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Roudybush, Inc. manufactures high quality, state of the art nutritional products for both
healthy birds and birds with specific disease conditions. This booklet is designed to serve
as a reference tool, reviewing various disease conditions, their causes, diagnoses, and
treatments, as well as the use of Roudybush products for nutritional support.
Table of Contents
Companion client education handouts are also available through Roudybush to help
owners understand the disease process their bird is experiencing and the role that proper
supportive care plays in the maintenance and recovery of their pet.
Recommendations and Uses ........................... 4
Roudybush began manufacturing handfeeding formulas and pelletized diets for pet birds
in 1985. These products are widely available through retail establishments for consumers. Contact Roudybush’s customer service department to find a supplier in your area, or
visit The Care Line diets are available through veterinarians or to
patients with prescriptions.
Pellet Sizes and Amounts to Feed ............... 7
Orders may be placed by phone between 7:30 am and 4:30 pm PT Monday through
Friday, or by FAX at any time. There is no minimum order. Orders that meet certain
weight minimums will have freight paid by Roudybush, Inc. Every effort is made to ship
orders within 3 business days of receipt.
Roudybush History ........................................... 2
Nutrient Composition .................................... 3
Using Roudybush Products ......................... 6
Evaluating Droppings ................................... 7
Storage and Shelf Life .................................. 7
Converting Your Bird to Roudybush ................. 8
Handfeeding..................................................... 9
Handfeeding Macaws .................................... 10
Nutrition and Avian Kidney Disease ............... 11
Preservatives .................................................. 13
Nutrition and Feather Plucking ....................... 14
Avian Obesity ................................................. 15
Avian Kidney Disease .................................... 17
Avian Liver Disease ........................................ 19
The Critical Care Avian Patient ....................... 20
Contact Roudybush Customer Service for order information at:
(800) 326-1726, (530) 668-6196, or by fax (888) 276-8222, or by internet
Proventricular Dilatation Disease ................... 21
Avian Enteritis ................................................. 22
Medicated Pellets ........................................... 23
© 2005: Roudybush, Inc. Revised: July 1, 2005
Healthy Pet Book • To Order Call (800) 326-1726
Roudybush History
Tom Roudybush, owner and nutritionist of
Roudybush, Inc., began manufacturing pellets,
crumbles, and handfeeding formulas in 1985
after doing 16 years of nutritional research
at the University of California, Davis. Mr.
Roudybush studied various bird species, including 10 years of research on the nutritional
requirements of pet birds. Mr. Roudybush has
generated most of the published nutritional
research in pet birds. He began manufacturing
his diets in response to repeated requests from
aviculturists hearing his talks at meetings
throughout the United States. The research
flocks of cockatiels and Orange-winged
Amazons at the University of California,
Davis have been maintained on nothing
but Roudybush diets since 1981; no other
population of psittacines has been maintained
on any other commercially available, formulated diet for such a long period of time.
Mr. Roudybush continues to be involved
in nutritional research and is committed to
learning more about the requirements of
birds kept in captivity, applying that knowledge to his state-of-the-art diets for your
birds, and contributing to avian nutritional
research in general.
Roudybush, Inc. manufactures pelletized
diets for breeding birds, pet birds, and birds
that have specialized nutritional needs due to
certain disease processes such as liver disease,
kidney disease, intestinal tract diseases, and
obesity. Roudybush, Inc. also manufactures
a medicated pellet for flock treatment of
avian chlamydiosis. Dry powder formulas
are available for lories, handfeeding pet birds
and young squab. High quality ingredients
and steam pelleting are used to ensure that
potentially harmful organisms are not present
in the finished products. Samples of every
batch of feed are retained at the mill for qual-
ity assurance and random samples are tested
quarterly for any evidence of contamination.
When you buy Roudybush products you can
be assured that your birds are eating a high
quality diet based on solid, sound nutritional
Benefits of Roudybush
For decades the standard diet for most birds
kept in captivity has been a mixture of seeds
and nuts. This diet was based on the assumption that that is what these birds eat in their
natural environments. Over the past several
years more information has become available
from better observations of natural feeding
patterns and controlled research performed in
captivity. Nutritional deficiencies seen in birds
kept on seed diets have been better characterized and documented, making it clear that
these diets are harmful; however, many people
continue to feed seed and nut diets, with or
without other nutritional supplementation.
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of giving a
bird mineral blocks, cuttlebone, seed mixes
with vitamin fortification, or vitamins in
the drinking water all relies on the bird’s
willingness to choose the right things to eat in
the proper amount. Most birds eat to obtain
energy (calories) and will choose the highest
fat, highest calorie foods available. They will
often do their best to avoid your best efforts
to improve their nutrition. Another problem
with supplements is that you can overdo them
and cause toxicities with some nutrients,
which is just as harmful as a deficiency.
Roudybush diets provide your birds with
safe levels of nutrients that are needed for
good health. Your birds do not need any
other supplements, so they cannot make
poor choices. Not only does this provide your
bird with the best possible nutrition; it saves
you the trouble and expense of supplements.
Simply provide your bird with Roudybush
pellets and fresh water. If you want to, you
can still offer your birds healthy treats, such as
fresh fruits and vegetables, for your own and
your birds’ enjoyment.
Birds fed Roudybush will molt into brightly
colored, lustrous feathers. If your bird was
on a marginal diet, you will notice your bird
becoming more active and more resistant to
infections. Over the years your birds will be
much less likely to become obese, develop
metabolic diseases like fatty liver syndrome,
develop kidney disease, or suffer from chronic
respiratory diseases.
There are other advantages of feeding
Roudybush diets. The entire pellet is edible,
as opposed to seed mixes where an inedible
hull makes up 20–70% of the mix. Roudybush diets have consistent high quality and
cleanliness. Seed mixes can become contaminated in the field before harvest or become
contaminated in storage. Seed crops are
harvested at one time of year and the seeds are
stored until the next harvest. Seed quality and
cleanliness are therefore variable. Once a bird
is eating pellets it can be easily switched from
one formulation to another. So if your birds
start to raise chicks, need to be treated for
chlamydiosis, or need to be put on a specialized diet, you can easily provide them with the
diet they need.
Roudybush diets offer several advantages over
other commercially available formulated diets.
Pelletizing preserves more of the fiber in the
diet than extrusion does, providing a diet that
is healthier for your birds’ intestinal tract.
Some diets include molasses or sugar to improve the taste of the food. These ingredients
are unnecessary and can promote infections;
Nutrient Composition of Roudybush Products
Vitamin D3
Vitamin A
Low-Fat Maintenance
800 ICU/kg
8,250 IU/kg
800 ICU/kg
7,875 IU/kg
1,400 ICU/kg
10,125 IU/kg
High-Energy Breeder
1,400 ICU/kg
9,600 IU/kg
Lory Nectar
800 ICU/kg
19,000 IU/kg
Formula 3 Handfeeding Diet
1,400 ICU/kg
10,000 IU/kg
Squab Formula
1,400 ICU/kg
10,000 IU/kg
Rice Diet
300 ICU/kg
1500 IU/kg
Medicated 1% chlortetracycline
800 ICU/kg
9,968 IU/kg
especially yeast infections, in birds. Roudybush
products, other than the Lory Nectar,
Hummingbird Nectars, and Squab Formula,
do not contain these potentially harmful
sugars. Naturally colored Roudybush diets
reduce waste as many birds will selectively eat
only one color of a multi-colored product, nor
will they stain white feathers, and they allow
you and your veterinarian to better evaluate
your birds’ droppings (urine, urates, and feces
become abnormally colored by colored diets).
Roudybush products contain preservatives,
which have been determined to be safe for
birds to maintain proper vitamin activity and
wholesomeness. Most importantly, a nutritionist has formulated Roudybush diets with some
of the most extensive experience and expertise
in pet bird nutrition.
Healthy Pet Book • To Order Call (800) 326-1726
R e c o m m e n d at i o n s a n d U s e s
of Roudybush Products
Low-Fat Maintenance
High-Energy Breeder
Feed to adult birds that are not laying eggs or
feeding chicks and that have a tendency to be
overweight. Mix 1/3 Breeder with 2/3 Low-Fat
Maintenance for chronic egg-layers and birds
with a tendency to develop hypocalcemia
(such as African Greys). Do not give other
vitamin or mineral supplements, but fresh
fruit and vegetable treats may be given as a
minor part of the diet.
Feed to breeding birds that are feeding chicks.
Wean chicks onto this diet for the first 1–3
months post-weaning (3 months for the larger
species, 1 month for the smaller species).
High-Energy Breeder will provide these young
birds with extra protein, calcium, and Vitamin
D3 needed for the continued growth that
occurs during that time. The higher energy
will help put back the body weight lost in
the weaning process. Mix 1/3 High-Energy
Breeder to 2/3 Maintenance mixture for use
in birds with a higher calcium need or that
are being introduced to Roudybush. Do not
give additional vitamin or mineral supplements, such as cuttlebone, mineral blocks, or
multivitamins. Fresh fruits and vegetables may
be given as a minor part of the diet.
Use this diet when switching your bird from
its old diet to Roudybush. Continue to feed to
adult birds that are not laying eggs or feeding
chicks. Lories and lorikeets, which will accept
this diet, will have drier droppings than they
have on nectar. If you have a bird that is a
chronic egg-layer or a bird with a tendency to
develop hypocalcemia, mix 2/3 Maintenance
with 1/3 High-Energy Breeder to supply
more calcium and vitamin D3. Do not give
additional vitamin or mineral supplements.
Fresh fruits and vegetables may be given as a
minor part of the diet.
This diet meets the nutritional needs of the
growing chick. Feed it to species that tend
to get too fat, either as chicks or adults. Mix
1/3 Breeder with 2/3 Low-Fat Maintenance
for overweight birds that are chronic egg
layers or overweight birds with a tendency to
develop hypocalcemia (such as African Greys).
The mixture provides the extra calcium and
vitamin D3 to support egg production or to
meet the needs of birds that seem to need
more calcium than other birds. Do not give
additional vitamin or mineral supplements,
such as cuttlebone, mineral block, or multivitamins. Fresh fruits and vegetables may be
given as a minor part of the diet.
Roudybush Nectars
Roudybush produces three nectar diets,
Nectar 15, Nectar 9, and Nectar 3. The diets
were tested and developed through research
using Anna’s and Blue Throated Hummingbirds, and they meet all the known nutrient
requirements of these birds, as we understand
them to date. Wildlife rehabilitation groups
that raise orphaned hummingbirds or
maintain non-releasable or overwintering adult
hummingbirds have often used Roudybush
Nectar diets. However, zoos have used the
diets for fruit-eating bats, lories, lorikeets, and
sunbirds. None of the nectars should be used
in outdoor hummingbird feeders.
