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Psittacine Nursery Management

Katherine Kay Muser
Breeders Research, West Palm Beach, Florida

Part 1:
Understanding the Principles of Nursery Management

(Adapted in part from the proceedings of the Association of Avian Veterinarians, annual Aviculture Seminar, Chicago, Il. 1991, and the proceedings of the Avian Research Funds, annual Seminar, Concord, CA 1993).

Over the years we have come to realize that most of the problems we encounter in a nursery are due to not fully understanding the principals behind good husbandry practices, and/or not seeing a cost effective way to adapt them to the nursery. This paper will lay out some basic guidelines and demonstrate ways to streamline procedures for nursery managers, as well as explain the principals behind them. Some of our recommendations may seem extreme (particularly to those of you that have not experienced a highly pathogenic disease outbreak), but are in fact designed to maximize efficiency, reduce loss, and increase profits.

Upon hatching, chicks lack a fully developed immune system and are much more susceptible to disease. At this stage in life even microorganisms that are usually considered relatively harmless can, under the right circumstances, initiate a disease process all their own.

The Transmission of Infectious Organisms

It is important to understand how disease is transmitted in our nurseries. The best management plans are of little value if just one person doesn't understand the basic principals behind them. I can not ever recall reviewing a case of a disease outbreak in a nursery, where a better understanding of the infectious organism, could not have prevented the spread of disease and/or the severity of the illness.

"Everyone working in the nursery must have a good working knowledge of the role they play in preventing contamination of chicks by direct, indirect, airborne and vector transmission."

Direct Contact

Requires direct physical contact with the infected bird, or its body excretions (aerosolized particles or fluids, fecal matter, etc.). The infection and reinfection route can be prevented by providing greater space between chicks, eliminating direct contact and keeping their environment clean. A common source of infection to the chick is via the parents. During the development of the yolk the hen, (and possibly the cock during fertilization) can pass on a variety of infectious organisms as well as passing on the antibodies to protect that chick. That infected chick is a potential time bomb in the nursery, exposing other residents of the nursery to a diseases for which they may have no immune defense.

Control: Reduce or eliminate direct contact between birds especially prior to feathering. Eliminate aerosolized particles and fecal contamination on a daily basis. Keeping chicks and their housing immaculately clean is the best way to prevent infection and reinfection. Consider using a quarantine nursery or brooder for babies from "newly producing pairs," until a good history can be gathered on the health of their offspring.

Indirect Contact

This mode requires that the infectious organisms be able to survive away from the infected bird in the environment. By far the most common way we spread disease in the nursery is on our hands, feeding equipment, chicks housing/containers, towels and reusable cloth bedding. Also included in indirect transmission is dust, water, food, and dishes.

Control: Use disposable products whenever possible. Disposable exam gloves are used for handling chicks or between small groups of chicks; paper towels are used instead of cloth; and disposable housing/containers and bedding are used for stages of their development where they are considered a high risk. Wash hands in a biostatic disinfectant or antiseptic wash frequently. Use a high level disinfectant or sterilant for things that are communal items like feeding equipment. In areas where it is not practical to achieve a high level of disinfection, such as weaning cages, food and water dishes, and toys, the items stay with that bird until it leaves. In other words if you can't assure yourself of using items free of infectious organisms, don't pass them around.


Contamination requires that the microorganisms be able to survive away from the infected bird (or other host) in the environment. Freshly aerosolized particles containing infectious agents rarely remain airborne for more then 1 meter (39.37 inches) if they are 5 microns or larger in size (a micron is .000039 of an inch), which would include a number of bacteria and fungus. Smaller bacteria, fungus and spores as well as Chlamydia, Mycoplasma, Tuberculosis, and viruses, (viruses being the smallest measured in nanometers, a nanometer is .000000039 of an inch), may be carried alone or on dust particles by air currents for extended periods and distances.

Control: Good air circulation: fresh air in, old air out. The best design for air circulation is filtered air coming in from ceiling level and exhaust systems pulling air out at floor level. Whatever method you have for air circulation the addition of good filters can not only help clean the air but also greatly reduce manual cleaning. Filters added to air moving equipment can reduce dust, feathers, and dander along with other vehicles for airborne contaminants significantly. A 90% reduction can be achieved with very little expense and equipment. Up to a 99.97% reduction can be achieved with high efficiency equipment. Regardless of the type of air circulation equipment used, the key is it must bring "new air in and take the old air out."


With indoor nurseries, the main concerns would be flies, ants, rodents, and roaches. There are two modes of transmission. First, the ability of the vector to be a carrier of the infectious agent, having the ability to infect the susceptible bird, its food, water, or anything the bird would have immediate contact with. Second, vectors may transfer organisms externally or mechanically on their feet or internally within their intestinal tracts.

Control: This can be a problem in all parts of the country. By far the best control is to eliminate their food and hiding places. You should go over your nursery from top to bottom and seal all cracks and crevices. Some favorite hiding places are: cages with two piece bottoms and pull out trays, areas around windows, behind shelves, molding, cabinets, spaces under and/or in counters, closets, drop ceilings, (these are best eliminated from the nursery area) and drawers. Close observation will indicate which areas have been overlooked. Food should be kept sealed and off the ground to facilitate easy cleaning of spilled products.

The above will greatly reduce even the heaviest infestations and in many cases, will eliminate the problem. For areas that are continually reinfested the use of a .5% water based Pyrethrim spray is very effective without leaving an oily film that attracts dust and dirt, and is safe to use in well ventilated areas without removing the birds. 5% or 10% sevin dust can be sprinkled around areas that can't be sealed like doors and windows (this works well for deterring their entry). Ants and roaches are probably the hardest insects to control. A combination of the above and the newer bait trays placed in areas where birds do not have access is very successful.

With mice and rats the key is to find out how they get in. Any possible entrance can be plugged with steel wool soap pads and then sealed. Wind up mechanical mouse traps are the most effective thing we have found so far for catching mice; they will trap the entire family in one setting. Glue traps are still the best choice for rats; putting them down at night on established runs.

Killing Infectious Organisms -- Cleaners and Disinfectants

One of the things I have found most frustrating in the past is understanding exactly what the disinfectant I am using is capable of. The following list of brief definitions are very helpful for analyzing label information.

High level disinfection: Capable of killing all microorganisms and is equivalent to sterilization when contact is long enough.

Intermediate level disinfection: Kills all vegetative bacteria and fungi, tuberculosis bacilli and MOST viruses.

Low level disinfection: Freedom from vegetative bacteria and fungus and most enveloped viruses.

Sterilization: The destruction of all living microorganisms (all life forms); sterility is an absolute condition.

Disinfection: The destruction of most harmful microorganisms, especially the vegetative forms, but not necessarily their spores.

