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Forum » Our Community » General Health Care » Hand Rearing Problems READ THIS!
Hand Rearing Problems READ THIS!
AdminDate: Monday, 2011-06-06, 4:15 AM | Message # 1
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Hand-rearing Problems



Success in hand-rearing psittacine birds requires good management, cleanliness, good nutrition, and attention to signs of problems so that they may be corrected quickly. Commercial handrearing formulas, brooders and other equipment have taken much of the trial and error out of handrearing, however adherence to proper use of these products is needed for success. The art of proper husbandry is still needed for chicks to thrive.

Recognition of problems, evaluation of clinical signs, and trouble shooting can help to differentiate problems of a medical nature from husbandry related problems. The following table was created in order to simplify this process and help aviculturists know when they need to see a veterinarian for evaluation and treatment of a neonate


While some aviculturists elect to handrear large numbers of birds routinely, others prefer to handrear only birds which are ill or have been abused or abandoned by the parents. Keep in mind that these problem chicks are beginning in a compromised state and therefore a routine exam including cultures and possibly examination for parasites is indicated prior to the bird entering the nursery. Viral diseases may also be introduced into the nursery with the addition of parent raised birds. Some aviculturists maintain these birds separate from their chicks which are raised from the egg or have been in the nursery for a while and are stable.

This table is set up as a checklist of possible problems that should be considered in birds exhibiting a particular clinical sign. The clinical sign, or symptom, is listed followed by a differential diagnostics list, diagnostic suggestions or courses of action.

1. Crop does not empty

A. Infection

* Etiologic Diagnostics:
* Bacterial infection
* Culture & Sensitivity - Choanal, Crop, Cloacal
* Check Water/food sources for contamination
* Gram Stain - fecal cytology
* Chlamydial Testing
* Virus screening
* Polyoma
* Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease
* Proventricular Dilatation Disease
* Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus (USA)
* Herpes virus (Pacheco¹s Parrot Disease)
* Parasitic
* Fecal direct smear, floatation
* Specialized antigen deteciton tests
* Giardia
* Cryptosporidia
* Trichomonas
* Hexamita
* Roundworms (Other helminths)
* Mycotic
* Culture, Gram Stain
* Candidia Aspergillus
* General Diagnostics:
* Complete Blood Count
* Plasma Protein Electrophoresis
* Blood Chemistries
* Radiographs
* Endoscopy
* Fecal direct and floatation
* Fecal and crop cytology or gram stains
* Crop cytology and direct smears

B. Gut stasis due to systemic disease

* Infection - See 1A
* Review Husbandry
* Blood Chemistries (liver or kidney disease)
* Kidney Disease
* Liver Disease
* Congenital Malformation

C. Overfeeding

* Review feeding schedule
* Feed approximately 10% of body weight/ feeding
* Some species feed up to 15% of body weight
* Feeding too often, allow crop to almost completely empty prior to next feeding

D. Food or chick too cold

* Review Husbandry
* Check brooder temperature
* Room temperature fluctuations
* Check temperature of formula
* Excessive ventilation fan

E. Chick too hot

* Review husbandry
* Check brooder and room temperature
* Check brooder ventilation
* Too many chicks in confined area
* Chick ready to reduce temperature

F. Chick dehydrated

* Check hydration by skin turgor
* Hematocrit
* Review husbandry
* Brooder temperature and humidity
* Brooder ventilation excessive
* Improper mixing of formula

G. Too high percent solids of formula

* Check mixing consistency of current formula (weight of dry formula/weight of mixed formula X 100 + % solids)Make sure % solids offered is appropriate for age
* Check mixing characteristics of batch of formula(Always check each new batch for mixing as it varies)

H. Crop atony - Crop stretched due to overfeeding

* Use crop support - Crop Bra
* Flush crop as needed
* Feed smaller quantities more often

I. Foreign body consumption, impaction

* Review type bedding material
* Palpate crop for foreign bodies
* Surgical or manual removal
* Digestive enzymes to help dissolve bedding
* Radiography with contrast (Barium)

J. Fermentation of food in crop - sour crop

* Flush crop as needed to remove old food
* Reflux of acid from proventriculus
* Souring of food because in crop too long
* Bacterial or Fungal infection (See 1A)

K. Intussussception, volvulus L. Some individual chicks, and some species, never completely empty and to withhold food in these chicks will result in stunting due to inadequate caloric intake.

