• Welcome to Avian Avenue! To view our forum with less advertisments please register with us.
    Memberships are free and it will just take a moment. Click here

Dangers of Abundance Weaning?

Raptor40

Meeting neighbors
Joined
1/27/20
Messages
63
Location
Victoria, Australia
Real Name
Cody
This is no doubt going to be a controversial topic, but I’d like to see what you all think.

I was once a big supporter of the ‘don’t stop hand feeding until the bird rejects formula’ mindset, but I’m near changing my mind to an extent. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a bird wean a few weeks later than the average, but I do think that if the bird is still consuming formula beyond this time period, and is eating solid foods, forced weaning might be necessary (as long as proper weight-monitoring is done).
This is mostly because there are links between formula consumption birds and liver disease. Formula is made to assist birds with healthy weight gain but once that growth period settles and they’ve hit their optimum weight, they no longer need such a strong weight-gain-focused diet. Formula in this situation, on top of seeds and other foods, can be excessive fat to the diet and cause extra fat deposits in the liver, leading to liver disease. The full article that talks about this is:https://www.brisbanebirdvet.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Fatty-Liver-Disease.pdf

Just thought this would be an interesting topic, as I know many people here have had late weaners. Feel free to add your spiel:laugh:
 

Zara

Try to be a rainbow in somebody else´s cloud ❤️
Super Moderator
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Avenue Concierge
Joined
1/8/18
Messages
23,661
Location
Reino de España
Ok, I can understand your thoughts...
However, abundance weaning, is not simply handfeeding the bird around the clock for as long as they eat it. They must be introduced to foods correctly, and likely once they are hitting their average weaning age for their species, they are at least down to just a couple of feedings and are actively eating some of the adult foods offered. So this means they are only eating a little formula and your point about weight gain, is not as big a problem (if it ever was).
I think if spomeone were to just handfeed a baby bird, and never introduce the adult foods, or introduce them incorrectly or at wrong times, there could maybe be a problem with weight gain, but I do not know. I would think it would affect their psychological development though.

 

Zara

Try to be a rainbow in somebody else´s cloud ❤️
Super Moderator
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Avenue Concierge
Joined
1/8/18
Messages
23,661
Location
Reino de España

BrianB

Jogging around the block
Joined
2/22/17
Messages
978
Location
Arizona
I'll add what works for me, but I think we all have various experiences with our own flocks.

I start my babies out on a hand feeding formula. When they are mature enough to move into a cage from a brooder, I start to add small dishes of different types of food. I use small natural colored pellets, chopped veggies, and cooked rice. Most of it gets knocked over and wasted. It all gets refreshed every day. My thought is to gain interest in different food types. When I start to find powdered pellets at the bottom of the pellet dish, then I know the chicks are starting to pick it up with their beak. They may not be eating it, but at least they are putting it in their mouths. I keep track of this and check their crops at each feeding. I never cut back on the hand feeding formula just because they are starting to eat food on their own. When they start to refuse food, then I give them only what they want. I continue to check to see if they have food in their crops. I'm very conscious of this when they start to fly because they are going to burn off fat and lose a little weight. It doesn't last long and they will start to gain as their chest muscles get stronger. I still offer hand feeding as well as pellets and chop. At some point, they start taking less formula and are eating more on their own. I keep offering it to them until they no longer want it. This is typical for my conures.

Some chicks are just strange and do things totally outside of what's considered normal. Last year I had 3 cockatiel chicks from the same clutch. I pulled them when their eyes opened and started hand feeing them. Once chick weaned at 6 weeks old. It started eating very early and grew very well. It started wanting less and less and in a very short time, it no longer wanted any formula. The second chick went another 3 weeks before it weaned. The third one went a full 12 weeks before it weaned. You know how baby cockatiels think they are starving to death and have never eaten before. This one was always screaming for food and would sit with its crest down and wings out. I had seen it eating pellets and chop, but it held on to the hand feeding for a long time. I was beginning to think maybe it was deficient and would be a special needs bird. One morning I went in to feed it and it was sitting up on the perch, crest up, wings tight against the body and it refused the hand feeding. I offered it for a few more days and the bird never wanted it again.

We had an umbrella cockatoo at the bird store I work at. He was there as a chick when I started in August and went home in late December. He was down to just a very small amount, maybe 5ml at each feeding. He went home and immediately stopped eating. The owners brought him back in and we hand fed him for another 3 weeks before he finally stopped wanting it. He just wasn't ready to give it up, even though he was eating fine on his own. When he comes in for grooming he gets excited to see us. We each spend a few minutes giving him a cuddle before he gets passed on to the next person. His sister from a different clutch is in the store right now and we're seeing a lot of his personality in her, so we know she may take a long time to wean.