Antiseptic: Inhibits the growth and development of microorganisms but does not necessarily kill them.

Sanitation: The reduction of the number of bacterial contaminants to a safe level; a sanitizer is not concentrated enough or in contact long enough to achieve disinfection.

Biostatic: The inhibition of growth, to prevent further contamination, but does not necessarily kill.

Cidal (suffix): Refers to substances that kill microorganisms. Virucides, bactericide, fungicides, and sporicides.

Vegetative: Indicating a time when the bacteria is not reproducing.

Spores: Reproductive body of an organism, to bear or produce spores (like a seed of a plant). Spore forms resist environmental influences, increasing survival. They germinate to a vegetative state when conditions are favorable.

Enveloped or lipophilic viruses: Surrounded by a lipid (fat) coat. MOST enveloped viruses are less stable in the environment, and more susceptible to disinfection.

Uneveloped, Hydrophilic or Capsid Viruses: Viruses with a protein coat. MOST unenveloped viruses are more stable in the environment and more resistant to disinfection then enveloped viruses.

It is often necessary to use several types of chemical disinfects and cleaning procedures in our nurseries. What you need to know when choosing a product for use is the chemical composition of the brand. This is an area in which many of us have made mistakes in the past. It is very easy to be misled by the creative advertising and marketing techniques used by the manufacturers.

The following is a list of chemical disinfectants that are commonly used in a nursery, and general recommendations for their use. I am including a brand name as a reference that is probably the most familiar, however I am not suggesting that it is the best product. There are often other brands that are equivalent at considerably less money.

Chlorhexidine (Nolvasan)

Low level disinfectant, contact time 10 minutes. Used as a disinfectant, and due to its low tissue toxicity, is also used as a skin antiseptic. Often used as a treatment for mild cases of candida, and is thought to slow the spread of some viruses. The recommended dose rate is 10 to 20 cc per gallon of drinking water, and in hand feeding formulas the dose rate is 5cc per gallon of formula. Effective against most gram negative organisms (except Pseudomonas) but is not effective against gram positive cocci. Effective against fungi and most enveloped viruses, but has no residual activity following a single application. Hard water and organic material decrease its effectiveness.

Recommended Use: As a cleaner/disinfectant it is of little value due to its decreased effectiveness in the presence of organic material and hard water, and poor cleaning properties. It can be used as a daily sanitation level wipe for brooders and housing containers, with chicks present, and as a skin antiseptic to clean up soiled babies due to its low toxicity. Also used in water as a preventative; in water reservoirs of brooders and incubators, in the birds drinking water (10 to 20cc per gallon), and in the hand feeding formula (5 cc per gallon of formula). Long term use in the drinking water (up to 4 years, which I do not recommend to others), that is given to pet/teacher birds residing in our nursery has not caused any problem to our knowledge.

Quaternary Ammonium/Quats (Roccal)

Low level disinfectant, contact time 10 minutes. Products vary greatly, some are reasonably good cleaners and some are not. They are ineffective against tubercular bacilli, bacterial spores and most unenveloped viruses (some of the newer Quat products on the market may be more effective as a disinfectant, check the label). Effective against both gram negative and gram positive bacteria, showing a greater activity against gram positive. They are inactivated by soaps, organic matter and hard water. They are very good biostatics and because of the film they leave behind they are said to help block the transfer of organisms from unwashed to washed surfaces.

Recommended Use: Quat type products are probably the most commonly used in nurseries today (making them likely to be the most misused). Can be used as a daily sanitation level wipe for weaning cages, perches and other surfaces that birds have direct contact with. Products vary greatly, some are good cleaners and some very poor. Because its disinfecting properties are easily inactivated, items should be cleaned, rinsed, and the product reapplied with appropriate contact time being observed.

70 % Isopropyl Alcohol

Used at full strength as a skin antiseptic, low level disinfectant at 10 minutes contact time, intermediate level at 30 minutes contact time. Because it evaporates so quickly it is generally not used as a intermediate level disinfectant as repeated applications would be necessary to maintain contact time. It's primarily used as a skin antiseptic and is inactivated by organic matter.

Recommended Use: Can be used as a daily sanitation level wipe in many areas of the nursery. Very handy for areas like counter tops when you don't have time to come back to clean up after the appropriate contact time; just soak down the area and let evaporate.

Tamed Iodines (Betadyne)

A skin antiseptic, a low level disinfectant with a contact time of 10 minutes, and an intermediate level disinfectant with a contact time 30 minutes. Tamed iodines are mostly used as a skin antiseptic. They are somewhat unstable in the presence of organic material. Effective as long as the solution maintains its color. Somewhat effective against spores and unenveloped viruses.

Recommended Use: Used as a hand soap replacement, diluted as a wash for chicks when necessary, and as a treatment for the umbilicus of newly hatched chicks.

Bleach (Clorox)

A low level disinfectant with a contact time of 10 minutes, and an intermediate level disinfectant with a 30 minute contact time. The germicidal activity is dependent upon the PH of the water. As the PH is increased from 6 to 10 the biocidal activity decreases 200 times. Using with hot water decreases the exposure time needed. It has a very short shelf life, stored under ideal conditions its shelf life is about 6 months, however as ambient temperatures increase, its shelf life decreases considerably. It is markedly inactivated by the presence of organic material, some soaps/detergents, and is difficult to work with due to fumes and skin irritation.

Recommended Use: Due to its short shelf life and many other restrictions it is of questionable value as a disinfectant, and I personally would not rely or recommend its use in the nursery. If used, you will need a chlorine tester to verify freshness of the product. Bleach is also not stable in the presence of a number of soaps and detergents, so if your plans include mixing with a cleaner you will need to retest your finished solution. As a laundry "SANITIZER" the makers of Purex recommend immersing laundry in sanitation solution for at least 10 minutes prior to starting the wash/rinse cycle. For best results no more than 8 lbs. of laundry per each 10 gallons of water". For standard size washing machines use 1 1/4 cups of bleach and for a large capacity washer use 2 cups. As a general use low level disinfectant Purex recommends 3/4 cups of bleach to each gallon of water as a rinse; let stand for 10 minutes. Do not rinse surface with water.

Phenol Derivatives and Synthetics (1-Stroke Environ)

An intermediate level disinfectant with a 10 minute contact time. A good housekeeping disinfectant that remains stable in the presence of heat and remains active in the presence of organic matter. The product of choice when cleaning heavily soiled areas. When used as directed it is not irritating to skin, eyes or mucous membranes. However a great deal of care must be used when handling concentrated products; some brands will stain skin and are extremely irritating to skin and mucous membranes.