2. Crop emptying too fast

A. Hypermotile intestine - Diarrhea Infection (See 1A) B. Too low percent solids (See 1F) C. Inadequate food volume

* Review feeding schedule
* Feed more often
* Feed approximately 10% of body weight in food each feeding (Most formulas weight approx. 1 gram/ml)

D. Older chicks may empty rapidly and be normal and well nourished

3. Chick is not growing

A. Infection (See 1A) B. Environmental or dietary contamination

* Review husbandry Practices
* Check water quality

C. Malnutrition

* Diet inappropriate for species; check recommendation for the species
* Improper mixing of formula (See 1G)

D. Inadequate food intake

* Inadequate feeding frequency or volume (Review recommendations)

E. Chick too cold (See 1D) F. Chick too hot (See 1E) G. Congenital abnormality H. Incubation related problem

* Review incubation techniques and records
* Review history of egg and chick
* Eliminate other possibilities

I. Parasitism (See 1A)

4. Chick is vomiting

A. Normal crop shrinkage at weaning

* Has chick reached peak weight? A normal chick will begin to refuse food or throw up small quantities of formula after a feeding as it begins to wean.
* Reduce volume fed by amount vomited (if small percentage)

B. Food is too hot or too cold

* Check temperature of food by thermometer or on your skin. Some species (African Greys) like the food hotter than others do.

C. Overfeeding - Obese chick

* Evaluate chicks weight (palpate)
* Reduce feeding frequency or volume for obese chicks
* Obesity can lead to fatty liver degeneration

D. Infection (See 1A) E. Gout - Kidney Disease Diagnostics:

* Blood Uric Acid, phosphorus levels
* Urinalysis Complete Blood count (CBC)
* Dehydration may result in kidney damage
* Look for dehydration and subcutaneous irate
* Subcutaneous urate deposits
* Malnutrition
* Excessive Vitamin D3 or mineral supplementation
* Too high percent solids (See 1G)
* Toxins
* Alfatoxins, vomitoxins
* Clostridium endotoxins
* Heavy metals
* Congenital malformation
* Developmental abnormalities. Incubation related?
* Genetic abnormalities
* Idiopathic

F. Vitamin D3 toxicity

* Check with manufacturer
* Do not add supplemental vitamins to commercial formulas

G. Polyoma Viral Infection

* Test for polyoma virus antibody, DNA or shedding of organism

H. Foreign body ingestion (See 1I) I. Food Allergy - Not well documented in birds. Try changing diet

5. Chick won't eat

A. Food too hot or cold

* Check temperature and mixing procedures
* Food sitting too long before feeding

B. Overfeeding - Chick is obese (See 9K) C. Chick stressed or frightened

* Observe behavior
* If bird was recently removed from nest skip meals to allow bird to become hungry
* Evaluate handling procedures
* May occur after a stressful event such as shipping. Let the chick get hungry. Don't force it to eat.

D. Chick is ready to wean Reduce feeding as bird weans E. Lock Jaw

* Bordetella infection (or other bacteria possible)
* Bacterial culture - choana

F. Chick doesn't like the taste of the food

* Add sweeteners or flavors to food if other options exhausted

G. Blindness

* Chick, which should be weaned and is not eating, may have a visual problem.

6. Chick begs excessively

A. Malnutrition

* Review dietary recommendations for species
* Inadequate protein/fat levels in diet

B. Inadequate feeding volume or frequency C. Too low % solids D. Chick too cold E. Kidney Disease- Gout (see 4E) F. Continuous light ñ too long daylight hours

* Provide at least 12 hours darkness
* Heating with light bulbs
* Darken brooders, rooms, and lights out at night

G. Chick spoiled

* Some chicks such as cockatoos are easily spoiled
* May need to refrain from handling between feedings in order to wean bird

H. Too high dietary protein? I. Infection (see 1A)

7. Chick is too thin

A. Malnutrition B. Inadequate food volume C. Inadequate feeding frequency D. Infection (see 1A) E. Too low percent solids (See 1F) F. Stunting (See 8)

8. Stunting - Failure to thrive

A. Malnutrition B. Inadequate caloric intake

* Too low percent solids
* Inadequate feeding frequency
* Inadequate time span between first and last feeding of the day

C. Infection (see 1A) D. Temperature too low or high E. Environmental contamination resulting in repeated infections

* Water Contamination
* Poor utensil or hand hygiene
* Poor food hygiene or storage
* Air borne contaminants

F. Congenital problems G. Incubation problems, weak hatch

* Temperature too high
* Temperature too low
* Malposition
* Humidity too high
* Humidity too low
* Vibration
* Inadequate or excessive turning
* Egg Trauma

H. Genetic incompatibility of parents I. Toxicity Disinfectants - excessive use or too toxic

* Impurities or excessive minerals in the water (excessive chlorine)
* Additives to formula
* Excessive vitamins or minerals
* Additives high in salts

9. Chick is too fat

A. Food too high in calories for species

* Review dietary recommendations for the species
* Some species such as Moluccan cockatoos (Cacatua moluccensis) have a tendency to become obese.

