HELP! I have to Handfeed!

Discussion in 'Pigeons and Doves' started by muscovy94, Jul 18, 2010.

  1. muscovy94

    muscovy94 Songster

    Nov 11, 2008
    Vicksburg, MS
    Hi everyone my pair abandoned their egg so I put it in the incubator. It has about a week left. Is there anything special I need to know about handfeeding babies straight from hatch? I've handfed some babies when they were about 5 days old, but never right from hatch. And when should the first feeding be? I know they can last a while on their absorbed yolk.

  2. Louieandthecrew

    Louieandthecrew I am actually a female!

    DON'T TOUCH THE CHICKS UNTIL THEY HAVE BEEN OUT OF THE SHELL FOR AN HOUR AT LEAST! If you do they won't eat at all. You can start to hand-feed them after they eat from a container, otherwise they won't know where to get there food later on. Make sure you feed them chick feed though... rather than scratch. Hope that helped. Good luck with the chicks [​IMG]
  3. Quote:I do believe your talking about a chicken chick..

    The original poster was talking about a pigeon or dove. They have to have pigeon milk from the parents.. So now need replacement feed, what ever that is for those guys..
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2010
  4. Dingo

    Dingo Songster

    I can't say I've ever hatched a pigeon, but from what I've seen with the birds I do keep that raise altricial young, they start feeding about an hour after hatch. You can use Kaytee brand hand feeding formula with pigeons.
  5. Teach97

