Pet Birds: Hand-raised or Parent-raised: Which is better for the birds? Conclusion

Article by:  Jeannine Miesle, M.A., M.Ed

Main Article: Hand-raised or Parent-raised: Which Is Better For The Birds? by Jeannine Miesle M.A., M.Ed.


Image 29: Indian Ringneck father feeding the chicks. As Nature Intended.Image 29: Indian Ringneck father feeding the chicks. As Nature Intended.



The days of hand-rearing as an accepted method of rearing chicks are over, but many breeders refuse to discontinue the practice. For some, it’s a habit they’re afraid to break, as they think it will decrease the numbers of birds they can sell. For others, they enjoy the process so much they don’t want to give it up because of the pleasure it gives them. But with co-parenting, they can still enjoy handling the birds and offering other foods once, and even before, the birds are totally weaned, giving them ample opportunities to bond with the birds.

That bond can only be had in a nurturing, warm, loving environment. A hand-raised chick will not be sweet and loving if all that’s done is feeding him and leaving. These chicks need to be held, talked to, and have time spent with them to become the ideal pet. It doesn’t matter if he’s hand or parent fed; unless the humans engage him and give him attention, he’ll still be wild.

Rearing chicks by hand is completely unnatural in the normal lives of birds. If breeders would take the current thought to heart and allow their babies to be parent-raised and co-parented, they would find their birds would be in greater demand since the purchasers would be more satisfied with their birds than with birds from breeders who have hand-raised their birds. In the long run, then, these successes would attract more clients.

The purpose of this paper is not to vilify those who choose to hand-feed. And the physical and psychological issues may occur in any chick, whether it is hand-fed or not. Not every hand-fed chick will experience physical or psychological issues; and not every parent-fed chick will grow to maturity without them. These are generalizations gleaned from many years of research, experimentation, and observation. The purpose is to persuade the breeder who hand-raises to consider allowing the parents to raise the chicks while still being actively involved in their handling and development.

Knowledgeable veterinarians, bird owners, and aviculturists must continue to educate breeders and future companion-bird owners as to what to look for in a companion bird. They need to know of the potential difficulties that can result from the development of abnormal human-bird bonds and the potential for physical, social, and emotional damage from hand-feeding. We encourage new bird owners to seek education from their avian veterinarians and other respected aviculturists.

In the words of Pamela Clark, “The solution? If you really love parrots, then vote with your dollars. Simply refuse to purchase unweaned babies. Don’t purchase babies who can’t fly because their wings were clipped before they ever had a chance to fledge. Don’t purchase a baby who is ‘weaned’ at an age before they would have fledged in the wild. Don’t purchase a baby whose early beginnings are going to commit him to a life of dependence, fear, and behavior problems. Educate yourselves and then drive this market toward improvement. We don’t want family members that have been reared by ‘farming industry practices.’ That is the answer. You are the answer.