There is a comfort level associated with hand feeding and for some birds, it helps with an emotional need. That's a whole different conversation though.

So, I hand feed until the bird no longer wants it, but I also make sure they are eating enough on their own to be self-sufficient. I will water down the formula if I think a bird is hanging on to it for far too long, but I still go through the motions until they start refusing it.
 

finchly

Cruising the avenue
Avenue Veteran
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
5/16/14
Messages
12,169
Location
SW Florida
Real Name
Finchly
My thoughts are a lot like Brians, abundance weaning to me isn’t about the formula but about the (wasted lol) other foods. I start. Mine with greens, sprouts, dry egg food, chop, millet - about anything I can think of. Usually that’s around 4 weeks of age - as soon as I see them nibbling millet.

Keep in mind too that when they’re younger they look like they are eating a lot but they’re not getting much. They are learning to eat.

You have to plan on wasting a LOT of food and at first it might look like they didn’t eat any every time you remove it from t he cage. But it’s important. Also, in the beginning it’s a good idea to soak or chop pellets into smaller portions if you use pellet food.
 

JLcribber

@cockatoojohn
Vendor
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Shutterbugs' Best
Avenue Concierge
Joined
10/16/09
Messages
22,355
Location
Alberta, Canada
Real Name
John
50% (or higher) of Abundance Weaning is about the psychological health of a young bird. Which is absolutely necessary.

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.
 

Raptor40

Meeting neighbors
Joined
1/27/20
Messages
63
Location
Victoria, Australia
Real Name
Cody
I'll add what works for me, but I think we all have various experiences with our own flocks.

I start my babies out on a hand feeding formula. When they are mature enough to move into a cage from a brooder, I start to add small dishes of different types of food. I use small natural colored pellets, chopped veggies, and cooked rice. Most of it gets knocked over and wasted. It all gets refreshed every day. My thought is to gain interest in different food types. When I start to find powdered pellets at the bottom of the pellet dish, then I know the chicks are starting to pick it up with their beak. They may not be eating it, but at least they are putting it in their mouths. I keep track of this and check their crops at each feeding. I never cut back on the hand feeding formula just because they are starting to eat food on their own. When they start to refuse food, then I give them only what they want. I continue to check to see if they have food in their crops. I'm very conscious of this when they start to fly because they are going to burn off fat and lose a little weight. It doesn't last long and they will start to gain as their chest muscles get stronger. I still offer hand feeding as well as pellets and chop. At some point, they start taking less formula and are eating more on their own. I keep offering it to them until they no longer want it. This is typical for my conures.

Some chicks are just strange and do things totally outside of what's considered normal. Last year I had 3 cockatiel chicks from the same clutch. I pulled them when their eyes opened and started hand feeing them. Once chick weaned at 6 weeks old. It started eating very early and grew very well. It started wanting less and less and in a very short time, it no longer wanted any formula. The second chick went another 3 weeks before it weaned. The third one went a full 12 weeks before it weaned. You know how baby cockatiels think they are starving to death and have never eaten before. This one was always screaming for food and would sit with its crest down and wings out. I had seen it eating pellets and chop, but it held on to the hand feeding for a long time. I was beginning to think maybe it was deficient and would be a special needs bird. One morning I went in to feed it and it was sitting up on the perch, crest up, wings tight against the body and it refused the hand feeding. I offered it for a few more days and the bird never wanted it again.

We had an umbrella cockatoo at the bird store I work at. He was there as a chick when I started in August and went home in late December. He was down to just a very small amount, maybe 5ml at each feeding. He went home and immediately stopped eating. The owners brought him back in and we hand fed him for another 3 weeks before he finally stopped wanting it. He just wasn't ready to give it up, even though he was eating fine on his own. When he comes in for grooming he gets excited to see us. We each spend a few minutes giving him a cuddle before he gets passed on to the next person. His sister from a different clutch is in the store right now and we're seeing a lot of his personality in her, so we know she may take a long time to wean.

There is a comfort level associated with hand feeding and for some birds, it helps with an emotional need. That's a whole different conversation though.

