|The Budgerigar Council of Victoria Inc (A10055P)|
|Vitamins for Budgies|
by Dr Patricia Macwhirter B. V.Sc. (Hons), F.A.C.V.Sc.
Are you a little bewildered by the array of vitamin and mineral supplements available for birds and the conflicting stories as to what is needed to achieve top performance? If so you are not alone. I'm often asked which products are best and there is not a single simple answer to this question. It depends on husbandry practices, what else is being fed, the bird's general health and its life stage - whether it is growing, rnoulting, egg laying, raising young or just loafing.
It is important to recognize that seed diets are generally very unbalanced. Depending on the types of seed offered they usually contain excessive levels of fat but they are often deficient in a long list of nutrients including vitamins A, D3, E and KI as well as riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, biotin, choline, iodine, iron, copper, manganese, sodium, calcium, zinc and some amino acids. Adult budgies can survive on an all seed diet but their performance will not be optimal. On the other hand, over supplementation with vitamins and minerals can also harmful. Clinical problems associated with malnutrition are often complex diseases that involve nutrition, environs- mental factors as well as infectious organisms. Understanding the role played by important vitamins can help to prevent disease.
Fat Soluble Vitamins - Vitamins A, D3, E
To minimize the risk of bumble foot be sure your birds receive sufficient vitamin A, good nutrition generally and don't become overweight. Avoid sandpaper perch covers and provide perches of varying diameters.
In mild cases of vitamin A deficiency in young birds the only, clinical sign seen may be increased drinking and passing excessive amounts of urine. This is caused by abnormal membrane formation along the urinary tract and it is readily reversible if vitamin A supplementation is given. In more severe cases small white pustules may be seen in the back of the mouth or lumps may occur in the mouth, especially under the tongue due to the blockage of salivary ducts. The lining of the respiratory tract may also become damaged, making the bird susceptible to respiratory tract infections, there may also be discharge or swelling around the eyes. Reproductive performance may also be affected and there can be reduced egg production, egg binding and poorly formed eggs. In males there may be abnormal sperm formation. In cases of severe vitamin A deficiency treatment with injectable vitamin A may be necessary initially to resolve the clinical problems, be followed by correcting the diet to ensure that the birds are receiving optimal levels long-term. (other vitamins will be covered in subsequent articles)