B. Excessive volume of frequency of feeding for species and age C. Fatty Liver

* May occur in obese chicks and can be fatal

D. May confuse with ascites (See 25)

10. Chick is pale

A. Too cold B. Anemia

* Malnutrition
* Stunting

C. Sudden blood loss

* Bleeding toes or wing tips (See 20)
* Internal hemorrhage
* Polyoma virus infection

D. Intestinal hemorrhage

* Intussussception
* Cryptosporidium
* Clostridium infection
* Bacterial enteritis
* Starvation
* Polyoma virus infection

E. Hepatic Hematoma

* Traumatic Handling, especially lifting with hands putting pressure on liver.
* Dropping or other blunt trauma
* Nutritional predisposition?

F. Chick in shock

* Terminal stages of many diseases
* Toxicity

G. Some species (ie Umbrella cockatoo - Cacatua alba) normally look pale in comparison to other species

11. Chick's skin is too red

A. Too hot B. Infection - Sepsis (See 1A) C. Dehydration (See 1F) D. Inadequate subcutaneous fat. Can see muscles through the skin (See 8)

12. Skin is dry

A. Dehydration (See 1F)

B. Low environmental humidity

C. Excessive brooder ventilation

D. Low dietary fat

E. Often seen in normal chicks of some species such as Eclectus, Alisterus, Psittacula

F. Drying bedding, such as wood shavings, paper toweling Dry skin of feet in lories may result in malformation of toes May contribute to constricted toes in Eclectus, Psittacus, Aras. Adding water to shavings to moisten feet will alleviate Adding saline moistened toweling under bedding helps alleviate constricted toes

13. Beak is malformed

A. Developmental

* Lateral Deviation Malformation of upper beak in macaws is often associated with irregularities in occlusal surface of lower beak and can often be corrected by trimming and physical therapy. Underbite Malformation of upper beak in cockatoos often corrected by trimming and physical therapy Advanced or severe cases may require correction by acrylic orthodontic device.

B. Congenital abnormality

* Review history of siblings, genetic problem possible but probably uncommon Review incubation history

C. Improper handling

* Review feeding and cleaning techniques which may contribute to malformations

D. Injury

* Siblings
* Parents
* Handfeeders
* Injury on wire or cages or other environmental hazards

E. Malnutrition

* Improper calcium/phosphorus ratio in diet
* Excess calcium supplementation resulting in phosphorus deficiency
* Vitamin A or Vitamin D deficiency
* Improper formulation of diet
* Excessive supplementation with vegetables containing oxalates
* Diet too old, stored improperly
* Diet was overheated in shipment, storage or cooking

F. Idiopathic developmental

14. Splay leg

A. Congenital abnormality

B. Inadequate bedding slippery surfaces in housing

* Toweling or paper toweling too smooth or tight woven
* Feeding surface smooth and slick
* Particulate bedding too shallow

C. Parents sitting too tightly

D. Injury

* Fracture
* Contracted tendons ñ hyper extension of knee
* Rotational deformity of femur
* Luxation of knee, usually turns medially

E. Chick too fat - can't get legs close enough together for good footing (See 9)

F. Malnutrition

* Improper calcium/phosphorus ratio especially for parent reared chicks
* Vitamin D3 deficiency

G. Premature closure of lateral growth plate of proximal tibiotarsus

* Radiography
* Cautery of growth plate
* Hobbling or splinting

15. Crooked toes

A. Congenital/developmental

B. Improper calcium/phosphorus ratio

C. Standing on hard flat surfaces

* Nails of third toes are often rotated laterally
* More common in heavy birds such a Cacatua moluccensis - Use deeper bedding, trim toenails, earlier perching available

D. Dry skin on feet

* Dry, desiccating bedding such as wood chips may cause drying of skin of feet and constrictions that cause deformities of developing feet - especially in lories (See 12F) A measured quantity of water can be added to shavings to prevent this problem.

