Published: Sat, August 26, 2017
World | By Lorena Waters

My friends the pigeons: Emergency feeding for very small or sick chicks

More about Tube Feeding From: Dr. Kevin Zollars, DVM:

Even though fanciers have heard about it, or seen it done, relatively few practice its use. Tube feeding by definition is the passage of a tube from the mouth into the crop of the pigeon. The tube is then used to pass liquid into the crop by means of a syringe. The fluid passed into the crop can be water, electrolytes, vitamins, protein, fats, carbohydrates, or a mixture of the above. Tube feeding can even be used for antibiotic administration.

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Over the years, research has documented the usefulness of tube feeding. One piece of research was called Evaluation of water deprivation and fluid therapy in the Pigeon, written by Martin and Kollias. It was published in The Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. This research showed that in the face of 48 hours of water deprivation, tube feeding could be useful. It showed that the administration of a sugar solution (5% dextrose) into the crop by tube feeding was a very effective method for rapidly restoring fluid deficits. This was found to be even more effective than injecting the same solution under the skin of the pigeon.

Sick pigeons generally do not eat or drink as much as they should. This is a natural phenomenon in all animals, including man. Tube feeding can be beneficial in this situation. It will deliver vital nutrients that the bird would otherwise take in its own. Again, there are commercially made products for birds that contain all the necessary fats, proteins, and carbohydrates that a sick pigeon needs. They come as a powder, to be mixed with water. They are usually used on parrots, but they are fantastic for sick pigeons. I use them regularly for individual bird treatments. Another good mixture is made by grinding pigeon pellets and water together in a blender. This is also a well-balanced diet for the sick, non-eating bird, and can be fed twice daily very easily. Oral antibiotics may also be mixed right into the formula and placed directly into the crop.

The first thing needed is a feeding syringe. Feeding syringes are a little different than regular syringes in that they have a larger opening at the end. This allows the passage of thicker and larger materials, such as ground pellets or very thick feeding solutions. A "regular" syringe can be used if you are only going to feed water or water / electrolyte solutions. Glass syringes are nice, but they can break easily when dropped. Plastic syringes are best, as they are very durable and easily cleaned. There are two types of feeding tubes available: rigid stainless steel tubes; Or flexible, rubber feeding tubes. I prefer the flexible, round tipped feeding tubes, as they are soft and flex as they are passed into the crop.

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