The diets are easily prepared by mixing them
with warm water in a blender. Because only
small amounts of diet might be used at
one time, many people make a month’s
supply and freeze what they do not need
immediately in ice cube trays. A single cube
can then be removed, thawed, warmed and
fed as needed. Diluted diet can be stored
frozen for one month.
Nectar 3
Formulated for adult hummingbirds at
maintenance; it contains 3% protein.
Nectar 9
Formulated for fledgling hummingbirds from
3–6 weeks of age; it contains 9% protein.
Lory Nectar/Nectar 15
Nectar 15 is used in hummingbirds from
0–3 weeks of age; it contains 15% protein.
In 1994, Roudybush also began marketing
Nectar 15 under the name of Lory Nectar, for
use in lories and lorikeets. Roudybush Lory
Nectar is lower in sugar than other brands
of nectars, so switching a bird from another
brand of nectar sometimes requires adding a
small amount of powdered sugar to the diet
and slowly eliminating it to convert the birds.
Less sugar is helpful to reduce incidence of
yeast infections that lories are prone to due
to the high sugar diets they are commonly
fed. Some people grind up the maintenance
pellets into a powder or convert their birds to
a maintenance crumbles. Lories do very well
on the maintenance diet. Feeding powdered
pellets, crumbles or dry Lory Nectar will result
in drier, easier to clean up droppings, making
lories that much more pleasant to live with.
Although some people use the Lory Nectar to
handfeed lory chicks, we recommend using
Formula 3. It provides a little higher protein
needed for growth in the chicks and eliminates
the sugar that could lead to yeast infections.
Feed Lory Nectar dry or mixed with water to
breeding or maintenance nectivores, such as
lories and lorikeets. Do not give additional
vitamin or mineral supplements. Fresh fruit
treats may be given as a minor part of the diet.
Breeder crumbles may be fed to lories and
lorikeets feeding chicks, if they will accept
them. The crumbles can be ground into a
powder for better acceptability.
Formula 3 Handfeeding Diet
and Optimum Preflight
Use as a handfeeding formula for all species of
psittacines from day one to weaning. Also used
for handfeeding Squabs older than 7–14 days
(7 days for smaller species, up to 14 days in
larger species). Do not give additional vitamin
or mineral supplements.
Squab Formula
Columbiformes (doves and pigeons) are
remarkable among the bird world in that
the parents produce a substance called “crop
milk”. The crop wall undergoes changes while
the parents are incubating their eggs so that
upon hatching, the squabs can be fed a high
protein, high fat material composed mainly of
material shed from the parents’ crop walls. As
the squab mature, their need for this material
decreases and eventually disappears, leaving
the squab with nutritional needs like those
of parrots. During this time the parents’ crop
walls return to normal.
To obtain optimal health and growth in
handfed squab, it is important to supply a
formula that closely mimics the nutrition
found in crop milk. Roudybush Squab
Formula was specially formulated to do just
that. The formula has 50% protein, 8.5% fat
and 1.45% calcium. Feeding trials with
commercial meat-type squab (Rock Doves)
started from hatching eventually led to the
development of this “crop milk replacer”.
Squab started on this formula at hatch are as
healthy and robust as squab reared by their
parents. Use this formula from day one to
7–14 days, as a crop-milk replacer. After 7–14
days (7 days for the smaller species, up to 14
days for the larger species), gradually switch
from Squab Formula to Formula 3 or
Optimum Preflight over a 1–2 day period,
increasing the proportion of Formula 3 or
Optimum Preflight a small amount at each
meal. Do not give additional vitamin or
mineral supplements. Squab Formula may
also be used as a handfeeding formula or
tube feeding formula in insectivores being
Recommendations for Use
Water requirements of baby birds are very
important and change as the bird grows.
Younger squab require more water, or lower
percent solids. Table 1 shows the proper
dilutions of formula for different ages of
squab. Because the water requirement is so
critical, it is important that the solids be
measured on a weight basis. Volume measurements are less accurate and can lead to uneven
or stunted growth in the birds.
If you do not have a gram scale and must rely
on volume measurements you can use Table 2.
Please remember that this is less accurate and
may result in poor growth. When measuring
the teaspoons of formula use lightly packed,
level teaspoonfuls.
The meals should be spread out over a 16hour period, filling the crop at each meal. The
food should be seen to fill the crop and just
start to fill out the base of the esophagus where
it enters the crop. Feed again when the crop is
almost, but not completely, empty. Allowing
the crop to empty completely (except between
the last evening feeding and the first morning
feeding) will result in slow or uneven growth.
Discard leftovers; never reheat old formula
from a previous meal.
Table 1. Proper dilutions of formula for different ages of squab
Age (days)
Grams Water
Grams Formula
Formula 3
Table 2. Volume measurements of formula for different ages of squab. When possible use
Table 1. This Table is less accurate than Table 1 and may result in poor growth.
Age (days)
Water (cc)
Formula (tsp)
Formula 3
Healthy Pet Book • To Order Call (800) 326-1726
Careline Diets
The following diets are available to order with
a prescription from your veterinarian. These
diets are used to decrease the stress of specific
organs affected by disease conditions.
This diet is medicated with 1% chlortetracycline for use in flock treatment and prevention
of avian chlamydiosis.
Formula AR
Formulated to provide nutritional support
during a weight reduction period. This is a
healthy alternative to feed restriction. This diet
is a low energy, low fat, high fiber formulation
to safely decrease caloric consumption.
Formula AA
This diet is formulated to provide nutritional
support to the critically ill avian patient. This
diet is a high calorie, nutrient dense formulation to replenish depleted stores.
Formula AK
Formulated to provide nutritional support for
birds that may benefit from a low protein, low
ash diet. This diet is aimed to reduce stress and
the workload of the kidneys.
Formula AL
Created to provide nutritional support for
birds that may benefit from a low protein,
high vitamin and mineral diet. This diet is
aimed to support the avian patient that has
liver disease/damage.
Formula AI
This diet is used to provide nutritional support
for the avian patient with digestive disorders.
It is formulated to promote a longer transit
time through the digestive tract to enhance
digestion and absorption, and to decrease
Formula APD
Formulated to provide nutritional support
for the avian patient with malabsorption/
maldigestion. This diet is relatively high in
vitamins, minerals, and protein. It provides
support for birds with diseases such as
Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD).
Rice Diet
This is the only Careline product that does
not require a prescription from a veterinarian,
although we do recommend you seek a
veterinarian’s advice to make sure your bird is
not feather picking for more serious reasons/
causes. This diet is formulated exclusively from
rice products, vitamins and minerals. It may
provide relief for birds that are feather picking/
self-mutilating from allergies to food items
other than rice.
Using Roudybush Products
Throughout Your Birds’ Lives
When you obtain a new bird, just weaned,
feed it High-Energy Breeder Formula until
it has fully developed: 1 month for small
species of psittacines, up to 3 months for the
larger species, then put your bird on Maintenance. Some birds may become overweight
on this diet, and can be switched to the
Low-Fat Maintenance. Some species of birds,
such as African Greys, and some individuals
of other species, have a tendency to develop
hypocalcemia on diets that are completely
adequate for other birds. These birds should be
maintained on a mixture of 1/3 High-Energy
Breeder Formula and 2/3 Maintenance. Some
birds, with or without a mate, become chronic
egg-layers, laying several clutches of eggs in
the course of a year. As long as your bird is
laying 15 or more eggs in a year she needs
more calcium and should be fed a mixture
of 1/3 High-Energy Breeder Formula and
2/3 Maintenance.
You may give your birds healthy treats, such
as fresh fruits and vegetables, as a minor part
of their total intake. Do not give too much
or you will dilute the nutritional content of
the rest of the diet. Do not give vitamin or
mineral supplements, however, because all the
vitamins and minerals your bird needs are in
the Roudybush. Supplementation beyond
that could result in overdosing your bird.
If you set your birds up to breed you may feed
them the appropriate maintenance diet until
they start to lay eggs. If you are going to let
them feed their own chicks, switch them to
High-Energy Breeder Formula as soon as they
start feeding chicks. If your birds cannot be
disturbed to determine if they have hatched
eggs, start feeding them High-Energy Breeder
Formula when they start to lay eggs or when
you set them up to breed. If you are going to
pull eggs to artificially incubate them, feed
your breeder birds Maintenance. This will
provide enough calcium for several eggs. The
Breeder and High-Energy Breeder Formulas
are formulated to meet the nutritional needs
of a growing chick, not the parent birds.
The parents do not require as high a level of
nutrients as their chicks, so unless they are
feeding chicks they do not need one of the
breeder formulas. Do not give additional
vitamin and mineral supplements.
Chicks of any psittacine species can be
handfed with Formula 3 Handfeeding Diet
or Optimum Preflight. When the bird is
approaching weaning stage, make fresh water
and the appropriate size of High-Energy
Breeder pellets available.
This brings us back to weaning the handfed
or parent-fed chick onto High-Energy Breeder
Formula for the first 1 to 3 months
If you have a bird that suffers from liver
disease, kidney disease, intestinal disease,
Proventricular Dilatation Disease or other
proventricular diseases, or obesity, ask your
veterinarian about Roudybush Care Line
Pellet Sizes For Your Birds
How Much Should Your Birds Eat?
Proper Storage and Shelf Life
Roudybush diets come in several sizes of
pellets and two sizes of crumbles. Individual
birds may have their own preference for pellet
size. Use the guidelines below to determine
the most likely pellet size to feed your bird.
In general, give your bird the smallest size it
will readily accept to minimize waste. With a
larger pellet your bird may bite off one or two
bites and then drop the rest. If you do not see
your bird’s species listed, choose a diet for a
comparably sized bird.
How much food your birds will go through
in a day varies with their personal eating
habits—how much they spill or waste,
their activity levels, energy needs due
to the temperature they’re kept at, and
other variables. Your birds will spill more
Roudybush while they are being converted
to it, looking for their familiar foods. Once
they have successfully been converted, most
birds will waste very little. There are those
individuals, however, that like to pick through
their food or play in their food. As mentioned
above, foot feeders will often pick up a pellet,
eat a bite or two, and then drop it. A ballpark
figure for the amount of food your birds will
eat in a day, however, is 1/2 ounce per 100
grams of body weight or about 1 tablespoon of
small pellets or 1-1/2 tablespoons of crumbles
for each 100 grams of body weight.
