Assist Feed or Pull?
*this is about another pair and another chick than my other threads. That chick is now 3 weeks old and doing brilliantly.
This chick is the only surviving chick of a pair's first clutch. They had another viable egg, but it was DIS. Baby hatched Feb 14th. It was very small from the beginning, but grew the first several days fine and parents were being great about feeding it. At end of first week, it stopped growing well. During the second week, Mama started feeding chick less often and dad did more of it. I realized a few days ago that they had stuffed baby's crop entirely with whole millet seed from a spray I gave them. I assist fed watery formula and the crop emptied. I also cut out millet spray and reduced the proportion of seed fed to parents. They did it again with seed mix. Not broken up seed..whole seed. Baby pooping out entire millet and canary seed. Crop started taking forever to empty, and it seemed they were utterly ignoring the soft food offered in favor of seed, dried out bread and dry pellets. (diet will be listed below) For the last 3 days I have been pulling baby to assist feed formula with a bit of applesauce to promote crop function.
It has been very dehydrated, and while it's almost 2 weeks old, it's barely above 1st week weight and clearly stunted. It was lethargic and weak 3 days ago. Energy level is way up after the last few days. First 2 days I only pulled twice daily, primarily to check crop and get fluids in there, but today I pulled 5 times. Just now went to see how crop was emptying, and realized it has several bites. They aren't severe, but skin has been broken.
It's a first time pair, and I don't want to pull their chick and teach them that's the normal thing to do. However, despite having now pulled all seed out of thier diet, they just aren't keeping baby hydrated very well. Should I pull chick entirely, or continue to assist but less often so that they don't nip him trying to create a feeding response?
Parents diet WAS free choice cockatiel seed mix and free choice Zupreem breeder pellets. Soft food offered twice daily for an hour: greens, boiled egg, whole wheat bread (this I left in all day, and they started preferring it stale and dry), sprouted sunflower seeds, baked squash, sweet potato. All those are foods they ate regularly and eagerly since they were 3 months old and I got them. (pair came from separate breeders and are not brother/sister).
Diet is now free choice pellets, and soft food offered 3 times daily. Despite this, they don't want anything that isn't crunchy. Nigel (Mama is a whiteface/lutino that we guessed wrong when naming) eats spinach like it's candy, and she won't even eat that.
Would you pull chick for handrearing? Or assist feed, but less often? or something else?