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Going Light

Health Articles / Going Light

Going light is the term given to birds that lose weight because they are ill. Most sick birds lose weight simply because they have to burn up their own body tissue to keep warm. So going light is really just a symptom - not a disease.


In Budgerigars it is most likely to be caused by megabacteria (see seperate article). In finches and canaries it is mostly caused by a parasite called coccidia. This disease is the subject of this article.

Coccidia is a very common gut parasite. It occurs in many species including poultry and pigeons. It is not common in parrots. Most adult birds can easily tolerate coccidia as their immune system has learned to cope with it. Young birds however are vulnerable because their immune system has not been well developed to cope with it.

If these baby birds get infected the bug seems to be able to leave the gut and get into the bloodstream. From there it finds its way to the liver and the spleen.  These two organs start to suffer (they will be greatly enlarged at post mortem). While there is enough liver left to cope these birds grow perfectly normally. But when the damage becomes to severe (generally between eight and sixteen weeks of age) the birds start to live in the seed dish but still lose weight until they die.

This is a most depressing illnes because a good breeding season can suddenly turn into a disaster.

There are two key ways to tackle this disease. Treating adult birds with appropriate drugs prior to the chicks hatching will reduce the level of infection for the chicks and is a very effective way to prevent the disease. We do not have a suitable product licensed in America so we suggest you talk to your normal Birdcare Company reseller and ask for their advice on available products. Alternatively you can get one of the Sulfa drugs from your veterinary surgeon. The Sulfa drugs must be used with care to prevent infertility problems.

The more modern approach is attack the germs and stimulate the baby's immune system with a herbal nutricine. Our Flourish herbal extracts seem to be very effective in this situation with breeders reporting excellent results. Flourish is available on its own or incorporated into our Feast eggfood and ProBoost SuperMax breeder and chick stimulant.