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Handfeeding a Baby Grey.

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Hand feeding a baby bird takes a great deal of time and effort.Something that shouldn't be considered by a novice.If possible it is best left to an experienced breeder.Dont be fooled by the pet store or breeder who tells you otherwise.Many sellers convince novice buyers to take an unweaned bird.The sooner a parrot chick is gone, the higher the profit ratio for the store or breeder. So it is in the interest of the seller to convince the buyer that hand feeding is safe and easy.

With that said it is inevitable that some members will find themselves with a young unweaned baby.This thread will offer advice & guidance to help you successfully finish the hand feeding process.


Formulas, Feeding Utensils, and Methods.


With the recent advances in avian nutrition there are a number of commercially prepared handfeeding formulas, ie..Kaytee Exact,Roudybush to name but a few.Formula must be served very warm (about 105 to 108 degrees). A human basil digital thermometer can be used to test the formula. Once you become familiar with the correct feeding temperature of formula, you can test it on the inside of your wrist before feeding.This chart is for guidelines only & each baby will vary slightly..


Mixing Formula..


Mixing your formula using Kaytee Exact is an easy process. It is designed to be mixed on a 1:2 ratio of formula to water. When measuring formula, use these guidelines:




( 1 tablespoon = ½ ounce = 15cc )


Mixing On A 1: 2 Ratio


1 tablespoon 1 ounce (30cc)

2 tablespoon 2 ounce (60cc)


Preparing Your Formula..


1. Add the correct amount of water to your measuring cup

2. Heat the water in your microwave until its very warm

3. Add measured amount of formula and stir

4. Feed at correct temperature (105 to 108 degrees)


Amount To Feed At Each Feeding


20cc - 30cc 3-5 weeks

30cc - 45cc 5-9 weeks

45cc - 60cc 9-16 weeks


The formula should have a consistency similar to thin catsup. Do not feed a formula that is too thick. Water is important for proper hydration of your baby. Babies will actually grow better on a thinner formula than one that is too thick. If you have a gram scale, you can see the exact consistency that you should be mixing the formula. Weigh out 7 grams of formula to be mixed with each ounce of water when mixing on a 1:2 ratio.


The initial temperature of the water used to prepare the formula will have an effect on the consistency of the finished product so its important to measure your formula and water so you don't feed a formula too thin or too thick.



Feeding Methods.


The two most common methods of feeding are either by syringe or spoon, Personally i recommend spoon feeding as this closely resembles the action of the parents beak.you can spoon feed by taking a small metal spoon & bending the sides in to foram a V shape.Gently place the tip of the spoon in to the chicks mouth & tip the spoon up slightly.The chick will pump the spoon & swallow the formula.Techniques for Handfeeding your Baby....


1. Feed the formula mixture using your spoon or syringe by dispensing the food along with the baby's feeding response (rhythmic bobbing motion).

2. Be sure to give the baby a chance to breath between bites of food. Do not try and feed too quickly.

3. Continue to feed until the baby's crop is nicely rounded or on weaning babies, until it refuses more food.

4. Do not overfeed, as this may result in regurgitation and possibly aspiration, which could cause death.

5. Clean any spilled food off your baby.

6. Clean and disinfectant all feeding equipment.

7. Discard any unused formula. Always mix up fresh formula for each feeding. Do not store mixed formula in refrigerator.


Feeding Schedule


Age In Weeks Number of Feedings Hours Between Time Frame

0 - 2 10 2 6:00am - 12:00am

2 - 3 6 3 7:00am - 11:00pm

3 - 4 5 4 7:00am - 10:30pm

4 - 5 4 5 7:00am - 10:30pm

5 - 10 3 7 8:00am - 10:00pm

10 - 13 2 12 9:00am & 9:00pm

13 - 16 1 24 9:00pm - 11:00pm



Use the above schedule as a guideline for feeding your baby. Babies grow at different rates and should be treated individually. Some babies do better remaining on 2 feedings per day until completely weaned. Be sure your baby's crop empties completely at least once during each 24 hour period.