    Teach97 Bantam Addict

    Nov 12, 2008
    Hooker, OK
  6. Lofty Dreams

    Lofty Dreams Songster

    Apr 9, 2010
    Some Thing I found In A File a old one

    General Care (including warmth and hygiene):
    General altricial/semialtricial bird information:
    • Young birds, particularly altricial or semialtricial unfeathered/poorly down-covered nestlings, have poor ability to maintain body temperature and are prone to hypothermia, hyperthermia and burns.
    • Keep out of draughts but ensure ventilation is adequate.(V.w5)
    • A thermometer should be used, within the brooder box or beside the nest box, to indicate the temperature at which the chicks are being maintained.
    • Provide heat to a maximum of 95°F directly under a heat lamp, with a temperature range such that the chicks can choose the position at which the temperature is comfortable. Ensure the minimum temperature is not low enough to allow the chicks to get chilled.
    • An artificial nest may be made from a round container, similar in diameter to the natural nest for the species.
    o Plastic tubs are commonly used.
    o Line with paper towels.
    o A cardboard box may also be used.
    o (D24, D29, B203)
    o May be lined with cut up towels (without frayed edges) which gives a good grip for the nestlings.(V.w27)
    • The nest should be placed within a larger box:
    o The floor of the box may be covered with a towel (V.w27), absorbent paper towel or sand.
    o Keep covered with e.g. a wire mesh cover or net curtain material (allowing light in).
    o (D29, B203, V.w27)
    • Keep warm , but avoid overheating.
    o Heat lamp or brooder may be used to provide heat.
    o Alternative means of heating include placing the artificial nest on top of a towel-wrapped hot water bottle, placing the artificial nest in a small warm space such as an airing cupboard, placing the container near a radiator or raising the ambient temperature of the room.
    o More heat is required for featherless nestlings than for older, birds which have some feathers.
    o Keep at about 27-32°C (B118.5.w5); 28°C (B203), 30°C/86°F (D26) until feathered.
    o Note both thermometer temperature and behaviour of the chicks in adjusting the temperature (chicks which are too cold will feel cold to the touch; chicks which are too hot will have their necks stretched out, panting, keeping away from one another).
    • (B118.5.w5, B151, B203, D24, D26, D29, V.w27)
    Pigeon and dove specific information:
    • Older squabs may be kept in a plastic crate lined with newspaper covered with a towel to provide grip.
    • The sides of the crate should be sufficiently high to prevent escape.
    • (V.w26)
    Suggested foods for hand-rearing pigeons and doves include:
    • Canary rearing food, mixed as indicated on the packet.(D29)
    • Mixture of chick crumbs/rearing mix/millet/water for hand feeding with boluses of food. (D24)
    • Bread soaked in creamy milk may be used initially for hand feeding with boluses of food.(B186.8.w8)
    • Proprietary rearing food for tube feeding, e.g. KAYtee Rearing food (D24), Tropican Rearing Mix (Rolf C Hagen).(B151)
    • An appropriate vitamin/mineral supplement must be used in the rearing mix. Appropriate quantities of calcium and phosphorus are particularly important to avoid metabolic bone disease which is a particularly common finding in fledgling collared doves (Streptopelia decaocto - Eurasian collared-dove).(D24)
    Feeding Frequency:
    Suggested feeding frequencies include:
    • Feed every 30 minutes.(B151)
    • Offer food every hour initially.(B194)
    Feeding Technique:
    Suggested feeding techniques include:
    • 1) Place the food in a strong plastic bag or tube, cut a hole in the side of the bag and push the squab's bill gently into the food, allowing it to suck the food.(D29)
    o Similarly the squab may suck food from e.g. a feeding nipple with an enlarged hole (B194), or a small container such as a egg cup.(B186.8.w8)
    • 2) Hand feeding with boluses of food.
    o This requires opening the bill to place the food well inside the bill avoiding the opening to the trachea, as the squab will not gape. (B186.8.w8, D24)
    • 3) Crop feed (gavage), i.e. place food into the crop using a suitable tube.(D24, B151)
    • Check crop contents to avoid overfeeding: crop should be empty before each feed and full but not taut at the end of each feed.(B186.8.w8, D24)
    • Not required.
    General bird information:
