Márcia Weinzettl talks about the hand feeding of parrots and successful breeding of Golden Conures. PART II

June 9th, 2015 | by LubosTomiska
Márcia Weinzettl talks about the hand feeding of parrots and successful breeding of Golden Conures. PART II

Read also the first part of this interview:

Interview with a Brazilian aviculturist and a parrot breeder Márcia Weinzettl. PART I


Can you describe your way of handfeeding?

Following scheme is the best way how to explain the schedule of handfeeding I use:


Stage of development                      Frequency                         Formula consistency

1 day of age 10 times daily 6 parts water, 1 part solid
2 days of age 9 times daily 3 parts water, 1 part solid
3 days of age 8 times daily 2 parts water, 1 part solid
4 days of age 7 times daily As above
5 days of age 6 times daily As above
6 days of age to eyes opening 5 times daily As above
Eyes opening to the start of pin feathering 4 times daily As above
Pin feathering 3 times daily As above
Start of feathering 2 times daily and offering solid food As above
Until weaning 1-2 times daily  As above



I always feed chicks for 12 hours a day. So if you start at 7am, you will finish at 7pm. The schedule of feeding is each day as follows:

10 0700 0800 0930 1100 1230 1400 1530 1630 18001900
9 0700 0830 1000 1130 1300 1430 1600 1730 1900
8 0700 0830 1000 1200 1400 1600 1730 1900
7 0700 0900 1100 1300 1500 1700 1900
6 0700 0900 1130 1400 1630 1900
5 0700 1000 1300 1630 1900
4 0700 1100 1500 1900
3 0700 1300 1900
2 0700 1900
1 1900


17 CriadouroFreePower

Márcia Weinzettl with a young Hyacinth Macaw, FreePower parrot farm


The temperature and humidity that I recommend from hatching until weaning is:

. First 6 hours – 99ºF or 37,2ºC

. Day 0 till 5 – 98ºF or 36,6ºC

. Day 5 to opening of eyes – 95ºF or 35ºC

. Opening of eyes to starting feathering – 93ºF or 33,8ºC

. Feathers covering body – 92ºF or 33,3ºC

. Fully feathered – room temperature


I always weight the chicks in the morning when their crop is empty, so I can calculate 12% of the body weight to feed them each time. In Brazil we already have great handfeeding formulas. In my personal experience, I always consider the best choice, using different formula within the first 10 days of life and only one after, offering the specific formula to each species nutritional requirements.


10 CriadouroAMC

Incubators used in AMC parrot farm


5 CriadouroPedraBranca

Pedra Branca parrot farm


As for brazilian psittacids, I use a higher protein and fat formula, for macaws (around 22% protein and 18% fat), and a less protein and fat formula (around 20% protein and 11% fat) for parrots. But within the first 10 days these levels should be higher than the specific formula used after. However for Hyacinth macaws and Green-winged Macaws the protein and fat levels must be higher than those used for others macaw, so sometimes I need to add crushed sunflower seeds to the formula.


Do you prefer hand reared or parent reared birds? Why?

It depends on my goal. If the younger is going to be a pet then I prefer handfeeding. But if my goal is reintroduction then I let chicks in parents‘ nest. If I can invest more money in the handfeeding management to increase my productivity, I’ll prefer handfeeding. This also depends on money. To do handfeeding properly you need to invest money to good equipment and staff. Otherwise, with poor equipment it might be better to let parents do their job.



Three young hand feeded Red-spectacled Amazons (Amazona pretrei), Rostan parrot farm


Can you compare breeding of captive bred birds vs. imported birds from the wild?

For sure, I have worked with both types of birds and can say that birds from the wild are more difficult to reproduce and require more time to adapt to live in captivity. Individuals born in captivity also appear to be sexually mature earlier than birds from the wild. A good thing is to set up a pair with one wild bird and one born in captivity, so the wild bird can learn from the captive and might become calmer.


What is (are) your most valuable success in breeding of parrots?

Each new hatched chick is a valuable success because it means increasing of genetic variability. Nowadays in our world, this is an extremely important factor which has to be always taken into account. But if I should tell the species that gave me the greatest satisfaction then it was the Red-browed Amazon (Amazona rhodocorytha). This species needs a completely different managenment and it took me some time to figure it out. You can read about this in my publication from 2007 in Bird Keeper Magazine – Weinzettl, M. (2007) – Amazona rhodocorytha Reproductive Methodology and Development (Psittacidae – Psittaciformes) in the Rostan Bird Breeder RJ – Brazil.


11 CriadouroPedraBranca

Hand feeding equipment, Pedra Branca parrot farm


You are a very successful in breeding of the Golden Conure (Guaruba guarouba). What is the key to breed them? How many chicks have you bred in your most successful season? How many pairs are found in the facility you work in?

Within the past eight years I reared, together with my team in each farm that I’m responsible for, almost 600 golden conures (Guarouba guarouba). Now I manage only 90 pairs, but before I worked with around 160 pairs at one moment. Unfortunatly, some facilities have been closed.

The key to breed any animal is to study and consider the history of each couple, so you can decide the best management to do each time. It is really important to record all data about all birds. Then we can study each pair and guess what will happen. If necessary you can take an action.

Golden conures have something in common, they feed only two youngers per cluch. If they have more than 2 eggs (they can have till five), they will feed only the two oldest chicks. So if you want keep them all alive, you need to handfeed the others. I take the first chick out of the nest when the third chick is born and take out the second chick when the fourth chick is born etc.


20 CriadouroRostan

A breeding pair of Red-browed Amazon (Amazona rhodocorytha), Rostan parrot farm.


In Brazil you solve a problem with government which wants to restrict local breeders. Can you tell us more about that? How do you want to fight back?

Nowadays, we have serious troubles with legislation which deals with breeding of native animal species here in Brazil. The law is chaotic and changes constantly. Unfortunately, such steps bring negative impact on private breeders and investors which are willing to invest to research of parrot breeding in captivity. Government obviously doesn’t consider that biodiversity conservation depends on captive breeding significantly. For us it’s very difficult to get new investors for the following years. The fact is that private breeders keep a large gene pool of wild species. Currently increasing bureaucracy generated for legalized farms is also discouraging new farms and many of the old ones are reducing their investments.

The best way for us to fight back is to show our results to our country (Brazil) and to the world, so perhaps our government will recognize our importance for the biodiversity conservation and change its attitude to us.


Photos: (c) Márcia Weinzettl. Title photo: Parrot farm AMC



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