A Visit to our Nursery
We are parrot breeders specializing in Macaws, including Hyacinths. We raise our babies as children, socializing them and teaching them manners as you would any child. As a result, we have had excellent results in placing babies into homes where they acclimate immediately as family members.
People who live locally can visit our nursery to see how the babies are raised, but those who are interested in our babies in distant locations can't visit us. Because of this, I have developed this page so families that can't visit us can get a pictorial view of how our babies are raised and where they are kept. Although this may not be quite a good as a first hand visit, it will at least give prospective pet owners, and new breeders, an idea of how our babies are raised.
The nursery area was originally designed as an inlaw apartment. The entrance is separate from the main entrance of the house, and, upon entering, reveals a greatroom with a kitchenette and a large living room area with a picture window facing the front of the house. The cages for the older babies are located in front of the picture window so that they are able to look out of the window. The window is covered with vertical blinds that are open in the early hours of the day, and closed in the afternoon to shield the babies from the sun as it sets, but sunlight is still allowed to light the room. The windows, doors, and whole house fan that we installed provide plenty of fresh air and ventilation weather permitting. This area has its own heating system that is completely separate from that of the house and the area where the breeders are kept. The kitchen area of the nursery is used exclusively for the babies. Feeding utensils, sink, and counter top are disinfected and cleaned daily to reduce any risk of bacteria.
Because we live in the country, and our electrical services are not always dependable, we normally let our parrots incubate their own eggs. If it should happen that a pair does not incubate well, the eggs are fostered to other pairs that do. For all but the African Greys, that are normally excellent parents, the eggs are pulled just before hatching and put into a brooder where the incubation is completed. Although many of the pairs will feed their young, they don't always do it consistently. Rather than take this chance, and let some of the chicks die, we opted to save all of them and feed them from day-1. We take the eggs from the parents just before hatching, and complete incubation in brooders. Each chick is raised in its own container so that it is imprinted on humans. This is much more work for us, but all of the chicks live and they rely on human contact for warmth and affection.
Depending on the size and development of the chicks, they are kept in the brooders until they are 4-5 weeks old. As you can see, some of the brooders have darkened doors, and others have clear. When the chicks open their eyes, at about 3 weeks, they are move into brooders that have clear fronts so that they can become accustomed to movements of the outside world.
When the babies get old enough that they can be moved out of the brooders, they are move on to shelves and into individual 10 gallon aquariums. The aquariums allow the babies to become accustomed to the world around them, and the glass is much easier to keep clean than most other containers. This also helps the babies to become accustomed to new people at a very early age as they are able to see any visitors that we may have. Since each baby is isolated, each may be monitored for its stool and any other indications of problems. This also isolates any other possible problems that may occur within an individual baby.
Since they are are raised in individual containers, the babies become accustomed to, and dependent on, human contact. They can see visitors through the glass of their "homes" and learn to accept strangers. Each aquarium has a label showing the pair number of the parents, the birth date, and the band number of the baby it contains. This label goes with the baby as he moves from the brooder, to the aquarium, to the cage. The origin and birth date of every baby is known and recorded. When a baby goes to its new family, this birth date is entered on to a birth certificate so that a record of his birth and origin will go with him.
When the babies are old enough to to go into a cage, depending on the species, they are move to either 2' X 2' or 2 1/2' X 3' cages. The cages are double stacked, with the bowls at the level of the grate so that the babies can easily reach them. The bowls are secured in feeding stations that do not allow the bowls to be tipped or removed by the babies. Each cage is supplied with a variety of toys in various shapes, colors, and materials, some hanging, and some on the bottom of the cage,and others on the bottom that the babies can pick up. This mixture of toys not only helps to develop the babies' intelligence, but also co-ordination in picking up and manipulating objects.
Perches are located at a level that the babies can learn to perch without the risk of injury if they should fall off. The babies learn to walk on wire grates to keep them out of the feces that falls into the removable trays below. Although, bar spacing is not quite as large as the wrought iron cages that are typically purchased for parrots. The babies are prepared for these cages by the time they are placed in homes. Trays are lined with newspaper to facilitate monitoring of the droppings and cleaning of the cages. The room is vacuumed daily with a wet/dry shop vac that has a hepa filter to collect all debri and dust, and to filter the air from the vacuum that is returned into the room.
We recommend and supply toys that stimulate the natural curiosity and intelligence of the babies. We keep a large supply of safe toys available, not only for the families that purchase our babies, but also use these toys in our cages for the developing babies before they go to their new homes. Most of these toys have been purchased from the vendors that have been linked from our Parrot Related Sites page. We would not link to, or recommend, toys that we would not use for our own babies.
If this does not look like a commercial breeding facility, I am very pleased. We are not a commercial breeding facility, and we are not "manufacturing" babies. We have designed our nursery to have the atmosphere of a home because the babies are being raised to be part of someone's family. We do not employ help to feed the babies or the breeders. I, personally, feed and care for all of the babies and breeders.
Although, we do, at times, have a large number of babies to care for, they are all treated as individuals. Whether we have 12 or 60, each is taken from their brooder, aquarium, or cage, and carried to the kitchen counter to be fed and given their own time. We pride ourselves in helping each and every baby to develop its potential as an individual, and an affectionate, loving companion.