    • Regular weighing provides a good indication of growth, however a balance must be chosen between the frequency of weighing for accurate monitoring of progress and the stress which may be caused by repeated handling.
    • Individuals in a brood or being reared in a group must be individually identifiable in order to allow the progress of each chick to be monitored.
    o Temporary identification may be made possible using small colour marks applied to the feathers. An appropriate non-toxic material such as coloured correction fluid (e.g. Tippex) or nail varnish may be used for this purpose.
    o Alternatively, for larger chicks, lightweight leg rings made of flat plastic may be used. These are available in a wide variety of colours. Rings must be of an appropriate size and changed as the bird grows.
    • (B150.w2, V.w5, V.w26)
    • Weighing each squab before and after feeding may be used to determine actual food intake in young squabs. (V.w26)
    • Once well feathered, add small seed to the canary rearing food.(D29)
    • Grains such as wheat and maize, fresh green vegetables and grit should be available to older squabs.(D29)
    • Small seeds and chick crumbs (smaller species of dove) or pigeon seed mix and pellets (pigeons and larger doves).(B151)
    • Squab should start picking up food items by about one month old.(B186.8.w8)
    Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers • Suitable rearing food: (proprietary rearing foods are available from pet stores and specialist mail order feed suppliers)
    o Canary rearing food.
    o KAYtee Rearing food.
    o Tropican Rearing Mix (Rolf C. Hagen (UK) Ltd, Castleford, West Yorkshire, WF10 5QH)
    • Plastic bag, lamb rearing nipple or similar container for offering food to suck.
    • Gavage tube if tube-feeding is used.
    • Suitable mixed grain for weaning.
    • Carnidazole for prophylactic medication against trichomoniasis (Spartrix, Harkers).
    • PMV vaccine (Columbovac PMV, Solvay Animal Health).
    Expertise level / Ease of Use • The initial time commitment for birds requiring frequent (e.g. hourly) feeding is extreme and would be prohibitive for most people.
    • Manual dexterity is important for caring for these very small individuals. OR (Manual dexterity important.)
    • Requires empathy, observation skills and the ability to "read" the body language of the animal.
    • Experience with hand-rearing is useful and likely to greatly increase the success rate.
    Temperature control is most important for very young chicks as they digest and absorb food better at a slightly higher temperature (35 to 36 C) than older chicks. If the chick chills, the crop may empty slowly and the food in the crop become spoiled, leading to fungal or bacterial infections.
    To encourage feather growth, the temperature of the brooder should be reduced as the chick grows; from the 35 to 36 C mentioned above to 25 to 28 C by 3 weeks of age. The temperature of the box/aquarium brooder can be reduced by moving the chick further from the light source. whatever the brooder, a thermometer should be used to check the temperature frequently. As the chick becomes mobile, it will find it’s own comfortable temperature.
    • Artificial Pigeon Beak
    A squab will feed by putting its beak into the beak/mouth of its parent and drinking food regurgitated from the adults crop. This situation can be reproduced easily through the use of a modified syringe. The end of the syringe is cut off at the junction with the barrel, leaving a small rim. The hole and barrel should be large enough for the chick’s beak to fit inside and open thus allowing the chick to drink. If the hole is too small, the chick may develop a sore on the top of its beak. The size of the syringe used will therefore depend on the species and age of the chick. Eye droppers and pipette bulbs are suitable alternatives to a syringe.
    • Growth Stages
    These depends a lot on the species involved but can generally be divided into 4 stages. The number of days given for each stage applies to a chick from a species which takes 30 days to fledge. The percentage figure given can be used to work out the duration of each stage for species with longer (or shorter) fledging times.
    Stage 1 Newly hatched From hatching until 4 days of age. This equates to approximately 14% of the time from hatching to fledging.
    Stage 2 Early Growth From day 5 to 7. (11%)
    Stage 3 Late Growth From day 8 to 14. (20%)
    Stage 4 Fledging From day 15 until weaned. (55%)

