Picture by BYC's @KsKingBee
From Technical Procedures for the Avian Patient, by Amy B. Johnson, CVT
Crop feeding is the main way to provide nutritional support to sick birds. There are many different formulas on the market including; Harrison’s, Kaytee Exact, Zupreem, and Pretty Bird. Kaytee Exact makes a formula exclusively for macaws, which require a higher fat content. Crop feeding should only be administered to well hydrated, normothermic birds that are able to stand on their own. Formula should be mixed to an appropriate thickness to provide adequate caloric intake and should be administered at a temperature between 100˚-102˚F. Crop burns can happen at temperatures greater than this and are often not seen for several days. Symptoms of a bird with a crop burn are decreased appetite and drooling. If the burn is severe enough, a fistula will open in the crop and formula will drain from it.
When crop feeding a bird, calculate the volume to be fed at 3ml per 100gms up to every six hours for adults. Juveniles are fed 10 percent of their body weight several times a day. Always check the crop first for food contents or decreased crop motility before feeding. Weighing the bird at the beginning of every day will help determine if it is receiving the appropriate amount of calories.
Crop feeder or crop needles come in several different sizes depending on the size bird. Crop feeders are stainless steel tubes with a ball at the end. They can be purchased through www.vetspecialtyproducts.com. The bird should be restrained properly while the crop feeder is inserted in the bird’s left side of its mouth and directed toward the right side advancing into the crop. The trachea should be palpated separate from the crop feeder with the ball of the crop feeder in the crop. Once placement is confirmed and with the esophagus occluded by the head, the formula is given quickly. While maintaining occlusion of the esophagus the crop feeder is removed and the bird returned to the cage feet first and slowly letting go of the head, making sure the bird does not regurgitate. In the event that the bird should begin regurgitation, leave the bird alone. Aspiration is more likely to happen if the bird is stressed causing increased respiration and inhalation of formula. Monitor the bird for further respiratory signs and adjust technique or volume at next attempt at crop feeding.