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Metabolic Bone Disease

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Metabolic Bone Disease

Postby birdvet » Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:40 pm

I recently adopted an unfledged Scarlet Macaw with severe metabolic bone disease. Very sweet bird (inspite of being a Scarlet :D ) which is surprising as he had multiple old fractures and a very stunted body and would have been in a lot of pain as he was growing up.

I was feeding him up on some good nutrition (Kaytee macaw) for about two weeks prior to performing surgery. This is because his bones were still soft so I wanted to get some calcium into him, and, nutritional secondary hypoparathyroidism (the fancy name for metabolic bone disease) results in clotting deficiences so I didn't want him bleeding to death on the table during surgery. The surgical procedure involved re-breaking his legs to restraighten them (placing external fixators on them) so he could stand as well as re-breaking his jaw to restraighten his beak so it doesn't overgrow. Sadly, Gavin (as I'd called him) never woke up from the anaesthetic after the surgery was finished. We suspect there was another metabolic problem which may have caused brain damaged and possibly caused him to slip in to a coma. Very sad day for me :cry: .

However, I thought it was a good opportunity to applaud all of you out there that feed your parrots good, balanced diets. Gavin was preferentially fed corn by his parents. The calcium phosphorus ratio of corn is ridiculously out of whack. Ideal Ca:P is 2:1 whereas corn is about 1:30...The overall diet of the parents is fine, if it is ALL consumed. They are offered fresh fruit and veg with soaked seeds etc etc. No pellets (I've been trying to convince Owner to convert to pellets...still trying :D ). However, birds are like kids and will pick out the yummy corn preferentially which is where the problem then arises.

Anywho, just thought I'd share the sad news as well as enlighten anyone out there who may not be aware of the dangers of offering parrots a smorgasboard of food where they get to choose. :macaw:
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Re: Metabolic Bone Disease

Postby TheNzJessie » Fri Nov 26, 2010 12:19 am

may i ask how you managed to come across a scarlet in new Zealand?!?!? the only scarlet i have seen was at auckland zoo in the aviary with the 2 blue and gold macaws (if you have been to auckland zoo)\

and very sorry to hear about what happend to him :( just remember you did all you could for himwas in great hands and is in birdy heaven flying free now
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Re: Metabolic Bone Disease

Postby lzver » Fri Nov 26, 2010 7:32 am

I'm very sorry to hear that your attempts to improve this poor Scarlets life didn't work. I wanted to be a vet as a teenager, but don't think I could deal with losses like this. I give you kudos for what you do and how you do your best to give injured/disabled and mis-treated birds a second chance at life.

And thanks again for sharing your story for all of us to learn from. Due to working full-time (like most people) I can't feed a fresh diet all day every day, so at least half of my birds diet consists of pellets. I provide more of the Pretty Bird Gold (with palm oil) over the Tropican Low Fat Bean Mix now, for the exact fact that they pick out what they like in the bean mix and don't eat the pellets. However, they all dig in when I give them their Pretty Bird pellets.

To add to this, I don't think I would offer a 100% fresh food diet because I would be too concerned that I wasn't feeding them enough of what they really need. At least I know they are getting a balanced diet when they eat their pellets.
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Re: Metabolic Bone Disease

Postby entrancedbymyGCC » Fri Nov 26, 2010 3:44 pm

I'm sorry to hear the poor guy didn't make it, but it sure sounds as if you gave him the best possible chance at a comfortable life.

How the heck do people let something like that persist? What symptoms should the breeders/owners have seen before the bones started fracturing?

So do I understand that it's the Ca:P ratio in the diet that's the root cause? That caught my eye because it is probably the fundamental thing in equine nutrition, especially for growing horses, with everything else following from that.
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Re: Metabolic Bone Disease

Postby birdvet » Sat Nov 27, 2010 4:18 pm

TheNzJessie wrote:may i ask how you managed to come across a scarlet in new Zealand?!?!? the only scarlet i have seen was at auckland zoo in the aviary with the 2 blue and gold macaws (if you have been to auckland zoo)


A client of mine that breeds heaps of parrots.

entrancedbymyGCC wrote:How the heck do people let something like that persist? What symptoms should the breeders/owners have seen before the bones started fracturing?

So do I understand that it's the Ca:P ratio in the diet that's the root cause? That caught my eye because it is probably the fundamental thing in equine nutrition, especially for growing horses, with everything else following from that.


Sigh...it was unfortunately a bird that just fell under the radar. He was left in the nest a bit long and the parents scuffling around in the nest box would have resulted in the leg and wing fractures and feeding him resulted in the beak fracture. I'm making progress in changing the diet but its not easy to get people to change when they've been doing something for so long...baby steps ;)

And yip, calcium:phosphorus should be 1.5-2:1 in most animal species, horses included. Any variation results in severe nutritional secondary hypoparathyroidism and fibrous osteodystrophy.

