PROJECT
EOLOPHUS ROSEICAPILLA
Development of new artificial incubation and hand-rearing protocols for Eolophus roseicapilla.
SCOPE OF THE PROJECT: Aviculture and conservation
COLLABORATING ENTITIES

"Centre d'élevage de gris du Gabon" (http://elevage-grisdugabon.com) and Psittacus Catalonia SL (https://www.psittacus.com).

PROJECT LOCATION

Headquarters of Psittacus Catalonia in Sant Antoni de Vilamajor. Nursery facility dedicated to the Foundation's projects.

PROPOSAL

March 2021

PUBLICATION

(pending)

PROJECT STATUS
1

Proposal to be confirmed

2

Preliminary analysis

3

Planning & Design

4

Realization

5

Analysis and interpretation of the results

6

Publication of the results

BACKGROUND

The galah cockatoo has always been considered a very difficult species to artificially incubate and hand rear. The success rate achieved by most breeders was very low.
This was compounded by the added complication of the tendency of this species to break the eggs, thus forcing their removal and the consequent start of the artificial incubation process at a very early age.
As far as artificial incubation was concerned, the difficulty stemmed especially from the marked tendency of the eggs of this species to show a general tendency to insufficient weight loss during the artificial incubation process. It was usually so low that many embryos died prematurely, either directly due to this tendency or due to the complications arising from the perforation of the shell which, as an emergency measure, many breeders ended up practising in order to increase evaporation.
As far as hand-rearing was concerned, this species proved to be particularly difficult to rear, especially during the early stages of development.

OBJECTIVES

This project aims to lay the foundations for new artificial incubation and hand-rearing protocols for this species, which will overcome the difficulties encountered so far.

EXPECTED RESULTS
  • Maximisation of the percentage of hatching of fertile eggs
  • Maximisation of the percentage of newborn chick viability
  • Maximisation of growth rates, fledging quality and final size
APPLICATION

For the study, two groups of eggs were provided by the "Centre d'élevage de gris du Gabon" in two successive batches and were taken from the nests on the day of laying. The eggs were accumulated and stored for a maximum of 7 days until they were delivered to the Psittacus Catalonia facilities. A total of 37 fertile eggs were received (19 in the first group and 18 in the second). The basic tool for the definition of the new artificial incubation protocol were the Psittacus Catalonia DISRUPTIVE incubators. Egg weight loss was monitored and intervention was carried out on an ad hoc and individual basis when necessary, in order to adjust it to the target ratio. DISRUPTIVE breeder prototypes were used for the early stages of chick development. Chicks were weighed daily. Feeding was based on two PSITTACUS hand feeding formulas: Psittacine Crop Milk during the first days of life and Mini Hand Feeding or Cockatoo Special Hand Feeding thereafter until emancipation. During the emancipation process, extruded food (Psittacus Mini) and fresh vegetables were put at the disposal of the chicks.

GENERAL ASSESSMENT

All the objectives were more than met. The foundations were laid for the definition of a new artificial incubation protocol which allows to leave behind the problems existing until now and which objectifies a new criteria for the management of weight loss based on two new techniques developed during the project. The basis for a new hand-rearing protocol for the chicks of this species was defined, which allows a very substantial improvement in rearing results. We hope to be able to publish a detailed report of the whole project soon.

RESULTS OBTAINED
  • Incubation protocol:

    Optimum incubation parameters were established for this species.

    The criteria to be followed to achieve optimal egg weight loss was established.

    Two new techniques were developed to be applied when it is necessary to increase egg weight loss.

    The hatching percentage of fertile eggs increased substantially, especially in the second batch of eggs, when the incubation protocol had already been defined. From the first group of 19 fertile eggs, 13 viable chicks were hatched (68%). From the second group of 18 fertile eggs, 17 viable chicks were hatched (94%). Overall, the hatching percentage was 81%.
  • Hand rearing protocol:

    Optimal environmental parameters were established for this species at each of its developmental stages.

    The guidelines to be followed during the chick rearing process were established.

    The success rate of the rearing process was increased. As with artificial incubation, better results were achieved in the second group of chicks than in the first. From the first group of 13 chicks born, 12 chicks were emancipated (92%). In the second group, all of the 17 chicks born reached the age of emancipation without incident (100%). Overall, 97% of the born chicks reached the age of emancipation.

    The bred birds reached excellent sizes and weights and showed excellent plumage quality.
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