Budgerigar Health Part 5 of 5 – Problem Solving

Budgerigar health - problem solvingThis article is designed to help you to develop the techniques that will enable you to identify the most likely cause of a problem and initiate immediate treatment whilst waiting for a diagnosis to be made – either from veterinary testing or noting the sick bird’s response to the “guestimated” medicine treatment.

Identifying Early Illness

  • Introduction

    For most diseases there is a sequence of signs that appears before a budgerigar becomes obviously sick.

    At first there is a loss of the health signs. Detecting potential disease therefore requires knowledge of these health signs as well as looking for the other signs of failing health or disease.

    Self-diagnosis requires an ability to recognize the signs of health, failing health as well as symptoms of disease.

    A systematic physical examination of the sick or dead budgerigar helps reveal more subtle symptoms and improves the accuracy of self-diagnosis, but when in doubt contact your avian veterinarian.

    Individuals that display distant signs of failing health or disease should be caught and examined more closely in order to identify the exact nature of the health problem.

  • A Systematic Approach

    A systematic approach to the physical examination is recommended as it produces the most comprehensive information about the nature of a bird’s illness or injury in the shortest possible time.

    Distant signs of failing health or disease:

    • Noise & Smell
    • Roosting Activities (on perches & the ground)
    • Feather Quality (colour, cleanliness & strength)
    • Droppings (size, colour, consistency & smell)
    • Physical Abnormalities

     
    Close-Up Inspection:

    • Eyes
    • Frontal Feathers
    • Feathers above the Nostrils
    • Cere & Beak
    • Mouth & Facial Feathers
    • Body Condition
    • Vent Feathers
    • Wings
    • Tail
    • Droppings

Some Examples

To illustrate the systematic approach to problem identification, here are a few examples:

  • Breeding Cock Problems

    Breeding cock problems are mostly the result of energy depletion, so that most birds can be saved when emergency first aid is given at the first signs of sickness. A treatment protocol – including a wise choice of medicine – can be started.

    • For a sick breeding cock:
      • Move the sick cock into a heated hospital cage
      • Provide emergency first aid
      • Select one of the following medicines based upon the individual symptoms:

         

        • AIL Spray: Quill or red mites discovered during physical exam
        • Doxycycline Megamix: Infertility in this and previous breeding rounds
        • Moxi-T: Dirty feathers above the nostrils, missing flight or tail feathers
        • Turbosole CankRtabs: Vomiting associated with sudden onset illness and dark green droppings
        • Fungilin: Vomiting associated with infertility, going light, excessive hunger and large dark brown droppings
        • Sulfa AVS: Watery droppings with an odour

     

    • For a dead breeding cock:
      • Post Mortem: Post Mortem findings determine best treatment for breeding partner and rest of flock
  • Breeding Hen Problems

    Breeding hen problems, especially sudden deaths, are often the result of entering the breeding cabinet when not ready to breed, inadequate nutrition, stress or food related diseases.

    • For a sick breeding hen:
      • Treat the sick hen in a hospital cage
      • Provide emergency first aid with added liquid calcium (e.g. HiCal)
      • Add “Super Charge” and “HiCal” to the drinking water of all other breeding pairs
      • Select one of the following medicines based upon the individual symptoms:

         

        • AIL Spray: Quill or red mites discovered during physical exam
        • Doxycycline Megamix: Failure to lay eggs, deaths when laying eggs in this and previous breeding rounds
        • Moxi-T: Dirty feathers above the nostrils, missing flight or tail feathers
        • CankRtabs: Vomiting associated with egg laying
        • Fungilin: Soft shelled eggs associated with infertility, going light, excessive hunger and large dark brown droppings
        • Sulfa AVS: Watery droppings with an odour

     

    • For a dead breeding hen:
      • Post Mortem: Post Mortem findings determine best treatment for breeding partner and rest of flock
  • Problems In The Flights

    • Individual Bird Sickness

      A systematic approach is needed to guestimate the cause of an illness when a sick individual bird is discovered in the flights. During a close examination the eyes, cere, nostrils, body condition and plumage (frontal feathers, feathers above the nostrils, facial feathers especially around the mouth, breast feathers, vent feathers, wing and tail feathers) should be inspected systematically for additional signs of failing health or disease.

      A complete physical examination is recommended as it produces the most comprehensive information about the nature of a bird’s illness or injury in the shortest possible time.

      After this close inspection, the captured bird should then be placed into a paper lined show or hospital cage. Here it may be given first aid treatment and its droppings can be closely monitored as the physical appearance of droppings provide a wealth of information as to the possible causes of failing health.

    • Deaths Occurring in the Flights

      An occasional death in the flights is considered a normal occurrence and often the result of natural attrition involving older or inherently weak birds. Concern, however, should be aroused when more frequent deaths and an increasing number of sick birds appear in the flights, as this is the pattern of a contagious disease.

      A budgerigar breeder’s greatest fear is the overnight discovery of two or more dead birds on the floor of a flight as this finding is a portent to further deaths over following days. Swift action must be taken at this time to identify the stress factors involved with the deaths.

      With a cluster of deaths a pattern involving one sex or age group often emerges which considerable helps identify the underlying stresses involved. For example, gender-specific deaths occur as a result of breeding behaviour stress interacting with other stress factors. The high testosterone levels of males and high mineral needs of females ready to lay eggs are the factors that link a cluster of deaths in the flights to a particular gender.

“The Budgerigar”

The above article has been adapted from Dr Robert Marshall’s 2009 publication “The Budgerigar”.

For more information on this book, please click here.

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About the Author: Dr Rob Marshall B.V.Sc., M.A.V.C.Sc. (Avian Health) is arguably the finest and most experienced veterinary surgeon in the world currently highly active in the field of avian diseases. His knowledge, supported by his extensive Curriculum Vitae, plus papers and books on avian health, is unequalled. His latest publication, "The Budgerigar Book", took 12 years to produce and is undoubtedly the most extensive volume concerning budgerigar health ever produced. Dr Marshall has his own veterinary practice in Carlingford, near Sydney, Australia.

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