Recommended Use: My own experience is limited to one brand (1-Stroke Environ) and I have found it to be a most effective cleaner and disinfectant for general cleaning of walls and floors and other heavily soiled areas (it truly takes the muscle out of cleaning). For general cleaning I use the recommended dilution of 1/2 oz. per gallon of water. For heavily soiled areas I have used stronger solutions but good ventilation and rubber gloves are a must.

Virkon S

From England, this is a unique, patented virucidal high to intermediate level disinfectant (Potassium peroxymonosulfate 20.4% Sodium Chloride 1.5%). According to testing conducted in England it is effective against all 17 virus families affecting man and animal, as well as being an effective control for bacteria, fungi, yeasts and mold with a contact time of 10 minutes. It is nonirritating and of exceptionally low toxicity at in use dilutions. Safe and suitable for use with all types of animals and birds. Cleans and disinfects in a single operation and is 90% biodegradable. Stable in the presence of heavy organic soiling and hard water. The dilution rate for general use is 1 part product to 120 parts water with solutions being stable for 2 weeks. In England it is additionally approved for use at various dilutions for the following; sanitizing water systems; continuous water sterilization; fogging; and aerial disinfection to reduce cross infection during disease out breaks (keep in mind it has not been approved in the United States for these uses).

Recommended Uses: I have found this to be the general disinfectant of choice for our facility. It is a good cleaner, very cost effective, highly concentrated (saves storage space, 1 container makes 42 gallons of disinfectant), non irritating, and very versatile. It is used daily as a quick wipe down cleaning method for weaning cages, food dishes (not water dishes) perches, toys, nursery buckets, and all other surfaces that birds have direct contact with. Additionally it is used for step pans and general disinfecting and as an overnight pre-soak for non-disposable cloth items like towels before they are washed. Overall the product has been very impressive and can replace a variety of products that are commonly used in the nursery.

2% Gluteraldehyde (Wavicide-01)

The following information is for Wavicide-01; the time frame and dilution for stable reusable solutions may vary a little with other brands. At full strength it is a sterilant with a contact time of 10 hours and can be reused for 30 days. It is an intermediate level disinfectant with a contact time of 10 minutes, a high level disinfectant at 30 minutes, and can be reused for 42 days. Diluted 1 part Wavicide to 4 parts water it is an intermediate level disinfectant with a contact time of 30 minutes, a low level disinfectant at 5 minutes, and the diluted solution can be reused for 21 days. At full strength 2% gluteraldehydes are irritating to the skin and mucous membranes and the fumes are very irritating to the eyes. Prolonged and repeated contact with skin should be avoided as the possibility of sensitization exists.

Recommended Use: It is one of the few chemicals available to us that can be (practically) used for sterilization. Used for hand feeding equipment and other items where sterilization is desirable. I find gloves an absolute necessary when working with this product, as well as good ventilation. Due to the high cost, poor cleaning ability, and irritating fumes I do not recommended this type of product for use as a disinfectant.

Glutaraldehyde Phenol Combinations (Cold Spore)

They are sterilants with a contact time of 12 hours and a high level disinfectant with a contact time of 10 minutes. Solutions are reusable for 30 days and biodegradable. The glutaraldehyde phenol combinations are equivalent in both cost and activity to the 2% glutaraldehydes with some big advantages. They have a pleasant odor, no irritating fumes, a much higher level of safety, and are one of the only alternatives for people that are sensitive to high levels of glutaraldehydes.

Recommended Use: Unfortunately these products were just taken off the market. I received the following information from the manufacture of Cold Spore; "The EPA and the FDA have attempted to impose their own new regulatory scheme on the disinfectant/sterilant industry— with each employing its own tests, its own standards, and its own philosophies" These types of products are one of the few that are regulated by two federal agencies in addition to 49 state agencies. The manufacturer of Cold Spore is seeking testing methods that will satisfy both the EPA and FDA (the other manufacturers are likely trying to work this out also). If these products reappear on the market, I would highly recommend them over the use of 2% glutaraldehydes.


This Sodium Hypochlorite and Citric Acid based product is a single use rapid chemical sterilization designed for heat sensitive instruments (I am only aware of one product that is manufactured under the trade name of Bionox). The product is safe to use on most critical equipment including fiberoptic endoscopes. It is ideal for field use and other situations where in the past sterilization was impractical. Contact time is 20 minutes. Testing revealed that most viruses were killed in 1 to 3 minutes, bacteria in 10 minutes, and fungal pathogens in 10 minutes. The product runs about $10.00 per quart, and while it doesn't have many practical applications for the aviculturists it does for the veterinarian (surgical sexing a group of birds is one of the first thing that comes to mind).

Air Filters

Dust, feathers, dander, and powder can carry significant contaminates and should be filtered out of the air when possible. There are a number of grades of air filters. The highest grade is the H.E.P.A. (High Efficiency Particulate Air filters) of which there are two grades. The most efficient filters, filter out 99.97% (filters down to .3 microns) of all the particles in the air, the next grade filters out 95% of all particles. Their draw back is that they require special equipment that would be able to operate with the restricted air flow, they are not washable, and they are very expensive. The next grade of air cleaners would be electrostatic filters ranging in efficiency from 60% to 82% depending on the denseness of their weave. With the addition of a 1/2 inch piece of foam you can bring the efficiency up to 90%; they are washable and have a long life. Another group of filters most of us are familiar with are the fiber, foam, and woven filters that come with most air conditioners and heating systems; these are 59% to 82% efficient depending on the way they are made. Some are disposable and some are washable.

RECOMMENDED USE: The electrostatic filters with the addition of a 1/2" piece of foam are the most economical. Purchasing a box fan (16" x16") and installing a custom made filter on the back will give you a very good air cleaning system for around $50.00, (fans should direct air out of the nursery) and are a good substitute for anyone that doesn't have a built in exhaust or air filtering system. We find 2 of these fan/filter combos and a filter added to your heating/cooling system will filter about 500 square feet of air space very well and will save you hours of cleaning.

There are other means of sterilization/disinfecting that are not covered because of their limited use, or we found their applications to be impractical in a nursery situation.

When choosing products for use in your nursery you should know what you are trying to achieve, and be knowledgeable about the products' capabilities. You should be able to answer the following questions;

1) What level of decontamination are you trying to achieve?

2) How toxic is the product, both in its concentrated form and at in use dilutions?

3) Could the product become dangerous in the presence of other chemicals or their residues?

4) What is the contact time required for the product to be effective?

5) What conditions are required for the product:

Does the surface need to be pre-cleaned?

Will the presence of soaps, detergents, or organic soiling have an effect on the


Will temperature, PH, hard or soft water increase or decrease its efficiency?

Most important, ALWAYS FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURERS INSTRUCTIONS for use. Failures in achieving the level of decontamination desired is rarely the fault of the product, it is almost always the result of the product being used improperly. Also keep in mind that new improved products are introduced from time to time, and you should review all the products in use annually, and change to the safer more efficient chemicals as they become available.

