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Hand feeding 6 week Conure; ear piercing cry

SnowB

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Hi, am weaning a baby sun conure. I got him at 3 weeks old and he is now going on 6 weeks. I am inexperienced with hand feeding. However, I have had constant, daily guidance from a highly experienced breeder and I have also done extensive research. I would just like some second opinions about hand feeding and sour crop. My baby has never developed sour crop, I am very careful. But he cries a lot and very loudly and bobs his head like he is hungry. His cries get louder and more demanding or aggressive. I make sure when I feed him his crop is full with a bit of room to digest but not so much where he is still hungry. I also only feed him when his crop is completely empty (as I have been instructed). His food measurements are exactly as the breeder has instructed me to feed, his food temp is between 100-106 degrees and I always serve it at 104 or 105. And his brooder is at a steady 86 degree temp. I would like to know if his crop really has to be COMPLETELY empty before feeding again? I’m feeding every 5 hours now but in these last few days his crop is not completely empty by the next feeding. It’s not very full but there is just a little bit of food in there. I read that some breeders don’t wait until it’s completely empty before feeding again and that it’s normal for a small amount of food to be in the crop at feeding time just as long as their crop empties every 24 hours/once a day. His crop is always completely empty in the morning. But during the day, my poor baby cries his lungs out for food and I want to feed him but he still has a little bit of food in his crop. I don’t want to put more food in on top of old food and risk sour crop. Can someone provide suggestions? How can I help my bird? He is very healthy and growing each day. He shows no signs of illness and he is otherwise a happy, healthy, and playful bird. His cries just worry me and it makes me want to feed him when I’ve been instructed by my breeder not to. When I tell the breeder that he’s crying EXTREMELY loud till my ears ring, she says it’s normal and when I told her that his crop isn’t completely empty in 5 hours, she told me to make his food thinner but it only made the crying worse. Then she told me to give him Pedialyte and she walked me thru the measurements and how to feed it to him but my poor baby went to bed with only Pedialyte. Today he started crying for food exactly 5 hours from his last feeding and I fed him even though he had a very small amount of food in his crop and after feeding him, the ear piercing cries stopped for the rest of the day! I went against the breeders instructions and he seemed much happier! Can someone tell me if it is okay to feed him with a bit of food in his crop as long as it empties every 24 hours?
 

SnowB

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Also, I plan on taking him to the vet asap. However, I am on a waitlist for 4 different avian vets for both of my birds. I have been waiting for a month already.
 

Zara

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. I also only feed him when his crop is completely empty (as I have been instructed).
Then he is experiencing hunger multiple times per day.
The crop inly needs to empty completely just once per day, overnight is the best time as you can sleep and wake to find the baby with an empty crop.
During the day, feed when there´s a little left in there.
This way the bird is constantly digesting food all day, non stop.

His food measurements are exactly as the breeder has instructed me to feed,
What is that amount?
How much does your chick weigh on an empty crop?

I always serve it at 104 or 105
Perfect

And his brooder is at a steady 86 degree temp.
Over 90 would be better. 86 is quite low. Ideally something like 90-92.

I would like to know if his crop really has to be COMPLETELY empty before feeding again?
No.

I read that some breeders don’t wait until it’s completely empty before feeding again and that it’s normal for a small amount of food to be in the crop at feeding time just as long as their crop empties every 24 hours/once a day.
Correct.

But during the day, my poor baby cries his lungs out for food and I want to feed him but he still has a little bit of food in his crop.
Feed him. (I think by now you´ve figured that out but looking for reassurance..)

she told me to make his food thinner
No don´t do that. Now there´s less food and more water so he´s even hungrier.

Then she told me to give him Pedialyte and she walked me thru the measurements and how to feed it
This sounds like she is giving tips for fixing slow crop, is the chick having crop problems?

but my poor baby went to bed with only Pedialyte.
Very bad. Poor little mite must be so hungry. It´s important, very important, that the last feed is a good feed, because it has to keep them full all through the night.

