been 7 months and he still only picks at his food (a mix of pellets of different types, some high quality seeds, some dried egg, and bird chop we make ourselves with boiled carrots/peas/broccoli/corn).

He is showing no signs of weaning at all, and if we reduce his formula in the morning or evening feedings he will lose weight very quickly over the course of a couple days. In fact, when he eats he devours his food as quickly as he possibly can. He has also been chirping around feeding time in the morning and evenings...

I honestly don't know what to do at this point. I can keep feeding him formula, because if I don't he will probably starve to death, but this seems like it is unreasonably long for a tiel to wean. We have followed all different instructions on abundance weaning, so now I'm stuck.
 

Zara

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Hello, Welcome,

It is important to just feed 10% of his body weight per feed. Usually we can feed a little more, but you want to leave some space for adult foods.
Right after the feeding, offer him adult foods, a mix of various things to explore, you can put little piles on a plates to give the variety.
Try picking things up and offering them to him.
Anything he eats should be encouraged while he weans.

I have a lovebird who weaned at 6 months, instead of 6-8 weeks. Cockatiels normally wean at 10-12 weeks, so you are in a similar boat to what I was. And it felt never ending back then!

How many feeds per day are you doing? I found once I was able to remove a feed, the others went closely after. I spend hardly any time doing two feeds.

@BrianB @Matto
 

rorybird

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He's an undersized bird according to the avian vet he sees, so his weight has not really gone above 75g in the morning pre-food. I have him down to 2 feeds - it was down to 1 feed, but then he was losing weight (dropped about 15% body weight) and obviously not eating any adult food so I had to bring it back to 2 feeds to help get his weight back up.

The size of each feed has been reduced, followed by access to adult foods. I've tried both in the cage, and outside of the cage. Once he is done with the formula or I stop the feed, he may pick at some of the food but never really consumes much. Throughout the day he shows no interest in the foods that are presented to him, either in the cage or when he is out (which is quite often).

I just don't really see any progress or interest on his part to wean. Makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong...
 

BrianB

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Welcome, Rory!

Continue feeding just for his wellbeing and let's see if we can collectively get him to eat on his own. Switch to uncooked chopped veggies. Just shred or chop it into fine pieces and see if he will pick at it that way. Maybe the cooked doesn't work for him. You might also put some pre-mixed baby formula in it. A little familiarity to entice him. Try a very small bit as a test because the formula has a short shelf life once mixed. If he's not interested within 10 or 20 minutes, then throw it away and just replace it with chopped veggies. Try different kinds of pellets. It might be that he just doesn't like those and is refusing to eat them. If you have a local bird store that sells food in bulk, try to get a handful of each small bird food that's appropriate for tiels and offer them once by one. Cockatiels are ground feeders in the wild, so some seed in their diet isn't necessarily a bad thing. He has to eat to survive, so anything is better than nothing. If he watches you eat, then pretend to eat his food and offer him some. Sometimes you have to get wild and creative to see what will stimulate them to eat on t heir own.

There is another possibility to consider that you should ask the vet. If the vet says he is undersized for his age, could it be possible that there is a congenital issue and this is just the way he is?
 

rorybird

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Ok, I can give the uncooked veggies a try, and see if he is interested in baby formula mixed in. We currently use a mix of 2 different pellet types (Lafeber and Roudybush), but perhaps should try them unmixed to see if one or other is more or less interesting to him. We also have some avicakes (which he pecks at and eats some), tested some Zupreem (which he didn't like), and mix in some Lafeber dried egg which he does seem to like.

The issue is that he doesn't eat any of them enough to sustain himself, and seems to prefer to wait for feeding time where he will voraciously eat the formula.

I suppose it could be a congenital issue, which we could explore, but he has a clean bill of health (though the first few months he did have a bacterial infection which was treated with antibiotics).
 

Zara

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Which brand is the formula? I have heard using the same brand gives them familiarity.

Also, have you tried mashed veggies? Maybe he likes the texture?

Keep trying different things, you will get there eventually :)
 

Mizzely

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I have zero experience with this, but have you tried to give him his adult food nearby you while you eat your own meal? Flock tactics could perhaps help him?
 

sunnysmom

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Have you tried millet spray? Or wetting the pellets a bit so they're softer? Or other soft food like mashed cooked sweet potato?
 

rorybird

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Thanks for the additional ideas! I think we can experiment with some more soft foods like mashed potatoes/sweet potatoes. We have been trying to encourage flock behaviour by putting out food with us at the dinner table, and even pretending to eat his pellets/seeds/veggies with him. It has limited success, so maybe we just need to keep at it.

He's currently on Nutribird A21 since he was handfeeding at both the breeder and when we took him home. I have tried mixing it with seeds and pellets, but he catches on to that trick fairly quickly.
 

BrianB

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This might be a bit extreme, but try slowly switching him to a different formula while providing him with an abundance of different foods. He may decide he doesn't like the new formula and start eating stuff on his own. Add a little bit of the new formula each day and see how he does. If he rejects it and stops eating, then of course go back to what you were feeding before. If he dislikes it, but continues to eat it out of habit, it may encourage him to start picking at other foods you offer. The mashed sweet potato is a great idea. A mashed warm banana is good as well.
 
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