Nutri-Start’s baby bird formula for cockatiels and conures produces faster weight gains. It mixes instantly with water, saving you time and effort. No cooking or cooling. Its main ingredient is premium rice flour for maximum digestibility. The pudding consistency, great taste, and aroma make Nutri-Start the most acceptable baby bird formula on the market.
At Lafeber Company, we balance the Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, which help strengthen the immune system. We also use chelated minerals for better absorption, stabilized vitamins for better longevity, and we naturally preserve and flavor our foods. Our recipes are tested by an independent lab to ensure that our strict quality standards are met.
- No fuss formula – simply mix with water
- Complete, balanced diet for baby cockatiels and conures
- Made in the USA
Nutri-Start is formulated for baby cockatiels and conures. The most important considerations in the hand-feeding process are the frequency and volume of feeding. Baby birds grow at an extraordinarily rapid rate. This growth requires a great deal of food to meet the nutritional needs of the bird. However, the crop of a young bird holds a limited amount of food, so it must be filled frequently. As the bird gets older, the capacity of the crop increases, and the number of daily feedings are reduced. The volume to feed is based upon a combination of observation and judgment.
If you have any concerns, please contact your veterinarian.
Nutri-Start is not meant to be fed to insectivorous birds or raptors.
Preparation of Nutri-Start
Mix Nutri-Start in a ratio of 2 ¼-parts hot water to 1-part powder. Important: Use distilled or boiled water to eliminate possible bacteria from tap water. The water should be approximately 122 ° F. Add the water to the powder gradually while stirring. After thorough mixing to eliminate lumps, the formula should be the consistency of creamy pudding. This thickness allows it to be drawn into an eye dropper or syringe, or roll off a spoon. For older birds, the mixture may be made thicker.
Do not reuse mixed formula. Discard and mix fresh at each feeding.
If necessary, a sufficient amount of formula may be prepared at one time to be used within 24 hours. This must be covered and refrigerated after preparation. The amount needed for each feeding can be heated and fed but not reused. Caution: microwaves are not recommended for heating due to potential hot spots. You might need to add water in the heating process. Diluting formula by increasing water reduces the concentration of nutrients.
•For babies previously fed another hand-feeding preparation, a minimum of 24 to 48 hours is recommended for the dietary changes. Prepare both foods (as directed) during this period and mix together, gradually increasing Nutri-Start and decreasing the other food.
•This food contains no less than 8% fat.
•Unnecessarily cooking this formula may require adding more water to achieve the desired consistency, consequently reducing the concentration of nutrients.
Temperature To Feed Formula
Nutri-Start should be served warm – 104 ̊ to 106 ̊ F – but not hot. Excess heat may damage the digestive tract. Use a thermometer to measure the temperature. The formula should feel slightly warm to the touch.
In order to maintain the heat of the Nutri-Start mixture, a double-boiler type arrangement can be set up with the container of prepared Nutri-Start placed in a bowl or pan of warm water during the feeding process.
Psittacine birds require a flat, textured surface while being fed. A towel on a table is ideal. It provides an insulated surface that prevents excess heat loss and something the bird can grip to prevent slipping and possible injury.
Volume to Feed
The volume of food given is of critical importance. Overfilling of the crop could lead to back-flow up the esophagus, into the throat, and down the windpipe, which could cause death. Underfilling the crop might result in starvation.
As the food material is being delivered, the crop begins to fill and bulge in the region of the lower neck. Careful observation and experience are necessary in order to determine when the crop is adequately filled.
Frequently, a bird stops gaping when the crop is filled; however, some birds do not. Watch closely when filling for any evidence of food material backing up into the mouth. If this occurs, immediately stop until the mouth is cleared.
When the bird appears to have had enough food, determine the state of fullness of the crop to make sure a sufficient amount of food was delivered.
Maintain Good Hygiene
Remove any excess food material on the skin, beak, or feathers with warm water when the feeding is complete. “Feed” a few drops of warm water to aid in clearing the mouth. Feeding utensils should be cleaned immediately after use. Check the anus to be certain no fecal matter has accumulated. Ideally, monitor the bird’s weight daily with an accurate scale. A healthy baby gains weight daily.
Frequency of Feeding
Baby birds can be removed from their parents between 8 and 21 days of age. Waiting until 2 1/2 to 3 weeks is safer for the beginner, as the bird is hardier due to the presence of some feathering.
Hatching to 1 week
If the bird was removed from the nest shortly after hatching, for whatever reason, feeding requires special care. Do not attempt to feed the bird for at least 12 hours after hatching. The crop is very small and holds only a limited amount of food. After continued use, it expands. The first feeding at 12 hours should be one drop of water. Approximately 1/2 to 1 hour later, another drop of water may be given. Feeding too frequently during this period may overload the crop and lead to aspiration and death.