So, I hand feed until the bird no longer wants it, but I also make sure they are eating enough on their own to be self-sufficient. I will water down the formula if I think a bird is hanging on to it for far too long, but I still go through the motions until they start refusing it.
Those tiels sound like my three! I have one that’s still special needs (he’s still getting tests done and I’ve been told it’s likely a genetic fault, hence why I’ve stopped breeding my pair. He used to constantly cry, even for about 30 mins after feeds, which was very strange, and acted like he was constantly starving (was also severely stunted). I was tempted to feed him more - as I’d asked for advice on a few of the wrong forums and people had been telling me I was cruel for not giving him more and that underfeeding was obviously the reason he was stunted (I’d tried feeding more, but crop emptying slowed and I reverted back to normal feeding routines) - but turns out that there was a whole lot more behind it than I originally assumed. I’ll have to post his weight-gain charts one day to see what everybody thinks just out of interest. I eventually took the formula off him at about 12 weeks just to see if he’d be ok (weighed him a few times daily and kept an eye on his intake just to be sure) and he ended up completely switching to solids fine. I think he’s the one I was most concerned about with the formula consumption and liver disease thing, as he’s very prone to illness and I wouldn’t be surprised if the genetic condition he has was liver-related. He also eats and drinks quite a lot during the day. Hopefully further testing will let me know what he has.

My other 2 are just gutsy birds tho. They never cried for it anymore, just ate it when I brought it out and stuck their heads in the formula and ate it out of the mixing bowl when I was feeding the little ones. I stopped hand-feeding with them at about 16 weeks.
 

Raptor40

Meeting neighbors
Joined
1/27/20
Messages
63
Location
Victoria, Australia
Real Name
Cody
50% (or higher) of Abundance Weaning is about the psychological health of a young bird. Which is absolutely necessary.

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.
Wow! You’re very well researched! Thank you for the read!
I completely agree with most of what you’re saying. I do agree that properly weaning a bird is incredibly important and that breeders who sell birds unweaned should not be breeding birds. It’s actually illegal in some countries, but unfortunately not in enough countries in my opinion (probably in yours, too). I think the biggest problem is a lack of education. Not many people have a good understanding of the amount of time and money needs to be spent on a chick to ensure a good quality of life. I couldn’t even work at the same time as hand-rearing my tiels, they were literally my full time job.
And yes, I do believe pet shops are a big problem in that sense. I can’t tell you how many tiny unweaned cockatiels I’ve seen at pet stores before I properly knew what an unweaned bird was. In fact, I distinctly remember mentioning how sick they looked when I saw them as they weren’t moving and looked ragged, which is sad to think back on. Except in the pet stores where I am, they sell them for double the price but don’t give any hint that they’re weaning still (I don’t think they hand-feed them at the store either). Also see a lot of unfriendly birds that stores sell as full-priced hand-reared birds. With the rise of big breeding companies and no-contact hand rearing, a lot of places are starting to find the ‘hand reared doesn’t mean hand-tamed’ loophole.
My difference with the abundance weaning may be perhaps due to my specific breeding couples breeding-line. Seems all my tiels wanted to hold onto hand feeding for as long as possible. 2 were ok in the end, just liked to stick their heads in the mixing bowl and eat it, and the other one has a still unknown genetic condition (hopefully I can organise some new tests for diagnosis tomorrow) that made him desperate for food and constantly crying. He got a lot better, but I started to get the feeling it was almost a habit or that he’d somehow forgotten he’d been fed all the time. He ended up being forced off at 12 weeks as he was constantly eating and I wanted to get him away from it to avoid obesity or liver damage, and he for some reason went straight to solids with no problem (did a lot of observing and weighing just to be sure). Still eats and drinks a lot in general though.
 

Raptor40

Meeting neighbors
Joined
1/27/20
Messages
63
Location
Victoria, Australia
Real Name
Cody
Ok, I can understand your thoughts...
However, abundance weaning, is not simply handfeeding the bird around the clock for as long as they eat it. They must be introduced to foods correctly, and likely once they are hitting their average weaning age for their species, they are at least down to just a couple of feedings and are actively eating some of the adult foods offered. So this means they are only eating a little formula and your point about weight gain, is not as big a problem (if it ever was).
I think if spomeone were to just handfeed a baby bird, and never introduce the adult foods, or introduce them incorrectly or at wrong times, there could maybe be a problem with weight gain, but I do not know. I would think it would affect their psychological development though.