    • Feeding Regimes
    Depends on the species, formulas available and amount of time you are prepared to spend on preparing food. For the first 3 growth stages described above, the formula must mimic “pigeons milk” which is a specialized product of the thickened crop lining of the parent. Compared with the chicks later food it is higher in protein, fat and water but carbohydrates are almost absent. The formula should become progressively thicker towards the end of stage 3.

    Danny Brown’s book “A Guide to Pigeons, Doves & Quail” provides a range of recipes for different species for aviculturists who like to make their own formula but I find that using a pre-prepared formula powder is easier. The following information is for Rowdybush™ Squab Hand-feeding Formula.
    Growth Stage Formula % Water % Formula Feedings per day
    1 Squab 86 14 5 - 6
    2 Squab 80 20 4
    3 Squab 75 25 3
    4 Formula 3 75 25 4

    You will notice that in Stage 4 the formula used is “Formula 3” which is the formula for raising graniverous species such as parrots, fiches etc. This should be fed 3 to 4 times daily initially, reducing to once daily as the chick approaches weaning age. Adult food should be offered early to encourage acceptance.
    Important Points
    • Mix formula with warm water and feed as soon as possible (at about 40 C)
    • Never feed leftovers, mix fresh formula each feed.
    • Spread feeds evenly over the day and fill crop at each feeding.
    • Measure formula and water accurately - by weight and not volume. e.g. 86g water 14g formula. Inaccurate measurement can lead to uneven growth.
    • Store formula in a cool dry place. Freezing the dry powder maximizes shelf life (to approx. 12 months).
    Some people are able to raise a baby pigeon from hatch to fledging, but even with the latest in feeding technology - special food, small feeding tubes, heating pads or incubators - this is problematical at best. Quite honestly, for most people, the effort needed in terms of time, energy and money for feeding from day one till about day five is simply not worth it. However, rearing an abandoned youngster from about five days of age onward is fairly simple, if a bit time consuming, and quite rewarding. (Most foundlings are at least five days old unless you've found a nest which has young less than about three inches (7.5 cm) long.) The result of rearing a baby pigeon is invariably an extremely tame fledgling which will seldom make it on its own if released into the wild.
    Usually, such a bird seeks out the first person it sees and tries to find food that way. Once, I actually received a call from a frightened woman who claimed she and her neighbor were being attacked by a "vicious" pigeon. I got there to find a hand-tame blue check feral hen which immediately lighted on my head when I held up some grain. So, if you choose to hand-rear a baby pigeon, plan on a pet for quite a while. As adults, pigeons reared this way will attempt to mate with their owners. While they are not totally imprinted on humans --they will often mate with a pigeon if humans stay away for a while, they always prefer something which "looks like mommy."
    The first thing a baby pigeon needs is warmth. Until they get their feathers, they're totally dependant on their parents to keep them warm, so you have to do that for them too. I don't know the exact temperature to keep them. I've done well at about 90 degree F. You can either use a small heating pad under them (not directly - they'll mess up a heating pad, so put you might want disposable or washable rags or towels over the pad, and then put the bird on that. Squabs lose a lot of body heat to the air so I'd place the pad/rags/bird combination in a box with a top on it. No matter what you chose, if you are using an electric heating pad make sure that whatever you use is not something that's going to burst into flames on you. Better a pigeon that never lives to grow up than a family lost. A thermometer placed inside the box should let you keep an eye on the temperature. If the pigeon looks "sweaty", it's too hot.
    Personally, I've never used a heating pad. Since the baby normally needs extra heat only until it's about twelve days old -- and since I'm too cheap to buy another heating pad for use with the birds -- I just put the baby on a nest-like old towel and place a few well-sealed bottles of hot tap water in with it to act as radiators. Just make sure, you don't cook the poor beast.
    As for feeding the bird, you can do it the hard way - popping individual peas/corn/wheat down its throat and then squirting some water in with an eyedropper or small squeeze bottle. If you choose this method, you will also need to add a few pinch of grit - tiny granite or other hard stone about the size of a half of a wheat grain -- or you can go the "three second" feeding method. I usually choose the latter.
    Go to any feed/pet store and get chick or game bird starter mash or pellets; a two or three pound (c. 1-1.5 Kg.) bag should last you almost the whole rearing period. In a blender, mix about a half cup of mash with about a cup of water and blend until smooth (the amounts are approximate, (c. 1 mash to 2 water). What you want to end up with is a somewhat loose custard or pudding-type substance which can be piped through a small squeeze bottle without clogging up the tip. (There ARE proprietary feeds for young parrots, etc., which you can buy and use. Most of these are extremely easy to mix and use but they also tend to cost more than simple mash feeds. The choice is up to you.)
    IMPORTANT: The slurry fed to the baby should be warm but not hot; if you had it in the refrigerator, I'd suggest you rewarm it by setting it in warm water rather than heating it in a microwave which can cause very hot spots that may burn the baby's crop.
    When you're feeding the youngster, look for the small hole in the bottom of the inside of its mouth. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT get any food into this opening. This leads directly to the bird's lungs and food in here will likely kill it. Instead, slip the tip of the squeeze bottle past that hole and more into the bird's throat. Squeeze the bottle GENTLY and begin to fill the baby's crop. Do NOT give a massive squeeze on the bottle because, especially with very young birds, you may over fill the crop and force food back up the gullet and into the lungs. Unlike many altricial birds, baby pigeons need to be feed only two or three times a day.
    Now, obviously, you can also purchase special nestling foods put out by many pet supply companies. They tend to be somewhat expensive though. However, they are also somewhat easier to use than the mash if you've never done anything like this before and the instructions are right on the can. Many pet/veterinarian supply companies also sell special feeding tubes and various sized tips for them. You pay your money and take your choice.
    When the youngster is about 21 days, (at about this age, the bird is almost fully feathered except under the wings and the flight and tail feathers haven't yet reached their full length) I begin putting some grain in a small flat dish nearby. I also occasionally pick up a few grains with two fingers to let the bird get the idea that this is food. With luck, it'll begin to peck tentatively at the grains within a day or so. When it does, I begin to cut back on my handfeeding. Not all at once, but I usually cut my feeding my 1/4 and after another few days, I begin to skip the morning feeding to let the bird begin to get hungry enough to start looking for food on its own. This is a bit earlier than the parents might wean them, but, then, I don't have quite the patience of some pigeon mom or dad.