I hope my post here was readable, I was quoting and replying as I read through your post.
First sort the feeding schedule out. I worry the amount you are giving may now be correct, and I know that this bird has been a very hungry little guy. He has been starving, and you are lucky if he is not malnourished. The good news is you say he is growing well.
Once he´s eating properly, he hsould be happier. But baby birds are noisy, but usually only when they want a feed, and go quiet after, or make noise after until they fall asleep.

If you suspect slow crop, there´s some really helpful videos with instructions on how to make and use papaya cream here;
(let the link load fully and it should take you to the exact post)
 

Zara

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I am on a waitlist for 4 different avian vets for both of my birds. I have been waiting for a month already.
That´s insane! I´m so sorry you´re having difficulty getting an appointment :(
 

SnowB

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I can’t figure out how to reply to quotes so I’ll reply in one message :)

My breeder instructed me to set his brooder at 88-90 when he was 3 weeks. Then at 4 weeks she had me lower the temperature between 85-90. He starts panting if it goes above 90 degrees. I only found that out when my thermostat accidentally reset.

She also instructed me to feed him 1 tsp of formula to 4 tsp of water when he was 3 weeks. Then a little after 4 weeks she told me to make his food thicker: 2 tsp of formula to 6 tsp of water. However, he needed more than 2 tsp because I could see and hear that he was still very hungry. So I fed him 3 tsp to 9 tsp of water.Shortly after that, his cry for food got so ear piercing and heart breaking. I noticed that when I feed him 3 tsp to 8 tsp of water, he doesn’t cry anymore. After being misguided by my breeder, I’m doubting everything she is saying :( I know she means very well and she loves her birds but I’m beginning to think she is unknowingly doing things wrong. She sent me a video of her babies crying so that I can see how “normal” it is. But the cries don’t sound normal. They sound like cries of discomfort. I have learned his different noises and I know his happy or whiny one, especially his miserable hungry one. **If his food ratio needs to be adjusted, I will immediately fix it!**

Another thing she has told me to do is introduce millet to him at the beginning of next month :( I want him to eat vegetables too but she never mentioned anything about introducing veggies. She also wants him to move to a small cage with a heat lamp at the end of the month. I’ve been thinking of putting him in a cage now but I am not sure if he is ready. He recently learned that he can climb on my clothes and he perches on my fingers like a big bird. He is a bit wobbly but he has decent balance for the most part, I use my other hand to make sure he doesn’t fall but I let him practice perching on my fingers. I really want to introduce veggies already, I just want to make sure it’s okay.

When I take him out of his brooder, he seems to start shivering and looking for warmth in about 5 minutes or so. So when I take him out, I make sure my room is warm bcuz it’s been a little cold in the house lately or I put a heating pad out with a towel on top and I let him sit on there so he’s not in his little tank all day long.

It doesn’t seem like he has any symptoms of illness at all. I’ve read about sour crop, slow crop, crop stasis, etc. He doesn’t show any signs of illness at all. It seems the only problem was that he was very hungry! My poor baby :( Thank you for the link! I will keep it in mind should the situation ever arise :)
 

Zara

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What brand is the food?
Most are 1 part powder to 1-2 parts water from 5 days old. The ratios she told you are insane. Unless thats some special food I´ve never heard of.
That birds must have been so hungry, this is definitely why he has been crying a lot.

Another thing she has told me to do is introduce millet to him at the beginning of next month :( I want him to eat vegetables too but she never mentioned anything about introducing veggies.
They can be introduced interchangeably, when weaning offer the adult food after the formula. For veggies, sometimes they take them better if they are warm, maybe even mashed at first. Same with pellets, they can be soaked in warm water.

When I take him out of his brooder, he seems to start shivering and looking for warmth in about 5 minutes or so.
This reiterates that he´s not quite ready for a cage yet.

