In the wild, the budgerigar selects recently fallen seeds and the seeds at the top of the grass first, because these are the most nutritious. Fresh clean seed is also imperative for a successful breeding season and health in the aviary. This fact can never be overstated.
- Fresh, clean food is the starting point for a healthy and successful breeding season. The protection of the food from contamination during storage is the next important step. Spoiled seed is the most common cause of poor breeding performance and recurrent illness in the budgerigar aviary. It is impossible to cure illnesses and poor breeding results when "bad feed" is the underlying cause of such problems.
The selection of good feed
Poor quality feed is feed which is old, dirty, poorly stored, fails to sprout, or feed with a high moisture content. There are four ways to ensure the feed is free of harmful bacteria, fungus or safe pesticides (please refer to the Green and Healthy website for some recommendations).
- The smell test. The best food smells sweet and fresh.
The bite test. The best feed has low moisture, which is tested by a moisture meter at harvest time and in the feed bin. The toxin producing mould is very prolific in grains with moisture contents above 14%. The optimum moisture content of feed is between 10%-12% depending on the grain type. Alternatively, the older fanciers tested grain by the bite test. Dry grain is hard to bite through and splits cleanly. The bite test works well on the larger grains such as wheat, triticale, groats and sunflower.
The culture and sprout test. Culture testing for fungus and bacteria is the best test for grain. These tests can be done commercially or you can sprout test your grain at home. Sprout the grains separately on moistened cotton wool in a warm place and check for mould and a bad smell within 72 hours. The serious fancier today tests all feed before purchase.
- Test feed to the birds. All new feed should be tested on a selection of birds. The observant fancier will notice obvious changes in the health of the flock soon after feeding a poor quality feed. It is best to scrape clean the floor and to remove all additives (grit, sand etc.) immediately prior to testing the new feed. Within 24 hours the droppings turn large dark green and runny, there may be green stains around dirty vents within 3 days, the birds become depressed and fluffed up and the noise level within the aviary drops noticeably, the down feathers disappear from the droppings and the eyes become dull. Within 3 weeks other diseases may appear which recur and appear fail to respond to the appropriate treatment.
The budgerigar has evolved in dry conditions of outback Australia. For this reason it is particularly susceptible to water related illnesses.
- Clean water is critical for good health. Without clean water, the battle against illness is already lost. The water dish is the perfect place from which illnesses spreads. The sludge accumulating in the edges and corners of the drinkers is a particularly potent source of dangerous germs. Feeding parents drinks copiously and unclean water exposes their babies to great danger.
- Water cleansers are needed for budgerigar aviaries and are the best means of keeping the water clean and containers sludge-free.
Copyright © 2004 Rob Marshall, All Rights Reserved.