    The reason I use a flat dish to place the grain in rather than a bowl is that a pigeon seems to be genetically endowed with a realization that something small and round may be edible and it sets off the peck reflex. If the seed is all in a bowl, the requisite "small, round" look doesn't seem to be quite as obvious to them. After a day or so of pecking on the flat surface and finding that the seed is edible, a pigeon will usually recognize the seed in anything else. If you begin to add seed, you MUST also begin to provide water in a non-tip container so the bird can drink after eating to help soften the grains.
    Between 28 and 35 days is when you have to tough it out with the youngster. It needs to be weaned unless you want to feed it until it's ten years old or so. You needn't totally cut off a meal, but I always give only one a day. That is usually about 1/2 of what I've been feeding it before. A bit of hunger, not necessarily gnawing starvation, will force the bird to seek food from that flat dish, if it already hasn't found it. With luck, your youngster will be fully weaned by 30-40 days, though, it'll still often try to sucker you into feeding it, even if it's just finished stuffing fifty or sixty seeds down its own throat and can barely waddle. .

    The Balloon Method:

    For those of you who ever have or find the need to use an alternative method of feeding young pigeons, this is an EXCELLENT method to feed young squabs. It's more messy, but it's a more "natural" way to feed a young chick with little chance of aspirating or harming the baby like through conventional tube feeding, eye droppers, or other methods. Here are the instructions and photo:

    "This involves slicing the thin tip off a syringe (a 20ml should be fine for a 2 week old squab), filling the syringe with formula and taping something over the mouth of the syringe such as a piece of cloth, stretch bandage or a piece cut out of a balloon..

    You cut a cross (X) in the fabric and steer the pigeon’s beak into the hole. The squab will start to gobble the food as you depress the plunger gently to pump more food in, mimicking the way the parent feeds his squab. Make the Kaytee a bit thinner than recommended as it thickens in the crop. Feed until the crop is noticeably inflated but not hard. Like a ¾ hot water bottle. I think that for a 2 week old squab that would be 30ml per feed, 3 times a day going up to 40ml per feed when they are 4 weeks old."

    I delute/dissolved the chix pellets in water and then use the bastir to suck the pellets and squirt inside the squabs mouth and "VIOLA!" make it quick and less struggle for the both of you, every 4 hours...Just dont push the bastir too much, enough for the food to go in and less mess...

    13th October 2008, 07:32 PM
    And here's my favorite method with step-by-step instructions (similar to balloon method):

    You can use a piece of cloth instead or a rubber glove, if you like.

    re lee
    18th October 2008, 09:29 PM
    Works well for any bird 5 days old to weaning. You adjust feed amount to age Any time i ever hand fed I used chick starter made a mush out of it you can either heat water add stater or add water and stater heat in microwave And cool to a warm mix make it soupy as It digests better. They did not used to have a fomrula for any pigeons before . Then when you are feeding 1 to 5 day old birds You can boil and egg take the white of the eggs and a small amount of water smash the egg white to form a milk It will then work great. Years ago they said egg whites used like thins was the closest thing to pigeon milk So I tried it to see how well it worked And it worked great. No days you can order this and that But chick starter and eggs are found local And will do the job great.

    13th November 2009, 09:33 PM
    This is something which I found over the internet and had saved to my computer, I have never tried this, so expect someone experienced enough to comment on the same

    MacMilk[​IMG]: Crop Milk Replacer Recipe

    1 jar (71 grams) strained chicken baby food
    1 raw egg yolk (16.6 grams)
    1 tablespoon low-fat yogurt (15.3 grams)
    1/4 teaspoon corn oil (1.13 grams)
    0.62 g calcium carbonate
    2 drops cod-liver oil (from gel cap)
    1 drop vitamin E (diluted 1:10 in corn oil; see notes)
    2 drops fish body (omega-3; not cod liver) oil
    1 small pinch vitamin B complex (see notes)
    25 mg. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

    Method: Mix all ingredients in a blender. Keep the diet in the fridge, taking out and warming only as much as you need for one feeding.

