Ask Lafeber


August 5, 2022


my baby cockatiel will not stop crying for formula and she is 8-9 weeks. i am trying to ween her off and she will not eat her pellets and is only eating millet. i don’t know what to do anymore, and i keep feeding her when she cries because i’m worried she’s starving. i need help please


Hi Alex,

This is a challenging time for you and the chick. It is important that you do not overfeed her! If you continue to feed new formula on top of old, she will get a sour or impacted crop and this can kill her. Only feed her when her crop is nearly empty, just as you have done all along. There is no rush to wean her. In the wild she would still be supplemented by her parents while she learns to forage for food. Breeders and pet shops force the chicks to wean by 8 week so they can be sold, because most people want a weaned bird, and in some States it is illegal to sell a hand feeding chick.

You need to wean her by offering a variety of foods. During the next few weeks, you will end up throwing away a lot of wasted food, but this is just part of weaning her in a way that helps her feel secure. Each morning, before you hand feed her, prepare some warm soft food – cooked brown rice with mixed veggies is good. Also a small dish of pellets, maybe some soaked pellets, and even some formula mixed thick where she can pick at it. And a dish of fresh water. Leave her alone for an hour – go where she can’t see or hear you, or she will just beg. She needs time alone with the foods to start exploring them, and she needs to be hungry. After about an hour, go back to her and feed her some formula if she wants it. Repeat this before the next handfeeding time – prepare more soft food and refresh the other foods. Continue this routine and soon she will be eating on her own. Do not give in and feed her formula unless her crop is nearly empty. They go through this crying stage and for some chicks, it can last longer than others. The more you give in, the longer this will drag out. You are actually teaching her to beg when you give in and feed her more. If she won’t stop begging, and her crop is full, leave the room and don’t go back to her until she is quiet. If she starts up again, leave and keep repeating this. She will learn that you give her attention for being quiet, not for begging or screaming.

You should not be teaching her to eat loose seeds – she will only want to eat those and she gets little nutrition from loose seeds. We do make foraging diets that are nutritionally balanced the same as pellets, but they are not ground up and they contain whole, fresh seeds. These seeds have the hulls removed and are coated with the vitamins she needs. With loose seeds, they still have the hulls so any added vitamins are lost when she removes the hulls.  Foraging for seeds is natural for cockatiels and she may wean faster on these diets since she already prefers seeds. We have sample foraging packs that you can buy at the link below. The packs have 5 smaller packs of our most popular diets, so she can try them and see which she prefers.

You can find more ideas for food here:

Bird Food Guide

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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