Disease many times only needs an opportunity. Lacking a full understanding of how a disease moves from one place to another (transmission), how it replicates and/or survives in the environment, and how to inactivate or kill it; all too often provides just the opportunity it needs to proliferate. The information outlined so far is the basic foundation of what we need to know to establish a good husbandry plan for our facilities.

Putting the Basics to Work

The nursery itself needs to be an area where traffic flow can be controlled or limited to help prevent the introduction of disease from an outside source. The nursery should be broken down into several rooms, or at least into manageable areas; incubation, newly incubator hatched, newly nest hatched, newly hatched from new breeding pairs, pinning, and weaning. How extensive this break down need be, would depend on the number of chicks being raised. I have seen everything from closets, spare bathrooms, converted rooms, buildings, to several small buildings that were very cost effective and efficient to run. Above all the nursery and its equipment has to be functional and easy to clean and disinfect.

A big factor in raising healthy birds is keeping them and the area around them clean and free of contamination. Our goals for daily cleaning of the nursery are: keeping the babies clean, eliminating aerosolized particles, fecal matter, dust, dander, down, small feathers, and making it as easy as possible, so that it gets done. One very important point: ALL NURSERY MAINTENANCE AND FEEDING IS DONE IN EXACTLY THE SAME ROTATION EVERY DAY. Should a disease outbreak occur you will likely find the disease moving from bird to bird in the same rotation as your maintenance and feeding was carried out. This coupled with cleanliness is one of the most effective ways to head off a possible catastrophic disease outbreak in the nursery.

The actual cleaning procedures will be somewhat dependent on the species raised and equipment requirements. The following is the management procedures used in our nursery, which is intended for use as a guideline to assist you in formulating your own management plan.

The area the brooders are kept in has its own cleaning cart with everything that is needed on it; a spray bottle of disinfectant, paper towels, fresh bedding, clean nursery containers, antiseptic wash for babies that need to be cleaned up and a trash can. As the babies are being fed their cleaning needs are attended to. After the chicks in a brooder are cleaned and fed, the brooder and the area surroundings are wiped down with a disinfectant that is safe to use in the presence of the babies. The brooder and surrounding area is thoroughly disinfected once a week, and any time chicks are moved out. As everything is ready and right at our finger tips the entire process takes very little time, and because its so easy it gets done.

Nursery containers and all other nursery equipment that is for general use in a specific area is cleaned and soaked in an intermediate to high level disinfectant after each use. However, any communal nursery items like feeding syringes and feeding tubes (or things that come in direct contact with the chicks) are soaked in a sterilant for 12 hours before reuse. For equipment like syringes that are used several times a day, it is important to have enough equipment so that nothing has to be reused before the appropriate contact time has been observed.

We have in the past tried just about every cage style on the market for weaning babies and found keeping them clean very labor intensive. All cages in our weaning area are now very simple suspended welded wire cages.

The weaning area has its own cleaning and food cart set up in a similar fashion to the one in the brooder area: food and drinking water, a spray bottle of disinfectant and one with plain warm water for misting the birds, paper towels, trash can, and a bucket of cleaning disinfectant with rags and sponges that are kept in the solution when not in use. When this method is employed it is important to use a disinfectant that will not be inactivated by the organic matter that will end up in your cleaning and disinfecting solution. The cage is completely serviced before going on to the next cage.

The food dish (not the water dish) which is a large shallow highly glazed crock is sprayed with disinfectant and left to sit until we finish the cage.

The cage, (with the baby in it) perch and toys as well as the area around the cage are wiped down with disinfectant of low toxicity. The perch and toys are usually wiped dry with a paper towel.

The baby is lightly misted with warm water to encourage preening, ridding itself of dander and down.

The food dish is wiped clean and dry with a paper towel, filled and replaced in the cage. The water dish is wiped clean with a paper towel and refilled with water. All drinking water that is used in our weaning area has 10 to 20 cc of chlorhexidine added to it.

Cleaning the food and water dishes in the past presented us with a dilemma. The above described method greatly cut the cost of both labor and product when looking at the alternative of manually pulling all the dishes and soaking them overnight (which is totally impractical in a large facility). Additionally I feel it would be necessary to use a high level disinfectant or cold sterilant for soaking which would be very expensive. The method of cleaning and disinfecting the dishes right at the cage has been employed by both our nursery and breeding facility for the last 10 years. To date it has eliminated the manual passage of infectious organisms from one cage to another. This may be in part due to the fact that the person that is feeding is in constant contact with the disinfectant. The fact that the food dishes are not rinsed has never caused a problem.

The entire cleaning and feeding procedure only takes a couple of minutes per cage, and we find this daily cleaning ritual saves us hours of cleaning when compared to attempting to do a major cleaning a few times a week. It is rare that a cage would require any additional cleaning. Once the bird leaves the facility, the cage and all its accessories are pulled, cleaned and soaked in a high level disinfectant, and stored for future use.

The balance of cleaning consists of disinfecting the food/cleaning carts and air filters and filling step pans. The floors are swept once a day with a broom dampened with disinfectant and thoroughly washed as needed

Our daily routine may sound very time consuming, but it's not. The nursery area is 1000 square feet, and generally houses 100 to 250 babies at a time. The actual time spent cleaning is 1 1/2 to 3 hours depending on how many chicks are in residence at the time.

One thing we find that is not uncommon for even the most intelligent person (particularly during the height of breeding season), is to temporarily fall into a brain dead state, and forget to do something. Writing out a complete list of our daily "things to do" is a valuable tool. This is particularly important when more then one person is working in the nursery, and responsibilities are shared.

Additionally, because much of our daily routine is so repetitious, it is easy to fall into bad habits without realizing it. Having our avian veterinarian periodically physically view all procedures being carried out, has been very helpful in detecting weak areas in our management procedures.

While it's hard to put a percentage on the problems that arise in a nursery that were the direct result of improper sanitation, there's no doubt it's much higher then we would like to believe. A baby bird's environment needs to be kept immaculately clean.

We are all too often unknowingly, or because we can't find a cost effective approach to better management; the cause of infection in our nurseries. Part one of this paper has been prepared to share with you things that we found we needed a better understanding of; and ways we have been able to maximize efficiency, reduce loss, and increase profits.

Part 2:
Neonates: Handrearing From Day One

Good management procedures are essential to the profitability of our facilities. Nursery management must begin with the prevention of disease. Our goal for raising baby parrots must be to produce birds free of or resistant to pathogenic diseases; as well as to identify and eliminate carriers of highly infectious microorganisms, which will insure our continued growth and success in years to come.

