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Abundance weaning. Opinions?

Should Adelie be cut off from formula?


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Zara

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Me and Adelie are just home from the vet (I just took her for a check up) and when the vet asked what her diet is now, his face had a look of horror when I told him she is still weaning. The words out of his mouth; ¨muy mal!¨ (Very bad!).
He says I should cut her off from her morning feed, now. And in one week cut her off from formula all together.

Adelie is a lovebird who developed and grew slowly, she is now 138 days old (20.5weeks). She has started her first moult. Lovebird weaning starts at around week 5-6 and the bird will be weaned by week 8 ish. Adelie didn´t get introduced to hard food until week 7-8 because she was too small.

I´m not happy cutting her off cold turkey.
I told him, that for the last two days she has eaten less in the morning, and today ate little.
She does eat millet and her seed mix, and nibbles veggies/sprouted beans, lentils.

Why would I just cut her off now and force her after all this time letting her go at her own pace? I already know that if we do this my way as we have so far, she will highly likely lose the morning feed by the weekend anyway. So why force her for the sake of a few days?

I´m looking for your thoughts and opinions. What do you think?

I am planing to stick to my guns, unless someone here tells me why I should do what the vet says, backed up with a document/article.

I just want to do right by Adelie, and I don´t like going against a vets advice.
 

JLcribber

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Of course not.

Abundance Weaning and Fledging

Wilhelm (Bill) Kiesselbach

Permission granted March 31, 2009

There is absolutely nothing more important for the healthy emotional and intellectual development of a young parrot than Abundance Weaning and Fledging. The term "Abundance Weaning" was created and trademarked by Phoebe Greene Linden of Santa Barbara Bird Farm. She has written extensively about it and subsequently, the term has been adopted by bird behaviorists as identifying the single most important contributing factor to the birds' emotional and physical health. As opposed to "forced" weaning where birds are on a specific schedule and, usually based on their age, the breeder decides when they ought to be weaned, "Abundance Weaning" leaves that decision to the bird.

Supplied with a variety of foods ranging from fruit and vegetable tidbits to pellets that should be available all the time, the bird is continued to be hand fed. A properly weaned bird learns to trust humans through the actions of it's caregiver. It gains self-confidence, learns to accept different foods readily and is comfortable in a changing environment. While initially "Abundance Weaning" is exclusively needed for nutrition, eventually it turns into the need for emotional comfort. The word "weaning" in this context implies an awareness of the bird's needs. It goes beyond the mere satisfaction of nutritional requirements. "Weaning implies love, caring, emotional support and the application of simple, elementary rules. It implies knowledge of the early very distinctive stages in their maturation and the birds' individual changing and very specific behavioral patterns.

The Poultrification of parrots is an expression coined by Sally Blanchard and refers to the indiscriminate breeding of parrots on a large scale expressly motivated by profit. While there are even breeders who incubate eggs on a large scale and then ravage feed the babies without individual attention, emotional support or even a modicum of "Abundance Weaning", the worst case of poultrification is the bird breeding program by Petsmart. They breed birds by the thousands and then distribute them into their sales outlets. Everything Petsmart and volume breeders do literally flies into the face of everything we know about the emotional and intellectual needs of a young parrot. Birds "produced" in this manner are very likely to develop very serious behavioral problems. In many cases, breeders and pet shops will even offer a discount to those who are willing to buy an unweaned bird, a clear indication of a breeder or pet shop who doesn't care beyond the "jingle" in the cash register.

While the consequences for this lack of care won't be apparent when the birds are still babies, it will be very evident when they mature. They are prime candidates for seriously dysfunctional behavior. This, of course, is not to say that an Abundance Weaned bird is guaranteed to become a wonderful companion. A lot of knowledge, work, understanding, respect and love are still necessary. Abundance Weaning merely represents the vital foundation on which to build.

Cage bound birds which are suspicious of changes in their lives, who reject their caregiver, who become phobic or even feather pluckers most likely have not been properly Abundance Weaned.

