Tube feeding, also known as gavage feeding, is an essential part of avian care. Sick and injured birds can experience anorexia, and glycogen stores may be depleted within hours in small species with relatively high metabolic rates, and so tube feeding is an excellent method to hydrate and give nutrients during critical times. If your bird’s body weight has significantly dropped (lost 5% - 10% weight) then tube feeding may also be appropriate.
Feeding tubes are also particularly useful for administering medicine – you can measure definitive amounts and deliver it directly to the bird’s crop or stomach. Favourable over metal crop tubes (which can cause damage if used incorrectly) these flexible alternatives are safer and easier to use.
The small feeding tube is suitable for birds such as budgies, cockatiels and larger softbills, and it fits onto standard syringe nozzles. The larger (red) tube is recommended for parrots and other large birds and fits the catheter tipped 60ml feeding syringes.
Tips for tube feeding:
- Most birds can be tube fed between two to four times daily.
- Use a clean, sterilised tube should for each individual bird.
- Tube feeding should always be the last treatment performed after exhausting other treatments.
- Should only be carried out by those familiar with both handling birds and carrying out gavage.