After your baby reaches 7/ 8 weeks of age and has made the transition from brooder to cage, it is time to begin introducing weaning food.Pellet food is a safe food to start weaning your baby onto with the addition of seed,fruit, veggies.Also have a separate water dish next to his food.Check your baby's crop before the night time feeding to monitor how much if any of the warm, moistened pellets your baby is eating. Do not leave moistened pellets or vegetables in baby's cage more than 4 hours to prevent spoilage.

At 13 weeks of age, your baby should be placed on one feeding per day which is given at 9:00pm - 11:00pm. By this time, your baby should have begun eating either dry pellets or the warm, moistened pellets. If your baby is not eating either moistened pellets or dry pellets at this time, then leave your baby on 2 feedings per day. Some babies can take longer to learn eating skills.


Once your baby has been placed on one feeding per day, begin giving warm, moistened pellets in the morning around 8:00am as well as the afternoon at 5:00pm. Dry pellets and water should always be available as well. Check your baby's crop at night before the night time feeding . If it is very full with pellets that baby has eaten, then you can skip the night time feeding. If you are not sure, then offer the formula but don't force the baby to eat if the baby refuses.Your baby can lose up to 15% of its weight during the weaning stage. Once baby is weaned, its important to continue monitoring how much it actually eats by feeling its crop and watching its weight.


Remember that weaning time is a very stressful event in your baby's life. Never try and force your baby to wean by withholding formula.


The above information is to be used a guidline & each baby will vary slightly in it's development.<br><br>Post edited by: lovemyGreys, at: 2008/06/02 18:19

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Over here in Thailand, the birds are born mostly on farms and sold by the farm or a middleman.  They do not want to feed a bird or usually, you will not find anyone selling them after 12 weeks.    All


Thank you Dan, I aim to please ;) I did consider making it a sticky in the bird food room, but as new members are frequently joining with new babies i thought the Nursery more appropriate.<br><br>Post edited by: lovemyGreys, at: 2008/04/16 15:24

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  • 2 months later...

hi. i have recently bought an african grey which is ten weeks old. i am able to feed its formula twice daily, one in the morning and once in the evening. however, during the day it constanly wants food. i feed it mashed apple and banana as it is easy for the grey to swallow. i fear that it may eat too much as it does not know when to stop. should i feed it how much i think is enough or feed it until it stops itself. also its droppings are very wet.

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Twice a day is fine,you need to start offering your baby a variety of foods to explore,veggies raw or cooked,fruit,seeds,pellets,pulses, etc..Leave the fruit & veg in chunks so your baby can become accustomed to eating as opposed to the mashed apple & banana.Make sure there is always fresh water available at all times.


Here is a list of safe fruit & veg you can offer..






Droppings are wet,with only formula & mashed banana & apple they may be loose,i imagine when you introduce solid foods you will see a change..


Young greys can loose up to 10-15 % of their body weight when they learn to fly..A good idea is to keep a weekly chart..Any signifigant weight lose accompanied by any of the following would indicate illness & should be checked out by your avian vet...


Eyes should be clear and full of life.

Nostrils should be clear.

Vent should be clean. No signs of poop on their feathers.

Perching at the bottom of the cage all fluffed and sedated, eyelids heavy

Behavior is sedate when usually cheerful and playing.

Significant weight loss (10-15%). Weigh your bird regularly and keep a chart readily available.

Unusual droppings. Know what is normal for your bird.

Labored breathing

Loss of appetite


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thanks for your quick reply. much appreciated. should i contol on how much it eats because i fear it does not know when to stop.

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Around 45cc - 60cc is average per feed.I would make sure that food is available through out the day for your baby to munch on.Have you introduced some toys to stimulate your baby ? Now is a perfect time as they are awake longer & alert to what is going on around them ;)

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yes i have introduced many toys to the bird and i am encouraging all family members to play with the bird so the bird does not get so much attached to one person that it does not go to anyone else. the grey has settled very well as it has only been broought home 3 days ago. although i hand feed the grey until it wants no more, once in the cage it will try to eat all its food until its crop is huge and it finds it difficult to move, should i control this.

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At this time you should see that the crop won't buldge like it did when your baby was very young as the food is getting eaten over a period of time and not all in one go.If the crop is full,limit the food but never starve your baby & make sures the crop is empting.If you have any major concerns then please refer back to the breeder of your baby.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

I have a question... This might sound dumb. But i would rather sound dumb and get the right answer than say nothing and do something dumb...


