Hand Feeding Baby Budgies
There is a difference between hand feeding properly and just hand feeding A baby budgie can be hand fed quickly and returned to his clutch males and end up just about as wild as another baby budgie that was parent raised. Time must be taken when hand feeding to handle the babies, talk to the babies and love the babies. Budgies hand fed in this manner will be tame, loving birds.
When I was breeding budgies, I usually let the parents raise some of the babies and just took a few for hand feeding My customers had a choice of a parent raised baby for a low price and a hand fed baby for more money. Of course, my parent raised babies were handled and also quite tame. The budgies that I would be hand feeding were taken at approximately two weeks of age to begin.
I usually had three pairs of budgies breeding at a time with an average clutch size of five babies. I found that taking the two oldest babies from each clutch would give me six to hand feed and that left three babies for each pair to continue feeding.
Most pet stores sell hand feeding formula. This is a powder that must be mixed with warm water and fed to the babies immediately. Whatever is not eaten must be thrown away, so just mix up a bit at a time. Follow the directions to mix the formula up to the right consistency – usually thinner for younger birds and a little thicker for older birds.
The formula has to be the correct temperature – if the food is too cool, it will not digest properly and if it is too hot, the baby's crop may burn. These are both serious problems and may result in the death of the baby budgie.
There are a few slightly different tools that can be used to feed your baby budgies. I normally used an eyedropper. The ones with the glass tube are best because they can be boiled between uses. Others use a small spoon with the edges turned up or a small syringe. All methods require that the baby is ready to eat and he or she indicates this by bobbing the head up & down (or pumping). When the baby is pumping, you can give him food. You can feed the baby until the crop is nice and full.
The budgies will need to be fed every four hours throughout the day. At two weeks of age, I would be closer to three hours between feedings, and gradually increase the time as they got a little older. They do not have to be fed at night, but I would normally delay the last feeding in the evening, so they did not have to go a full eight hours before their morning feed. You can use your own schedule, but my feeding times were 6am, 10am, 2pm, 6pm, 11 pm.
When the babies are approximately four weeks of age, you can start giving them some food in a dish to start nibbling on. You can give them small pieces of fruits or vegetables, hard boiled egg, mashed potatoes (without any additives), small pellets (either dry or mixed with some warm water – do not leave in container long if moist).
Baby budgies will not try new foods if they are hungry, so please make sure you continue hand feeding them on the same schedule while they try out some of the new foods. You will find that at about 6 weeks (a little before or a little after), they will be more interested in flying than in eating what you have to offer. They will be eating and drinking more on their own. When they refuse to take any hand feeding formula from you for a few days and you can see them eating and drinking on their own, you can consider the baby budgies weaned.
Although it is scary watching the babies flying on their own, it is important that you provide them with a safe place to fly in order to develop their muscles and learn how to maneuver safely.
Information I learned from several years of keeping and breeding Budgies can be found on the pages of my Budgie e-book.
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