Birdroom Hygiene

Cleanliness Cleanliness is the first essential of good management. Clean, well-cared for budgerigars are most often healthy birds, free from parasites and diseases that bring other, greater worries in their path. Therefore, a good system of husbandry is of tremendous importance.

The aviary should be cleaned out at least once a week, especially during the breeding season, to remove the copious droppings left by the hens during the laying of the eggs. There is no need to leave everything spotless, like a hospital, which in turn would disturb the birds too much and affect the breeding results, but a general cleaning is a priority.

Every day the aviary floor should be swept before any other job is undertaken. This is important, especially during the moult. A paint scraper, brush, bucket and shovel is all the equipment necessary for the clean-up operation. Remember, dirt is the most common cause of disease; it harbours deadly bacteria and I am sure many deaths in budgerigars are attributable to a lack of cleanliness.

Hot Water

About once a fortnight I usually mop the floor with hot water and a strong disinfectant. The outside flights are raked regularly, the flights having a covering of 10mm washed gravel approximately 12cm thick. This is usually kept clean by the rain washing any dirt from the surface, the gravel acting like a filter. About twice a year a disinfectant can be used, however, I would suggest you water well before allowing access to the birds.

All appliances should be cleaned on a regular basis. Every week, clean the water drinkers with a bottle brush and a little Vanodine in warm water. The seed pots, grit pots etc., are washed on a regular basis, again in a Vanodine solution. During the breeding season the nest-boxes are cleaned between rounds only, when new wood shavings are added. At the end of the breeding season, they should be thoroughly cleaned in hot water and disinfectant, dried off and stored away, ready for the following season.

In addition to the weekly cleaning, there should be a special clean-down at least once a year. If this is done both after the breeding season and then in the autumn before commencing the breeding again, then so much the better. In the Autumn it is best if all the breeding cages are washed with warm water and disinfectant or Vanodine.

The walls in the birdroom can be washed down, and it is advisable to give them a light spray of water and Duramitex, leaving them to dry before any contact with the birds. Any maintenance and painting can be done at this time. If you are contemplating making new cages, I would strongly recommend using melamine-finish board, it will ensure that future maintenance and cleaning will be much easier.

Outside the Aviary

Autumn is a very good time for sprucing up the outside of the aviary. Creosote all the timber, check all the wiring for weakness or breaks and finally check all the roofing. Repair where necessary, nothing is worse than a leak in the roofing during the breeding season.

Important Points

Two very important points in the control of hygiene in the birdroom are:

  1. Ventilation: Always ensure there is adequate ventilation in the form of windows that open, wired doors, or extractor fans and air ducts. Plenty of fresh air helps to keep down the threat of disease and dust accumulation.
  2. Adequate Space: Make sure there is plenty of perching and flight space. A rough guide is 16cms of perch per bird. Overcrowding brings about stress, which in turn brings about the chance of stress-related diseases.

Birds, like most animals, are subject to internal and external problems. The symptoms – ruffled, puffed up appearance, soiled vent etc., are familiar to most breeders. Sick birds should be isolated immediately and kept warm and treated accordingly. This immediate separation will help to stop the spread of any disease that may be present. If in doubt about any signs of illness or treatment, always consult a vet.

Watch your Numbers

The secret of good management and hygiene is never to keep more birds than can be easily cared for, otherwise the work involved becomes a disagreeable job, instead of an interesting hobby. Good food and cleaning are the most important things for health and disease prevention, without them you cannot expect to produce better budgerigars.

Original text Copyright 1997, Jim Hutton

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