Ideally it would be best to work with only one species of bird or a few species from a limited geographical area. However, from a marketing standpoint it is more economical to market a variety, and also in the best interest of the pet shop to purchase from a very limited number of suppliers. So out of economic necessity we established the mixed collection, greatly increasing the problems the nursery manager is likely to confront.

Disease is frequently not caused by a single infectious agent, but rather a variety of factors. Nutritional deficiencies, a less than ideal environment, and other stressors can lower the chick's defense system allowing infectious agents to take hold. Other secondary invaders can complicate the disease process and will often mask the primary problem making the identification of the cause difficult.

By establishing a strong "disease prevention program" during the raising of chicks, making sure nutrition is sound, and providing a stress-free and clean environment, the nursery manager can increase the probability of large numbers of chicks not becoming infected as well as control the severity of an infection.

While cleaning and disinfecting the nursery environment will greatly reduce the number of infectious organisms, it will not totally eliminate them. This is particularly true for small virus particles which are of the greatest concern to us. While it's not really possible to run our nursery with the "All In, All Out", principles that poultry farms use, which would greatly reduce risk, we can benefit from the philosophy using isolation and good management techniques.

From the time of hatching, to well into pinning, we consider chicks to be high risk for being the carrier of or the receptor for an infectious disease. It is during this time that we concentrate on keeping babies isolated in small groups. Once a group is established they remain together through feathering.

As babies hatch or are pulled from the nest, the groups are established. Chicks hatched in the incubator are kept in a separate group from chicks that hatched in the nest, as the latter have the added risk factor of picking up contaminants from the parents and the nest environment. We have always felt the use of sentinel birds to detect disease during the quarantining of new breeding stock was a necessary evil, and we wanted that extra measure of safety in our nursery. We felt that by establishing groups of mixed species we would achieve a similar measure of safety. The purpose is to try and identify problems as early as possible. Mixing chicks that are known to be resistant and sensitive to viruses that would possibly show up in the nursery can greatly aid in identifying carrier chicks before they are more mobile, where strict isolation measures are difficult to maintain.

If at any time a member of the group shows signs of illness or dies; the entire group is moved out of the nursery into a quarantine/hospital area until the problem can be identified and we are assured that no member of the group would pose a health threat to the rest of the nursery residents. It must always be kept in mind that what appears to be a perfectly healthy chick may very well be the carrier of a disease that could have catastrophic consequences if left in the nursery.

Any time a chick dies it is necropsied, and sent off to a laboratory for evaluation. NO EXCEPTIONS! We have found (especially with very young chicks), it is important to have the necropsy done as soon as possible to gain the most information from the histologic evaluation. It must always be remembered that the chicks in the nursery are a mirror image of the health of our adult breeding stock, and can be an invaluable asset in eliminating recurring problems in the nursery in years to come.

The Development of a Chick

Altrical species such as parrots are born totally dependent on their parents or care takers for food and warmth, and have only one function after hatching --growth and development. The development of a chick is broken down into 4 stages:

Stage 1

Newly hatched chicks, the first few weeks of life or until their eyes open. At this stage in life, the chick is considerably more susceptible to infectious organisms. Most failures to thrive occur in the first 10 days post hatching.

Stage 2

From the time their eyes open to the start of pinning. The antibodies that had been passed down to the chick from the hen are waning, leaving the chick more susceptible to diseases from both outside sources, and those passed down from its parents. About the time their eyes open we start to see a big difference between species in their physical requirements. For both heat and space, it may be necessary to divide the group to accommodate their needs.

In stages 1 & 2 the phenomenal growth rate of chicks can best be accomplished when the nutrients from the food are used for growth, which takes place most efficiently when the chick is at rest. When a chick has to expend more then the normal amount of energy to call for food, to generate heat to maintain its body temperature, or when it is unnecessarily disturbed by its nest mates or others, it takes away from its only functions, growth and development. This creates a stress on the chick's system and in turn, compromises its body functions, lowering the chick's resistance to disease. At this point even microorganisms that would normally not cause an infection, can become life threatening.

For the above reasons babies in stage 1 and 2 are housed in separate containers. This also eliminates accidental aspirations, the chicks on the bottom of the pile being over heated, the chicks on top being too cool, reduces the transmission of infection, and just in general reduces stress. Additionally we feel a number of beak malformations, are caused by chicks pumping on one another. On occasion there is a newly hatched weak chick that seems to benefit from the stimulation of another chick for a day or so. The only other exception we make to separate housing is when a baby is pulled for hand feeding after its eyes have opened. If chicks are pulled at this stage, having a companion for a short time (until they settle in) can be beneficial.

Stage 3

Pinning to the point a good number of the feathers have opened. The development of all the feathers at once, coupled with physical growth has got to be one of the most stressful times in a birds life. This time should bring to light the majority of problems that have thus far not surfaced. Once feathers have started to open the chicks are allowed limited contact within their group and seem to enjoy socializing over the tops of their containers.

Stage 4

The remainder of feathering (primarily the smaller body feathers) to weaning. We find it is rare to experience any problems during this stage; the problems that do surface are usually minor. Also this is a critical stage for their emotional development and socialization with other birds and siblings is very important for the quality of both future pets and breeding stock.

The majority of physical growth and body function development takes place in stages 1,2 & 3. How a bird is cared for during these stages of development can have a major influence on its health for the rest of its life. In stage 4 we see a big change: the incredible growth rate is equally mirrored by mental development.


A big factor in raising healthy babies is being able to keep their housing from being a source of contamination. What this boils down to is being able to keep them and their containers/cages as clean as possible. This is especially important for chicks prior to feathering when their immune systems are just not up to par.

In stages 1 and 2, the most efficient method we have found for housing babies is light weight paper boxes. To date, they have been the most cost effective (running about 15 cents apiece) of environmentally friendly products we have tried, and come in a size sure to fit every chick. We have also seen lunch bags cut down in height, used for smaller species, that prove quite effective. During the first two stages everything that is used is disposable, except feeding equipment and the brooder itself. This has greatly reduced our cost of labor, but more importantly it eliminates the possibility of contamination due to something not being cleaned properly. Boxes are replaced as needed, and bedding is changed daily. Napkins or paper towels are used as a liner in the bottom of the box; to help keep the box clean, increase absorbency, and to facilitate the changing of bedding.

Once the babies' feathers are starting to open and they have about 2/3 of their body size, they are moved to a small closed-in area and put in square plastic buckets. At this point they are really starting to develop their motor and social skills. We found chicks are a lot more social and overcome shyness quickly (African birds in particular), and develop faster in containers they can see through. Since by the time chicks get to this stage, we find them for the most part to be noninfectious or resistant to disease, they are allowed limited contact within their group and provided with small brightly colored toys, a lot of hands on attention from nursery personnel, and in general anything we can think of to encourage the development of their inquisitive nature.