Good food quality can be maintained and
shelf life can be extended by keeping foods
cool and dry. Keeping food cool reduces the
oxidation reactions that lead to rancidity
of lipids (fats and oils) and destruction of
vitamins, and feeds must be kept dry to avoid
the growth of mold. To avoid mold growth,
keep food in small plastic bags or large paper
bags that can “breathe”. Do not put bags
directly on floors, especially concrete floors.
In regions with high humidity, de-humidify
your food storage area.
Large Pellets
Medium Pellets
Small Pellets
Mini Pellets
African Greys
Love Birds
Evaluating Droppings
Observing and evaluating your birds’ droppings is an excellent way to tell if your birds
are eating well and whether they are suffering
from various types of illnesses. Changes in the
consistency or color of droppings are often
the first sign of trouble, before your bird starts
acting ill. Make a habit of glancing at your
birds’ droppings every day.
Roudybush products are dated with a “use
by” date for unopened packages stored at
normal room temperatures. This is not an
expiration date, but the date through which
food should remain wholesome if stored at
room temperature. This is one year from the
date of manufacture. The following shelf life
guidelines should be followed:
Storage Times for Roudybush Feeds
at Various Temperatures
16˚ F
34˚ F
52˚ F
70˚ F
88˚ F
8 years
4 years
2 years
1 year
6 months
Normal droppings have a fecal portion and
are usually medium green to brownish. It
should be mounded, not flat. The urates
come from the urinary tract and are normally
chalky white. A normal dropping can have a
urine portion that is clear liquid that forms
a water stain around the dropping up to 1/2
inch out from the dropping. When your
birds eat Roudybush their droppings will be
a little moister, larger, and have a little more
urine than when they eat seed and nut diets.
Because Roudybush is not colored, any color
changes in your birds’ droppings would be an
indication to contact your avian veterinarian;
it cannot be confused with normal droppings
on a colored diet.
Premium Food For Your Valuable Pet • To Order Call (800) 326-1726 •
Co n v e rt i n g Yo u r B i r d s
To Roudybush
Most birds are creatures of habit and will
choose foods that look familiar to them.
Converting your bird to Roudybush is mainly
a matter of convincing your bird that it is
food. There are several methods that can be
used; choose the one that is most appropriate
for your bird. The most important factor
in determining if your bird will convert to
Roudybush is your determination that it will
eat a nutritious, balanced diet. Your bird may
initially act as if it does not like Roudybush,
but imagine a child that you are trying to
convert from a diet of snack foods, candy and
ice cream to a lower fat, healthy diet; it is a
similar situation. Once your bird makes the
transition you will find that it enthusiastically
eats Roudybush.
1. Instinctual.
The instinctual method can be used with
a healthy bird that you can only monitor
irregularly. It takes advantage of your parrot’s
instinct to eat at the highest location possible.
It allows your bird access to its normal food
while providing you with the opportunity to
know exactly what food it is eating. Place the
bird’s familiar dish in a low part of its cage.
Put your bird’s old food in this dish. Fill a
similar dish with Roudybush pellets and place
it in a higher part of the cage, and be sure to
place all water sources near this dish. Since the
bird prefers eating form the higher dish, it will
try the new food and start eating it. Eventually, Roudybush pellets will be the main food
eaten by your bird. When the amount of food
disappearing from the bottom dish is reduced
to less than 10% of the food disappearing
from the higher dish, try removing the lower
dish from the cage. After removal of the lower
dish, monitor your bird to be sure it is eating
as described in 2 below.
2. Controlled.
3. Gradual Introduction.
This method should be used with very finicky,
difficult to switch, birds that are starting out
at a good weight. It is generally the quickest,
easiest method for switching most birds. Do
not use this method with thin birds, sick birds,
or birds you cannot monitor. Remove the old
food and replace it with Roudybush. Clean
the cage at the time of the switch and line
it with paper. Do not use corncob or other
litter because you won’t be able to monitor
droppings well. Watch your birds’ droppings
or weigh your birds daily. When a bird isn’t
eating, the droppings will be very small and
the green part will be very dark green, almost
black. Or you may see a lot of urine (liquid
and white material) but almost no green part,
which means your bird is filling up on water
and not eating much. If you see these types of
droppings for two full days for small species
or three days for larger species, put your bird
back on its old diet for 7 days, and then repeat
the switching process. Most birds will convert
the first time, and those that won’t switch the
first time will switch the second time.
This method is best for birds that are likely
to try new foods or birds that cannot be
monitored carefully. Mix the Roudybush
into your bird’s normal diet, 1/4 Roudybush
mixed with 3/4 old diet. Gradually increase
the proportion of Roudybush over a 3–4 week
period. When you have reached the point
where more than 3/4 of the diet is Roudybush,
clean your bird’s cage and line it with paper.
Watch the droppings to make sure your bird
is eating. Small, very dark droppings indicate
that your bird is not eating. If that is the case,
add back more of your bird’s old diet until
the droppings return to normal. Continue
increasing the proportion of Roudybush more
slowly, watching the droppings.
If you can weigh your bird, keep your bird on
Roudybush unless it loses more than 3% of its
starting body weight. At that point, put your
bird back on the old diet for one week then
repeat the switch process, weighing your bird
at the start of the switch. Disappearance of
food from the food dish is not a reliable way of
determining if your bird is eating. Most birds
will spill the new food out of the dish, looking
for familiar foods.
4. Handfeed as a treat.
Some birds will eat almost anything they
think you are eating. Act like you are eating
the Roudybush then offer some to your bird.
This can be sufficient to teach your bird that
Roudybush is food. Then the old food can
be replaced with Roudybush. Again, watch
the droppings when you make the complete
5. Soak the Roudybush in juice.
Some birds like moist foods and like certain
fruits or fruit juices. Putting a bowl of pellets
soaked in orange juice, apple juice, or fruit
nectars may entice such a bird to eat the
pellets. If this method is used make sure you
leave the soaked pellets in the cage for only an
hour or so to prevent spoilage. Once the bird
is eating the soaked pellets, gradually decrease
the amount of juice.
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The following handfeeding guidelines are
fairly consistent across species. The amount
of food a chick will need at any age or stage
of growth is so variable that feeding charts are
not useful and may result in underfeeding or
overfeeding individuals. Underfeeding can
result in reduced growth and overfeeding can
result in crop damage or fatty liver syndrome.
Follow these guidelines to ensure that each
individual chick receives what it needs.
Measuring by weight
Measuring by volume
10% solids:
Mix 1 part Formula 3 or Optimum Preflight
to 9 parts water, by weight. For example, put
your mixing container on the gram scale, zero
it and weigh out 5 grams of Formula 3 or
Optimum Preflight. Add 45 cc (5 x 9 = 45)
of hot water. Water weighs 1 gram per cc, so
you can use grams of water or cc’s of water.
10% solids:
Mix 1 part lightly packed Formula 3 or
Optimum Preflight with 4 parts water.
Best results are obtained when measuring
amounts by weight with a gram scale. You
should invest in a gram scale to weigh the
babies you handfeed anyway. Monitoring daily
weight gains is the best indicator of how your
chicks are doing and the earliest indicator of
a problem.
25% solids:
Mix 1 part Formula 3 or Optimum Preflight
to 3 parts water, by weight. For example, put
your mixing container on the gram scale, zero
it and weigh out 10 grams of Formula 3. Add
30 cc (10 x 3 = 30) of hot water.
Generally, chicks from hatch to 3 days of
age should be fed 10% solids. Chicks from
3 days to about 2-feedings/day stage should
be fed 25% solids. Chicks from 2-feedings/day
stage to weaning should be fed about 30%
solids. These ages and percent solids may vary
somewhat among species and individuals, but
it is a good starting point to use and see how
your chicks do.
30% solids:
Mix 1 part Formula 3 or Optimum Preflight
to 2.4 parts water, by weight. For example, put
your mixing container on the gram scale, zero
it and weigh out 10 grams of Formula 3 or
Optimum Preflight. Add 24 cc (10 x 2.4 = 24)
of hot water.
When adding hot water to Formula 3 or
Optimum Preflight, heat the water to
120–130° F and add to Formula 3 or
Optimum Preflight from the refrigerator or
freezer. This will make mixing easier. Feed the
formula at 102–104° F.
25% solids:
Mix 2 parts lightly packed Formula 3 or
Optimum Preflight with 3 parts water.
30% solids:
Mix 1 part lightly packed Formula 3 or
Optimum Preflight with 1 part water.
If the formula is too dry and thick, the chicks
will show wrinkled, reddened skin due to
dehydration; if this happens, return to a more
dilute formula. If you have the formula too
dilute you will see poor weight gains and thin,
gangly looking chicks; if this happens go to a
thicker, higher percent solids mixture.
The diet should be fed at about 102–104° F.
If several birds are to be fed, put the syringes
of food or cup of food in a warm water bath
to keep the formula at the right temperature.
Feed promptly once the formula is mixed and
do not feed leftovers.
Chicks grow best if they have food in their
crops most of the time. Keep some food in
the crop for at least 16 hours each day. Fill the
crop at each meal until the food is just starting
up the base of the esophagus. Give the next
meal when 80–90% of the previous meal has
passed out of the crop. As chicks get close
to weaning they may not give you a feeding
response or they may refuse to eat at certain
times. Do not force-feed them. Wait until they
will accept the food and give them as much as
they will take at that meal. Make High-Energy
Breeder crumbles or pellets and fresh water
available when the chicks start refusing meals.
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Handfeeding M acaws
There is a commonly held belief among aviculturists that macaws need a higher percent fat
diet, especially during the handfeeding period.
This is based on some handfeeders having a
difficult time maintaining good growth rates
and based on observations of what some
species of macaws eat in the wild. No research
has been done to determine what the fat or
fatty acid requirements for growth are in
macaws. Some handfeeders get good growth in
macaws using Roudybush formulas and some
handfeeders feel that they need to add fat to
the formulas. In general, the handfeeders that
get good results with Roudybush handfeeding
formulas are those that feed a little higher
percent solids than are used in other species
of birds. For example, instead of feeding
25% solids, they are feeding 30%. Instead of
feeding 30% solids to older chicks, they are
feeding 35% solids. We recommend feeding
the higher percent solids to macaws, especially
the larger species of macaws.
We are concerned about people adding fat
to the diet to achieve 15% fat or more. The
increased weight gains may not be healthy,
lean tissue gains, but excess body fat.
