A spoon fed Eclectus babyFor the beginner, feeding a day old chick can be a daunting experience. For such a tiny bird the feeding response is often vigorous and may take the inexperienced hand feeder by surprise.

Very small feeding implements are required and although we use the smallest available spoons at PARROTCARE, an eye dropper will do a similar job while the feeding formula is watery.

It is very important to be in control of a situation and to do so feeding should take place at eye level and under a high intensity light to ensure that your vision of the chick feeding is unimpaired. If the hand rearing room is cool, then it may be necessary to employ an infra red heating lamp to ensure the day old chick does not chill while feeding takes place. Our hand rearing room is maintained at 20 °C and additional heating under these circumstances is not necessary.

Normally it takes up to 7 or 8 hours for a chick to absorb the yolk which remains in the abdomen. If warm water is fed during the first few hours, this fecal matter will be passed. It is important over the first few days to ensure crop is stretched slightly at each feed to ensure sufficient formula can be placed in it to provide the chick with adequate nutrition. Ideally, the crop should not be empty at the next feed.

The danger of a chick aspirating on liquids when being hand fed is a real one and great caution must be taken to ensure that the chick is consuming food at the same rate it is passing formula into its crop. If this precaution is not taken the fluid diet may fill the chick's mouth and cause fluid to be ingested into the lungs. When feeding a very young chick the head should be supported between the thumb and forefinger to ensure that it does not drop and cause the fluid in the crop to enter the bird's throat and therefore cause asphyxiation.

At this age, each chick is placed in a separate bowl which provides the chick with support and enables it to sit upright in the bowl. If the chick is allowed to lie flat then there is always a chance that crop fluids may be regurgitated. In the first few days the crop empties very rapidly and the chick may need feeding every two hours. An overnight rest from feeding does neither the chick nor the carer any harm and a period of about 7 hours of rest for the digestive system of the chick is not harmful and may have a beneficial effect.

If while feeding the chick the head jerking response ceases and formula still remains in the mouth, it is advisable to cease feeding and put slight pressure on either side of the upper mandible to evoke the head jerking activity and vocalisation again. This is a method used at PARROTCARE to ensure asphyxiation does not occur. For the novice, it is worth practising this response by trial and error of varying pressures on the upper mandible. This can be done without the use of food and will provide the novice with a gauge of the necessary pressure to acquire the head jerking activity.


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