The plastic buckets are changed as needed (having a double set greatly reduces labor), and bedding is changed daily. Newspaper is used as a liner to make cleaning easier. Used containers are soaked in an intermediate to high level disinfectant and air dried. Babies are maintained in this area until they are fully feathered. Once feathered they are shipped out to our accounts or moved to our weaning room.


Bedding can be problematic: with the goal to keep the chicks clean and dry, there does not seem to be a perfect disposable product. We have been using a sterilized paper product for the past 5 years that works very well. It keeps the chicks extremely clean and dry, if eaten it is easy to remove from the crop, and it is said to be digestible (however I recommend removal, when manipulating it out of the crop is possible). Once you have had a little experience using a product like this, droppings are pretty easy to monitor. Pine shavings still remain my second choice; there are different grades and if used, should be the higher grade which is very thin (paper like, and very fluffy), and should be free of splinters of wood. A few other products that are often advocated for bedding are corn cob, and a relatively new pelleted plant product. We have tried both and felt they didn't provide secure footing for young chicks, and personally we just don't think it looks comfortable to lie on.

Most birds will not ingest much if any bedding, but there will always be a few babies that will go through a phase where they think their bedding looks tasty, or worse, pack their crops. In the past we saw this strange phenomenon in almost every Eclectus and about 25% of our large Macaws. However this past year we found bedding indigestion to be considerably less. The only explanation we can think of is, there was a slight change in our handfeeding diet and the nursery was moved to larger quarters, (more spread out and just a little cooler). One might conclude that diet, stress (caused by cramped quarters) or temperature MAY be a contributing factor to this behavior.

When we do run into birds that ingest their bedding we put them on paper toweling or shredded newspaper for a week or two until they outgrow this phase. Since this type of bedding makes for "dirty birds" they are cleaned up with an antiseptic wash at least once a day.

It's hard to leave the subject of bedding without discussing cloth bedding (towels, diapers and the like). The whole point to a bedding material, is to keep the babies CLEAN and DRY. No matter how judicious you are about changing a cloth bedding material, the baby will not stay CLEAN and DRY. Additionally toes can get caught or wound up in the material. But most importantly, the likelihood of cloth being cleaned and disinfected properly in a nursery setting is probably zero, and it will very likely be a continuing source of contamination to the chicks that are put on it. Its use in a nursery is far too risky to be considered.

If for some reason you have a need to use a cloth bedding on a regular basis, consider contracting a professional diaper service. We contacted a few services and were provided with general information on how they wash and disinfect a piece of cloth. It is a 13 cycle process; all done in water with an adjusted PH of 5.5, and with water temperatures maintained between 180 to 200 degrees. They use a variety of different disinfectants during their 4 pre washes, 4 washes and 4 rinses, and finish it off with a bacteriostatic finishing rinse. I doubt that very many of us have the capabilities to properly disinfect cloth bedding. Depending on a conventional washer with a couple of cups of bleach and hot water to kill off all the infectious organisms that could be on the cloth bedding is playing Russian roulette with your babies.

Temperature and Humidity

Temperature requirements for newly hatched chicks may vary, even within the same species or clutch if a chick is not 100% healthy. After hatching, chicks are left in the incubator/hatcher until they are completely dry. Day one brooder temperatures range from 94 to 97 degrees, depending on its residents' requirements. We find most chicks do well between 95 and 96 degrees. Thankfully even extremely expensive human incubators vary at least a degree inside, so babies that need additional heat can be moved to a warmer area in the brooder.

On those few occasions that one baby needs additional heat (usually a weak chick), it is placed with a baby of similar size and mobility for a day or two. The additional stimulation and heat from the stronger chick is generally all that it needs, and it allows us not to break our isolation group.

Chicks are usually comfortable at this temperature for the first week or so; from that point on, the temperature is gradually lowered to accommodate their ever changing needs. We strive to keep their environmental temperature regulated until the chick is feathered, so the chick is not required to produce heat to maintain its own body temperature, which can slow the growth process.

It is known that humidity is a crucial factor in egg incubation; however it seems to take a back seat after chicks hatch. At the time of hatching the percentage of water in the chick's body is considerably higher then that of a weaned bird. The reason for this is the percentage of body fluid is closely related to the fat content in the body: the more fat stored in the body, the lower the percentage of fluid. In the first few weeks of life, brooders should be maintained at the same humidity level as an incubator, (a wet bulb reading of 82 to 86 F) gradually reducing the humidity as chicks gain body fat.

Low humidity is a significant stressor, forcing the chick to maintain hydration through the food alone. This is one of the reasons I think many have found it necessary to provide a more liquid diet in the first few days of life and longer. For several years we have maintained wet bulb readings in our day one brooders of 85 F degrees and have never used a special formula for newly hatched chicks. Most birds in the wild breed during the rainy season due to the greater abundance of food, but surely the higher humidity greatly increases both hatchability, and the chick's rate of survival after hatching.


It is not possible to discuss nutrition in this paper and do it justice; except that it seems to be accepted that it's normal for babies to be less colorful or duller of feather than adults. This is absolutely untrue. With the exception of color changes babies should be every bit as radiant and intensely colored as adults. In fact there is an extra softness to the feathers that adds to their beauty. If your birds are not brightly colored, we strongly suggest you get assistance in reviewing your diet.

Handling of Food

There has been much written about the fact that baby formulas should be made FRESH for each feeding, and NEVER reheated (just on the outside chance you hadn't heard that, we felt obligated to make that the first line). For those of you that use the ready made formulas on the market, food is very easily made fresh for each feeding (just don't be tempted to save leftovers for reuse to save a few cents). However, for those of us that use a cooked formula (which we do), the storage of food can become a problem. The idea of having to make up a fresh batch of formula, every couple of hours is just not appealing. We have found there is no way to get around the fact (at least with a monkey chow base formula), that it needs to be made fresh twice a day for the main feedings. For in between feedings, the small syringes (1, 3 & 6cc) that will be needed before the next main feeding are filled and put in a bowl of water with a lot of ice which drops the temperature of the food very quickly. The syringes are put into the refrigerator immediately, keeping them just above freezing, and they are used up before the next fresh batch of food is made.

We have tested this on several occasions, and there has been no growth of bacteria or fungus with this method. Food is warmed by putting the syringes in an insulated cup of hot water; it takes 30 seconds to 2 minutes depending on how many syringes are in the cup. When you are ready to feed, the temperature of the water should be the temperature of the food, but do check it first before feeding. This method is not successful, or safe, to use for syringes larger then 6cc, because of the extra time it would take to cool and heat the food.


