After the newborn chick hatches, it takes nourishment from the yolk sac. In ideal situations, the parents begin feeding the chick 8 to 12 hours after hatching. In the event the parents do not properly feed their chicks, the breeder may need to step in and hand feed the babies.
Day One through Week One
Cockatiel babies are very delicate after hatching, and should be left with their parents if at all possible. In the event you have to intervene, the first two feedings should be a mixture of Pedialyte and probiotics. After that, you can feed the babies with the brand of formula you prefer. The formula should be mixed according to the manufacturer's instructions and the temperature of the formula should be between 102 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Achieve this temperature range should by using very hot water and allowing the mixture to cool to the proper range. Never microwave formula, as it can have hot spots that will burn the baby's crop. The babies should be fed every two hours around the clock for the first four days of life, and every three hours around the clock on days five through seven.
The second week of life, cockatiel chicks need to be fed every four hours. The babies can go approximately eight hours overnight without being fed. At this stage, the cockatiels will begin begging loudly for food, making it easy to overfeed them. Four to six milliliters should be enough to fill the crop at this age.
Week three is a week with significant growth and change. During this week cockatiel chicks can be fed every five hours, and be fed up to 10 milliliters at each feeding. The chicks should not go more than eight hours overnight without being fed, so adjust your feeding schedule accordingly.
Roughly around the fourth week of life, cockatiels will begin to take interest in millet spray and seeds. Much of what they attempt to eat is wasted, as they perfect the art of cracking open seeds. Hand-feedings can be reduced to three times a day by the end of week four, and the young cockatiels will eat as much as fifteen milliliters per feeding.
It is best to let cockatiels self-wean, and continue one to two feedings a day until they are clearly eating on their own and not reliant on the formula. Typically, when the cockatiel takes just a few full beaks worth of formula and loses interest it is safe to wean. Be sure that you offer a variety of bird safe fruit and vegetables, a quality cockatiel pelleted feed or seed mixture, and millet spray, as the young cockatiel will be very active and need a balanced diet to fill out and reach maturity.
If you have never hand fed baby cockatiels before, seek the assistance of an experienced breeder or avian veterinarian. It is very easy for young chicks to aspirate on formula, which will cause chick mortality. Even experienced breeders prefer to leave chicks with their parents until two to three weeks of age, when the babies are larger and easier to handle.
- Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images