When I get a chance I'll post a copy of Gavin's radiographs. You'll get to see how munted (a great NZ term meaning stuffed ;) ) he really was...poor wee chap :cry:
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Re: Metabolic Bone Disease

Postby Kakafriend » Sat Oct 05, 2019 4:07 pm

This is an old post, but wondering if Birdvet (or anyone) can help with a query regarding Calcium/Phosphorus ratios.

In the original post, the recommendation is a ratio of Calcium 2 - Phosphorus 1.
However later on in a reply, Birdvet refers to an ideal ratio of Calcium 1.5 - Phosphorus 2.1. This is completely the opposite of the first ratio.

Since I'm finding it impossible to find any foods with a Calcium to Phosphorus ratio of 2:1, I'm wondering which is correct. Thanks with any advice or clarification.
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Re: Metabolic Bone Disease

Postby Pajarita » Sun Oct 06, 2019 9:18 am

First of all, let me tell you that we do not have a single parrot study on this. We do have studies on chickens but they are not only domesticated animals, they are also omnivorous and, most importantly, not expected (or wanted) to live long lives so, although the info is good, it's not necessarily 100% accurate when it comes to parrots. The 'accepted' normal ratio is 1 to 2 but the 2 of the phosphorus is of 'available' phosphorus (meaning bioavailability, of course, because plant phosphorus has a bioavailability of about 30%). Now, the thing is that a good bird's diet will contain foods that are rich in calcium (almonds, broccoli, figs, etc) AND phosphorus (nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc) so it's not as if you have to feed a 1:2 Ca/P every day. The other thing is that, thankfully for us and our birds, vit D3 kind of regulates the amount the body will absorb so even if the ratio is not perfect, it will still work out. BUT you need to take into consideration that D3, in its final form (meaning, an actual D3 supplement) was never meant to be consumed because the vitamin/hormone is supposed to be produced by the body as it's needed and, because it's fat soluble, you need to be careful how much you give as the excess will be stored in the liver as fatty nodules (precursors to hepatic lipidosis - aka fatty liver disease).

I am quoting from a document I have which I cannot put down as a link here for further info:

Quote
As mentioned above, a proper bird's diet requires calcium and phosphorus in a ratio of
2 : 1 calcium to available phosphorus. Ranges of 0.5 : 1 to 2.5 : 1 can be tolerated by
birds. Ratios of 1:1 are required to support adequate growth, 1.5 : 1 to maintain
adequate serum calcium, phosphate and alkaline phosphatase values and 2 : 1 to
achieve maximum bone density. Egg laying hens will require higher calcium to
phosphorus ratios during laying periods.
Unquote

I give my birds a very good fresh food diet but I also supplement them with a multivitamin/mineral supplement twice or three times a week (a daily dosage so, in reality, I am giving them much less than what the manufacturer recommends) and, when I have a hen that laid, I give her Calciboost to replenish her.
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Re: Metabolic Bone Disease

Postby Chai » Mon Oct 07, 2019 3:56 pm

Hello everyone. Pajarita, you mentioned that you use a multivitamin/mineral supplement for your parrots; may I ask which one you use?
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Re: Metabolic Bone Disease

Postby Pajarita » Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:01 am

I am using ABBA 2000, a soluble powder I add to their water. I have used this for, at least, 25 years with my canaries (and I know they are fresh because I get them directly from the manufacturer and I know the values on the label are accurate because the owner has them made by the Roche labs) but I used to use a different one for the parrots (also an ABBA one) because as vitamins degrade in water, I thought it would be better for them if I used the one that is also powder but is to be sprinkled on their soft food (canaries don't eat soft food), but I have found through observation (I watch my birds all the time to see when they eat, when they drink, how they do it, how much of each, what they prefer, etc) that although their water intake is VERY predictable (they ALWAYS drink early in the morning and a very steady number of sips, depending on the species), their soft food intake is not. They all eat their gloop but some tend to eat more, some less depending on the species and the flavoring of the day; some do it early and some do it later and, if to this, you add the fact that 'a sprinkle' is not what one would call an exact measure, you end up with not a very reliable way of getting the right amount of vitamins/minerals into them. So I switched them to the same vitamins I had been giving my canaries (VERY successfully, I might add) and it has been working very well. And, in order to ensure maximum benefit from the supplement, I take away their water the night before and put the fresh one, doctored with the vitamin/mineral supplement early in the am - they all go to drink pretty much as soon as I put it and they all drink the number of sips the species is pre-programmed for so it works out great.
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