I agree, but perhaps it depends on the bird. My tiel Chikka has had quite a few issues (Currently seeing an avian vet for diagnosis and have and will continue to stop breeding due to these conditions as well as high chick mortalities) and never seemed to want to let go of formula. He would eat a lot of solids, then begin crying for formula and eat more than enough of that on top. Kobe and Dora, my other 2 tiels who are Chikka’s first-clutch brothers, did appear to get excited at eating formula, but I got the feeling it was more of an ‘excited for food’ thing than a ‘needing formula’ thing. Kobe in particular would stick his whole head in the formula bowl and just lick it off the insides, but he did eat very little, which I’m assuming is the healthy amount of formula you’re referring to. They still act the same way when I bring the sunflower seeds out as a treat and Kobe is a little thick at the moment so I have a feeling he’s just very food-obsessed. Don’t even get me started on what he’s like when I try and eat my own breakfast I basically have to bat him away like a fly haha.
I have had 2 normal greys who seemed quite easy to wean and did appear to get to a good point where they were refusing formula, which was surprising as I’d never had that before with my chicks.
 

ddobs

Meeting neighbors
Joined
12/20/20
Messages
52
Real Name
David
Interesting thread. I brought home a 13-week old Meyer's last weekend and have started what my avian vet says is abundance weaning. The breeder said he was eating fine on his own (including pellets), but he got here and isn't eating them. So I'm feeding a wide variety of vegetables and greens, fruits, baby food purees, and soft and dry pellets on parchment paper set on the grate at the bottom. I change the paper and food five times a day to ensure cleanliness. He can certainly eat on his own and has favorite foods; he just avoids the pellets. Also, between meals, when he's starting to get hungry, he "squeaks" at me with his mouth open. But my vet advised against feeding formula unless he drops below a certain weight. At that point she said to mix formula with pellet powder in water and maybe give 5 ml. Anyway, I am now feeding him probably five times a day and letting him discover his food. It makes me nervous waiting for him to eat his pellets. Any have advice about how to switch him over? Should I use one meal a day to just feed moist and dry pellets to see if he tries them when he's hungry and has no other option? Thanks in advance for any recommendations! I am new to this - my parakeets ate pellets almost immediately - and I want to make sure I do what's right for my bird.
 

Shezbug

ASK ME FOR PICTURES OF MY MACAW!
Super Moderator
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Joined
4/28/18
Messages
16,510
Location
Vic, Australia
Real Name
Shez
Moisten your pellets with some nice warm water so they’re mushy then feed them.
My bird still loves them like that so he gets warm mushy pellet paste every afternoon.
If you make some pellets into powder you can also sprinkle the powder over any moist food he’s happy to eat.
 

ddobs

Meeting neighbors
Joined
12/20/20
Messages
52
Real Name
David
Moisten your pellets with some nice warm water so they’re mushy then feed them.
My bird still loves them like that so he gets warm mushy pellet paste every afternoon.
If you make some pellets into powder you can also sprinkle the powder over any moist food he’s happy to eat.
Thanks, I'll try it!
 

Zara

Try to be a rainbow in somebody else´s cloud ❤️
Super Moderator
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Avenue Concierge
Joined
1/8/18
Messages
23,661
Location
Reino de España
Should I use one meal a day to just feed moist and dry pellets to see if he tries them when he's hungry and has no other option?
That is force weaning, and is the exact opposite of abundance weaning.

Soaking pellets like Shezbug said is a great idea.
Be sure there is a food bowl with more dry pellets in too, near the water bowl, at all times.

After each time you feed him by hand, offer some adult foods for him to explore and eat on his own.
 

ddobs

Meeting neighbors
Joined
12/20/20
Messages
52
Real Name
David
My vet advised using parchment paper or paper towels on the cage floor (with regular changes) for feeding until my bird is eating well enough on his own from his food dish. I've seen some conflicting things on parchment paper. Is it safe for the bird if he chews on it and/or eats it? I'd prefer parchment paper so the food doesn't soak through - but I want to be safe. Thanks!
 

Sparkles!

Rollerblading along the road
Joined
12/9/20
Messages
1,111
Uncoated, untreated, natural parchment paper is fine to use. You need to make sure it’s not “easy release” or anything of that sort. Because it’s white, it can help you watch poos and the like.
I just use regular paper towels, but that’s just because I’ve been called things like thrifty and cheap.
 

Mintforest

Meeting neighbors
Joined
1/21/21
Messages
41
Firstly thanks to everybody for this very useful thread, I’ve read this again and again for the past few months and each time I’ll pickup something new and useful.

I'll add what works for me, but I think we all have various experiences with our own flocks.