(or should we say, the Realities of Handfeeding)

There have been literally stacks of information written on "How To Handfeed", so we won't rewrite what has been written so many times. Additionally we really feel it is something that needs to be seen by someone that is learning. For many years we (like many people) used what we call the pump and fill method of feeding: as soon as we got a good feeding response and we knew the glottis was closed, we delivered the food to full crop capacity in a matter of seconds. Finding ourselves in a position where it was necessary to train others to help us feed convinced us there had to be a better method. During the training process, they would aspirate a number of chicks and kill more than a few. Needless to say it took its toll emotionally on us and the trainee. Raising some 250 to 400 babies per year, puts us in the category of what we consider a "high stress facility" and even the idea of training someone to feed, added to that stress factor 10 fold!

We had accidentally run into a quantity of 100% silicone tubes (urinary catheters) that we used to feed some Macaws, and had also modified some tubes to feed weaning babies that didn't seem to understand they needed feeding. Even the most obstinate bird that needed to be fed was done in a few seconds, and both handfeeder and baby were not in the least bit stressed when it was over. It wasn't long before we had every baby on a tube or modified tube (which we call tips). Tube sizes were always chosen to be slightly larger then the birds trachea to prevent accidents.

At the end of a year using exclusively these tubes and tips to feed, we had raised the healthiest, happiest, most social group of babies we had ever raised. Having trained 2 new handfeeders, and raised in excess of 400 chicks, we had only lost one chick to aspiration. Additionally, our raising rate went from 93% of eggs hatched and raised to weaning, to 98%. Most importantly, the incidence of bacterial infections in babies of all ages showed a substantial drop, and no other husbandry practices had been changed. What an eye opener! Like many things in aviculture, we seem to STUMBLE into a better way of doing things.

For the past several years we have used exclusively this method of feeding with the same results. There is little doubt the notable drop in bacterial infections, was due to eliminating the occasional small amounts of food that the chicks had aspirated with conventional feeding methods.

What made tube feeding (direct crop feeding) so safe was the 100% silicone catheters (not to be confused with silicone coated or lined). They are extremely easy to maneuver and pass into the crop, and remain soft and supple when soaked in disinfectant, yet firm enough for good control. Crop rupture even in the hands of a novice handfeeder is very rare, because excess tubing just curls up in the crop. While they are initially expensive ($6.00 to $18.00 each depending on the quantity purchased and the brand) they are cost effective. With constant use and soaking in disinfectant we have had many last up to 2 years.

There has been a lot of controversy over direct crop feeding, most of which has come about from people who haven't tried it, or have not developed a technique that they're comfortable with. Additionally the types of feeding tubes used (like the red rubber ones) were less than ideal, especially after repeated disinfecting and use, which did result in a number of crop ruptures. Direct crop feeding does take a little longer to become comfortable with compared to spoon feeding or similar methods of letting the chick swallow the food on its own; however it takes far less time to learn then the pump and pour method (described earlier). In the learning process some people do aspirate a chick, but it rarely ever happens again. Of all feeding methods it is by far the safest, fastest, and has the advantage of allowing one to feed to full crop capacity.

Also, we would like to go on to dispel a couple of myths. It is said, slower feeding methods produce tamer babies. Tameness has nothing to do with the method of feeding. It has to do with positive time spent with the baby and spending 30 minutes trying to get food into a baby that doesn't want to eat, is not positive for the chick or the handfeeder. On the other hand, spending a few seconds feeding a baby and spending the remainder of the 30 minutes playing with it (and it doesn't matter if it's the handfeeder or someone else) will produce a much tamer baby. It is also said that chicks don't enjoy this manner of feeding and they take longer to wean. Since we never have to fight to feed a baby just the opposite is true, and the sheer excitement seen in the chicks when they see a tube leaves no doubt that they enjoy this method of feeding. As far as weaning goes, providing they are healthy it's pretty cut and dry, they wean when they are physically and emotionally ready.

The syringe set ups used for feeding are assembled using luer tip syringes, with a short piece of tubing attached for small chicks; and catheter tip syringes, with a feeding tube attached and cut down for larger babies. The tubing that is attached to the syringe is cut to a length, that is just long enough to reach about mid point in the esophagus. The exception is for very large birds (like macaws and cockatoos) taking multiple syringes, we find it more convenient to use full length feeding tubes, and pass the tube down into the crop and change syringes.

The set ups for extensions are made by using a steel file to rough up the outside of the tip of the syringe (which prevents the tubing from slipping off), and the tubing is pushed on over the tip tight to the body of the syringe. Tubing used on luer tip syringes is from a 14 Fr tube, which is used on most medium to large size babies from the time they hatch. Smaller chicks go on direct crop feeding at 3 to 7 days of age. For catheter tip extensions we use cut down tubes ranging from 16 fr. to 20 fr. The tubes on the small set ups and catheter tip extensions are not removed for cleaning. For large birds (like Macaws and Cockatoos) we use full length feeding tubes ranging in size from 18 Fr to 24 Fr.. In all cases when feeding a baby we choose a tip, extension, or full tube that is larger then the trachea.

How many times a day should a chick be fed? This seems to be the most commonly asked question, and one that is difficult to give a cut and dry answer to. It is dependent on the formula being fed, and whether or not the crop is filled to capacity at each feeding. What we would feed twice a day, someone else might have to feed 4 times a day. We do feel it's best not to feed very young babies until they are completely empty. A slight slow down in the crop is often the only sign they give, to let you know they are in trouble. The practice of keeping the crop full or topping off will often times cause you to miss that slight slow down. In general, we prefer to feed babies on a demand basis when their crops are completely empty.

We consider any baby that is not empty (sucked in empty) just prior to the first morning feeding to be headed for trouble. Any bird that has even a just a small amount of food left from the night before is given 1 or 2 half feedings of straight lactated ringers, Pedialyte, or Ricelyte. Only if the fluid runs through the bird's system at a normal rate will it be fed our regular formula, and even then we keep a close eye on the chick for a couple of days.

On the topic of weaning: it is more then just a baby eating on its own. It happens when the bird is both physically and mentally old enough to go through the process. Babies pushed into weaning too early will often run into problems, particularly if they are moved to a new home. Many of these new owners contact us for advice because the babies they purchased elsewhere 2 or 3 weeks ago, never stop whining. By the time they call for advice the bird is usually already in trouble (and that's the best case scenario).

Drug Therapy

Never should babies be put on antibiotic or antifungal therapy as a prophylactic. Besides the fact that it can create resistant pathogens, we don't know the ramifications of assaulting the chicks' newly developing systems with drugs.

Because young chicks can succumb quickly to bacterial and fungal infections, there are times when quick action is necessary on our part, and the initiation of drug therapy is sometimes in order. We would recommend having culture collection and transport systems on hand and taking the appropriate samples prior to starting any type of drug therapy. This will allow your veterinarian to do a Grams Stain and run a culture and sensitivity to determine if the treatment is correct, (testing after you have started drug therapy can interfere with test results). You should have something on hand to start treatment; and we suggest you discuss this with your avian veterinarian.

