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Background: My cockatiel Chipper is 5 month and a week old. So he isn't 6 months yet. I use to give him kaytee fiesta cockatiel food and I switched to Higgins sunburst cockatiel food about 2 weeks ago. I also started taking him outside on a harness about 2 weeks ago. He hates putting the harness on but loves being outside. In the last week he started losing a few feathers a day. I just want to make sure that is normal molting behavior not a problem do to the change in food or damage from me using a harness?

Harness: I have stopped taking him on the harness because I don't want to hurt him if he is sensitive from molting but he hangs around the door like he does when he wants to go outside. Is it safe to take him out of the harness if he doesn't seem in pain?

Food: Can changing food cause them to lose feathers? I know diet changes can cause hair loss in dogs but I also know birds surely aren't dogs lol. I have also been giving him some scrambled egg normally on the weekends and some broccoli about every other day.

Weight: I have a little kitchen scale that I have been using to monitor his weight and im worried that he only weights 63grams when adult cockatiels are suppose to weight between 90-120g. At 5 months should I be concerned he only weights 63g?

Pictures: Amount of feathers he has lost in total since he started molting and him outside on his harness
 

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Firstly, Chipper is so cute! :love: Great job with harness training him, keep doing it and he will get used to it soon enough.

It sounds like his first molt to me which must be a coincidence with using the harness. Change in diet wouldn't have any effect on that.

You will have to be very careful putting the harness on and taking it off once he loses some bigger feathers and starts growing new ones, especially flight feathers, which will have blood in them and are painful and very sensitive if knocked.

Cockatiels come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes the ideal weight range doesn't apply to all. My smallest cockatiel Coco who is a special needs bird (he can't fly due to an injury he suffered as a chick) only weighs 75g. He's always been that weight (he's 5 years old now), still looks small compared to my other 'tiels but is healthy and happy. As long as they have a good appetite, are eating a variety of foods and have had their health check out fine at a vet exam, I don't think there's any problem with a small cockatiel.

You can test if Chipper is underweight by feeling his keel bone in between his breast muscles. If it's visible, sharp and protruding, he's underweight. If you can feel it but it's not sharp, he's at the weight he should be and obviously if you can't feel it at all and the breast muscles are bulging you have an overweight bird.

Does Chipper eat pellets at all? Millet spray? Getting him to eat some healthy but high energy food will help him put on a few grams if you're really worried. You can purchase some conditioning food too, my 'tiels love the Best Bird Gold N Fruit conditioning food and Vetafarm egg & biscuit crumble.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you Vickitiel,

I do give him millet and there are some pellets in the
Higgins sunburst cockatiel food but not enough. I can't decide which pellets I want to give him. Do you have any recommendations?
 

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Some good pellet brands that I know of are: ZuPreem, Higgins, Lafeber, Vetafarm, Roudybush and Harrison's. The brands readily available in my country are the last three so I feed all three brands to my flock. They prefer the Vetafarm pellets and Vetafarm Egg & Biscuit crumble though. Occasionally I order some of Lafeber's products from overseas as my 'tiels go nuts for it, especially the Nutriberries range.
 
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