Research needs to be done to determine the
optimum dietary fat level for lean muscle mass
gain in these chicks.
There does seem to be some sort of specialized
nutritional need in hyacinth macaw chicks.
Again, research is needed to determine what
that need is. Handfeeders who include ground
macadamia nuts, ground palm nuts, or
coconut milk have much better success raising
hyacinth chicks. These ingredients are not
just high in fat, they all have saturated fat in
common. Most vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds
have unsaturated fat only.
We suspect that when research is done, it
will show that hyacinths have a requirement
for certain saturated fatty acids. Hyacinths
raised on formulas without saturated fats
tend to develop crop stasis and “failure to
thrive” syndromes. Therefore we recommend
that handfeeders add about 10% ground
macadamia nuts, palm nuts, or coconut
milk to Roudybush formulas when feeding
hyacinth macaws.
When interpreting observations of what birds
eat in the wild it is important to remember
that wild birds are searching for the most
energy input for the least energy output. They
are limited to what is most available and accessible. Of the available and accessible foods,
they will choose high-energy (high fat) foods
first because they are the highest input for the
least amount of energy spent in foraging. It
is quite possible, even probable, that we can
greatly improve upon a wild bird’s diet and
can get better productivity and longevity in
our captive birds through these improvements.
Also, once we know what a bird’s nutritional
requirements are, we can meet these through
a variety of feed ingredients that are not a
part of the wild bird’s diet. The nutritional
composition is what is important, not the
ingredients used to arrive at that composition.
Therefore, it is not necessary, nor even
advisable, to only feed what a bird in the wild
would be eating.
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N u t r i t i o n a n d Av i a n K i d n e y D i s e a s e
Recently aviculturists and some avian
veterinarians have begun to express concern
about processed (pelletted and extruded)
bird diets causing kidney disease and gout in
birds, especially cockatiels. Frequently fear and
reaction has replaced common sense. Some
people have actually returned to seed diets
and cafeteria style feeding, risking widespread
nutritional deficiencies and imbalances. There
are many misconceptions circulating in bird
circles over this issue.
The first misconception is that processed diets
are dangerously toxic to birds. The percentage
of birds fed these diets that develop kidney
disease is very low, probably less than half of
one percent. Aviaries experiencing “outbreaks”
of kidney disease mostly see this in families
of related birds or in the color mutation cockatiels. Why is this problem more prevalent in
birds fed processed diets than in birds fed seed
diets? Kidney disease can go unrecognized,
without clinical signs, when the diet is low in
protein and minerals. Seed diets are generally
low in protein and extremely low in minerals
(to the point of deficiency). A bird with poorly
functional kidneys due to diseases (past or
present), toxins, hereditary and/or congenital
defects, are more likely to show clinical signs
of their kidney disease when fed a processed
diet, especially a breeder diet. The low
incidence of kidney disease being seen is likely
to coincide with the incidence of underlying
kidney disease in a flock. The diet isn’t causing
the kidney disease, but the kidney disease can
become obvious when a processed food is fed.
Another misconception is that the protein
level of breeder diets and handfeeding
formulas is harmful to kidneys. In research
studies in poultry, turkeys had to be fed
diets with 40% protein to produce gout
(one clinical sign of kidney disease) and they
gradually recovered when put back on a diet
with 20% protein (the amount of protein
usually seen in breeder diets and handfeeding
formulas). Chickens, genetically predisposed
to gout, had to be fed diets with 70% protein
to produce gout. Tom Roudybush participated
in a study at UC Davis in 2000/2001 in which
normal grey cockatiels were fed diets with up
to 70% protein for one year. No clinical signs
of kidney disease were seen. The kidneys were
examined microscopically at the end of the
experiment and no significant abnormalities
were found.
All information available for all species of
animals, including man, studied so far suggest
that there is a wide margin of safety for
dietary protein in animals with normal kidney
function. The fear over protein probably
arises from the fact that a poorly functional
kidney cannot process the nitrogenous waste
from protein like a normal, healthy kidney
can. People hear that too much protein causes
gout. Well, it does, in a bird with a damaged
kidney. Protein does not cause kidney disease
at commonly fed levels, even up to 70%
protein in normal cockatiels as demonstrated
in research at UC Davis.
The nutrients that have lower safety margins
and must be fed more wisely are calcium
and vitamin D3. Research in poultry shows
that feeding too much calcium to birds that
aren’t laying eggs, and therefore using up
calcium, can cause kidney disease. Calcium
levels over 1.2% will cause kidney disease in
non-laying chickens. Calcium deficiencies can
be demonstrated in psittacine chicks fed diets
lower than 0.8% calcium. Therefore, processed
diets for breeding and growing birds should
have calcium levels between 0.9% and 1.1%,
and cuttlebone, mineral blocks, mineral grit,
or oystershell should not be offered in addition
to the diet.
Vitamin D3 has been shown to be toxic to
turkeys, quail, and chickens at 4–10 times
the recognized dietary requirement. No
research has yet been published in psittacines
to determine either the requirement or toxic
level of vitamin D3. Processed diets generally
use the chicken requirement. The recognized
chicken requirement is 200 ICU/kg for growth
and 500 ICU/kg for egg production. The safe
upper limit for long term feeding in chickens
is 2,800 ICU/kg. The recognized turkey
requirement is 900 ICU/kg for growth and
500 ICU/kg for egg production. The upper
safe limit for long term feeding in turkeys is
3,500 ICU/kg. Roudybush Breeder diets have
1,875 ICU/kg; maintenance diets have 1,125
ICU/kg, and Formula 3 or Optimum Preflight
Handfeeding Formula has 1,500 ICU/kg.
These levels are well within what is regarded
as safe for any species studied so far. We plan
to perform calcium and vitamin D3 toxicity
studies in cockatiels within the next 2 years.
The UC Davis cockatiel flock (all normal
greys) have been fed nothing but Roudybush
crumbles and water since 1981. From 1981
to 1986 they were fed nothing but breeder
formula. From 1986 to present they are fed
Roudybush Low-Fat Maintenance when they
are not set up for breeding and fed Breeder
when breeding. There has never been an
increase in mortality or kidney disease since
the flock was switched in 1981. Most birds
that die are necropsied. The Orange-winged
Amazons at UC Davis have also been on
Roudybush pellets and water since 1981. All
birds that die are necropsied. Again, there has
been no mortality or increased incidence of
kidney disease. Because most of the reports
of kidney disease and gout from aviculturists
are in color mutation cockatiels, it is possible
that there are inherited defects of metabolism
or kidney function being bred into some of
these lines.
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Until more information is available in psittacines, Roudybush, Inc. advises bird owners
and breeders to exercise common sense and
feed their birds diets that lie within safe ranges
(safe from both deficiency and toxicity) based
on research performed in any avian species
studied so far, including poultry. Don’t feed
your birds a deficient diet in order to protect
the few birds that might have an underlying
kidney malfunction. The following table
shows just some of the nutritional hazards
of feeding a seed diet:
1,125 ICU/kg
0.0 ICU/kg
Vitamin A
8,250 IU/kg
0.0 IU/kg
22 mg/kg
2 mg/kg
250 mg/kg
33 mg/kg
Phosphorus Ratio
Vitamin D3
* Equal parts sunflower, safflower, millet, and
oat groats. Remember, if a bird selectively
eats more of the sunflower and safflower in
a seed mix the percentage of fat could be
extremely high, 30% or more.
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P r e s e r vat i v e S
All Natural Preservatives
Unless a food is kept frozen until it is consumed, it undergoes changes over time that
decrease vitamin levels and oxidize fats.
Excessive oxidation of fats leads to rancidity. To prevent rancidity and loss of necessary
nutrients, preservatives are added to foods.
These preservatives are primarily antioxidants.
Until recently, the most safe and effective
preservative available has been ethoxyquin.
Ethoxyquin became the target of a tremendous
amount of adverse publicity due to a poorly
designed study of its safety in rats performed
many years ago. Since that study, many more
tests were conducted in rats, mice, and dogs,
showing the preservative was very safe. Unfortunately, these studies did nothing to stop
the already building misinformation about
Roudybush has included ethoxyquin in our
formulations in the past. The quality of the
food we produced was our utmost concern
and until an equally safe and effective preservative was developed, we were unwilling
to switch to one of the other inferior or less
safe preservatives available just because people
were afraid of ethoxyquin. Recently a new, all
natural preservative with excellent safety and
efficacy was introduced. We have replaced
ethoxyquin with this new preservative in our
Low-Fat Maintenance, Maintenance, Breeder
and High-Energy Breeder pellets.
The new preservative is a combination of dtocopherol (a close relative of vitamin E), a
major source of vitamin E activity, rosemary,
and citric acid. A-tocopherol has antioxidant
properties, but it is also biologically active and
larger concentrations needed as a preservative have not been tested for safety in birds.
The advantage of d-tocopherol is that it has
antioxidant properties but it has very little biological activity, so risk of toxicity is eliminated.
Rosemary has natural antioxidant properties.
Citric acid binds to certain minerals responsible for starting oxidation reactions, preventing
those reactions from occuring.
Roudybush is committed to providing your
birds with the best possible food. Any changes
we make to our formulations are thoroughly
researched and only made when the data show
us there is a clear advantage.
Questions and concerns regarding the use
of the antioxidant, ethoxyquin, in a few of
our products as well as other manufacturer’s
products have become so frequent and so misinformed, that we are compelled to respond
in a public forum. We are concerned that unnecessary fear will cause bird owners to begin
feeding inferior diets that are not properly
stabilized with antioxidants, leading to vitamin
deficiencies in their birds. After reviewing the
misinformation being widely circulated on
the Internet, we have seen a pattern of partial
truths being twisted to create fear and irrational conclusions. We will individually address
the common ones here.
Ethoxyquin is an antioxidant. It prevents
certain nutrients from being degraded with exposure to oxygen. This prolongs the life of the
fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K and prevents the rancidity of fat in feed, keeping the
feed nutritious for your bird. Without an antioxidant feed can become rancid or deficient
in about three months at room temperature.
Ethoxyquin is the safest and most effective antioxidant available, which is why we use it. We
include 125 parts per million (ppm); 150 ppm
is the allowable level. Research has shown that
this level is both safe and effective.
Although no specific research has been published regarding safety on pet birds, the cockatiel and Orange-Winged Amazon flocks at UC
Davis have been on Roudybush continuously
since 1981. Birds that die are necropsied.
There has been neither abnormal mortality
nor abnormal incidence of tumors or liver
disease in flocks.
