Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Age To Sell A Baby Parrotlet

I was referred to your site by a website called talkparrotlets.com. There has been a lot of talk there lately about baby parrotlets that have died shortly after going to their new home. The common belief is that they are being sold way too young, so they regress and die. I would like to know what the IPS believes to be the age at which a Green Pacific Parrotlet should be made available for sale. A Senior Member on talkparrotlets.com says that the "industry standard" for baby birds is 12 weeks old. However, baby parrotlets are often being sold at 6 weeks old, right after they are weaned. I currently have a breeder who says that my baby parrotlet is ready to come home to me. He hatched on March 30, 2011 and just weaned less than a week ago. That makes him just over 6 weeks old. Please tell me if you think that's too young to be sold, or perhaps you could tell me what the IPS considers to be the appropriate age or guidelines used to determine if a parrotlet baby is ready to be sold.

To be fair about this, here is what the breeder said when I expressed my concern:
I have never had a baby die after it went to it's new home. Why should they when they are completely weaned? His sister who left last week is doing great. Also, a baby bird who is at an age to be well weaned is an older baby or a sub adult. They are not very young babies. They are strong, independant, can fly, and don't want anything to do with their parents.

I look forward to your reply. Thank you.


Dear Debra:

Thank you for your email.

The International Parrotlet Society was founded in 1992 to help people keep, raise, conserve, exhibit and breed parrotlets. We are an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) educational organization although we also support research, veterinary advancements and conservation of all species of parrotlets. IPS publishes a bimonthly journal that contains a ton of the latest information from biologists, veterinarians, breeders, genetics experts, behaviorists, trainers and many other professionals. IPS gives guidelines and recommendations but we do not tell people how to raise their birds. Therefore, IPS has no policy with regard to the sale of parrotlet chicks other than we strongly recommend the birds be completely weaned before they are sold.

So, I’m going to answer this email as a professional woman who has bred parrotlets exclusively for almost 30 years not as the secretary or one of the founders of IPS. I have written 3 books on parrotlets and still work as a panel expert for Bird Chanel as well as writing articles for Bird Talk magazine. I can tell you this isn’t a problem with the parrotlets being sold too young. This is a problem because of the inexperience of the person buying the bird. I learned this back in the early 1980’s when I was one of the first persons in the country to start hand-feeding and selling parrotlets. Many people make too many changes much too fast and the parrotlets cannot handle the added stress.

First, I always hold onto a bird until a least after it is weaned and I weigh it every day before I feed. Once I have determined the bird is not losing weight for at least a week, then I will send it home. However, I spend a great deal of time with the new owners and ALWAYS send them home with a copy of my books (the latest one is available at Amazon.com and is entitled “The Parrotlet Handbook” and the publisher is Barron’s), a baby care information sheet, food (a seed mix I developed over 30 years and has been used by several feed companies) and lots of millet spray. My baby care sheet is on my website (http://www.parrotletranch.com/Articles/bringing.html) but basically it informs the new owners how to place food and water stations in the cage, what to expect for feeding, how to check and make sure the bird is actually eating (looking at seeds and food dishes is NOT how you tell if they are eating), making sure the bird has no drafts and is kept warm during the adjustment period so it doesn’t get stressed and go into shock. I DO strongly recommend the feeding of millet almost non-stop when the birds first go to their new home. Some people erroneously believe the bird will become ‘addicted’ to millet but I have never seen this in almost 30 years and having bred hundreds of parrotlets of every species except Sclater’s as well as being a consultant to thousands if not tens of thousands of parrotlet owners over the years. Millet is a complex carbohydrate that also contains protein. It is one of the few grains that also has protein. It provides quick as well as sustained energy because of the combination of protein and complex carbs. I myself eat a lot of millet flour because it is so healthy and good for you. Usually, young parrotlets will eat a millet spray almost one per day for the few couple of weeks. This is because they need the quick energy to adjust to the stress and energy levels they are putting out. After all, going into a new home is extremely stressful for a young parrotlet – they need to learn who the new people are, they have a new cage, new perches, new toys, new environment, perhaps new children or other pets and birds and most of all, learning there are no predators lurking about. All of these things take a tremendous amount of energy and feeding copious amounts of millet will help provide the energy the babies need. As time goes on and they settle into the routine of their new homes, they will naturally start expanding their diets and it is at this time that fresh foods such as fruit, vegetables, greens, sprouts, grains and legumes can be added slowly to the diet. I do recommend you provide them with thawed frozen peas and corn with some millet and seed sprinkled on top. This is because most parrotlets, no matter what they were fed by the breeder, do not eat fresh foods right away. Again, probably because the need to covert food into quick energy isn’t going to come from those foods. They, of course, are the basis for along and healthy life but the first few days and weeks of a parrotlet’s life in a new home are critical that the bird receives energy from food and this happens from complex carbs and protein, neither of which is found in fresh foods.

So, I hope you find this helpful. If you would like more details I do have my books, blogs and FB page, as well as being the editor of the International Parrotlet Society’s journal, has a ton of tips and information available. I would appreciate it if you did NOT forward this post to the group. I will be posting this on my blog and it will also be on the Parrotlet Ranch’s Facebook page and people can see it there.

If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact me!

Sincerely yours,

Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.
Owner, The Parrotlet Ranch

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