If you are a budgie enthusiast you may be interested in hand feeding your baby budgies. If you want to tame your budgie then hand feeding at a young age is helpful in their successful training. You may also need to hand feed a baby budgie for a couple of reasons; if parent budgies have stopped feeding their chicks or in a colony breeding setup baby budgie may fall outside of their nest box and you are not sure about its parents, so you need to take care of the budgie chick and hand feed it until it is fully weaned.
Hand feeding baby budgies requires some experience, so make sure before you start hand feeding a baby budgie you consult some experienced budgie breeder in your community who has been successfully hand feeding his baby budgies for some time now or you can consult an avian vet and ask for advice on how you should proceed with hand feeding a baby budgie. Keep in mind that hand feeding with a wrong technique can be dangerous for a budgie chick.
Before you begin make sure to do a thorough research on this subject so that you have a better idea that what things are essential in successful hand feeding what what things to avoid. Feeding budgie chicks for the very first time is little difficult, but once you have successfully hand reared and weaned a chick you can follow the same steps in the proceding attempts and that will be very easy for you.
Before starting the hand feeding process you need some equipment.
1. Hand feeding formula
The first step in successful hand feeding is to select a good hand feeding formula that contains all the essential nutrients these little parrot babies need. I have used Kaytee’s Exact hand feeding formula and my experience with that is good and I never got any problems with that. It contains all the essential nutrients these baby birds need with Omega-3 and probiotics added in it is useful in healthy growth and development.
Many other hand feeding formulas are available in the market which you can also check. Tropican is another good option to try if you are not sure which one gives you the best results. Because in my country Pakistan, we here sometimes face the shortage of hand feeding formulas in the market so we need to take alternative measures for feeding our birds chicks.
Sometimes when I do not find any hand feeding formula especially made for baby birds, I then use Nestle’s Cerelac for hand feeding my birds. Even though it is made for human baby use but still it has given me good results. I use that one which is made for six month old babies and it is available in multi flavors such as wheat, rice and fruits. I use it only for a limited time and once Kaytee is available again I revert back to that again.
2. Syringes for hand feeding
You also need a syringe for this purpose. You can easily get one from your local medical store. Syringes of different sizes are available, 5cc, 10cc or 20cc. You can purchase one which suits your particular requirements and the number of chicks you want to feed. If you are feeding a single baby then a 10 cc syringe is more than enough for you.
You will also need a crop needle or a rubber tube that you will use in hand feeding. Remove the needle on the top of the syringe and replace it with a crop needle or the rubber tube. You can also use a hand feeding spoon especially made for this purpose that fits nicely on the syringe. If the baby is too small then you can better make use of the hand feeding spoon.
3. Nursery Basket
You need a nursery basket for your chicks to stay inside during the whole period of hand feeding. The basket should have holes in it so that fresh air can easily come in and go out of the basket. Also it should be easily cleanable so that you can change the material you are using as their resting place. I personally use wood shavings which I easily get from the nearby timber market.
Good hygiene is very important in the early development of budgie chicks because their immune system is not fully developed at this stage of their life. Make sure to clean the surroundings so that they may not get infections. Wash your hands and sterilize all the equipment before use. Clean the nursery basket frequently and replace the resting material when it is needed so that these are free from germs.
4. Weaning Cage
You must have a weaning cage prepared before chicks are ready to wean when their wings are developed so that they can learn to fly and eat food on their own. The cage should contain water and food dishes so that budgie chicks can learn to eat on their own. The cage should not be very big and tall because chicks may fall on the floor of the cage and hurt themselves.
Picking up a baby budgie for hand feeding
The most important question here is, when you should pick a baby chick for hand feeding? What is the right age to start hand feeding? It all depends on the purpose for which you want to select a baby for hand feeding. If you are hand feeding a budgie with the purpose to tame it in the future, then the earliest you start feeding him the better for you because it will be easier for you to tame him.
If you want a healthy adult budgie then I will recomment that you leave it with the parents for at least two weeks and let its parents feed him. Parent feeding the chick is very important at an early stage of development because the chick gets beneficial flora found in parents’ crop which is very important for its healthy development and a strong immune system of the chick.
At a very young age, under two weeks old, baby budgies need more frequent hand feeding, approximately after every two to three hours in small amounts. This stage is very sensitive because any mistake from your side can easily kill the chick. Chicks who are above two to three weeks of age requires less frequent hand feeding schedule and the time interval between feeding can prolong.
At two to three weeks of age you can feed the baby after every four to five hours and they also require less heat in the environment because the baby has developed some of its feathers.
Preparing the hand feeding formula
When you prepare a hand feeding formula, you will need two containers, one for mixing the formula and in another one you put the boiled water. Mix the boiled water in the formula and stir it until the temperature of the formula comes down to a temperature which the chick can ingest easily without having any problems. If the formula is too hot, it can burn the chick’s crop and if too cold it can cause digestive problems in the chick.
The exact feeding amount
The amount of formula you should feed a chick varies according to the age of the chick. At two weeks of age you should feed him approximately 2-3 cc after every 2-3 hours. Never let the crop become completely filled because it can cause problems. Feed him the amount that is easy for him to digest at frequent intervals which is according to the size of his crop.
At three weeks of age, feed him 3-4 cc of formula after every 3-4 hours. At four weeks old you can feed him 5-6 cc after every five hours. Give them a break of 7-8 hours at night so that they can completely empty their crops and digest all the formula. The crop should get completely empty at night time because it is important for their overall health and well being.
Dangers of over feeding
When you feed the chicks and even when their crops are full they are in a habit to continuously ask you for more. Never over feed them for the reason that the chick is asking you for more. When you feel that the crop is full, stop feeding at this moment. Over feeding the chick can be dangerous for the health of the chick. Over feeding can slow down the digestive system and the food remains undigested inside the crop which causes the chick to remain hungry even when the crop is full of food.
If you find that the chick is slow in digesting the food and you find his crop full of food for periods of time, then this is a sign that something is getting wrong with the chick. One reason may be dehydration in the chick. Give him more liquid diet and gently massage the crop so that the food starts digesting again.
Slow digestion may also be because of a bacterial, viral or a fungal infection. In this case make use of antibiotics to instantly cure the bacterial infections. Also consult an avian vet so that he can take tests and diagnose the cause of the problem in the chick. Hand feeding baby budgies is a tough job but once done it is worth spending the effort and your budgie will remain your companion for many years to come.