Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Outer Sydney Australia
Thanked 235 Times in 170 Posts
Rep Power: 38
I cannot tell you how many people have come to me wanting to get an unweaned baby because they have been told, if you want your bird to bond to you, you need to hand raise it yourself. Or who could not wait for their baby to wean and want to take it to finish it off.
Weaning is one of most dangerous times to lose a baby. They are starting to refuse food so they can lose weight to fly and it is so easy to think they are weaned and don't need you to feed them anymore. They appear to be eating seed when they are only just playing with it. At this stage they are still not drinking water themselves and dehydration is one of the biggest killers, long before starvation. At this stage when they are starting to refuse food you have to step in and force feed them using a crop needle. Definitely something that should never be attempted by a novice. So very easy to put the needle down the wrong hole, push it down too far and perforate the crop, or just have the food too hot. Food fed by crop needle cannot be as hot as food fed with a spoon or even a syringe. With spoon or syringe if the food is too warm the bird will spit it out, as they do when it is too cold. But with a crop needle they have no choice but to eat it as you are putting it directly into the crop not into the beak. Even after about 15 years of hand raising I still use a thermometer with every single feed. I do not rely on testing the food on my inner wrist or my lips. The ambient air temperature can give you a faulty test. Hot weather the food will feel cold and cold weather it will feel too hot when it is actually not.
Yes I had to learn and had to start somewhere but I have the availability of a good bird club with many experienced people to help me out. And I had another bird breeder very close to me who taught me how to do it and guided me along the way.
I am always happy to teach someone else on how to hand raise. I don't want to pass away with the knowledge I have learnt over the years to go with me and be wasted.
I will never ever sell a baby bird to someone who does not know how to hand raise already. I have spent years building up a reputation and I will not destroy that by selling to a novice who then does their best to destroy that reputation because they did the wrong thing.
I also believe that every person who breeds birds should learn how to hand raise birds by all methods, especially a crop needle. If there is a problem with the babies being fed by the parents they should be able to take over themselves and not have to rely on someone else to get them out of trouble. I had an incidence a few years ago where a man who was breeding very expensive mutations lost the hen of one of them. The variety was one in which the father did very little with regards to raising the chicks. He waited over 24 hours to seek assistance. I did my best with this bird, got the bird to wean and was just waiting for it to become established on its own before returning it to the breeder. All of a sudden the bird went backwards and stopped eating and drinking. I had to start force feeding it again and within just over 24 hours it died. The bird had been left in the nest box for a full day and night before he contacted me. The father did not brood it and the baby chilled. Not a lot but sufficient for it to do damage. The birds kidneys failed which is what happens when a baby birds temperature drops, not much 2 degrees celsius is enough. Sometimes it will kill them immediately but often it does not happen till many weeks after the temperature drop. The kidneys always fail. Imagine my heartbreak after spending over 6 weeks with this baby raising it up and weaning it only to have it die like that. The breeder then set about destroying my good name. I received threats from him and his wife and also had harrassing phone calls constantly. He killed his baby no one else did, he was responsible. He should have learnt what to do instead of putting someone else in the position he put me in. I felt I could not refuse to help him out of his situation. If you want to breed very expensive birds you learn to look after them yourself. Luckily most of the people he spoke to were experienced breeders and they saw what the problem was and did not blame me. But how many others that may have come to me for a bird did he also speak to and believed him. I have possibly lost untold sales because of this.