After these initial feedings, if the baby appears normal and is excreting, a few drops of very thin Instant Nutri-Start can be given. Repeat hand-feedings every 2 hours around the clock so the baby bird receives enough food.
1 to 2 weeks old
Birds can be fed every 2 or 3 hours around the clock. If the birds are kept especially warm and comfortable, the night feedings after midnight can be eliminated. However, feedings must begin again at 6 A.M.*
2 to 3 weeks old
This is a relatively safe age to remove the baby birds from the nest for hand-feeding. It is easier to check the crop and feed them. Birds of this age can be fed every 3 to 4 hours from 6 A.M. to midnight.
3 to 4 weeks old
Feed the birds every 4 hours. As feeding frequency tapers off, the formula can be slightly thickened. At 4 weeks, the birds can be put in a cage with low perches. Water in a bowl may be placed inside.
5 to 6 weeks old
Feed the birds twice daily. Lafeber pelleted bird food, Nutri-Berries, and other foods may be placed in the cage to encourage the bird to eat on his own.
7 weeks old
Place birds in a large cage with Lafeber pellets or Nutri-Berries in cups and scattered on the floor. Introduce the birds to a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, but these should not make up more than 20% of the diet. Vegetables such as peas and corn are well-accepted.
*If the bird is kept especially warm and comfortable, the 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. feedings can be eliminated.
Check The Fullness Of The Crop
Nature designed a rather unique feature into the digestive system of birds — a widening of the esophagus at the lower part of the neck. This widening acts as a compartment to hold a quantity of food and is named the crop.
The crop is easily seen in young birds while feathering is incomplete. In older birds with a well-developed covering of feathers, the fullness can be checked by gently feeling the crop with your thumb and index finger.
Examine the crop before each feeding. Ideally, in the rapidly growing young bird, the crop is never allowed to become completely empty. Checking the crop fullness helps determine the frequency and volume of feeding to give. Normally the crop empties in 4 hours. A crop that remains full or is not emptying properly indicates some type of problem.
Position Bird For Hand-Feeding
Remove the baby bird from the nest box and place on a towel in your hand. By cupping a hand gently around the baby during feeding, adequate support is given to position him for eating.
Carefully Introduce Feeding Device Into The Mouth
The introduction of an eye dropper or syringe into the mouth is relatively easy, as baby birds are eager to be fed and will gape (open the beak wide in order to receive the feeding). Occasionally, a bird may not gape. A gentle tapping of the beak with the feeding device encourages the bird to open his beak. Insert the eye dropper or syringe from the left side toward the right side of the mouth.
Synchronize the administration of Nutri-Start with swallowing. Birds swallow with an unusual rhythmic bobbing of the head up and down. While the bird is swallowing, the Nutri-Start is delivered quickly. With practice, a “feel” for the procedure develops. Done efficiently, the filling of the crop can be accomplished in a surprisingly short time.
Birds should not be weaned before 7 weeks, usually about 8 weeks. Not all species of babies wean at the same age. Ask your veterinarian if you are unsure. Before weaning the bird off hand-feeding, keep close watch to see that the bird is actually eating adequate amounts of solid food on his own and not merely nibbling at it. Handle the crop to determine the fullness and check the breastbone for degree of muscling. A weaning bird may lose as much as 10% of his weight normally. Any more than that may be an indication of a problem. It is recommended that the bird be weighed regularly through this period.
When first weaning the bird, give him Lafeber pellets or Nutri-Berries, as these are a nutritionally complete and balanced diet for the bird. It is a good idea to keep an older bird in a cage next to the cage with the young weanlings to teach them to eat through mimicry.
If the baby birds are not weaned, they become spoiled and will not eat on their own, preferring to be hand-fed. However, if they are weaned too early, they will not eat adequately, gradually lose weight, become weak, and die. Therefore, if baby birds are begging to be fed, even after they are weaned, you may need to revert back to hand-feeding, as they may not be eating adequately.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure the bird is eating adequately on his own before discontinuing hand-feeding. Check the fullness of the crop. If you have any concerns, please contact your veterinarian.
Housing and Heat
A small cardboard box, approximately 12 by 12 by 12 inches, or a small fish aquarium with layers of paper towels over a 1-inch padding of cloth toweling on the bottom will serve as an incubator and holding area while the babies are young. Place a heating pad under half of the box or aquarium, and drape a towel on top. Either the heating pad setting or the amount of the top that is covered by the towel may be adjusted to provide a constant 85 to 90 ̊ F temperature for non-feathered birds. The temperature is gradually reduced to room temperature as they become feathered and mature. Add a bottle or tin filled with water and holes punched in the lid to allow for evaporation that provides humidity.
Observe the babies carefully to determine their comfort level. A cold baby shivers, and a baby that is too hot does not sleep well and breathes heavily through an open mouth.