Centre de Recuperació de Fauna Silvestre del COFIB Mallorca
Proposal to be confirmed
Planning & Design
Analysis and interpretation of the results
Publication of the results
Every year, thousands of common swift chicks and fledglings, repeatedly, arrive at European Wildlife Recovery Centres thanks to the citizens' collaboration. This happens in very specific periods of time, temporarily collapsing their facilities and their staff.
The strong seasonality of this event is marked by the swift breeding season. Chicks and fledglings jump prematurely from their nests in an attempt to survive the asphyxiating heat generated in these cavities.
This situation has significantly in recent years due to the increasingly intense summer heat waves, so that many volunteers must temporarily join in to support the work of caring for these animals.
To this must be added the complication of feeding the hatchlings up to eight times a day (depending on their age and the feeding protocol implemented in each centre), based on live or freshly dead insects, complemented with the essential nutritional supplements that balance their nutritional composition.
This project aims to define and confirm the applicability and effectiveness of a new hand-rearing protocol for common swifts based on the feeding of a single product: a complete food in gel format. This new protocol should be more effective and efficient than the current standard protocols based on the feeding of live insects and nutritional supplements.
- Simplification of the sourcing process and the handling of the feed products
- Reduction the time spent on feeding
- Reducing the cost of food
- Increase in the percentage of specimens released
- Increase in the quality of the released specimens
The fundamental axis of the new protocol to be defined is the supply of a complete food (Insect Replacer Gel) with a base of flour insect, which is supplied in gel format and which has been developed specifically for this purpose by the R&D team of the company Psittacus Catalonia SL, at the request of the Psittacus Foundation and the collaborating entity Fundació Natura Parc.
For this study, a group of 50 common swifts (Apus apus) specimens was selected among the first ones received by the centre.
All the swifts received at the centre were physically checked (veterinary examination) by the COFIB veterinary team, both at the entry and at the departure from the centre (release). In addition, the centre's biologists identified the birds with rings, determined their physical condition and took wing length and weight measurements. From then until the end of the project, the same team of biologists was responsible for feeding the birds 4 times a day, feeding the gel prepared from the complete food.
To evaluate the effect of this feeding protocol, the group of 50 birds was monitored periodically for weight, wing length, food consumption, fecal quality, development and quality of plumage, and feeding behaviour, from the time they entered the centre until the time of their release.
All the objectives were more than met, both in zootechnical, conservation and economic terms. The application of this new food concept represents a breakthrough in the way of approaching the challenge of caring for the hundreds of swifts that are received each year in the wildlife recovery centers. We hope to be able to publish a detailed report on the entire project shortly.
Simplification of the obtention and handling of food products
The format of the product (gellable powder) directly simplify and/or improve processes such as transportation, storage conditions, shelf life of the product, space required and facilities necessary for the maintenance and preparation of the food products. The simplicity of preparation and the handling of the product is remarkable, which significantly reduces both the time and resources invested in the preparation of the food to be supplied.
Reduction of the time spent on feeding
The use of a single product that can be prepared for direct use or for its storage and later use, together with the ease of handling and the versatility of shape and size that the final product can adopt, allow the optimization of the hand-feeding procedure of the animals to be optimised. This can lead to reductions of up to 50% of the time spent on each feeding.
Reduction of feed costs
In this protocol, the cost of feed derives exclusively from the cost of the complete food, as this does not require supplementation. If we add to this the fact that its dry matter cost is significantly lower than that of live food, we can see that the use of the feed leads to an overall reduction in cost of up to 60% compared to conventional protocols based on live insects and nutritional supplements.
Increase in the percentage of released individuals
The higher hygienic-sanitary and nutritional quality of the complete food in gel format, its ease of feeding and handling, both the product and the birds, as well as the improvement in growth rates, allow a reduction in health incidences and associated mortality. In addition, the simplification of processes and the time savings involved allow for an increase in the time available for the care of the birds. All this together results in an increase in the release rate of individuals.
Increase in the quality of the released birds
The application of the feeding protocol based on complete feed in gel format has shown a tendency to improve the growth, development and weight prior to release, as well as improving the digestive transit, the quality of the feces and the quality of the plumage of the birds, compared to diets previously applied by the centre.