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Old 04-20-2017, 07:55 PM
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Problems Hand Feeding Parrotlets

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So first, this isn't about me hand feeding my parrotlets, not directly anyways. My babies are doing great! I'll post some updated pictures on Allison and Parker's thread after I post this, they are getting so cute and so prickly with all of their new pin feathers! Anyway, back to this thread.

When Allison and Parker were first brought up to Northern Illinois, they were sitting on a few eggs and a baby that was only a day or two old. The friend of mine that rescued them along with over a dozen other breeding pairs attempted to hand feed the baby. It made it for a while, until it started to feather out, but ultimately it did not make it. Everyone attributed it to the fact that it didn't get the first few weeks with its parents, and the stress of making the long, cold trip in the middle of February the first few days of life.

Fast forward a few months and I have a new clutch from Allison and Parker. Out of 6 eggs laid, I had 6 eggs hatch and all babies were doing great. As part of a business deal, I let the same friend that rescued the breeding pairs take the two oldest babies out of nest at about two weeks old. I pulled the other four babies about a week later, and they are all growing like weeds.

However, she contacted me today and has run into problems. The oldest baby, who would be almost 4 weeks old didn't empty it's crop overnight, then dropped dead later this morning. The other baby also did not empty overnight, so I went and picked it up this afternoon. It was severely dehydrated and weak. I got some warm pedialyte into it, flushed all the old formula out of the crop and it perked up tremendously. I am giving it partial feedings every couple hours for now, until I am confident it is moving food through it's crop properly, then I'll try a full feeding. It is also severely stunted in growth. Although it is over a week and a half older, it is smaller than my youngest baby, and they are from the same clutch.

I just don't understand why my friend seems to have so much trouble with parrotlet chicks. It seems to be only parrotlets. She is a for-profit breeder and regularly hand feeds everything from budgies, to conures, to quakers, to African greys, and macaws. All of her other birds always look great. They are of great weight and in excellent feather. She has several professional brooders, all set up at different temperatures for whatever age the babies in them happen to be. (We won't talk about my "brooder" right now.)

The only thing I can think of that is significantly different between our set-ups, besides the fact that I'm extremely jealous of her brooder set-up, is that we use different hand-feeding formulas. I don't know that either of them is better than the other, they are just different brands. I don't even know if that makes a huge difference with parrotlets, because I haven't heard of them needing anything special that other baby parrots don't need, and I use just standard "suitable for all baby parrots" Kaytee formula.

I'm sure that there are some people who will completely disagree when I say that I don't use filtered water, I just use what comes out of the tap, and I don't use special disinfectant, I just use soap and water to clean hand feeding instruments. About the most sterile I get is I use a new pipette every day. However, I am also only dealing with one clutch at a time, I'm not going between clutches, species, or anything like that.

I just wish I could figure out what is causing my friend to continuously loose these parrotlets so I could at least tell her something. Not just, well you suck at raising them. If anyone has any ideas, or have anything else that I should look into that I haven't mentioned, I'm all ears. I'm hoping I'm able to save this one I took back in today. As long as it's a simple get the crop cleared and progress as usual, it should be fine, otherwise, we'll have to wait and see.
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Old 04-20-2017, 08:18 PM
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Re: Problems Hand Feeding Parrotlets

First, there are weird differences between species and some people have terrible luck with certain birds. I know a girl who has successfully raised hundreds of conures and lovebirds but has HORRIBLE luck with cockatiels. They die on her routinely, so she doesn't raise them any more.

Because I've never raised parrotlets I can't speak to their specifics. There are random things like in Cockatiels if you overfill the crop it stretches and droops and you need a crop bra, but in Ringnecks you can stretch the crop to enormous sizes and everything seems fine, but baby ends up with a nasty bacterial infection from food sitting in the crop too long because there is just too much in there.

So here is my suggestion. If she can, hand your friend reach out to other parrotlet breeders or some of the hand feeding groups on Facebook (some are full of crazies but some are good). Have her give all the specifics of her setup and routine. Maybe someone with parrotlet specific knowledge can catch whatever tiny detail is causing problems.

In the mean time you should be on guard against bacteria and yeast in your stunted baby. Vet if possible please! And keep us updated?


