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fed often. Pre-digesting the hand-rearing formula with a small amount of pancreatic enzymes can liquefy the diet without diluting it.
Motility modifiers (e.g. metoclopramide or cisapride)
may assist in restoring motility, although their efficacy
is poor if used without other supportive measures. Metoclopramide, in particular, is usually ineffective unless given as a constant rate infusion. In uncomplicated cases (where the chick is otherwise bright), a strong solution of fennel tea given by crop drench may assist in restoring motility.
The prognosis is good, provided prompt and appropriate therapy is provided.
This is a common condition where chicks in the first 30 days of life do not grow normally and become stunted.
It is usually associated with improper feeding techniques (poorly balanced or incorrectly mixed diets, inadequate amounts fed, etc.), poor environmental conditions (temperature and humidity extremes) or disease (e.g. renal disease).
Clinical presentation
Signs include subnormal weight gain, reduced muscle mass (toes, wings, back should be checked), abnormal feathering (e.g. head feathers develop in a circular pattern on the crown) and oversized head relative to the size of the body. Eyelids fail to open normally or when expected, and there is delayed ear opening or narrowing of the ear canal. The affected bird may suffer with chronic, recurrent infections, and be constantly calling and begging for food. As the chick gets older it often develops a globose head with an elongated slender beak. The eyes may appear exophthalmic because of the misshapen skull.
The predisposing cause should be identified and treated. Nutritional inadequacies should be corrected. The prognosis is good if the problem is diagnosed early and treated successfully.
Infectious disease
Infectious diseases are quite common in young chicks; their low level of immuno-competence combined with often substandard rearing practices leaves them highly predisposed to infection. This same lack of immuno- competence means that the progression of an infectious disease in young birds is often rapid. Prompt and aggressive therapy is needed to save the patient.
Infections may be bacterial (Pseudomonas, E. coli, other gram-negative bacteria); fungal (Candida, Aspergillus); viral (polyomavirus, adenovirus, PBFD); Chlamydia psittaci; parasitic: protozoa (Cryptosporidia, Trichomonas, Cochlosoma, Coccidia and Atoxoplasma [in young canaries]); and nematodes (ascarids, Capillaria and Acuaria).
Clinical presentation
Signs include lethargy, loss of feeding response, pallor or erythema of the skin, dehydration, crop stasis, vomiting/regurgitation, weight loss or failure to thrive, subcutaneous haemorrhage, feathering abnormalities and sudden death.
The aetiological agent should be identified and the chick treated accordingly. The patient will require supportive care.
Further reading
Abramson J, Speer B, Thomsen J. (1996) The Large Macaws: Their Care, Breeding, and Conservation. Raintree Publications
Clubb SL (1997) Psittacine pediatric husbandry and medicine. In: Avian Medicine and Surgery. RB Altman, SL Clubb, GM Dorrestein, K Quesenberry (eds). WB Saunders, Philadelphia, pp. 73–95.
Flammer K, Clubb SL (1994) Neonatology. In: Avian Medicine: Principles and Application. BW Ritchie, GJ Harrison, LR Harrison (eds). Wingers Publishing, Lake Worth, pp. 805–841.
LaBonde J (2006) Avian reproductive and pediatric disorders. In: Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Association of Avian Veterinarians Australian Committee, pp. 229–238.
Schubot RM, Clubb KJ, Clubb SL (1992) Psittacine Aviculture: Perspectives, Techniques and Research. Avicultural Breeding and Research Center, Loxahatchee, Fl.
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