I start my babies out on a hand feeding formula. When they are mature enough to move into a cage from a brooder, I start to add small dishes of different types of food. I use small natural colored pellets, chopped veggies, and cooked rice. Most of it gets knocked over and wasted. It all gets refreshed every day. My thought is to gain interest in different food types. When I start to find powdered pellets at the bottom of the pellet dish, then I know the chicks are starting to pick it up with their beak. They may not be eating it, but at least they are putting it in their mouths. I keep track of this and check their crops at each feeding. I never cut back on the hand feeding formula just because they are starting to eat food on their own. When they start to refuse food, then I give them only what they want. I continue to check to see if they have food in their crops. I'm very conscious of this when they start to fly because they are going to burn off fat and lose a little weight. It doesn't last long and they will start to gain as their chest muscles get stronger. I still offer hand feeding as well as pellets and chop. At some point, they start taking less formula and are eating more on their own. I keep offering it to them until they no longer want it. This is typical for my conures.

Some chicks are just strange and do things totally outside of what's considered normal. Last year I had 3 cockatiel chicks from the same clutch. I pulled them when their eyes opened and started hand feeing them. Once chick weaned at 6 weeks old. It started eating very early and grew very well. It started wanting less and less and in a very short time, it no longer wanted any formula. The second chick went another 3 weeks before it weaned. The third one went a full 12 weeks before it weaned. You know how baby cockatiels think they are starving to death and have never eaten before. This one was always screaming for food and would sit with its crest down and wings out. I had seen it eating pellets and chop, but it held on to the hand feeding for a long time. I was beginning to think maybe it was deficient and would be a special needs bird. One morning I went in to feed it and it was sitting up on the perch, crest up, wings tight against the body and it refused the hand feeding. I offered it for a few more days and the bird never wanted it again.

We had an umbrella cockatoo at the bird store I work at. He was there as a chick when I started in August and went home in late December. He was down to just a very small amount, maybe 5ml at each feeding. He went home and immediately stopped eating. The owners brought him back in and we hand fed him for another 3 weeks before he finally stopped wanting it. He just wasn't ready to give it up, even though he was eating fine on his own. When he comes in for grooming he gets excited to see us. We each spend a few minutes giving him a cuddle before he gets passed on to the next person. His sister from a different clutch is in the store right now and we're seeing a lot of his personality in her, so we know she may take a long time to wean.

There is a comfort level associated with hand feeding and for some birds, it helps with an emotional need. That's a whole different conversation though.

So, I hand feed until the bird no longer wants it, but I also make sure they are eating enough on their own to be self-sufficient. I will water down the formula if I think a bird is hanging on to it for far too long, but I still go through the motions until they start refusing it.
BrianB may I ask something really silly. How do you observe that they don’t want formula anymore? I currently have a 7 week gcc, handfed 3 times a day. He takes all the new food that I give to him, pellets always available, he eats here and there but never enough to fill him up, veggies I’m trying a new one every day and he’s not rejected any yet. Nuts and fruits in very small amounts as treats.

I do notice that you guys mention they take less formula over time. My biggest question is how to observe that he doesn’t want to be fed anymore after a certain amount? Currently my gcc would eat a full portion, the first 5-7ml he would be very quick with it, after that he slows down but if you put the syringe into his mouth he will start eating again. What cues should I be observing?
 

macawpower58

Flying along the Avenue
Avenue Veteran
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Shutterbugs' Best
Joined
8/25/11
Messages
9,834
Location
Pennsylvania
What I did was to start to cut out one feeding. The middle one is the one I cut out first.
I'd start by offering just a small amount of formula, then offer the diced up real food/pellets/whatever you're weaning onto. Eventually lunch was just real food

The morning feeding was the next to go, the night feeding the last.
If he starting begging a lot, I'd do a small syringe feed for the emotional benefit.
My bird finally starting refusing the night feeding, or he'd take a small bit then lose interest.

Mine fed for 8 months, but he was a macaw. I would have fed longer if he'd of asked.
 
Last edited:

Zara

Try to be a rainbow in somebody else´s cloud ❤️
Super Moderator
Celebirdy of the Month
Mayor of the Avenue
Avenue Spotlight Award
Avenue Concierge
Joined
1/8/18
Messages
23,661
Location
Reino de España
What cues should I be observing?
He will actually pull away from the syringe.
What does your bird weigh(with empty crop)? 10% of that weight is the amount you should be feeding per feed. If he takes less than 3/4 or half, for a few days, drop one feeding. Don´t just drop after one feeding of not eating the full amount because sometimes they do pig out on adult foods and eat a little less formula one time. So you just want to make sure. You must also make sure that the bird is actively eating adult foods to compensate the lack of formula. If he stops accepting the formula, but he´s not eating the adult foods either, then there´s a problem.

Once you are sure he´s not eating the full feed, or only half, take away one feeding, as Becky said above, remove the middle feed first. Then when you go down to one feed, it must always be the night feed as the one feed per day. It´s important that a bird goes to bed on a full crop.
 
Top