Hand feeding baby lovebirds is a difficult and complicated process that should really only be attempted by those with previous experience or those who have been trained by expert hand feeders. It is imperative for the formula to heat up to the correct temperature prior to feeding, as death can occur within a small margin of temperature variance. Hand feeding can be an extremely rewarding experience, however, for people who have a schedule that allows them to feed their baby lovebirds around the clock. The baby birds recognize the person feeding them as a parental figure, producing a strong bond.
Things You'll Need
- Oral electrolyte solution
- 3 plastic containers
- Small O-ring syringe
- Digital thermometer
- Alarm clock
- Hand rearing formula
- Spray millet
- Lovebird seed blend
Give an oral electrolyte solution for the first five days. If you are feeding a baby that has just hatched, wait six hours after hatching to hand feed.
Use the marker to label the three plastic containers. Designate one for food, one for bleach solution and the third for hot water.
Create a solution of 10 percent bleach to 90 percent water in the plastic container marked “bleach solution.” Take the syringe apart, and allow it to soak in the solution for 10 minutes. Remove the syringe pieces and rinse them thoroughly with running water from the sink. Pour the remaining solution into the container used to prepare the food and wash it out. Then rinse using the same method you used for the syringe.
Reassemble the syringe; fill it with the oral electrolyte solution for the first six feedings to evaluate the digestive system.
Run hot water from your sink, and fill the second plastic container. Check the water periodically with a digital thermometer until it reaches between 110 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the syringe into the water for approximately 25 seconds. Check the temperature of the oral electrolyte solution by pushing some out onto your wrist. Use the thermometer to make sure that it is between 106 and 108 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pick up the baby and lay it on its back in the center of your palm with its head resting between your thumb and forefinger.
Hold the syringe above the beak. Give the chick one very small drop from the syringe, pausing in between drops to allow the chick time to breathe, until you see the crop (which is the pouch on each side of the throat) fill. Check the beak constantly while you feed to make sure that each drop goes down before offering another to prevent aspiration.
Set your alarm clock to go off in 30 minutes.Make more bleach solution, disassemble and cleanse the syringe the same way you did earlier. Repeat the steps above every 30 minutes. Monitor waste elimination; after three instances it is generally safe to begin with the formula.
Purchase a hand rearing formula that has a ratio of 22 percent protein to 9 percent fat. Most breeders do not begin hand feeding until after the first 14 days unless the parents reject the chick. Newborn chicks are more fragile than older chicks and therefore have more rigid dietary needs.
Follow the directions found on the back panel of the formula can to prepare the formula in a plastic container according to the age of your chick. Substitute water for oral electrolyte solution for chicks younger than 5 days old.
Place the syringe tip into the prepared formula. Pull up on the syringe backing slowly until the tube fills to prevent air pocket formation.
Fill the hot water container the same way you did before and soak the syringe for approximately 25 seconds. Check the temperature of the formula the same way you checked the temperature of the oral electrolyte solution previously.
Hold the baby and offer one drop at a time in the same fashion explained earlier.Set your alarm clock to go off in 30 minutes. Make more bleach solution, sanitize and rinse the food container and syringe. Repeat the steps above every half hour.
Thicken the formula according to the directions on the back label after the first day. Expand feeding to every two hours and set your alarm clock to the appropriate times. Continue this schedule until the chick is 10 days old. Sanitize the food container and syringe before each feeding.
Spread feedings out to every three hours after the 10th day, and four hours after the 14th day. Maintain clean feeding equipment and thicken formula according to the current age of the chick. Begin introducing spray millet, and seed blends specifically manufactured for lovebirds.