Wednesday, June 16, 2010

From Force Feeding to Finger Feeding

Kaytee Exact Handfeeding formula mixed with hot tap water is used to hand feed banded chicks. When I was a young girl, my mother taught me to hand feed with wooden match sticks or round toothpicks if we happen to have any.

It is generally a bad idea to hand feed unbanded chicks as it upset the mother and she will protect them from you and not feed at all but at times it is the only shot at trying to save a chick. This three day Stafford chick's back had started to shrivel and it was apparent that he would not make it another day at this rate. His mother had dropped about a dozen long flight feathers and was trying to molt!

If she will feed, the molting will stop until she has the chick raised but I need to buy a little time to get her going...So I started handfeeding once yesterday morning. I have not made up my mind about using the Kaytee formula for hand feeding unbanded chicks as I rarely do that so I decided to use it instead of my old favorite, ABBA green 92 mixed with hot tap water. In the afternoon the chick had been fed. Today, again the chick was not being feed so I hand fed it. I will check it again this afternoon and feed it again if necessary.

The removal nest pans make hand feeding easy. When the chicks are small, I gently brush them under the chin to get them to open up or sometimes jiggle the nest. In small ones like this, I use my finger to steady the head.

Chicks that are fully feathered with a rare exception prefer to die rather than be hand feed. This Stafford chick is thin and crying and his parents decided to feed only his sibling. I noticed that one of his eyes was closed and one open and his parents had given up on him. To open his camera side eye, I moisten it with warm tap water and it opened easily. Probably something was sealing his eye shut.

To feed him, I pry the beak open and keep it open with my thumb. Sometimes a chick will nibble but be taking in only air. In this case, a couple of times of force feeding and he will nibble and swallow food!

Using my toothpicks, I fill up his mouth with the handfeeding formula. Then I take my thumb out of his mouth and he swallows the formula.

Once he has had a mouth full of formula, usually he will nibble it off the toothpicks which at first are being used to also pry his mouth open. A few times of that and I turn the toothpicks the other direction and he will nibble formula between the sticks. I work him up to taking directly from the sticks.

This Border chick has left the nest but his foster mother has decided to go to nest again. He took the food easily from toothpicks after a time or two of forced open. When you finish feeding him, be sure and wipe the extra formula off his beak!

The goal is to get the chick to nibble from my finger. This Border chick is slow to wean but it won't be long now that he enthusiastically gobbles formula from my finger!!!!


Anonymous said...

Hi Linda
I find using the metal banding tool that is used for applying plastic bands makes a perfect feeder.. Try it sometime and see if you like it better than the toothpicks.

Rich said...

Hi Linda. I have a white Roller chick from my last nest of chicks that was the last of five to hatch, he just couldn't compete for food. I moved him to a Fife hen but she wasn't inclined to feed the chick so I brought the chick upstairs and hand fed it for ten days before I placed it in a nest again. I started out feeding ground chick starter that is 20% protein, and after a few days I added ground up quick oatmeal to the chick starter. The chick fed very well using one of the metal tools used to place plastic bands on birds legs. It is now in a nest and being fed sparingly by the pair of canaries with whom I placed it. I still suppliment feed it twice a day but use more oatmeal than chick starter. The chick is feathered out and I am pretty sure will make it. I like the chick starter/oatmeal combo, the chick grew really fast. Rich

Anonymous said...

Hi all,

I love the fact that our seasons are out of sync. This way, I get to have a heads up when it becomes our time to rear youngsters. Thanks for all the information, looking forward to trying it out. Its freezing in Johannesburg at the moment! Cant wait for spring but only in Sept!! Hope I dont have to hand feed, but if I do, I feel pretty confident already!

Keep it up from an Icy SA,

Linda Hogan said...

Hi Shawn

Loving the World Cup Games!! Watched Mexico beat France!! Also US ties!!

This is my first time to watch and it is quite different than Basketball...Lots of suspense as scoring takes forever!! Love no commercials and no need for keep replaying!! Don't quite get the different kicks for penalties?? I think the buzzing sound makes it more suspenseful!!

Linda Hogan said...

Carol and Rich:

I do not have the metal banding tool for plastic bands but guess I need to get one! Where did you get yours?

I do like the fact that the toothpicks are disposable..

Rich said...

Hi Linda. The banding tool came with the plastic bands when I ordered them. The nice thing about them is they are easy to wash when you are finished. They are especially handy when the chicks are older and can eat more, the tool can hold a big drop which makes feeding fast. Rich

Leng said...

Hi Linda,
I tried out the Kaytee hand feeding formula for my borders after you had recommended it and it worked out well for me. I only topped up before the lights went out for the first 3 to 4 days after the chicks hatched. I leave the chicks alone if the parent birds are feeding the chicks well. I am sure the chicks would have done OK without me interfering but I wanted to make sure that every single chick that hatched survived.