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Old 04-20-2017, 08:30 PM
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Re: Problems Hand Feeding Parrotlets

I plan on being on guard, but I'm hoping that it's just a slow crop at this point, and simple dehydration. Hopefully nothing has been sitting in the crop long enough for anything to really set in. I have been mixing in a few drops of apple cider vinegar with the mother in the partial feedings I've been giving to help keep down anything that may have started to grow, and hopefully it's at least helping. I know it is controversial, but maybe it will help. I can say that if baby isn't empty in the morning, it is a definite run to the vet, if it is empty, a call to the vet and then it will be the vet's recommendation. Although I think if it's empty, the vet will probably say just wait and keep an eye on it, but I will be calling anyway. I just hope I can save the baby.
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Old 04-20-2017, 08:33 PM
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Re: Problems Hand Feeding Parrotlets

I routinely use ACV in cases where I suspect infection might try to take hold as well. It's a strategy that some of the world's top breeders have used for decades and I find it useful. I only hesitate to mention it because I'm always afraid if I offer home remedies people will delay a vet visit when they shouldn't. But as long as you promise not to do THAT, you might consider adding a small bit of ginger and cinnamon as well. Are you using pedialite In your feedings? If he is still dehydrated it's worth the effort to heat. The only concern would be that it could feed a budding yeast infection


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Old 04-20-2017, 08:48 PM
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Re: Problems Hand Feeding Parrotlets

When I first brought him home, I offered him straight warmed pedialyte to try and break up what was lodge in his crop because it was like dough. It broke it up a little, but not enough that I was comfortable with, so I ended up just flushing his crop. I don't like doing that, but I thought it was necessary in his case. I think it was the best choice though, because after I did, gave him more warm pedialyte and let him rest in the brooder for a couple of hours he went from death's door to begging to be fed. Since then, it's been warm pedialyte and acv mixed in with his formula for half feedings every couple hours. He's been emptying pretty well so far, so I am going to try at least a mostly whole feeding for the last feeding for the night and see how he looks in the morning. Then it is either going to be a call or a trip to the vet, depending on how his crop looks.

Also, I plan on asking the vet too, but sometimes fellow breeders are just more knowledgeable about some things, since he is so far behind his siblings in growth now, do you think he'll ever really catch up, or do you think he'll always be stunted? Like I said, he's smaller than his sibling two weeks younger than him. Not that I care, just if he is always going to be stunted, then he'll always stay here. I won't let him go anywhere if he'll always be "special".
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Old 04-20-2017, 09:04 PM
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Re: Problems Hand Feeding Parrotlets

My experience with stunted chicks is limited to cockatiels, so keep that in mind.

In my experience stunted chicks may continue to be slightly smaller and sometimes seem to have a slightly off beak to nares ratio if you are looking for it, but have always done fine for me once recovered. I would love to hear your results on this one way or another.


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Old 04-20-2017, 10:00 PM
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Re: Problems Hand Feeding Parrotlets

I think it's sort of funny you mention the beak to nares ratio, as soon as I brought the baby home, the first thing my wife said was that his nares looked big compared to our babies. I do see it though it is very slight. Almost like his nares grew normally, but his beak is stunted like the rest of him. I think either way, he will be held back and kept with me. Even if he is "mostly" normal, I still have a special place in my heart for "misfits" so as long as he makes it, this will always be home.
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Old 04-20-2017, 10:01 PM
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Re: Problems Hand Feeding Parrotlets

That, and there is always that place for the first baby you REALLY have to fight for in order to save. No matter how "normal" they end up, it's just unthinkable to part with them


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Old 04-20-2017, 10:09 PM
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SI Ekkie Female - Chicken ~ Vos Ekkie cross Male - Tiki ~ Blue Front Amazon - Willie ~ GCC Male - Brad ~ Parrotlets - Allison - Parker - Sunny - Psycho - Beef - Pattie
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Re: Problems Hand Feeding Parrotlets

Yea, I must say, I already sort of want to name him "Zombie", as morbid as it may sound. But if you had seen how close to death he looked when i went and picked him up. He just sat and swayed, and shook, his eyes half closed. When I gave him the pedialyte, there was no feeding response whatsoever. I honestly didn't even expect him to last an hour until I fed everyone else. Within an hour, he was bouncing, begging for food. The change was astronomical. It really was like reanimating the dead. It was astounding to see. If it wasn't for the fact that I was the only person to touch him, I would have thought it was a different bird.
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Old 04-20-2017, 10:11 PM
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Re: Problems Hand Feeding Parrotlets

I've had experiences like that! It's crazy how much they can perk up with warmth and fluid!


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