It has been proposed on the Internet that if
ethoxyquin is toxic at 0.5% of the diet, which
equals 5,000 ppm, that the allowable levels
would also be damaging. Please keep in mind
that too much of almost anything good can be
toxic. Salt is required for life at about 0.25%
of the diet but causes illness or mortality at
7.5%. Selenium is required at 0.28 ppm but
causes illness and mortality at 10 ppm. If you
remove these nutrients for the diet entirely,
you would kill the bird.
It has also been suggested on the Internet that
ethoxyquin must be a deadly poison, because
it must be handled with gloves while wearing a
facemask. Vitamins and minerals and vitamin
and mineral premixes are handled in exactly
the same way in premix manufacturing to
protect workers from toxic exposure to these
nutrients that are required for life.
Many supposed reports of birds and dogs dying of ethoxyquin toxicity can be found on the
Internet. These reports consist of animals that
died from liver disease, tumors, or unknown
causes while they happened to be fed diets
containing ethoxyquin. Ethoxyquin happens
to be in the diets of most dogs and birds (fed
processed diets), so it seems likely that animals
dying of any cause would have been exposed
to ethoxyquin. It doesn’t indicate cause and
effect. These reported toxicity cases are assumptions made by owners and veterinarians
without substantiating test results. There are
two grave problems associated with these assumptions. The first is that the suggested cause
of death in these animals is never substantiated
leaving ethoxyquin, an effective, useful and
safe compound, suspect. The second is that
blaming ethoxyquin allows us to stop looking
for the actual cause if death. It is a lazy way to
do medicine and allows the cause of death in
many animals to remain unknown.
At Roudybush we have reviewed what research
data is available on ethoxyquin. Trials conducted with proper controls and testing are the
only appropriate ways to assess ethoxyquin’s
safety. You cannot assess its safety based on
hearsay, conjecture, and assumptions. The
research data indicate ethoxyquin is safe. We
would not use it in our products if we had any
doubts about this.
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Av i a n F e at h e r P i c k i n g / M u t i l at i o n
Feather picking or mutilation and skin
mutilation are extremely common problems
in pet birds. There are many different causes
and a good workup by an avian veterinarian
is necessary to rule out or rule in these causes.
Some birds feather pick from behavioral or
emotional causes, while others do it from a
variety of physical conditions that make them
feel itchy (pruritic).
Indications For Use
A pruritic bird will usually act agitated or
irritated when preening or feather picking/
mutilating. It might suddenly stop what it’s
doing to reach around and dig at itself. It may
preen with rapid, rough manipulation of the
feathers instead of the normal calm, methodical preening behavior. If you think your bird
is pruritic, get it examined by a veterinarian
for the many causes of this symptom. If your
veterinarian determines that your bird does
not have an infection you can feed your bird
this maintenance diet as a further diagnostic
test to see if your bird might be suffering
from food allergies. Food allergies can occur
when a bird is exposed to new food items or
they can develop with time toward foods the
bird has consumed for a while. If your bird
has allergies, it might be allergic to several
different things, but if food items are one of
these things you can still see an improvement
by eliminating exposure to that one allergen.
How To Use
If your bird is already eating a pelletized or
extruded diet, switching to Roudybush Rice
Diet should be simple. Just mix the Rice Diet
in with the old diet and gradually decrease
the old diet. When the diet is predominantly
Rice Diet, watch your bird’s droppings or
weigh your bird to make sure it is eating the
Rice Diet well. If your bird is not eating well,
the fecal portion of the dropping will turn
very dark green or black and be smaller than
normal. Feces of birds eating the Rice Diet are
pale green.
If your bird is not eating a pelletized or
extruded diet the most efficient method for
switching your bird is a controlled sudden
introduction. This should only be done
with otherwise healthy birds at normal body
weights. Replace the food in the cage with the
Rice Diet and change your bird’s cage papers
(use paper, not corn cob, walnut shell, or other
litters). Watch your bird’s droppings for two
full days in small species (under 200 grams),
and three full days in larger species (over 200
grams). If your bird’s fecal portion stays very
dark green or black and small until the end
of that time period, it means your bird is not
eating. Give it its old food back and try the
switch again in a week. If the fecal portion
starts becoming larger and lighter green by the
end of the time period, it means the bird has
accepted the new diet. Most birds will make
the switch the first time but some may take
two or three attempts. Many birds will scoop
unfamiliar food out of their feeder or pick it
up and crush it in their beaks before dropping
it, so do not try to determine if your bird is
eating the diet by seeing the bird chewing it
or by its disappearance from the feeder. Watch
the droppings.
Once your bird is eating only the Rice Diet,
do not give it any other food items for up to
10 weeks. Do not give any treats unless it is
unseasoned rice or a rice product with nothing
but rice on the ingredient list. Even one bite
of a food your bird is allergic to can cause a
reaction. Keep a diary of your bird’s preening
and feather picking/mutilation behavior. If
you see a decrease in itchy behavior or an
improvement in feathering, continue feeding
your bird the Rice Diet. This diet is formulated to be a normal maintenance diet for the
life of any bird that is not feeding chicks or
laying more than 8 eggs per year. Therefore, if
you have an allergic bird housed with a normal
bird, they can both eat the Rice Diet. Feed the
Rice Diet free choice with fresh water. Do not
give vitamin or mineral supplements.
Once you have been able to fully evaluate the
results of the diet, you can give your bird treats
by adding them back to the diet one food
item at a time. Wait two weeks before trying
another food item, and watch your bird to see
if the itchy behavior reoccurs. If it does not,
then you know your bird tolerates that food
item and can have it as a treat. If your bird
reacts to the addition of the new food item,
remove it, and wait for the itchiness to subside
before trying another new food item.
Special Homecare Instructions
For Your Bird:
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Av i a n O b e s i t y
Obesity is a common finding in pet birds. If
your bird’s body weight exceeds the normal or
expected body weight for that species by 15%
or more, it is likely to be obese. This condition
is hazardous to your bird’s health due to
increased risks of heart disease (in longer lived
parrots), fatty tumor formation, egg binding,
and respiratory distress during excitement or
exercise. If your bird needs to be anesthetized
for any reason, it will have increased risks of
complications. In addition to these health
risks, breeding success can be decreased in
obese birds due to infertility.
Clinical Signs of Obesity
Table A shows some normal weight ranges for
some species of birds. Comparing the body
weight of your bird to these reference ranges
is one method of diagnosis. Some very large
framed individuals may be 15% heavier than
these figures and not be obese, but these would
be the exception. Obesity may be seen as bald
patches in certain areas where the feather
tracts have separated due to large deposits of
fat under the skin. Your bird may have a wide
stance, with legs spread further apart than
a normal bird. There may be a roll of fat,
a “double chin” visible under the beak.
When the bird is handled, yellow or white fat
deposits are most likely found in the abdomen, seen as a distended, doughy abdomen,
and under the skin along the flanks and inner
thighs, and around the crop and upper breast
area. Moistening the feathers and skin with
alcohol in these areas will help you see the fat.
Obesity is caused by a larger calorie intake
than calorie use over a period of time. This
situation is most likely to occur in pet birds
with limited exercise and high calorie and
fat diets. Birds that are fed diets with large
proportions of sunflower seeds, peanuts, and
walnuts are often prone to obesity. If you feed
your bird high fat or high calorie human foods
such as cheeses, meat, whole milk, cookies,
and cake you can create obesity. Boredom may
also predispose a bird to obesity. The bird may
just sit at the food dish all day, eating.
The most effective way to treat obesity is to
increase exercise and decrease calorie intake
at the same time. Place the food and water
dishes at opposite ends of the cage, especially
with one high and one low, forcing the bird
to move around the cage more. Make sure
your bird finds the new locations of the food
and water and is still eating and drinking.
Cage or flight size can be increased, or time
outside the cage to exercise may be increased.
Table A. Approximate Normal Body Weights (grams)
Average Weight
Standard Deviation
Scarlet Macaw
Blue and Gold Macaw
Green Winged Macaw
Umbrella Cockatoo
Moluccan Cockatoo
Greater Sulfer Crested
Citron Cockatoo
Grand Eclectus Parrot
African Grey Parrot
Blue-fronted Amazon
Mexican Red-headed
Yellow-naped Amazon
Double Yellow-headed
Military Macaw
Hyacinth Macaw
* Taken by permission from Clinical Avian Medicine and Surgery, Harrison & Harrison, 1986,
Appendix 4,p. 662.
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If boredom is a problem, adding toys to the
cage or increasing attention to the bird may
be a solution. Calorie intake can be regulated
by offering a measured amount of food,
changing the diet to reduce calorie content,
and decreasing the fat intake. Feed restriction
will probably not be the most satisfactory
method because it does not satisfy your bird’s
hunger, and a vitamin or mineral deficiency
could occur. Changing the diet to a temporary
reducing diet followed by a permanent low
fat diet is probably the most efficient and
satisfactory way to treat obesity.
Significant weight loss, such as occurs when
treating obesity, should be done under the
guidance from your veterinarian. Your bird
must be closely monitored to assess the rate of
weight loss and to assess whether any newly
substituted diet is being eaten. Higher fat
foods taste better than low fat foods, so a bird
used to fatty foods may be quite reluctant
to eat low fat substitutes. You should clean
the bottom of your cage daily, using paper
as the lining so that the size and color of the
droppings can be checked daily. If your bird
is not eating, the droppings will get darker
green and will be larger and more fleshed out.
Become familiar with what your bird’s normal
droppings look like before the switch. Weight
loss should not exceed three percent per week.
If you are unable to weigh your bird weekly at
home, weekly weigh-in appointments should
be scheduled with your veterinarian.
Birds should be housed individually when
making diet changes. If more than one bird is
being treated for obesity, they should still be
housed separately during the transition to a
new diet so that you can monitor the droppings of each bird. If you must house more
than one bird together, you should weigh the
birds more frequently, twice weekly, to keep
track of what each individual is doing. In the
case of one obese bird and a normal mate,
it is best to separate them during the weight
reduction period, so only the obese bird is feed
restricted or given a reducing diet.
If lipomas are present they may disappear with
the weight reduction. If they are still present
after a normal weight is achieved, medical
management or surgical removal should be
pursued by your veterinarian.
