Budgerigar Health Part 2 of 5 – Medicine Selection

Medicine bottlesThis article covers budgerigar medicine selection:

  • By Symptoms
  • Emergency First Aid Medicine Options
  • Medicine Options for the Flights
  • Medicine Options for Breeding Cabinets

By Symptoms

  • Sick birds are given their best chance of being saved by adding an appropriate medicine into the ER/Quik Gel formula and administering it directly by crop needle.

    At the same time, whilst waiting for the final outcome of veterinary tests, adding Quik Gel to the drinking water may temporarily protect healthy in-contact birds.

    First aid medicines are “guestimated” from the following list of medicine / symptom options.

Emergency First Aid Medicine Options

  • The symptoms are used to “guestimate” the first choice of medicine. The correct medicine choice is confirmed by a positive response of the sick bird to the medicine or from the results of veterinary testing.

    The probability of selecting the correct medicine is improved by knowledge of the symptoms and behaviour of the various diseases.

    • Sulfa-type Antibiotic (Sulfadimadine / Trimethoprim)

      Sulfa-type antibiotics should be selected when:

      • A sudden cluster of deaths occurs in the flights
      • Stained vents appear in individual birds
      • There is an odour associated with the droppings
      • When the dropping is watery
    • Penicillin type Antibiotic (Amoxycillin / Tylan)

      Penicillin-type antibiotics should be selected when a sudden illness is associated with:

      • Feather staining above the nostrils
      • Vomiting after cold weather
      • White or brown droppings
      • French Moult and Yellow Belly
      • Pasted vents
    • Doxycycline hydrochloride Antibiotic (Doxycycline 10%)

      Doxycycline-type antibiotics should be selected when:

      • Intermittent deaths & recurrent diseases occur throughout the stud
      • There is widespread infertility or poor breeding results
    • Anti-fungal Medicine (Amphotericin B)

      Antifungal medicines should be selected when an illness is associated with:

      • Black or brown and large droppings linked with weight loss
      • The presence of mould on droppings
    • Baytril (Enrofloxacin)

      Enrofloxacin-like antibiotics should be selected when an illness is associated with:

      • Mice infestation
      • Contaminated food
    • Canker Medicines (Ronidasole & Metronidasole)

      Canker-type medicines should be selected when:

      • There is vomiting, sudden severe illness with dark green droppings often starting in related birds
      • Watery, smelly droppings of breeding birds
    • Water Cleansers & Water Buffers (Water Buffers or Citric acid)

      Water Cleansers should be used:

      • In the drinking water to protect all in-contact healthy birds whilst a diagnosis is being confirmed
      • Following a disease to disinfect the flights breeding cabinets, water and food containers

      Water Buffers should be used:

      • Whenever there is wet weather or when large droppings appear in the flights

Medicine Options for the Flights

  • Flights crowded with young birds are especially susceptible to illness because of the fierce competition for feed and rest.

    At this time often the birds “just don’t look right” and it is difficult to know whether or not to use medicines.

    At the first signs of large droppings, Quik Gel should be given to the flock before thinking about using antibiotics.

    Veterinary dropping tests are the best means for determine an appropriate antibiotic.

  • At the First Signs of Illness in the Flights

    • Isolate sick birds for individual emergency first aid treatment
    • Select a medicine from the symptoms and add to ER/Quik Gel, then administer by a crop needle
    • Add Quik Gel into the drinking water of all other birds whilst waiting for the diagnosis from veterinary tests or response to the “treatment trial”
    • Clean then disinfect or blow-torch floors of flights
    • The correct choice of medicine is confirmed by a positive response of the sick bird to the selected antibiotic. The entire flock (except breeding pairs) should receive this antibiotic medicine when two or more birds have died within a two-week long period
    • Antibiotic choice is incorrect and should be changed when the ill bird fails to respond after 48 hours of emergency first aid treatment. By this time veterinary tests should have returned a definitive diagnosis and indicate the best antibiotic to use

Medicine Options for Breeding Cabinets

  • Individual breeding cabinet rather than flock treatment is the best approach for most breeding problems as most diseases of the breeding season reflect the health status of the individual pairs rather than the entire flock.

    It is far better to treat individual pairs in their individual breeding cabinets and to avoid flock treatment when problems occur in the breeding cabinet. Exceptions to this rule occur when food contamination infects all breeding pairs and when Psittacosis and French Moult are seriously impacting on breeding performance.

    Flock treatment for the breeding birds is given only for those diseases transmitted through the air or food (French Moult, Aspergillosis, Mite Infestations and Psittacosis) and is not recommended for other diseases such as Canker and Megabacteria which reflect a weakness in individual pairs.

  • At the First Signs of Illness in the Breeding Cabinets

    • Treat the individual bird in the breeding cabinet with ER/Quik Gel and selected antibiotic by crop needle
    • Add Quik Gel and selected antibiotic to the drinking water of the affected breeding cabinet
    • Clean and disinfect the affected breeding cabinet
    • Mix Quik Gel into the drinking water of all other breeding cabinets
    • The correct choice of medicine is confirmed by dropping tests or a positive response of the sick bird to the selected medicine. This medicine is then given in the drinking water of in-contact breeding birds but not to the entire breeding room
    • Medicines are stopped but crop feeding continued when the ill bird fails to respond after 48 hours of treatment. By this time the veterinary tests should have returned the diagnosis and the best treatment

Dr Rob’s Products

To order the products mentioned in this article, please use the links on the Dr Robert Marshall page.


Filed Under: Health



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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  1. This really wonderful work and very important part of your web site, thanks for this basic help.

  2. Thank you Mobassir,

    In respect of Dr Marshall’s diagnostic techniques, I felt the least Gerald Binks could do was to move fast and buy some “Quik Gel” (available from Riversway Aviculture – here) just in case a problem occurred before obtaining anything else.

    It is also available from Dr Marshall’s practice of course.

    And, am I glad I did! My best light green adult cock is BA23-218-08, a super breeder and a bird I hope to show (yes, you saw it here first!) later this year.

    What did I find about three weeks after it arrived? A very sick light green cock with all the usual chilled features and stained droppings in the breeding cage. It was quickly moved to my warm (always ready) hospital unit and “Quik Gel” administered until I re-read The Marshall “Plan”, as I will call it from now on.

    I followed that with an antibiotic and gave it a course twice daily after expecting it to be dead the next morning. Not so. There it was, back on the perch, still unwell, but several days later really well again and able to be moved into a quiet stock cage.

    And now? It’s 100% fit and without any bias at all it was the “Quik Gel” that gave the bird the fast energy required to get its recovery going forward quickly – instead of it going down and perhaps dying before an antibiotic took its effect.

    I was personally very pleased and today I am giving it another month to convalesce and then he will be paired again.

    As I have said earlier, this Avian Vet really knows his stuff – so what does cost matter if you save a precious budgerigar’s life with the right answer?

    A word before the cynics comment that I have anything to gain from Dr Marshall’s involvement with this site. I assure everyone that that is not the case. I have written my experience above as a fancier. There have been many companies throughout my life, and chemists, that produce in all sincerity avian disease products which mostly are good, but from my experience there are so many who are not birdkeepers of any substance. Nice people I grant you in all cases, but not birdmen!

    My advice is obvious! I do not have to spell it out.

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