When you start giving the baby other foods but this nothing solid... can baby food be a bad thing? :unsure:

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What great instructions! This will be awesome for people like me who did not find out their grey was still being handfed till she got home. Thanks lovemyGreys!

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  • 1 month later...
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  • 1 month later...

my grey si still being syringe feed once a day, in the evening, he eats anywhere from one to three syringe full. I let him decide if he doesnt want it I stop.



He eats regular parrot food, crackers, apples, bananas, nuts, brocolli, melon, grapes... I cut all his food in to small seed size pieces, except the cracker I let him hold it.


anyway the question I have is when do I stop the last feeding... the pet store said to stop when the can of formula is gone, but I have read alot lately, and it doesnt sound good to suddenly stop formula...forced weaning. The vet that I took him too, didnt know much more then me.... said to do what the pet store said..

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How old is your grey now? Is he about 4 months old?

He sounds as though he is eating quite a varied diet.

Is he eating pellets or seed? Is he still begging for his night time feed?

All young birds will wean at different stages, if your bird is eating independently and is refusing the formula, never force feed. If the crop does not look full before bedtime I would still continue to offer the night time feed. This can gradually be decreased.


It is important to continue to weigh your grey as well during the weaning process just to make sure your grey is maintaining their weight.


My three birds were all weaned by 12 weeks and were never fed formula after this, other members have older greys who still love to have a feeding of formula. Every grey is different. Do you offer warm soft foods? My greys still love to be spoonfed sometimes, maybe something like some warm sweet potato mashed up.


So, continue to offer for now,and monitor your greys diet or see if he starts refusing his feed.




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thank you for answering my post...


He is four months old going on five...


He eats the pellets, and I have been offering a small bowel of food every morning, I have also gave him some cooked oatmeal, part of my breakfast a few time. Seems to like it. but around six or seven he seems to start getting louder and sometimes screaming, before his feeding. The pet shop couldnt get him to eat when I was there and she said it was because he was weaning himself. but to still offer it. my husband cant get him to eat out of the syringe, but I have no problem. he eats two to four syringe full every night.. I guess as long as he wants it I will give it to him... better then a sick bird.


he also eats millet... just about anything I offer him he has munchened on.. some things he spits at first but takes to it after i give it three or four bites...<br><br>Post edited by: rierie, at: 2008/11/18 22:20

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All of the charts and methods are located at the beginning of this thread. All the food amounts are accurate as far as feeding a grey. Where did you get this bird? If it was a breeder, didn't he give you any idea about feeding? He/she shouldn't have sold you an unweaned baby. I'm surprised you don't know the exact age of this bird. You'll need to give us more info about your situation but because the bird needs regular feedings at the same time every day IMMEDIATELY, just go up to the chart at the beginning of this thread and do as it says. If you have no formula go to any large pet store and purchase KAYTEE Formula. It also has a chart on it and will suffice as a formula food. Please do all of this quickly.

Also give your bird some parrot pellets ( multi-colored). They have vitamins. If the bird won't eat them soften them a bit with water. Feed some very green solid veggies such as broccali and string beans frequently.

Have food around the bird at all times in the cage, not just at certain times of the day. You can't overfeed a parrot.<br><br>Post edited by: Dave007, at: 2008/11/19 00:37

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  • 2 months later...

Thank you so very much !!!! I will try the spoon i think thats better then shooting it in her mouth. i'm willing to take all the time she needs i was worried she would be upset and i don't want her to be unsocial because of me. i'm sure glade i found this site. thank you for the help

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  • 2 months later...

Hi everyone,


Ive noticed we have quite a few members handfeeding at the moment, some have been asking about the number of feedings and when to wean etc so I thought we should bring this thread up for a while.


It explains about the weaning process and the number of feeds your baby should have.


Each baby is different though and this should only be used as a guideline. We have many experienced members on here who have handfed and I know they would give excellent advice if any is needed.


Please add to this thread and comment about your own experience of feeding if you like.


Advice is always welcome:)

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Hi Everyone


I got my baby on Thursday and I am feeding it 3 times a day with a spoon, and I am giving it one tablespoon of formula at each feed. When I received the baby it was 5 weeks old. Were can I find more info for my road ahead on weening it and what to do and not to do.

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