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Step-by-Step Tube Feeding Guide - Pictures - Updated 9-15-2016

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

In this thread I will try to cover all aspects of tube feeding. Subjects covered will be:

  • When to tube
  • Tube feeding contraindications
  • Crop volume and how much to tube
  • How to insert the tube
  • Risks associated with tubing
  • Supplies needed and where you can get them
  • The importance of correcting hydration
  • How to tube neonates


When to Tube

  • Tube if bird is not drinking/eating
  • Tube if bird has lost 5% of it's body weight


Tube feeding contraindications

  • Never tube a non responsive bird
  • Never tube a hypothermic bird
  • Never tube a bird with an digestive tract obstruction


How Much and How Often to Tube

Almost all sick birds will dehydrated, so one must correct this first. Crop volume is about 5% of a bird's body weight, but it is best to start with 2% to 3% and see how they tolerate it (2-3 ml per 100 grams). Warmed fluids should be given and then given again in 60-90 minutes if crop has mostly cleared. Repeat again in 2-4 hours.



Once hydration has been corrected, tube Kaytee Exact mixed at about 1 part food to 2.5 to 3 parts water.  Start with 2-3 ml per 100 grams. Gently feel the crop. It should have a slight bulge. If still flat, give a little more. 


Supplies Needed

  • Tube
  • Syringe
  • Scale
  • Water
  • Kaytee Exact Baby Bird Food




The size of tube you need will depend on the size of the bird you are tubing. A size 18 french tube can usually be used on all birds that weigh 500 grams or more. Small chicks and ducks would need a size 8. Geese, adult ducks and adult peafowl can accommodate a size 30.




Where to Buy Tubes (Click to show)

The 30 - for extra large fowl.


The 28


The 26


The 24


The 22


The 20


The 18 - Most birds over 500 grams


The 16


The 14


The 12


The 10


The 8 - Newly hatched chicks and ducklings







A 1 ml and a 3 ml should be used when tubing chicks/ducklings with a size 8 tube. Tube shown below is a size 8 on a 1 m luer slip syringe.






When using size 18 or larger tube, it's best to have a 60 ml catheter tip syringe, but a 35 ml one will also work.



This is a 35 ml (cc) syringe        This is a 60 ml (cc) syringe


Types of syringe tips  


You can buy 60 ml catheter tip syringes at Tractor supply and here - 60 ml catheter tip syringes (click to open)



A kitchen scale that can weigh in grams is what I use. Knowing the weight of your bird will allow you to calculate the amount of water and food to tube.



Scale can be purchased at places like Walmart.











CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 95


Kaytee can be purchased and Petsmart, Petco and online. 


Crop feeding videos


These are using a crop needle, not a plastic tube.





This one uses a tube like I use




Check back for updates




Edited by casportpony - 9/15/16 at 7:12am
post #2 of 2

Something that I have thought of.... I see so many people making their birds vomit, which IMO, is INCREDIBLY dangerous and will more than likely give the bird pneumonia.  If people would insert a tube and instead of the holding the tube up above the chickens head... let the tube go below the crop the gastric contents should drain on their own through the tube without the worry of the bird aspirating. 


Another thing we do in the human world is check for "residuals" about every two hours if it's a newly inserted gastric tube to check the patient's tolerance of tube feeds.  This would be a wise thing to do after doing an initial tube feeding with poultry.... to check and make sure the initial volume has went down before pumping more fluid in because, once again, this could cause the bird to aspirate and get pneumonia. Simply insert your syringe and pull back to check residuals. If you pull back and hardly get anything.. that's awesome, it means the fluid is going down.  If you aspirate a ton of volume,  don't do your next TF, but make sure and return the contents!  Hold it for a few hours and then recheck.  We always allow bolus tube feedings to run in by gravity meaning don't use the plunger and PUSH the volume in.  Doing it in this manner is less hard on the GI tract and also lessons the risk of potential aspiration.  But I have also never done this on a chicken... my first time will be tonight after I get home from work LOL!  When I do bolus TF's on a person I get a large volume syringe, attach it to my tube, and simply pour a small amount in initially of whatever I am trying to get down.  Sometimes the fluid will bubble from gas being released and after that the fluid goes down easily.  If the patient is coughing or sneezing I would use my plunger as a stopper and temporarily cover my syringe so my feed doesn't go all over me and everything around me LOL!

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