Dietary Management
To achieve weight reduction, a temporary
reducing diet may be indicated. The best diet
for weight reduction is a low energy, low fat,
high fiber diet such as Roudybush Formula
AR. Birds used to consuming a large quantity
of high energy food will be unable to consume
Table B. Patient Record/Weight Reduction
Beginning Body Wt.:
Target Body Wt.:
Recommended Diet:
Target Weight
Actual Weight
Target – Actual
the same number of calories with such a diet
offered free choice. Formula AR has the same
levels of protein, vitamins, and minerals as
the maintenance diet, but the metabolizable
energy is about 2650 kcal/kg compared to
about 3250 kcal/kg in the maintenance diet.
Formula AR is formulated to be the sole
source of food for the bird, but small amounts
of fresh fruits and vegetables can be given as
If your bird is already eating pellets as part
of its diet, switching to Formula AR should
be a simple process. Remove the old diet and
replace it with Formula AR. Clean the cage
at the time of the switch so you can observe
the droppings to make sure your bird is
eating. If the bird is on an all seed diet, it may
not recognize pellets as food. There are two
recommended methods of switching such a
bird onto the diet. One method is to remove
the old food and offer nothing but the pellets.
This should only be done with a bird that
can be closely monitored by weighing twice
weekly and observing the droppings on a daily
basis. If more than 5% body weight is lost in
the first week, the bird should be put back on
the old diet for a week before repeating the
process. The second method is to gradually
introduce the pellets mixed with the old diet.
Start with 1/4 Formula AR mixed with 3/4 of
the original diet. After one week, increase the
proportion of Formula AR to 1/3. During the
transition you should weigh your bird weekly.
If your bird is losing more than 5% of its body
weight go back to a proportion of Formula
AR so that it will lose 3% or less for a week
before continuing with the diet change. Make
gradual increases in the proportion of Formula
AR on a weekly basis until the diet is 100%
Formula AR. At that time you should observe
your bird’s droppings daily to make sure it is
eating. This is a safer method, especially if you
are unable to closely monitor your bird.
Once the weight reduction has been achieved,
switching your bird’s diet onto a Maintenance
or Low-Fat diet can be accomplished by
simply substituting the reducing diet with the
new diet. Typical seed mixtures have about
17% fat as opposed to 3% fat in the Roudybush Low-Fat Maintenance Diet. Putting your
bird back on seeds will increase its chance
of becoming obese again. After the bird is
put onto a Maintenance or Low-Fat diet it
should be weighed every 2–3 weeks for 2–3
months to be sure it is not regaining excessive
weight. If the body weight is staying relatively
constant, yearly check ups and weigh-ins
should be sufficient follow up.
Roudybush Formula AR is sold only through
veterinarians. Use this diet only as directed
by your veterinarian. Feeding this diet to
growing birds may result in nutritional disease
or death.
Obesity can be prevented, treated, and
managed by proper feeding and exercise. Your
birds have a much better chance to live longer,
healthier lives when they are offered proper
nutrition and are kept lean.
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Av i a n K i d n e y D i s e a s e
Your bird has been diagnosed with kidney
disease. this brochure is designed to help you
understand your bird’s condition and help you
provide it with appropriate care.
Kidney disease is any destructive process
within the kidney and may be caused by many
things in birds. It is a relatively common
finding in pet birds. The condition may start
suddenly and only damage the kidney for a
short period of time, called an acute condition; or it may develop slowly and progress,
eventually leading to kidney failure. Kidney
disease can be difficult to diagnose, requiring
a good history, physical exam, laboratory tests,
and quite possibly radiographs and biopsies.
Signs of Kidney Disease
Kidney disease is generally not detected until
at least two thirds of the kidney is damaged.
Early signs of kidney disease are drinking
more water than normal and having watery
droppings. These early signs may be seen by
very observant owners. Often kidney disease is
not diagnosed in birds until it is severe because
the bird can no longer disguise its signs. It will
sit fluffed and sleepy, refuse to eat or eat very
little, and it will lose weight from the breast
until the keel bone (breast bone) is prominent.
Sometimes you may also see signs of articular
gout. The bird will seem uncomfortable when
perching, shifting weight from one leg to the
other. The joints of the feet and legs may be
swollen, lumpy, and look white. The white
lumps are accumulations of urates which can
be deposited because the bird’s kidneys aren’t
eliminating them normally.
In budgerigars (parakeets), especially males
over 3 years of age, you may see one leg
become weak or paralyzed. This is caused by a
tumor growing in the kidney which pushes on
the nerves to the leg as they pass through the
Kidney disease may be due to congenital or
hereditary defects, toxic substances or toxic
levels of certain nutrients, bacterial infections,
fungal infections, vitamin A deficiency, or
tumors. Parasites rarely affect the kidney.
Often the cause of the kidney disease is never
If the history and clinical signs are suggestive
of kidney disease the diagnostic workup your
veterinarian will perform will include complete
blood count and chemistry panel, urinalysis,
and cloacal bacterial culture. Radiographs may
also be needed to arrive at a diagnosis.
The kidneys may be affected as part of a
systemic disease, such as chlamydiosis, bacterial septicemia, and polyomavirus. Occasional
cases of other systemic viruses have also been
reported causing kidney disease.
In handfed babies kidney damage may result
from feeding excessive amounts of vitamin D3
or calcium. If you are feeding a commercial
handfeeding formula you should not supplement the diet with vitamin mixes or vitamin
D3. Calcium levels over 1.2% of the diet may
lead to kidney damage and visceral gout.
Visceral gout is an accumulation of urates
coating the surfaces of internal organs and is
usually diagnosed at necropsy, with biopsy,
or with laparoscopy. There is a common
misconception that high protein diets can
cause kidney damage and the resulting visceral
gout. Research has shown that this is not the
case. Although a bird with underlying kidney
disease will not be able to tolerate normal
levels of protein and may develop visceral or
articular gout. Articular gout has been caused
experimentally in genetically susceptible
turkeys by feeding very high levels of protein,
up to 40%. In poultry, articular gout seems to
be an inherited trait. We do not yet know if
that is true for pet birds.
Other toxic substances that can cause kidney
disease are rhubarb leaves, lead, moldy feed,
antifreeze, and plants of the Oxalis spp.,
such as wood sorrel, fire fern and shamrock.
Treatment with certain antibiotics such as
gentamicin or amikacin can cause kidney
disease, especially if the bird was dehydrated
when it was medicated.
Diagnostic tests specific for certain systemic
diseases may be indicated, such as Chlamydia
ELISA or isolation, polyomavirus DNA probe,
or virus isolation.
Definite diagnosis of kidney disease and its
cause may ultimately require a kidney biopsy.
Once a diagnosis is obtained and treatment
has been started, your veterinarian may need
to repeat many of these tests to evaluate the
effectiveness of the treatment.
Aside from treating any infectious causes with
the appropriate antibiotic, treatment is limited
to supportive care and dietary management.
Dietary management is aimed at reducing
stress or workload on the kidneys. Protein and
mineral levels must be kept low, while certain
vitamin levels are kept high. Roudybush
Formula AK is a commercially available pellet
or crumble, sold by veterinary prescription,
which offers these dietary changes.
If your bird is already accustomed to pellets
or crumbles the transition to Formula AK
should pose no problem. Replace the old diet
with Formula AK and clean your bird’s cage,
using paper to line the cage bottom. Observe
the droppings daily to make sure your bird
is eating the Formula AK. Small, dark green
or blackish droppings indicate your bird is
not eating. Larger, light green, fleshed-out
droppings indicate your bird is eating. If
your bird has not had pellets or crumbles,
the switch should be done gradually and
cautiously. Begin by putting your bird on a
relatively low protein, low mineral diet that
it will readily accept. Normal seed mixes have
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an average of 12.9% protein. Choose food
items with protein levels of 8% or less. Some
acceptable food choices would be: cracked
corn, dried fruit (apples, apricots, bananas),
pearl or proso millet, potato, rice, white wheat
grain, cracked wheat bread, macademia nuts,
cooked or dry macaroni, immature peas,
sweet potato, tapioca, yams, and zwieback.
Such a low protein, low mineral diet should
only be used as a transition diet. It would
not be adequate for long-term support due
to other nutritional considerations. Mix in
the Formula AK gradually, starting with 1/4
Formula AK to 3/4 low protein diet. After 3–4
days, mix 1/3 Formula AK to 2/3 low protein
diet. Make small increases in the proportion
of Formula AK every 3–4 days until the diet
is 100% Formula AK. During this transition
period observe the droppings daily and weigh
your bird twice weekly. Your veterinarian may
suggest you bring your bird in for rechecks
and weigh-ins weekly. In a bird with kidney
disease which is probably starting out in an
underweight condition, weight loss should
be kept to a minimum during the transition,
less than 1% between weighings. If your bird
loses more weight than this, return it to a diet
which it will maintain, or gain, weight on for
one to two weeks before proceeding with the
diet change. If your bird is very ill or if you are
unable to monitor it and weigh it, your bird
should probably be hospitalized during the
transition process.
Once the bird is maintaining or gaining
weight on Formula AK, you may offer
occasional fresh fruit and vegetable treats, but
you should avoid major changes from the diet.
Remember that the length and quality of your
bird’s life may depend on how strictly you
follow the treatment plan. Formula AK is sold
only through veterinarians. Improper use of
the diet in normal or growing birds may cause
nutritional disease or even death. Use the diet
only as directed by your veterinarian.
If your bird has articular gout, your veterinarian may also prescribe allopurinol and or
aspirin to put in its drinking water.
With proper supportive care and dietary
management, your bird’s life may be extended
and the quality of that life may be improved.
The kidney damage that has occurred will
not heal, however, so you must try to prevent
further damage and keep the remaining kidney
tissue from having to work too hard.
Special Homecare Instructions
For Your Bird:
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Av i a n L i v e r D i s e a s e
Your bird has been diagnosed with liver
disease. Liver disease is caused by many things
and is found quite often in pet birds. It may be
part of a systemic disease process or the liver
itself may be specifically affected. Whatever
the cause, supportive care is needed to help the
bird recover while its liver is not functioning
properly. The bird’s liver provides the same
functions as our own livers: to store fat and
sugar, to produce bile, to process and make
certain proteins, to cleanse blood of bacteria,
and to get rid of waste products. So a bird
with liver disease has less ability to do these
Primary liver disease may be caused by bacterial, fungal, viral, or parasitic infections. Liver
disease may also be seen as part of a systemic
infection caused by chlamydia, Pacheco’s
disease, pox, polyomavirus, Psittacine Beak
and Feather disease. Cirrhosis of the liver
is found as part of chronic congestive heart
failure. Tumors may also affect the liver.
