Encouraging the breeding of every parrot in New Zealand whether in the wild or captivity

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Article reprinted from PSNZ Magazine Vol 1, Issue 6 C1992


By Chris Paterson

One of the biggest threats to our birds’ long term health, vitality and ability to reproduce has to be Intestinal Worms. (In all their various forms.)

One would think with all the scientific advances in animal health in the last 20 years, that the control and eradication of these nasty parasites would no longer be a problem. Unfortunately this is not the case. Why? Well, I think because of the Human factor. Yes, we Parrot Keepers are wholly responsible for our Parrots management. This includes aviary, perch, water and feeding station cleanliness, (bird droppings are the best vehicle for the spread of worms) and of course a strict worm control programme. This is usually in the form of an anthelmetic oral drench administered by either using a crop-needle syringe, or by some of the newer drinking water based drenches. These systems if managed correctly, are probably the best way of getting on top of and breaking the worms’ reproductive cycle. But have you considered the following points?

The hit and miss method of syringe or drinking water drenching (ie: the bird may receive an insufficient amount of drench, which could allow the worms to build up a resistance to the drench concerned).

Too high a dose for heavily infested birds can lead to bowel blockages.

Some anthelmetic drenches are suspended. By the time you get near the bottom of the bottle the drench is too strong, (not diluter to correct mixture) giving the bird a toxic dose leading to kidney damage or at worst, kidney failure. This happened to me once.

The stress on the bird (and owner) and possible injury caused by its capture.

The reason I’m writing this article is to introduce to our members some alternatives or as in my case, supplementary forms of worming our birds. They’re clean, green, nutritious and usually free. Plants with anthelmetic properties. In this group are:

CHIVES (Allium schoenoprasum)

An internal cleanser, tonic and mild wormer.

GARLIC (Allium sativum)

Excellent wormer also has anti-bacterial properties. Use the green leaf tops.

MUSTARD (Brassica nigra)

Tonic, disinfectant. Helpful wormer.

NETTLES (Urtica urens)

Nutritious, high in iron, lime, sodium, protein and prevents worms.

TANSEY (Chrysanthemum vulgare)

Tonic and powerful worm expellant.

THYME (Thymus serpyllum)

Antiseptic and wormer

WORMWOOD (Artemisia absinthium)

Tonic and worm expellant.

FENNEL (Foeniculum vulgare)

A tonic and antiseptic, aids digestion and a mild wormer.

All of the above plants are an ideal addition to your existing drenching programme. I’m not suggesting that you tip all your chemical wormers down the toilet tomorrow. These plants may in future prove to be excellent wormers, but like the earlier mentioned traditional drenching methods, they too suffer from the “hit or miss” problem, due to the individual bird’s consumption of the plants fed and the fussy nature of some pairs compared to others or the same species. What I am suggesting is that you stick to your existing drenching programme, rotate the type of drench often to avoid worms building up a resistance. Maintain aviary hygiene and of course supplement this with some or all of these plants. It’s got to be good for your birds.

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