16. Crooked neck/back

A. Congenital/developmental

B. Improper calcium/phosphorus ratio

C. Injury Falling Improper lifting

D. Inadequate nutrition of parents resulting in calcium deficient egg

17. Chick won't sit up

A. Normal posture at various stages of development for some species

B. Injury ñ Fracture

C. Inappropriate bedding - slippery

D. Fear - Stress

E. Spinal deformity - scoliosis (See 16)

18. Chick lays on its back

A. Normal or common behavior in some species (Very young Poicephalus or Psittacus, Older Aras)

* Behavior response to sound, approach, stimulus, protective behavior

B. Fear response especially in older chicks, especially if removed from nest too late

C. Neurological problem, congenital/developmental or toxicity

19. Chick throws it's head over back

A. Crooked neck - Scoliosis (See 16)

B. Neurological problem

C. Hyperflexion of neck muscles, tetany Often good response to neck splints, massage, calcium supplementation

D. Improper calcium/phosphorus ratio

20. Bloody bedding

A. Abrasion of skin of feet or wing tips

* Paper toweling too abrasive
* Apply bandages to toes or feet
* Provide softer bedding
* Increase environmental humidity or saline soaked toweling below bedding
* Hyperactive chick - treading continually in container (See 6)

B. Blood in stool Intussussecption

C. Injury - examine chick

D. Polyoma Virus infection

* Often bleed excessively from very minor injuries such as pulling a blood feather (See 1A and 47)

21. Dark (Wine colored) stains on bedding

A. Normal metabolite in urine of some species (Pionus, Amazons, Psittacus)

B. Natural Betacarotines in foods such as yellow corn

C. Supplemental betacarotines

D. Reaction of unknown substances (perhaps iodine based) with starches in paper toweling

E. Possible photoreactive pigments

F. Possible reaction to oxygen (Rusting of iron metabolites)


22. Chick eats bedding


A. May be associated with malnutrition

B. Inappropriate bedding

C. Inadequate feeding - hunger

D. Ready to wean - playing with objects in enclosure

23. Chick swallows tube

A. Tube too short

B. Tube easily slips off syringe

24. Food pasted to chicks face

A. Sloppy feeding - Slow dribbling of food

* Learn rapid feeding techniques
* Train chicks to readily accept feedings

B. Inadequate cleanliness of chicks

C. Chick regurgitating on itself or cage mates

D. Formula too adhesive to feathers - modern formulas flake off easily when dry

E. Dirty environment - clean more frequently

25. Abdominal distention

A. Normal in parent raised chicks - Due to high percent solids and particulate nature of food fed by parents the ventriculus is often very prominent

B. Chick too fat (See 9)

C. Liver enlarged

* Infection (See 1A)
* Congential malformation
* Fatty Liver

D. Ascites - Fluid accumulation in abdomen

* Congenital heart defect
* Congenital liver circulation defect
* Low blood protein

E. Viral Serositis - Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus infection

F. Proventricular Dilatation Disease

G. Cloacal atresia in hatchling ñ cant defecate

* Pass a very small swab into the cloaca to make sure it is patent

H. Constipation, Pasted vent

I. Intestinal stasis

26. Can't open mouth

A. Lock Jaw

* Bordetella (a bacteria) infection
* Other bacteria may also be involved such as Enterococcus
* Culture and sensitivity testing

B. Fear or stress - May be associated with pulling from nest or rough handling

27. Lesions in mouth

A. Candidiasis

B. Bacterial stomatitis

C. Vitamin A deficiency

D. Pox Virus infection

E. Bite wounds from siblings

F. Trichomoniasis

G. Pharyngeal puncture

28. Crop feels thick and doughy

A. Candidiasis

B. Dehydration - Chick utilizes fluids and food remains in crop

C. Crop Stasis

D. Too high percent solids

E. Trauma crop/pharyngeal puncture

29. Dark lines visible on abdomen

A. Dark intestinal contents (often hemorrhagic) (See 10D)

B. Infection (See 1A)

C. Starvation - gut stasis

D. Often normal appearance of intestines in newly hatched chick

30. Swelling/scab at Umbilicus

A. Poor umbilical seal

B. Infection

C. Normal umbilical scab of neonate - drops off when 3-10 days old

31. Red Mass, Intestine protruding from rectum

A. Intussussception - Telescoping of one section of the intestine into another - usually fatal if intestinal segment is seen protruding from rectum

