Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Outer Sydney Australia
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While I have never hand raised a Macaw I have hand raised Sulphur Crested Cockatoo's and they usually start weaning at around 13 weeks, but from listening to others that do Macaws they are older than that when they start to wean. I really need to know the method you are using to feed him, and are you using a thermometer to check the temperature. You may be feeding too cold, especially if you are using a spoon to feed. It does sound like his food is cooling as he is eating some and then refusing, so the temperature may be ok for the first lot of food but cooling down too much for him to be interested in eating his full amount. The food being too cool may also explain the crop infection. When I feed with a crop needle the food should be no lower than 38C and no hotter than 41C, I usually feed at 40C with the crop needle, food can be slightly hotter with just a syringe and if feeding by spoon I feed at between 45C to 48C. Remember the food will cool slightly between getting it out of the container with the spoon and taking it to the baby. So you may need to put the container of food in a larger container with boiling water in it to keep it to temperature. If you don't have a food testing thermometer you need to go and get one immediately. I use the analog type and not the digital as I found they will give false readings as the battery ages. I bought one and threw it out after about 2 weeks and went back to the analog. The type I use are the ones they use to test the frothed milk for cappuccino.
I was always taught to feed at 38.5C and no hotter than 40C, but that is with a crop needle. When I started using a spoon to feed I found the babies were refusing the food about half way through. So I decided to experiment a little and found that when using a spoon the babies liked their food significantly hotter. So I just increased the temperature gradually till I found the one they liked the best and instead of being very sluggish feeders they were wolfing it down. With the spoon if the food is too hot they will usually spit it out and when it is too cold they will also spit it out. I have been hand raising for over 20 years now and I still use a thermometer at every feed, I never trust the old method of testing like they used to do with a baby humans bottle by putting some on the inside of the wrist or a bit on the lip. The ambient temperature of the room will effect how hot or cold the food feels. If the room is cool the food will feel hot and if hot the food will feel cool.
From the look of the feather growth your baby is nowhere near weaning stage and I know that Macaws will still beg for food at over 9 months. I am hand raising 2 Rainbow Lorikeets at the moment and they are nearly fully feathered and are still not ready to wean. Birds fledge before they wean in the wild or even if parent fed in an aviary. In the wild they have to be able to fly so that mum and dad can teach them how to forage for food.
Also when I mix up my hand raising mix I add a small amount of human baby food to the mix, the pureed type suitable for 3-6 months and I only use the fruit and vegetable ones that have no added vitamins (there should be sufficient vitamins in the hand raising mix, too much vitamin is just as bad as too little) except for Vitamin C as excess is just excreted out. So I use ones like pureed apple, apple and banana, sweet potato pumpkin and corn etc. It just gives them a different taste when feeding and I have found when I try to introduce those foods to them when weaned they already know the taste and will eat it more easily. The pureed apple is very good as it aids in the digestion of the food.
I do suspect that his feeding problems are related to the heat of the food you are giving him.