Pet Birds: Hand-raised or Parent-raised: Diseases

Article by:  Jeannine Miesle, M.A., M.Ed


Main Article: Hand-raised or Parent-raised: Which Is Better For The Birds? by Jeannine Miesle M.A., M.Ed.


17. Diseases

17.1 Bacterial Infections

Unweaned birds are particularly susceptible to bacterial infections. The causes are poor husbandry and an immune system which is not fully developed. Hand-feeding practices are the primary cause of crop infections: “Over feeding, feeding too frequently, improper formula temperature, or feeding before the crop empties can all lead to bacterial overgrowth. Primary viral infections destroying the immune system underlie severe secondary bacterial infections in young birds. Spontaneous, primary bacterial infections are uncommon in young birds when proper husbandry is practiced.” 9

Image 26: Porridge formula was too hot and infection set in, causing major damage to the crop (image credit Galabin Mladenov; used with permission).

Image 26: Porridge formula was too hot and infection set in, causing major damage to the crop (image credit Galabin Mladenov; used with permission).

Image 27: Surgery was required to close the significant fistula between the crop and the outside (image credit Galabin Mladenov; used with permission).

Image 27: Surgery was required to close the significant fistula between the crop and the outside (image credit Galabin Mladenov; used with permission).

17.2 Illnesses due to malnutrition

Amino acids and proteins are the building blocks of life. They are organic compounds that combine to form proteins, and protein is broken down into component amino acids before being absorbed by the intestines. Amino acids are required for optimal health, but the body cannot synthesize them; they must be provided in foods or supplements. The terms, “EFA’s” and “amino acids” are used interchangeably. EFA’s refer to the Omega-3, 6, and 9 fatty acids. Most hand-rearing mixes for psittacines and pelleted diets lack sufficient quantities of the Sulphur amino acids (methionine and cysteine). 5

17.2.1 Rickets

Without sufficient Ca/D3 there is not enough calcium present to harden the bones in growing birds. This occurs mainly in hand-reared birds whose mineral intake is unbalanced. It is also termed, "Rubbery Bone Syndrome." 4

17.2.2 Hepatic lipidosis

Hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease, is caused by high-fat foods, B-vitamin deficiencies, and obesity. It is a slow, on-going, progressive disease in which the liver tissue is replaced with fat. Juvenile, hand-fed birds that are overfed or hand-fed long after they should have been weaned are often diagnosed with it. Hand-feeding formulas are calorie-dense, and baby birds tend to be sedentary; any extra calories tend to end up being stored as fat in the liver. This is most often seen in cockatoos as they tend to beg even after satiated.5