B. Cloacal prolapse - Distinguishable from intussussception on physical exam

32. Toes swollen or constricted

A. Twine threads wrapped around digits

B. Constricted toe syndrome

* May be associated with desiccation, low environmental humidity (See 12)
* Surgical repair - See your veterinarian
* Can result in loss of toes if not corrected
* Idiopathic

33. Eyes swollen

A. Infection

B. Foreign body

C. Stunted - eyes appear prominent

D. Congenital deformity with prominent anterior chamber - lutino ringneck (Psittacula krameri)

E. Lacrimal sac infection, abscessation - see veterinarian

F. Sinusitis

34. Eyes fail to open at proper time

A. Stunting (See 8)

B. Lids sealed - low environmental humidity

C. Congenital abnormality

* Arts of lids
* Micro-ophthalmia

35. Ears full of white material

A. Stunting - small ear opening especially common in stunted macaws (See 8)

B. Infection - bacterial, fungal

C. Neotropical psittacines ears are not open at hatching and open at approximately the same time as the eyes

D. Vitamin A deficiency

36. Delayed feather emergence

A. Stunting (See 8)

B. Malnutrition

C. Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease

D. Polyoma virus infection

E. Temperature too high?

37. Feathers malformed

A. Malnutrition

B. Unknown nutritional/metabolic problem

C. Photoperiod too long

D. Low environmental humidity- drying of the tips of feather sheaths of pin feathers

E. Feather Fungus

F. Infectious

* Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease
* Polyoma virus infection

G. Trauma to the emerging pin feathers especially secondary flight feathers


38. Indented lesions on beak


A. Bites from cage mates

B. Beak tip caught in cage wire

C. Beak too soft - improper calcium/phosphorus ratio (See 13E)

39. Bloody lesions inside mouth

A. Bite wounds from siblings

B. Pharyngeal puncture

40. Swelling/discoloration of head, neck and crop

A. Bite wounds from siblings

B. Pharyngeal or esophageal punctures

* Emergency - requires immediate surgical intervention

C. Crop burns

D. Subcutaneous emphysema

* Leakage of air under skin from airsacs
* Usually associated with trauma

41. Ballooning of skin

A. Subcutaneous emphysema

B. Distention of cervicocephalic airsac

C. Air-gulping

* Swallowing of air during or after feeding
* Potentiated by dribble ng
* Fermentation of food in the crop producing gas

42. Air in crop

A. Air-gulping

B. Slow feeding, swallowing air with food

C. Forcing air into crop with syringe and/or tube feeding

D. Fermentation of food in the crop

43. Diarrhea

A. Infection (See 1A)

B. Parasitism ñ Protozoa/worms (See 1A)

C. Contamination of food or water

D. Excessive dietary protein for age or species

E. Malnutrition

F. Intussussception

G. Intestinal hemorrhage-Starvation (See 10D)

H. Excessive dietary milk products - Lactose intolerance

I. Excessive insoluble fiber in diet

J. Excessive vegetable or fruits in diet

K. Abrupt change in diet - make dietary changes gradually

L. Food allergy

44. Polyuria

A. Low percent solids (See 1G)

B. Vitamin D toxicity

C. Congenital/ developmental kidney disease (See 4E)

D. Polyoma virus infection E. Too high dietary mineral content

F. Diabetes - Blood profile

45. Nasal Discharge

A. Chick is too cold

B. Infection (See 1A)

C . Sinusitis

D. Foreign body in nostrils

E. Vitamin A deficiency

F. Choanal atresia

G. Aspiration of food

* Food aspirated into lungs
* Food aspirated in nostrils/sinuses

H. Dusty Environment

* Check air-conditioner filters
* Check brooder filters, fans
* Particulate matter in room such as from bedding materials - don't empty tubs of bedding inside the building
* Low environmental humidity, respiratory tissues become dry and irritated

I. Allergies?


46. Labored breathing, panting

A. Aspiration of food - aspiration pneumonia

B. Chick too hot

C. Infection, pneumonia

D. Ascites- abdominal distention (See 25)

E. Obesity (See 9)

F. Abdominal pain

47. Hemorrhage when feather pulled

A. Polyoma virus infection - possibly other severe systemic infections

B. Possible vitamin K deficiency

48. Death

Don't guess. Have your veterinarian perform a necropsy. Necropsy is a vital diagnostic tool for flock management.
 
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