Relying on the strongest antibiotic you can get your hands on, and the "do it your self" method, is foolish! When aviculturists specialize in birds and avian veterinarians specialize in treating those birds, everybody makes more money.

In diagnosing the cause of an illness in a chick, one thing we have found very helpful is to periodically culture and ID microorganisms in formula that has been incubated at 104 degrees for 12 and 24 hours. Knowing what species of bacteria and fungus can be expected to proliferate in your food, can be very helpful in determining if an infection is a primary or secondary problem.

Record Keeping and Histories

Good records are essential in tracking down the source of problems encountered, as well as identifying reoccurring problems. Record keeping systems must be designed for simplicity and growth. The only system we have found practical is a numerical one in an ascending order; numbers are never reused. There are 3 separate sets of numbers all beginning with 1: Breeding stock: number followed be a B; hatchlings: number followed by a H; and breeding cages: number followed by a date which is used to indicate a movement of its residents. Breeding stock records have 3 important numbers: the cock's number, the hen's number, and the cage number. Hatchlings have 3 important numbers: the hatch number, the hatch date, and the cage number of the parents. All incoming and outgoing paper work, medical records, notes, etc. are assigned either a breeding stock number or a hatch number. From this simple system we can tell you every recorded detail of that bird's life in this facility. Computers are without a doubt the most efficient way to handle these file systems. When choosing programs to handle records make sure they are compatible with dBase systems. This will allow you to upgrade to newer more efficient programs as needed, and allow you to import and export information from other dBase programs, which can be a valuable tool, particularly for your veterinarian.

When a Chick Should Leave

We know this may not be a very popular subject, however it does need to be brought up. It is really better for your babies if they don't leave your care before they are feathered. Their immune systems are simply not functioning well enough to handle the movement from one place to another, change in nursery personnel, change in temperature, and often a change in formula. These are all individually significant stressors, but coming all at one time can be disastrous. Chicks that are reservoirs for infection are often not identified prior to feathering (granted, we would all love to believe our birds are perfect, but that only happens in Fairy Tales). Babies are being sold and shipped younger and younger all the time, and the outcome is chicks succumbing to illness that was totally preventable, but worst of all, diseases are being shipped all over the country.

Birds that are sold to pet shops should only be sold to those that have experience hand feeding. Hand feeding birds should not go out to individual pet owners; they rarely have the experience necessary to raise a baby, and the babies greatly benefit from socializing with other babies and their siblings, which is something the individual pet owner can't provide.

The End Result

While this paper does not begin to cover all aspects of nursery management, we have attempted to address areas of husbandry where errors are common, and establish some basic guidelines that are necessary for our LONG term success. Keep in mind, the single most crucial factor in successfully raising babies, is the management & husbandry procedures followed in our breeding facilities. A consistent production of strong healthy offspring is a direct result of a strong healthy breeding population.

When one adds up the cost of properly caring for breeding stock, raising healthy chicks, marketing them, and the man-hours to accomplish all this, it is often discovered the facility is running at a loss. The only way to change this is through a better management plan.

"Long term success and growth will increase, as we gain the ability to raise birds free of or resistant to disease, and the knowledge to maintain their health through their potentially long and productive life spans."

References and Recommended Reading

1. GERLACH H: Viral diseases, Bacterial diseases, Mollicutes, Chlamydia. In Harrison GJ, Harrison LR (eds): Clinical Avian Medicine And Surgery, WB Saunders Co. Philadelphia, 1986

2. HARRISON GJ, HARRISON LR: Nutritional diseases. In Harrison GJ, Harrison LR (eds): Clinical Avian Medicine And Surgery, WB Saunders Co. Philadelphia, 1986, pp 397-407.

3. CAMPBELL T: Mycotic diseases. In Harrison GJ, Harrison LR (eds): Clinical Avian Medicine And Surgery, WB Saunders Co. Philadelphia, 1986, pp 464-471.

4. KOLLIAS G: Relationships of avian immune structure and function to infectious diseases. In Harrison GJ, Harrison LR (eds): Clinical Avian Medicine And Surgery, WB Saunders Co. Philadelphia, 1986, pp 313-318.

5. FLAMMER K: Aviculture management, Pediatric medicine. In Harrison GJ, Harrison LR (eds): Clinical Avian Medicine And Surgery, WB Saunders Co. Philadelphia, 1986, pp 601-612, 634-655.

6.BLACK R: Nutrition Of Finches And Other Cage Birds. RB Black, Franklin, 1981.

7. GREENE CE: Attributes of microorganisms, Antimicrobial resistance of the host, Hose-microbe interactions. In Greene GJ (ed): Clinical Microbiology And Infectious Diseases Of The Dog And Cat. WB Saunders Co.,Philadelphia, 1984, pp 1-94.

8. GREENE CE, CALPIN JP: Environmental factors in infectious disease. In Greene GJ (ed): Clinical Microbiology And Infectious Diseases Of The Dog And Cat. WB Saunders Co., Philadelphia, 1984, pp 95-112.

9. MUSER KK: Preventive medicine in the pet shop. In JAAV. 1988, 2,1 pp 38-40.

10. WORTH G: Personal communication. 1991.

11. SCHLEIFER J: Virkon s information sheet, Personal communication. Agri-Bio Corp., Gainesville, 1991.

12. FRY R: Consumer information sheets, Personal communication. The Dial Corp., Phoenix, 1991.

13. SCOTTY S: Personal communication. Custom Air Filter Mfg. Ft. Lauderdale, 1991.

Katherine Kay Muser

Kay Muser has been working with psittacines for 20 years. She is co-owner of Everglades Aviaries Inc., founded in 1983, in Wilton Manors/Ft. Lauderdale, Florida: a commercial breeding facility and a retail exotic bird store offering exclusively captive born, hand raised psittacines and their related supplies. Her facility has successfully bred and raised over 45 species of psittacines, totalling well over 4000 chicks, which includes the first captive breeding award for the Mullers

She is a member of the Pet Industry Joint Council, International Aviculturists Society, American Federation of Aviculture, Association of Avian Veterinarians, and is a participant in the Model Aviculture Program. Additionally she has presented educational lectures for AAV, Florida Atlantic University, Avian Research Fund, other private organizations and has had a number of papers published on the breeding, raising, and management of psittacines.

Kay is committed to supporting and contributing to avian educational programs for the aviculturist, veterinarian, and retailer, and is an active consultant working with hobbyists, breeders, retailers, and pet bird owners. In her "spare time" she writes and publishes a newsletter geared to the pet bird owner: "The Beak Speaks".

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