I can’t figure out how to reply to quotes
For future reference ;)
 

SnowB

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What brand is the food?
The bird formula is a mixture of 3 different formulas, one including Gerber rice cereal for human babies. The other two are Higgins Intune Hand Feeding Formula and Kaytee Exact Hand Feeding Formula. She had me mix both brands and add Gerber rice cereal in the mixture. My poor baby. I feel awful. I’ve been doing more research lately (I researched before getting my baby but once you experience caring for the bird it’s a lot different and you come across situations that you didn’t expect) and going against what she has been instructing me to do but certain things I am not comfortable with trying out before getting some reassurance (such as entirely adjusting the formula). If this mixture of formula is not right, I will change it ASAP.
 
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SnowB

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They can be introduced interchangeably, when weaning offer the adult food after the formula. For veggies, sometimes they take them better if they are warm, maybe even mashed at first. Same with pellets, they can be soaked in warm water.
Thank you! I will definitely keep this in mind :) Do you agree that veggies and millet should be introduced at the end of the month? At the end of this month he will be 8 weeks going on 9. I’ve just been doubting my breeder a lot recently :(
 

Zara

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Higgins;
1 formula : 1.5 - 2 water

Kaytee;
1 formula : 1.3 - 2 water

Source; Some helpful links about hand feeding and weaning:)

So, you will want to make the formula 1 part of formula powder, to 1.5 - 2 parts water ( and the person who gave you this bird should have instructed you to use that since you got the chick as that is the ratio from 5 days old)

The rice cereal is unneccesary, like a filler.

It´s always recommended not to change the babys formula as to not upset the digestive system. But I really don´t know what is the right thing to do in this situation, to carry on with this mix, or to buy kaytee or higgins and use that on it´s own.

Please try not to feel awful, you were only doing as you were told.

I´ll tag some more people who may have thought´s whether to continue using the same powder or buy new,
@finchly @Monica @Matto @Mockinbirdiva @Laurie

For now, just be sure to make the food thicker, using the ratio 1:1.5-2

You didn´t say how much the chick weighs. Be sure to find out. He needs to eat 10% of his body weight per feeding. For eg. if her weighs 50g, he should eat 5CC, if he wants 6 or a little more that´s ok.

Do you agree that veggies and millet should be introduced at the end of the month? At the end of this month he will be 8 weeks going on 9.
@DoubleTake ?
 

JosienBB

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Any breeder who would sell unweaned babies (especially that young) to someone inexperienced in handfeeding is a bad breeder (and arguably, a bad person), full stop. I wish you the best with the little guy. You're receiving good advice here, so I'll get off my soap box now. Sorry, just had to get that in, these so-called "breeders" make me so angry.
 

SnowB

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Any breeder who would sell unweaned babies (especially that young) to someone inexperienced in handfeeding is a bad breeder (and arguably, a bad person), full stop. I wish you the best with the little guy. You're receiving good advice here, so I'll get off my soap box now. Sorry, just had to get that in, these so-called "breeders" make me so angry.
I know :( I didn’t know how bad that was until after I got him :( I’ve been doing all I can for my baby bird and I’m trying to learn the correct ways to care for him. I’m home all day long with him and I observe him closely. I definitely agree with you though. Caring for such a baby bird is extremely risky and dangerous for the bird, I would not recommend buying an unweaned bird to anyone. Not everyone can provide the proper care and not everyone will even try to. I never bought him with any bad intentions at all :( I love him like a human baby:sad11:
 

SnowB

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Any breeder who would sell unweaned babies (especially that young) to someone inexperienced in handfeeding is a bad breeder (and arguably, a bad person), full stop. I wish you the best with the little guy. You're receiving good advice here, so I'll get off my soap box now. Sorry, just had to get that in, these so-called "breeders" make me so angry.
Even though I fell for it, I really wish breeders will stop selling unweaned babies! I know now and hope it comes to an end! It is very dangerous and sad :( I cry when my baby cries because I want to give him the best care and help him:crycry:
 

JosienBB

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I know, my anger was directed at the breeders who prey on innocent victims. And it's usually the bird who pays the price, too. I'm sorry you have to go through this :( Best of luck caring for the little one, your heart is in the right place. I will keep you and the little guy in my thoughts.
 

