LUBARP: Going Light

The Liverpool University Budgerigar Ailment Research Project, sponsored by the Lancashire, Cheshire and North Wales including the Isle of Man Budgerigar Society, was started in 1984 and ran for 8 years.

The topic chosen for 1984-5 was ‘going light’. Many diseases of cage birds make them lose weight and ‘go light’ and it was initially thought that the investigation would just reveal a mixture of all sorts of diseases. While this was partly true, one condition in particular stood out as being very common. In this disease there is degeneration of the lining of the intestine, where the bulk of the food is absorbed; the lining goes on degenerating, less and less food is absorbed and eventually the bird dies of starvation.

The question then arose as to why the intestine degenerated. The nature of the changes suggested the possibility that this was a type of allergic reaction and this was shown to be the case; it was initially hoped that only one food type would be involved but it eventually transpired that almost any food could induce the condition. So why did the birds show this ‘allergy’? Some fanciers suggested that the condition ran in families and to see if this was the case birds going light were collected and received a treatment which is both expensive and impractical for fanciers to use. A number of these birds were thus brought into breeding condition and their chicks suffered from the condition where those from normal birds did not. To summarise the findings, ‘going light’ is an inherited predisposition to a sensitivity to food components and lines of birds where the condition has been proved to be present should not be used for breeding.

Original text Copyright 1985, Dr John R Baker.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon Tracy August 1, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Today I lost my little female parakeet. When I removed her body from the cage, I could feel every bone in her little body. She had been eating more and more every day. Little did I know that she was starving to death. This is a terrible disease because they still eat and drink. I hope this comment helps someone else even though there is no cure.


Sheila Warne October 12, 2012 at 12:36 am

Your comment did help me. Today I lost both of my little budgies, within hours of each other. Their bodies were as you describe. I had noticed them spitting up bird seed and very anxious to eat, especially their millet sprays and chickweed greens. I wish I had known that they could look so healthy with their feathers but be dying from starvation due to this condition. I did read elsewhere that the problem is called megabacteriosis which there is a medicine for but not readily available.
Thank you for your posting.


Anthony October 14, 2012 at 7:27 am

As an owner, you really need to get educated on your birds in sickness & in health..I don’t understand the above comments…There is a few medications to treat AGY (Mega Bacteria) I used Metronidazole also known as Flagyl in the past and it worked great!! My little Felix was at the bottom of his cage, not tame. I reached in and he could care less if I touched him (classic sign of mega) I picked him up and my God, felt like a feather! Knowing what I thought he had, gave him Metronidazole and also a few drops of Ivermectin just because…Sure enough, about 45 minutes later he was up and about again..The next day, fine!!! Now, for MB, you need to elevate the PH which you can use Banking Soda to do so…Also what works as a prevention is, Apple Cider Vinegar! MB cannot stand an acid environment and both of the above provide this…Plus, ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) is loaded with vitamins, Minerals, its almost a miracle drink. Why? I have a web member friend from a Budgie site. Her bird had a tumor, she used ACV for a few weeks and BAM! it was gone,,She brought the bird back to the Vet again where they did a few X-Rays and it was confirmed..Since that time, her Vet now advises others to use it..

I use it on my flock of 20 3 times a week..I also use Aloe Vera Gel, putting 1 cc to 1 Litre water..Again, this is another miracle liquid!! USE IT!! Another hit! A vet sent a bird home to die, could not figure what was wrong with it..The owner started using Aloe Vera Gel (can find it in most health stores and some markets, pretty expensive though) and in just a few days, her bird started chipping again, playing, etc…She brought him back to the Vet where they did a CBC and sure enough all levels were normal…I forgot to add that a CBC was taken at their last visit, reason the Vet said to take the bird home to pass…

All that said, please be sure to use Teas as well, Alfalfa Sprouts, and look into herbs which are a natural antibiotic or just a great way to boost your bird’s Immune System..I use Cats Claw, Echinacea, White with Bio-3 and Green Tea to clean their system at least once a Month..All of the other Teas except Green, are used to boost the Immune System..Green Tea is used to clean them out, enhancing the Bird’s Gut/Flora..So if your bird has wet droppings, its a great way to eradicate bacteria…How to make bird’s Tea? Its 1 cup Tea to 2 cups water..I use 2 bags of whatever Tea, then fill the rest of the bottle with water. The bottle that I use which works great is a 2 Litre Coke Bottle..

Moreover, Oregano is also known to combat MB…

Hope this helps some..



Anthony October 14, 2012 at 8:24 am

P.S ACV needs to be mixed with water!! I use 1 CC to 1 Litre Water..Also, the best brand is Bragg’s..However, it must say on the label (WITH MOTHER) this is the part of the mixture that works..You cannot use any Vinegar, must be Apple Cider Vinegar with MOTHER and again, the best one is made by Bragg’s..Now, if your bird does not drink it, you most likely made it too strong..You can start by using 2-3 drops in the water dish since most are 100ML..Then work your way up to 1 teaspoon to 1 Litre water..Keep in mind, 1 teaspoon is 4-5 CC’S depending on some spoons..So, 1 CC is a 1/4 teaspoon..

As for Baking Soda, must not contain Aluminum, be sure to read the box and the best one is Arm & Hammer and this too is 1 teaspoon to 1 Litre water..You will need to use maybe apple juice or perhaps add some honey to mask the taste..I use their Vitamin mix do mask it since they it so much!! so much that they take a bath in it..LOL..They also do this when I give them tea…funny to see.

God Bless!



laura January 21, 2013 at 9:57 am

Hi Anthony,
i assume you get this Metronidazole antibiotic from vets?, my budgie is showing signs of going light, it is also very wheezy poor little thing, i don’t know if its to late but worth giving it ago.


laura January 21, 2013 at 10:05 am

Hi Anthony,
sorry forgot to say, you also mention tea, well i dring tick tock, which is high in antioxidants, naturally caffeine free, low tannin, do you think this would be good for all my birds also?


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