    For birds 1-3 days post-hatch:
    It may be necessary to dilute the mix a little more, particularly if they are not being kept at high humidity. It’s essential to add a small amount of feces from a healthy adult conspecific; the younger the bird, the more urgent this is. Add it to two feedings per day. As soon as it’s added, consider the food contaminated; discard any leftovers and clean all implements thoroughly. No digestive enzymes need be added to this mix.

    In nature, young columbids are fed small amounts often, by their parents. The ‘nursing’ bouts are long in duration. They should NOT be tube-fed, but instead need to ‘work’ for their food by sucking. The process is very reminiscent of mammals suckling, and their chances of survival are much higher if they are fed in this natural manner.

    At the end of the first week post-hatch, gradually add a highly digestible grain (be sure that it contains the proper amount of calcium and vitamins) to the food. It must be fully hydrated! E.g., if you’re adding baby cereal or Exact, make a ‘cereal soup’ with water (at least 2 parts water to 1 part cereal/Exact by weight) before adding it to the MMM. Add only a very small amount for the first couple of days, and then at a rate (e.g., 10% per day) that will make the food mostly grain by the end of 15-20 days. Fledglings must be supplemented with hand feedings for as long as they beg (this can be up to 6 weeks or so), even if they are also eating on their own. Weigh them regularly until they’re completely weaned. A high-quality (companion/exotic) finch seed mix is a good choice for self-feeding. Be sure that they have ‘pigeon grit’ (a multimineral grit) and oystershell grit available ad lib.

    Vitamins: Vitamin E, as purchased, is too potent for what is required in this diet. Mix one drop of vitamin E (from a 400 IU/ capsule) with 10 drops of corn oil. Shake or stir well. Then, use 1 drop of the diluted vitamin E in the recipe. The remainder can be kept in an airtight container and stored in a cool, dark place. It can be used over the next few days. Because vitamin E degrades, it will have to be mixed fresh after a few days, so don't make too much at once. The amount of B complex required is too small to weigh on a gram scale. The amount required for this recipe is a pinch the size of one or two sesame seeds.

    Astrid MacLeod and Janine Perlman, 2004[​IMG].

    Another articles on the same

    Also read in some page about using diluted "Exact Hand-Feeding Formula for baby Macaws" for pigeons, but these are all references which I found over the internet, again, I have never tried any of these myself.

    Hope this helps

    19th January 2010, 09:59 PM
    Can chicken egg yolk be fed to the squabs ? If yes then Raw/Cooked/what consistency ?

    Not raw .. that could cause salmonellosis .. if needed to be mixed into a "formula" then hard boiled and then mushed up and added to the forumla. If just as an emergency food then scrambled with no oil and bits fed to the bird.


    20th January 2010, 03:06 AM
    For youngsters I found this easy and quick -

    I use a small baby bottle and cut the tip of the nipple half way down (just enough to slide their beak into). Then cut the finger off a rubber glove and slide it over the nipple. Put a cross slit at the top of the glove (kind of surrounds their beak to help with the mess)
    They love it!

    vBulletin[​IMG] v3.7.0, Copyright [​IMG]2000-2010, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
    The very high nutrient concentration of pigeon's milk makes it difficult to devise an artificial substitute for hand-rearing squabs. Various proprietary mixes are available. A good home-made mix can be made from equal quantities of dehydrated dried pure soy protein (with no added salt, flavorings, preservatives etc.) and soy-based dairy-free butter-substitute (ordinary dairy butter is not suitable, as young squabs' digestive systems cannot cope with dairy products). This is made into a runny paste with a little water, a tiny crumb of a multivitamin tablet and a tiny pinch of chalk (which is necessary for bone development to avoid splay-leg). The crop should be allowed to empty completely between feedings. With care and gentleness, it is possible to raise a pigeon on this mix from the moment of hatching.

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