It is a fact that in the wild, African Greys as well as Cockatoos for instance, are "Abundance Weaned" long after they have fledged. 2 year old Cockatoos have been observed being fed by their parents and other relatives. Greys are being weaned and taught the "ways of life" for a number of years to prepare them not only to survive in a hostile environment, but also for the rules of behavior within their very own flock. Bobbi Brinker the noted breeder has instituted a system of "Nanny Birds" which helps her raise her babies. She has the reputation of producing healthy and well-adjusted parrots. (The title of her latest book: "For the Love of Greys*)

At this point, it may be interesting to recount the stunning behavioral difference between wild caught African Greys and captivity raised birds. While African Greys have the reputation of being feather pluckers, there has been almost no incidence of feather plucking observed in wild caught birds. While being trapped, caged and transported must represent a level of trauma to an intelligent and sensitive creature that is hard to imagine, these birds clearly came emotionally equipped to deal with that. On the other hand the birds bred in captivity, cared for, fed and never subjected to the tremendous stress of their wild caught cousins are historically more prone to becoming phobic. The answer seems to be that they are ill prepared to deal with the uncertain, ever changing circumstances of a life with a bunch of mammals who don't even begin to understand them. Something was missing in their upbringing — in all likelihood they have not been properly weaned is a major part.

There is another component in successfully growing up: Learning to fly. Birds must learn to fly. Their sense of self-confidence and emotional well being depends on it. They must be able to maneuver and land safely. While the pure act of flying is a vital part of their development, it has been suggested that letting them learn to fly may even impact their eating habits. When a bird gets ready to fledge, it will instinctively reduce its food intake. That is to loose some of the accumulated baby fat and make it lighter. Many times loving caregivers become extremely concerned about lack of eating and weight loss. It has been suggested that our birds must fly to lose their focus on losing weight and regain their "normal appetite". Even though we may later clip their wings in order to protect them from injuries or escaping, they must fly first. Once we decide to clip them, we have to make sure to do that correctly. There are very clear guidelines on proper wing clipping which are based on bodyweight, size and general agility and are different for every species. Properly clipping is important and won't harm the bird's self esteem; doing so improperly can be devastating, physically dangerous and cruel.

Finally, "Abundance Weaning" is entirely the breeder's responsibility. There is no question that the bird's future behavior patterns, his/her ability to relate, the levels of socialization and emotional health are very largely dependent upon the care it receives early in its life.

The battle cry among all those dedicated to the well being of our companions parrots is: "Don't buy an unweaned bird" —and for a reason: Doing so clearly supports those who are in this business without regard to for the well-being of the creatures. We all should know the difference between a good breeder who cares for the birds and a bad, unscrupulous breeder. The entire future relationship between the buyer and the bird may very well depend on the breeder. A good breeder will never sell an unweaned bird and the bad breeder should be put out of business.
 

Beasley

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It sounds like Adelie is already weaning herself, why rush her when she is almost there? If she’s healthy, happy and exploring eating new food, todo bien!
 

tka

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Eh, she's doing it but in her own sweet time. I suspect you'll have to keep the night feed for a while longer because it's a comfort thing.

You're raising a sweet, confident, happy bird who feels utterly secure around you. There's no point in putting her through the stress of forcibly withdrawing food from her just because she's not conforming to someone else's timetable.
 

sunnysmom

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I've never dealt with babies but I remember a respected breeder from a cockatiel forum that I used to belong to talking about her one baby tiel not weaning for I think almost 5 months (tiels usually wean at 8-10 weeks). I remember because her daughter made him a little tie for "graduating" to a big bird when he finally weaned. So, I took from that, they wean when they're ready. I wouldn't force it. :)
 

Begone

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No.
But if you think she will handle without that morning food, you can give her a small amount and then the rest in a bowl that is placed next to her. Just to see what happens.
If she is changing behavior go back to what you did. And also feed her if she begs for it.
 

Zara

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It sounds like Adelie is already weaning herself
That is what is seems like. this morning she only had a few ml of food. At night she still eats a fair amount.

