CANARY HEALTH - The Canary Year

By Dr   BSc, BVSc, MRCVS, MACVSc (Avian health)

The moult is now finished and breeding will start in several months. If new birds have been acquired, or there have been resident health problems in the birds during the year, now is the time to treat the birds to ensure that they are healthy at the start of breeding. Veterinary examination will reveal what treatments are necessary for a particular aviary. If a veterinary examination is not possible then the following health program is recommended. The same program is used to treat new birds in quarantine.
Moxidectin Plus 1 drop orally per bird, for roundworm, hairworm, tapeworm and mites (including air sac mite and scaly leg mite)
Baycox 1 drop orally once a day for 2 days, for coccidia
Permethrin light spray, to remove any lice
Turbosole 1 tsp (3g)/2L water for 7 days (mixed fresh daily) for canker
Veterinary check for megabacteria 2 microscopic examinations of pooled dropping samples 10 days apart
Monitor closely for signs of Chlamydia (red watery eyes, nasal discharge, sneezing), if apparent Doxyvet 1tsp/2L for up to 45 days

Nutritional problems that appear during breeding usually reflect dietary deficiency in the months prior to pairing. A good quality calcium based grit should be provided ad lib e.g. Biocal Small Bird and a multivitamin supplement suitable for canaries should be provided in the water for 1-3 days weekly e.g. Multiboost or Nutrivet.

Breeding cages and nests should be thoroughly cleaned and sprayed with Permethrin now to prevent red mite, (and in outdoor aviaries, ant), problems as the weather gets warmer.

Breeding commences. Starting the breeding season with healthy birds and providing a nutritious complete diet are the secrets of breeding healthy baby canaries (and alot of them). Health problems that appear during breeding are hard to treat and represent a failure in the pre-breeding health program. Biocal should be available ad lib and Nutrivet or Multiboost provided 1-3 times weekly. Supplementation with chopped greens, seeding grasses, sprouted seed and a good quality, high protein supplement such as Passwell’s Canary Starter will add greatly to the number of youngsters produced and also to the vigour of the babies.

Breeding finishes. Despite the best of care, birds are generally “run down” at the end of breeding. As a result sub clinical carriers of diseases such as Chlamydia and Polyoma virus are more likely to start shedding and infect a proportion of their babies. The protein and calcium reserves, particularly of the hens, are being depleted. In particular watch for red mite infection towards the end of breeding. These parasites thrive in the warm, dry conditions of the nest. Continue with the supplements used during spring.

Moulting time. Healthy, well- fed canaries moult quickly and grow lustrous feathers. Unhealthy canaries moult slowly and grow poor quality feathers. Continue with nutritional supplementation as outlined above. Breeders of coloured birds must ensure access to canthexanthin (red colouring agent of choice) now.