Hand Feeding

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default Hand Feeding

Post  FinchG on Sun Nov 21, 2010 12:41 pm

1. This is a very difficult, time-consuming challenge and should not be attempted unless all other options have failed.

2. Most babies were lost from making a critical mistake in the first hours. Some sources say to feed immediately and some say after 24 hours. Both would be deadly mistakes in most cases. The start of feeding time must be judged by the yolk sack, which is still visible on the abdomen (inside) after hatching. This must be largely absorbed before feeding is started. (If not, they die of yolk sac poisoning) Liquids such as water or pedilyte (for children with diarrhea) can be given in small amounts before the yolk is absorbed. When the baby passes clear liquid with no white or colored matter in the "poop", it is ready to be fed. At this time, we feed 1 part Exacta Hand Feeding formula with 6 parts water. It is very watery. Use only a flat toothpick for this. (Use toothpick only for water/pedilyte earlier, also.) After 24-30 hours start using the smallest syringes. We have found tips that go on the end of these to make an even smaller point. This is very helpful. (Teeth whitening tubes that are available through dentists have such tips on them.) Gouldians have a bigger mouth and this may not be as necessary as for the others. We didn’t like pipettes as well, but they do come with very small points. Someone just told me that letting them suck liquid off a paintbrush also works for these early days.

3. Follow the Exacta directions for the next days making the mixture thicker.

4. We lost 2 babies tragically at a later date. They were several weeks old when they seemed to have phlegm in their throats. It was probably some kind of yeast infection. They were both being fed from the same syringe. (a lesson to be learned) It was apparently spread from one to the other through the syringe, because they were not sharing the same incubator. If something like this happens, take it seriously and seek treatment. Since they died, we aren’t sure if they needed probiotic or antibiotic treatments.

5. The box, heating pad will work, but we have found more reliable temperature controls. The babies should start out at 98 degrees. Over the next few days, lower this to 95. As the bird feathers out, lower it to 85 degrees. I have used an incubator for this. This will not work if you have eggs in the incubator. The temperatures are different and the openings for feedings are too frequent. My favorite is the oven with just the light bulb turned on. My lower shelf is exactly 95 degrees. I move it closer to the door to slowly lower the temperature. I have actually used the upper racks to maintain 100 degrees and have hatched eggs this way. (I have an electric oven. This would probably not work with a gas stove.) Any brooder must also have moisture. A damp cloth is satisfactory. Test any system in advance of using it. I found the oven is insulated and therefore holds a constant temperature much better then the other sources. (It is amazing the lengths I will go to, to get out of cooking!)

6. We start feeding every hour when the babies are approximately 8 hours old. (Use the yolk sack test mentioned in #2 above to determine). Over the next few days, we extend this to every 1 ½ to 2 hours. Nighttime feedings every 2 hours, extending to every 4 hours and then to all night at 10 days old. The feedings depend on the amount of food you can get into the baby. Generally, after the first few days, feed when the crop is empty. During the first few days, very little food appears in the crop.

7. Hand raising is a very difficult and yet rewarding experience. The tame finch is an amazing pet. Their intelligence and character will amaze you.

Article © lady gouldian finch.com 2001

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