SnowB

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So, you will want to make the formula 1 part of formula powder, to 1.5 - 2 parts water ( and the person who gave you this bird should have instructed you to use that since you got the chick as that is the ratio from 5 days old)
Thank you so much! I will wait for the people tagged to give their opinion as well:)

Also, I have never weighed him:o: I ordered a scale and the order didn’t arrive then when it did it was broken and I went thru hell with the order and never reordered it. Is it necessary to weigh him? And up to what age does he need to be weighed?
 

SnowB

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Please try not to feel awful, you were only doing as you were told.
Thank you so very much for all of your help! I wish I could hug you:sad11::bighug::hug8:

Also, I will adjust the formula ratio:bounce3:
 

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I agree with a lot of what @Zara has said. If the chick does best at 86° F instead of 90°, then keep at 86°.


So definitely make the formula a bit thicker!

Make sure you are feeding AT LEAST 10% of his weight in food, but no more than 12%.

Agree, if the crop isn't completely empty, it's fine to feed a bit more as long as it empties at night! Don't let your baby starve!

You can get a digital gram scale from any place that sells either kitchen supplies (re: grocery stores) or look for a postal scale. (office supply store?) Either way, you should have a gram scale! And they aren't bad to have throughout the life of the bird! They can help to tell you when a bird is sick or just feeling under the weather, if they're getting too fat, etc.



As far as solid food goes? I would recommend introducing sprouts that you grow yourself as well as finely chopped vegetables and some fruits. You could start offering the foods now for a couple of hours at a time just to get your baby used to the idea of these foods. If he doesn't eat them, that's fine! Even exploring them will at least pique the little ones interest!
 

SnowB

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I agree with a lot of what @Zara has said. If the chick does best at 86° F instead of 90°, then keep at 86°.


So definitely make the formula a bit thicker!

Make sure you are feeding AT LEAST 10% of his weight in food, but no more than 12%.

Agree, if the crop isn't completely empty, it's fine to feed a bit more as long as it empties at night! Don't let your baby starve!

You can get a digital gram scale from any place that sells either kitchen supplies (re: grocery stores) or look for a postal scale. (office supply store?) Either way, you should have a gram scale! And they aren't bad to have throughout the life of the bird! They can help to tell you when a bird is sick or just feeling under the weather, if they're getting too fat, etc.



As far as solid food goes? I would recommend introducing sprouts that you grow yourself as well as finely chopped vegetables and some fruits. You could start offering the foods now for a couple of hours at a time just to get your baby used to the idea of these foods. If he doesn't eat them, that's fine! Even exploring them will at least pique the little ones interest!
Thank you so very much!! I will follow your recommendations:swoon: I will be sure to get a gram scale too:tup:
 

finchly

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I agree with @Zara snd @Monica .

The only thing I would add is if he’s hungry- feed him! Within the parameters already mentioned of course. Like if you just fed 10% of his body weight don’t go crazy.
But I feel like they each have different growth spurts, metabolism etc so we can’t dictate when they’ll be hungry. Yours might be especially big or something.
Baby (human) food usually has too much iron for birds, I wouldn’t use that.
Just do your best. Feeding a baby is very difficult, you’re doing a good job!
 

Zara

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I ordered a scale and the order didn’t arrive then when it did it was broken and I went thru hell with the order and never reordered it. Is it necessary to weigh him? And up to what age does he need to be weighed?
You need to weigh him to know how much formula to offer per feeding. Weigh him every morning when his crop is empty because he should weigh more each day so his food allowance will be slightly more daily.
I use the kitchen scales often. They do the job. Digital ones. We can get them at supermarkets here. Pharmacys also sell scales sometimes.
 

DoubleTake

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Do you agree that veggies and millet should be introduced at the end of the month? At the end of this month he will be 8 weeks going on 9. I’ve just been doubting my breeder a lot recently :(
@DoubleTake ?
Offering "soft" solid food at 2.5 months is fine, just be prepared a lot of it goes to waste. Point is just to have them explore and try new things. I agree with @Monica with the sprouts idea, they do go bad pretty quickly so keep an eye on it.
 
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