Reducing Stress Due to Transportation

We have received the following query regarding the use of medication to assist in the control of stress in budgerigars that are being transported large distances.

Q. If you were shipping a group of birds abroad, across the USA, or via road, involving a long number of hours in excess of a day, is there any merit in putting them on amoxycillin trihydrate before they leave an aviary to assist with stress?

Similarly, if a breeder was buying a bird in Australia from a top champion in, say, Queensland and driving back to South Australia, would he/she be advised to crop “feed” amoxycillin before departure?

The stresses of such journeys are obvious involving crating, unfamilar noises en route, changes of seed and water on arrival in new premises and the rise in streptococcal infection as a result.

Jim Carter
Texas, USA

Our resident veterinarian, Dr Rob Marshall, answers as follows:

A. This is a very insightful question.

My approach to this situation is to give “Quik Gel” in drinking water a day before transfer and again via crop needle three hours before departure.

On arrival at the destination, place the birds in a holding cage, separated according to sex.

Monitor each bird closely for signs of acute stress as they enter the cage – i.e. look for pectoral muscle weight loss (see pages 226-7 “The Budgerigar” book) and wet vent (see pages 227-8 “The Budgerigar” book).

If these signs of acute stress are present, then crop feed with food and “Quik Gel” and a penicillin antibiotic (e.g. amoxycillin) and repeat this process for two days.

If no signs of acute stress are found, then give normal food and “Quik Gel” in drinking water for one day, then monitor the birds for five days whilst they acclimatise to their new home.

Note from Gerald Binks:

I cannot speak too highly of Dr Marshall’s book and, in particular, his product “Quik Gel”.

The latter is superb for administering immediately to a sick bird under stress.

My personal use of “Quik Gel” has been outstanding in the aviary, when needed, associated with a heat source.

Full details on “Quik Gel” can be found in this article.

Full details on “The Budgerigar” book can be found in this article.

Both of the above can be obtained online as detailed in this article.

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About the Author: Gerald Binks began breeding budgerigars when he was 12 years old and is now arguably the most knowledgeable budgerigar fancier in the world. He has bred his fair share of Best in Show birds, judged in no less than 20 countries, founded the World Budgerigar Association, and has published two of the three classic books on the hobby. His stud in the UK attracts fanciers from near and far and is always high on the list for those wishing to purchase BA23 quality budgerigars.

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  1. In the last two years I shifted my birds in two different locations (other than Karachi city), and travelled almost 1600KM.

    During the journey, I crossed the coastal belt of a sea port, a desert and a rocky/mountain region, and experienced shifting climate and weather.

    Thanks go to Terry Tuxford, Barrie, Betty, Nigel Tonkin, Dewayne Weldon and Baqar Shah – because they taught me how to treat birds in a natural way.

    I will say – just take few small slices or pieces of fresh ginger root, placed in warm water for 15 minutes and then offer them to the birds. This will help in advance recovery against sickness and stress, especially during a journey by road. Use this 6-9 hours before departure.

    Points to be noted:

    1.Do not offer any type of greens – just offer canary seed and millet.

    2.Do not place water in the cage.

    3.Cover the cage with soft cotton cloth.

    4.Do not spray.

    5.Take a few branches and leaves of eucalyptus.

    Thanks to Jim for his question and Dr. Rob Marshall and Gerald for their replies.

    Habib Ur Rehman, Pakistan

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