There is a condition called fatty liver
syndrome which is being found more and
more frequently. The liver stores too much fat
and cannot function normally. This condition
may be due to certain nutritional deficiencies,
stress, or metabolic problems.
Hemochromatosis, or Iron Storage Disease,
mainly affects toucans and birds of paradise,
but has been found in other species of pet
birds. A commonly held belief is that this
syndrome is caused by too much iron in the
diet. This theory does not appear to be true
because out of the total number of birds fed
diets in excess of 250 to 300 ppm iron, a very
small percentage develop iron storage disease,
If the diet were the cause, this percentage
should be quite high. Other factors need to be
investigated. Research in birds and mammals
so far indicates that stress, genetics, and lead
poisoning may all be factors that can lead to
iron storage disease.
Clinical Signs
Clinical signs of liver disease may include
loss of appetite and weight loss, depression,
increased thirst and urination, regurgitation,
yellow urine or urates, and/or feather, beak,
nail and skin abnormalities. Nervous signs,
such as incoordination or seizures, may be
Because the clinical signs of liver disease are
mostly nonspecific, a diagnostic workup may
need to include many tests. A more definite
diagnosis of liver disease and its cause may
require a liver biopsy or surgery to allow your
veterianian to see the liver.
If possible, specific treatment of the underlying cause of the liver disease must be started.
In addition, supportive care measures should
be used during the recovery process. Your veterinarian may recommend lactulose syrup to
help reduce blood ammonia levels which rise
due to your bird’s inability to process nitrogen
properly. A specialized diet which addresses
the special needs of the bird with liver disease
is also important. Roudybush Formula AL
is formulated to compensate for some of the
problems your bird faces with an improperly
functioning liver. Formula AL helps your bird
function as normally as possible.
If your bird is already accustomed to a
pelletted diet, switching to Formula AL should
be a simple process. Clean your bird’s cage at
the time of the switch, using paper to line the
cage bottom so you can observe the size and
color of the droppings to determine if your
bird is accepting the new diet. If your bird is
eating, the droppings will be light green and
fleshed-out. If your bird is not eating, the
droppings will be very small and dark green
or blackish. If your bird is on a seed diet and
is very ill, it would be advisable to hospitalize
it during the transition process so your
veterinarian can closely monitor its well being
and body weight. If you are able to observe
your bird closely and weigh it twice weekly,
you may try to make the transition at home.
It will be safer to switch your bird to Formula
AL gradually, starting with 1/4 Formula AL
and 3/4 low protein diet. The low protein
diet should be composed of food items with
8% or less protein that your bird will readily
accept. Some possible food items are: cracked
corn, rice, dried fruits (apples, apricots,
bananas), pearl or proso millet, potato, white
wheat grain, cracked wheat bread, cooked or
dry macaroni, immature peas, sweet potato,
tapioca, yams, or zwieback. This transitional
low protein diet is not suitable for long term
support because it is not adequate in other
nutrients. After about 3–4 days, increase
the proportion of Formula AL to 1/3. Continue to increase the proportion of Formula
AL every 3–4 days until the diet is 100%
Formula AL. If your bird loses more than 1%
of its body weight from one weighing to the
next, return it to the proportion of Formula
AL it will maintain, or gain, weight for 1
week before proceeding with the diet change.
Weigh-ins and observations of droppings
are especially important once the bird is on
100% Formula AL.
Formula AL should be fed until the liver
function has returned to normal. At that time
it would be wise to switch your bird onto
Roudybush Maintenance pellets. This diet
will provide your bird with known, state-ofthe-art nutrition and if your bird ever needs a
specialized diet again, it will be easy to switch
it over. In the case of chronic liver disease,
such as cirrhosis, your bird may need to be
maintained on Formula AL for the rest of its
life. Maintaining it on Formula AL will allow
it to live a more normal, better quality life.
Formula AL is sold only through veterinarians.
Improper use of the diet in normal or growing
birds can cause nutritional disease or even
death. Use the diet only as directed by your
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T h e C r i t i c a l C a r e Av i a n Pat i e n t
Because birds are so skilled at masking signs
of illness and because many birds are not
closely observed or frequently handled by their
owners, it is easy to miss your bird’s illness
until you find him down at the bottom of
the cage or flight. Birds often fluff out their
breast feathers so you cannot see that they
have become extremely thin. Unless you
feel its breast you won’t know his condition.
Birds that are extremely depressed or unable
to perch are usually extremely weak, cold,
dehydrated, and have lost an excessive amount
of weight.
When a bird is in critical condition, diagnostic
tests must wait until the bird is stabilized.
Handling should be minimized and limited to
what is necessary to support your bird’s life.
Your veterinarian will probably do the bare
minimum of examination and testing at first.
They will then administer treatments that will
support your bird’s life. When your bird has
stabilized, further examination and diagnostic
tests may be performed.
Supportive Care
While a diagnosis is being obtained and while
specific treatments are being initiated, your
veterinarian will probably want to hospitalize
your bird because it will need specialized
and intensive supportive care which will be
difficult or impossible for you to provide at
home. When your bird is out of immediate
danger, your veterinarian may send your bird
home so it will be in a familiar environment.
Supportive care will often consist of regulating
the temperature for your bird and tube
Adult birds have relatively small crops which
are not as expandable as in chicks. The crop
capacity therefore limits the volume of food
that can be given at one time. It is difficult to
get an adult to gain weight when fed a regular
handfeeding diet due to the limitations of vol20
ume. A high calorie, nutrient dense diet must
be used. Roudybush Formula AA provides
these nutritional considerations. The diet is
available as a convenient gavage formula, just
add warm water to the dry powder and feed.
Tube feeding a weak, emaciated patient can
often be the deciding factor in its survival.
Mix up only the amount of food you’ll use
at that feeding and throw away any leftovers.
Do not feed leftover formula. Heat the water
to about 100–105 F, add powder until the
formula is the consistency of thick pea soup
or until it is the thickest that you can squeeze
through the tube with minimal effort. Feed
the formula as soon as you have mixed it
up. Moisten the end of the tube with water
or a thin film of KY jelly and slide the tube
into your bird’s mouth from either corner
of the beak. Slide the tube down the throat,
looking to see that you have guided it past
the opening to the trachea located in the base
of the tongue. You should be able to feel the
tube through the skin on the right side of the
neck. When the tip of the tube is in the crop
at the base of the neck, push on the syringe
plunger and fill the crop. Feedings should be
given as soon as the bird’s crop empties or
when there is only a small amount left in the
crop. The crop should be filled to capacity
and not overfilled. Overfilling could result in
regurgitation with risk of aspiration. Make the
feeding the last thing you do at that handling.
Further handling after feeding may result in
regurgitation. Every morning the bird should
be weighed before feeding. If there is no
weight gain, the bird is not receiving enough
solids. This could be due to feeding the diet
too dilute, not feeding frequently enough, or
not feeding enough volume at each feeding.
A rule-of-thumb is to give 10–15 grams
dry weight formula per 100 grams of body
weight per 24 hours. The amount of fluids
needed to mix with the formula is generally
more than the amount needed by the bird for
maintenance and rehydration, so you generally
will not need to give additional fluids.
Once your bird has gained back some weight
and has begun eating on its own you can start
to cut back on the number and volume of
feedings. Continue to weigh your bird to
make sure it continues to gain weight.
Although birds lose weight very quickly,
adults gain weight back very slowly if they
are not supplemented with a fortified diet.
Continue supplementing your bird’s diet with
Formula AA until it has returned to a normal
body weight.
Roudybush Formula AA is sold only through
veterinarians. Improper use of this product
in growing birds can cause nutritional disease
or death. Use Formula AA only as directed by
your veterinarian.
Approximate adult crop volumes:
1–2 ml
2–3 ml
3–6 ml
4–12 ml*
15–35 ml*
20–40 ml*
35–60 ml*
* Larger volume for the larger species.
Special Homecare
Instructions For Your Bird:
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D i l atat i o n D i s e a s e
Your bird has been diagnosed with
Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD),
also known as Macaw Wasting Syndrome,
Psittacine Proventricular Dilatation Syndrome
(PPDS), and myenteric ganglioneuritis. At
first avian veterinarians were only seeing it in
macaws, leading to the term Macaw Wasting
Syndrome. Since the early 1970’s it has
become clear that this disease affects most of
the species of parrots kept in captivity.
debilitated bird. It is also possible to miss
the characteristic lesions of PDD in the
biopsy sample.
The cause of PDD is unknown. It is believed
to be caused by a virus, but the identity of
the virus is the subject of controversy. There
is also a theory that an initial viral infection
starts an auto-immune reaction which causes
the disease. Research is currently being done
to learn more about this disease. The disease
appears to be slowly contagious within a flock
and between cagemates.
There is no known specific treatment for
PDD; however, birds can be treated with
anti-inflammatory drugs to resolve the clinical
signs. If there is an underlying virus infection,
it is unknown whether the bird remains
infected or infectious to other birds. Birds can
be maintained during anti-inflammatory treatment with supportive care, mainly consisting
of a specialized diet. The diet should be
relatively high (higher than the normal daily
requirements) in vitamins, minerals, and
protein to compensate for the decreased
digestion and absorption of nutrients. The diet
should also be high in soluble fiber, enhancing
digestion and absorption. Roudybush Formula
APD provides these nutritional considerations.
The diet is available in pellets, crumbles, or a
gavage formula. If your bird is already familiar
with pellets or crumbles, there should be no
problem making the transition to Formula
APD, simply clean the bird’s cage at the time
of the switch, using paper to line the bottom
so you can monitor the size and color of the
droppings daily to be sure that your bird is
consuming the new diet. If the droppings are
light green and bulky, your bird is eating the
diet. If the droppings are small and very dark
green or black, the bird is not eating the new
diet. If your bird is on a seed diet and is only
mildly ill, introduce the diet gradually, starting
with 1/4 Formula APD mixed with 3/4 seed
mix. After 3–4 days increase the amount of
Formula APD to 1/ 3 of the diet. Continue to
gradually increase the proportion of Formula
APD over a 10–14 day period, monitoring
the bird’s body weight twice weekly and
droppings daily to be sure it is eating the new
Clinical Signs
Birds affected by PDD generally show weight
loss, regurgitation, and/or passage of undigested food in their droppings. Often there
are also nervous signs such as incoordination,
frequent falls off the perch, or weakness.
