Malnutrition and undernourishment

Malnutrition and undernourishment

Malnutrition and undernourishment is one of the most common causes of many diseases in budgies.


Strictly speaking, obesity is not a disease, but it can be the cause or trigger of many diseases.


If you rely on the commercial products for budgies, the overweight is usually already pre-programmed. Most of these products are comparable to fast food in humans.

These form not only a very one-sided, but also a decidedly high-calorie diet.

In addition to unsuitable feed and the wrong amount of feed, there are also other causes:

  • Eating out of boredom
  • Cob millet, nibble sticks and snacks to be taken freely in the cage
  • “rabid” hens displace roosters from the feed
  • Hens are intensively fed by the rooster


The plumage makes it almost impossible to tell by eye whether a bird is too fat or not.

For this it is necessary to gently stroke the finger over the chest muscles. Normally, this should bulge slightly to the right and left of the sternum.

If the sternum can hardly or no longer be felt due to the fat layer, the bird is definitely overweight.

Other signs may include:

  • usually no longer flies
  • crashes while flying
  • heavy breathing with open beak after few wing beats
  • Intestinal sluggishness with defecation problems

In addition to overloading the cardiovascular system and joints, the main risk is damage to the liver or the development of fatty liver.


As a first measure, the amount of food should be limited, with a budgie receiving about 2 teaspoons of grain food a day. For overweight budgie, you can then reduce this to 1 teaspoon, which of course only makes sense if this is separated from the other birds. Green food can be offered in this case in normal quantities.

If you have an overweight hen and a thin rooster, it is recommended to separate them a little 2 times a week. This allows the male to eat more food on these days, while the female receives only half the amount of grain food.

Regardless of the previous measures, of course, change the feed is mandatory.

The main feed, that is, the mixture of grains should meet the following criteria:

  • high percentage of grass seed (10-20%)
  • no oilseeds
  • no sugar, honey or other undesirable ingredients

Grain mixtures

Lack of sand or grit


Budgies regularly ingest sand and grit (small stones), which are needed to break down the ingested grain food in the gizzard.

After a few days, these wear out during the grinding processes and are then gradually excreted again via the intestines.


A lack of sand and grit can result in severe digestive disorders, as the feed can no longer be completely ground up and thus cannot be utilized or can only be utilized inadequately, causing valuable nutrients to be lost.

Coarse-grained excrements are an indication that the feed, as a result of a lack of sand and grit, could not be sufficiently broken down in the gizzard.


Additional grit should still be provided. For hygienic reasons, this should be offered in a separate bowl, as the bird sand on the bottom of the cage is inevitably contaminated by feces and could thus pose a health risk.

Vitamin A – deficiency


Vitamin A deficiency is probably the most common cause of disease in budgies.

The precursor of vitamin A, beta-carotene or provitamin A, is found in green parts of plants as well as in vegetables and fruits. This is then converted into the required vitamin A in the budgie’s organism.

Since grain food contains little or no vitamin A, budgies depend on fresh food to prevent malnutrition.

Nutrient content of green fodder and vegetables


In the case of chronic undersupply, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Hornification of mucosal epitheliaEpithelia1= covering tissue on the surface of the skin in the nose, beak cavity, esophagus and crop, etc.
  • 2HyperkeratosisHeratinization of the skin (especially waxy skin) and overgrowth of the nostrils

Due to the changes in the skin and mucous membrane, germs and pathogens can settle there more easily, which can result in the following diseases:

  • Rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal mucosa)
  • Sinusitis (inflammation of the paranasal sinuses)
  • ulcerative changes of the tongue and salivary glands
  • Goiter
  • Kidney disease and gout
  • Sole ball ulcers
  • Breathing difficulties due to overgrowth of the nostrils


Multiple administration of vitamin A injections by the veterinarian to reduce acute symptoms.

At the same time, increased green fodder and vegetables with high vitamin A content (➔ nutrient content), such as dandelion or carrots, should be offered.

In addition, it is recommended to take a vitamin preparation (e.g. Primus Vital) should be mixed in with the grain feed.

  • Doris Quinten: “Ziervogelkrankheiten”, p. 111ff.