There's no point in putting her through the stress of forcibly withdrawing food from her just because she's not conforming to someone else's timetable.
The vet knows I´m home most of the day because it was brought up in RE to the physio in the prev. consult. So conforming to my timetable is not an issue. I have all the time in the world for Adelie. He was quite solid that a bird must wean by XYZ week. He said ¨2.5months¨ so that is 10 weeks, which is about 2 weeks after the ¨norm¨ but still, he´s putting a time limit on weaning.

I would understand the problem if I was only offering formula and there was no food, seeds, water, veg avail. for her. But she has all of that plus her formula, and she chooses what she wants.



Thanks for the reassurance everyone.
I was already intending to stick to how we was doing this. She is almost an adult now, her adult plumage is growing in. (I think the moult has driven the loss of desire for the morning feed).
Obviously it is a little disheartnening to hear the vet advise me to cut off formula :(
 

tka

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The vet knows I´m home most of the day because it was brought up in RE to the physio in the prev. consult. So conforming to my timetable is not an issue. I have all the time in the world for Adelie. He was quite solid that a bird must wean by XYZ week. He said ¨2.5months¨ so that is 10 weeks, which is about 2 weeks after the ¨norm¨ but still, he´s putting a time limit on weaning.
Ah, I meant the vet's timetable - the "she should be weaned by X weeks" thing. I know you will adapt your schedule so you can feed her for as long as she asks for.
 

Beasley

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Obviously it is a little disheartnening to hear the vet advise me to cut off formula :(
Even vets sometimes need to be taken with a grain of salt. Ten years I had vets pushing me to neuter my dog, it wasn’t medically necessary, just the status quo. This sounds more like the later too. Miss Adelie is lucky to have you ;)❤
 

melissasparrots

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I think the right move is somewhere in between. If you follow many pet owners(with no actual breeding experience beyond what they read about palm cockatoos) they will tell you to let her hand-feed as long as she wants and give you lots of statistics about how wild birds are feeding their babies for a full year. Firstly, this isn't likely true of lovebirds and secondly, the occasional mouthful or regurgitate is not the same as an entire meal. Unfortunately, my experience with delayed development birds and those that have missed the weaning window is that they will often be difficult to wean. They have failed to wean at the time their body and instinct are telling them to strike out on their own and try new things. Instead, they have learned to depend on you. Sometimes, you have to do it the old fashioned way and force them...a little. Yes, such a bird will if offered continue to hand feed WAY passed when they should have stopped. I've even heard of people still hand-feeding their cockatiel at two years old which is not healthy. I would not cold turkey her. I'd put her on 1 hand-feed a day and maintain that for at least a week or more and then slowly phase it out. She will likely cry and loose weight and generally convince you that you are horrible for not feeding her. If she is truly developmentally delayed as in something is physically wrong with her, then you will have to proceed carefully and consult your vet if you think she has lost too much weight.
Also, beware not to let her slurp down as much as she wants in that one hand-feeding. She should not be allowed to eat an entire day's worth of food in one hand-feeding. Stick to the 10-12% of her body weight. And personally, I'd do this one and only feeding at night. So she is good and hungry during the day.
If you don't just want to cut her down to one feed all at once, you can often give a partial(half or less) feeding for breakfast and immediately(no play time, no cuddles) dump her back into her cage with a bunch of very easy access food and then you leave the room. Don't come back for at least an hour or two so she has a chance to focus on eating like a grown up instead of crying at you. Many baby birds will eat at least a little bit on their own if you get them started with a partial hand-feed. The same strategy can be applied later on when you are trying to phase out the second hand-feeding.

I've only had to do this twice. Once on a bird that was my fault. I was convinced the baby was under weight, so I kept trying to get weight on it by sweet talking it into eating formula when it should have been eating adult food. The second was with a neurologically messed up amazon baby that the parents had stepped on. Both missed the weaning window by a couple of months and it was stressful on both of us to get them eating on their own. The amazon was several months passed when she should have weaned and still acting dependent. It was not a sustainable situation for her to go on like that forever, nor was she ever going to not have problems. It would not have been good for her to add food dependence on top of poor coordination and other issues. A little tough love and frequent weight checks were the answer. And, she did already know how to eat, she just didn't want to eat enough to sustain herself or know that she needed to when she could just sit and cry and mommy would feed the poor neurologically challenged baby.
 
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