Diagnosis of PDD in a live bird is very
difficult. A tentative diagnosis can be made
by X-rays showing an enlarged proventriculus
without evidence of obstruction of the
intestinal tract. Other causes of proventricular
enlargement must be ruled out. Vent (and
possibly proventricular) cultures and special
stains should be performed to rule out various
infections. Blood or tissue lead and zinc levels
should be determined to rule out heavy metal
toxicosis. Complete blood counts and serum
chemistries should be performed to rule out
other possible causes.
Biopsies of the proventriculus may be taken
to arrive at a definite diagnosis, however, this
procedure is invasive and risky to an already
Diagnosis can be more definite in a dead
bird on post mortem examination, based on
microscopic or electron microscopic examination of the esophagus and stomach.
diet. If your bird loses more than 1% of its
body weight between weighings, put the bird
back on a diet that it will maintain, or gain,
weight on for a week before continuing with
the diet change. If your bird is severely ill or if
you are unable to closely monitor droppings
and body weight, it is advisable to hospitalize
your bird so your veterinarian can begin
dietary management with gavage formula
until the bird is stabilized. Hospitalization
may also be advisable during the transition
from the original diet to Formula APD pellets
or crumbles so the bird’s condition and body
weight can be monitored closely.
Roudybush Formula APD is sold only through
veterinarians. Improper use of this diet in
normal or growing birds can cause nutritional
disease or even death. Use this product only as
directed by your veterinarian.
If a bird is found to be affected by PDD, it
must be kept isolated from other birds and
should not be bred. PDD is slowly contagious.
There are reports of exposed birds first
showing signs of the disease ten years after
exposure. Parents can pass the disease on to
their babies in the nest. Mates of birds that die
of PDD may show no clinical signs themselves
but may pass the disease on to new mates
years later. To date, there is no vaccine or
other preventive measures available.
Special Homecare Instructions
For Your Bird:
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Av i a n E n t e r i t i s
Your bird has been diagnosed with an
intestinal tract inflammation or infection,
called enteritis. Enteritis occurs frequently
in pet birds. The enteritis may be nonspecific, stress-related, or may be due to several
specific causes.
Clinical Signs
Weight loss and diarrhea are the most
common signs of enteritis. Loss of appetite
of varying degrees is also commonly seen.
Occasionally you will see your bird eating
droppings, grit, or litter. In a bird that has
stopped eating, you may not see diarrhea but
you may see small, dark green droppings.
Sometimes your bird will also vomit or
regurgitate when it has enteritis.
If you examine your bird you will usually find
a prominent breast bone, indicating that the
bird has lost breast muscling. The abdomen
may be gaunt or it may feel full with fluid and
gas filled intestines. The vent feathers may be
stained and pasted with droppings.
With long standing enteritis, nutritional
deficiencies may occur, resulting in flakey skin
and dull, tattered feathers.
Non-specific enteritis or stress related enteritis
may be caused by sudden changes in diet or
environment, cold or heat stress. The stress
may cause certain bacteria or yeasts which
normally occur in the intestinal tract in low
numbers to overgrow. Stress may also cause
your bird to become less able to fight off
infections from organisms that are common
in the environment or that aren’t normally
causes of infection. An imbalance of normal
bacterial flora resulting in enteritis may also
be seen after treatment with broad spectrum
antibiotics, such as chlortetracycline.
Specific causes of enteritis include pathogenic
bacteri (Salmonella spp., Clostridia perfringens, Chlamydophilia psittaci, avian tubercu22
losis), parasites (Giardia spp., coccidia, other
single-cell parasites, roundworms, tapeworms),
toxins (lead, various plants, household
chemicals, rapeseed, sprouted sunflower seeds,
avocado, caustic chemicals, rodenticides), and
viruses (paramyxovirus, poxvirus, Pacheco’s
Disease, polyomavirus, Proventricular Dilatation Disease, reovirus, and Psittacine Beak and
Feather Disease). A class of yeast called gastric
yeast have been found associated with enteritis
and proventriculitis, but we do not yet know
if it is a pathogenic, a secondary invader, or
a member of the normal bacterial flora that
becomes imbalanced.
Because there are so many possible causes
of enteritis your veterinarian must perform
several diagnostic tests to determine the cause
and find the best treatment. Usually these
tests will include a fecal exam, cultures, special
stains on fecal specimens, and complete blood
count and serum chemistries.
Whenever possible the underlying cause of
the enteritis must be identified and treated.
In addition to specific treatment, nutritional
supportive care is helpful until the enteritis is
resolved. Birds that refuse to eat may need to
be supported by force feeding a diet which is
fortified with extra nutrients to compensate
for poor digestion and absorption. The diet
should travel slowly through the intestinal
tract to aid digestion and absorption and to
decrease diarrhea. The diet should also be
gentle to the irritated intestine. Roudybush
Formula AI provides these nutritional
considerations. Formula AI is available as a
gavage formula, a dry powder easily mixed
with warm water to be fed by syringe or tube.
It is also available as pellets or crumbles for
birds that are still eating on their own. If your
bird is already eating pellets or crumbles,
switching it to Formula AI should be a simple
procedure. Replace the old diet with Formula
AI and clean the cage at the time of the switch.
Observe the size and color of the droppings
daily to make sure your bird is eating the new
diet. Small, dark green droppings indicate that
your bird is not eating the new diet. Light
green, fleshed-out droppings indicate that your
bird is eating the new diet. If your bird is not
familiar with pellets or crumbles, a gradual
transition is advisable. Begin by feeding 1/4
Formula AI and 3/4 original diet. After 3–4
days increase the proportion of Formula AI
to 1/3. Continue increasing the proportion
of Formula AI every 3–4 days, monitoring
droppings daily and body weight twice weekly
to determine if it is eating. If your bird loses
more than 1% of its body weight in one week,
put it back on a diet it will maintain, or gain,
weight on for a week before continuing with
the diet change.
Continue to feed Formula AI for several
days after the enteritis is gone to allow your
bird to replenish any depleted vitamin and
mineral stores and to protect the healing
intestine from damage. Your bird may then be
gradually weaned back onto the original diet
or onto a maintenance pellet or crumble. The
transition should be gradual to avoid further
disturbance of the intestinal tract. It is wise
to wean your bird onto a maintenance pellet
or crumble such as Roudybush Maintenance
Diet. Maintenance Diet provides your bird
with known, state-of-the art nutrition and if
your bird ever requires a specialized diet in the
future he or she will readily accept it because
they are already familiar with pellets.
Roudybush Formula AI is sold only through
veterinarians. Improper use of the diet in
normal or growing birds may cause nutritional
disease or death. Use the diet only as directed
by your veterinarian.
Special Homecare Instructions
For Your Bird:
Premium Food For Your Valuable Pet • To Order Call (800) 326-1726 •
Switching a Flock to
M e d i c at e d P e l l e t s
Roudybush Medicated pellets or crumbles
are formulated specifically for the flock
treatment and prevention of Chlamydiosis, or
Psittacosis, caused by Chlamydophila psittaci.
They contain 1% chlortetracycline (CTC)
and a low level of calcium as required by law
for the 45-day treatment. Other drugs via
injections or individual oral dosing may treat
Chlamydiosis, but in flock situations where
it is not feasible to catch each bird daily, feed
must be the vehicle to administer the medication. Food consumption to maintain body
weight is relatively constant. The medicated
pellets should not be used alone initially
for moderately or severely ill birds. These
individuals should be treated with injectable
or orally dosed drugs. The pellets are intended
for use to control Chlamydophila psittaci
in subclinically infected birds, and mildly
affected birds.
In any given flock of birds, some individuals
will not switch readily to the medicated diet.
This will be more of a widespread problem if
the birds are not already familiar with a pellet
or crumble. In that case the birds do not even
recognize the diet as food. Even in flocks that
are already eating a pellet or crumble, some
individuals will detect the slightly bitter taste
or slightly different odor of the medicated diet.
This can be a dangerous problem because you
probably will not be able to tell who is eating
the diet and who is not when several birds are
housed together. If the problem isn’t detected
and resolved, birds have been known to starve
to death before choosing to eat the diet.
You cannot supply treats or non-medicated
food for them to eat because they will not
eat enough of the medicated food to kill the
You can monitor your birds by weighing
them or handling them and feeling for the
prominence of their keel bones every few days.
Pull birds that are losing significant amounts
of weight and house them together and offer
them other medicated choices, continuing
to monitor them—they are identified as
your problem birds. If this is not feasible, a
relatively safe switching technique is to offer
all the birds other medicated choices. Because
the pellets or crumbles will be less expensive
and more convenient than the other choices,
you will want to try to wean the birds off
the other choices, or at least cut back to a
minimum amount, offering predominantly
pellets or crumbles.
Your other choices can be doxycycline
medicated water or a homemade doxycycline
mash. It is much more likely that all your birds
will eat at least one of these three choices.
To make the doxycycline mash you will need
to get a prescription of doxycycline capsules
from your veterinarian. The veterinarian
who diagnosed Chlamydiosis in your flock
should be happy to do so. Mix the following
ingredients thoroughly using a blender or
food processor: 290 grams cooked corn (10
ounces), 290 grams cooked kidney beans,
290 grams cooked brown rice, 130 grams (5
ounces) dry oatmeal, 500 mg doxycycline.
are known to be able to become silent carriers
of the disease. They may act normal and shed
the organism into the environment in their
droppings or respiratory secretions. They can
also act normal and not shed any organisms
until they become stressed by something. At
that time they may or may not show clinical
signs again and start shedding the organism
into the environment. Treatment with 45 days
of medicated pellets does not prevent that
carrier state from occurring. Also, sometimes
you may find that you will need to go longer
than 45 days to control the current outbreak.
Sometimes this is related to the fact that some
birds weren’t eating enough food to maintain
their body weight for the first week or two
of treatment so they weren’t maintaining a
therapeutic dose of CTC in their bodies for
that time.
Special Homecare Instructions
For Your Bird:
Doxycycline medicated water should not be
given in addition to the medicated pellets or
mash. It is an alternative treatment option
for birds that do not accept the medicated
foods. Effective and safe dose levels have been
established for three species to date, doses may
vary between species. Consult your veterinarian regarding safe dosing for the species you
need to medicate.
Remember to remove calcium supplements
from the flights and cages when you start
medicating. The calcium binds with the CTC
and makes it unavailable to the bird.
The federal government currently does not
approve any other drugs for use in commercially manufactured exotic bird foods.
So as yet it is not possible to manufacture
a doxycycline pellet.
Feeding a medicated diet for 45 days is
not a guaranteed cure or eradication of
Chlamydophila psittaci from your flock. Birds
340 Hanson Way, Woodland, CA 95776, USA
1 (800) 326-1726