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Hi,

 

I hoping you might be able to give some advice or have some tips I can use regarding my African grey parrot Mackenzie. I have had her since she was 12 weeks old and she is now coming up for 4 years old.

 

For over a year we have been having a massive problem with zinc toxicity levels. At first what happened was she started to clip her feathers and we were concerned as she is a very well socialised bird and is out of her cage for at least 10 hours a day when we work and then at weekends out all the time. That is why the alarm bells started to ring when she started to clip her feathers so I booked an appointment that Friday but by the next day she had bald spots so got the quickest appointment which was the Wednesday. The vet we take her to does have specific avian vets. They did an x-ray, took bloods and did a check-up. We told the vet our care routine and husbandry and they told us to prepare for the worst as there was a high chance it could be a type of infection which they described to be similar to aids, they couldn’t see it being anything else due to how she is cared for. They called a week later shocked and said that she had a score of 65 for zinc in her body, they told me anything under 40 was fine but above it was toxic. They started her on an oral medication that would bind the zinc and it would get excreted out. The then told me to have a look at her environment and see if I can find the source. I got rid of all her toys, got her new play stands in the house, bought new cages, and covered anything metal in the environment. As you can imagine it cost a fortune, but that didn’t matter what mattered was getting her healthy. At this point Mackenzie could no longer fly, she was miserable and we were too. Ever since then she doesn’t have the confidence she used to.

 

After all those changes the vet took her bloods again. While at that visit the vet had to remove stuck quills in the skin to encourage new feather growth. The bloods came back and she was in the normal range but the vet said to give it another 5 days of treatment just to make sure it’s down and told we wouldn’t need to go back.

A week or two past and the feather clipping started again. We took her back to the vet and she took the bloods again and she started to talk about her possibly having got into a bad habit of clipping. The blood results came back and it showed the zinc was going up again. We again started the medication and returned again for more bloods. This time we got a different vet and he was insisting that all her problems were down to her being hormonal even though we kept telling him that the clipping started with the zinc. A week later the vet called and asked us to start injecting her with a different medication 5 day on and 5 off then back for more bloods. We did as instructed twice a day 5 days on and off. Mackenzie did amazingly.

 

After the bloods again, the zinc was in the healthy and the feathers started to grow.  A few weeks later it started again and we got our usual vet back and she told us to do more injections before getting the blood work back. When the results came back the zinc was back. We at this point were completely down as we were trying everything we could. We then went on holiday for a week, which of course Mackenzie came for but de to her not having feathers she couldn’t come out in her back pack for walks. The vet liked this idea of her being out of the environment to see if it made a difference, sadly not as the feather clipping continued on holiday.

 

This continued for a couple more months. Eventually the vet said she would like Mackenzie to stay at the practice for a week. This was not something we wanted as I had only spent 2 nights a year away from her at this point as she came all holidays etc. She went in and they continued her injections which they found difficult as she wasn’t going to be as forgiving with them as she is with us. You guessed it, made no difference and they learned nothing.

Since then she has had numerous blood test, feather pulls and an extra x-ray and still nothing. We did get to a point her feather all came back bar the wing ones though they weren’t far away. Sadly a few weeks later it all started again. At this point our vet is on maternity leave and she has told us to for the next few months routinely treat her with medication to try and keep on top of things and bring her for bloods in march. I have followed this and she is clipping her feathers still in between treatments as it is still 5 days on and 5 days off.

 

We have removed everything and replaced it, changed her diet by removing different fruit, removed nuts, she only gets bottled water (we have very good tap water in Scotland, even so before all this she was getting tap filtered water) and now I have even moved into my own house (lived with parents before) and it is still happening. The routine was everyday before work I would take her to my mum and dads while I am working so she has a lot of company with them and my brothers. That left only two possible things we could think of that was causing the problem, my mums rabbit cage as sometimes Mackenzie would fly on it or her travel cage we used to take her to my parents thought that was not to be the culprit as the full zinc issue started when she wasn’t out as much due to winter. We made the decision at Christmas not to take her to my parents and she was left in my house permanently for a month to see if we could trace the root problem. For two weeks now, the feathers have slowly started to come in but as of two says ago the clipping has started again. I am making an appointment for this week to get her blood work done as I am really not happy. The vet told us that some parrots are far more sensitive to zinc than others and one parrot could take what Mackenzie has and it wont impact them but another one will be like Mackenzie. I am at my wits end it has been horrible to watch my full of life 2-year-old parrot that flew and was a trouble maker turn into a bald sad bird. She has learned to say over and stretch her head to where she wants to go so we will take her.

I am really needing help finding something to stop this. I know you guys have years of knowledge and experience and just hope you might have an idea.

 

She is fed tropican high potency pellets as her main diet now with parrot chop daily. She gets bottled water and her water is treated with a probiotic once a week and a multi vitamin and calcium once a week too. She has a uvb bulb that is changed every 10 months. She now only has java wood play stands and has access to 4 rough iron cages, one she doesn’t use at this time of year as it is her garden cage and the other one she hasn’t been in since October as it is her holiday abode. She used to get a bath twice a week but now its just a misting twice a week as she isn’t comfortable going down low for her bath since she can’t fly. She did used to get almonds or walnuts as a treat but at the moment she is off them as we continue our trial and error. She has toys in her cage and if she is ever left a lone she has the radio put on. We use a diluted vinegar solution for cleaning her cage which is spot cleaned daily and full cleaned weekly. I think that is everything but if there is something you would like clarification on I am more than happy to answer.

 

It has been very difficult and I am desperate for her to get better.

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This is a rough one.  I'm not finding anything in your post, other than the 'rough iron cages' you mentioned that could be leading to a zinc poisoning.  My first question when it comes to vets, since people believe they are miracle workers - are you sure she is seeing an avian vet?   You mentioned your vet 'has avian vets'.   They either certified or not.   I'm only shooting in the dark here that they actually know what heavy metal ratio to look for. 

 

This is a really good article I bookmarked years ago when I was agonizing over using GAW wire in my outdoor aviary.  It's talks about chronic vs. acute zinc poisoning and you are definitely describing the chronic.  There are some ideas in there about where it may be coming from:

http://www.birdsnways.com/wisdom/ww14eiii.htm

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Hi, the vet is a qualified avian vet there are two at the practice and I check. The cage is a wrought iron cage sorry for the miss spelling, so it shouldn't be galvanised or that was what I was lead to believe. Her cages were all replaced when the original blood work came back which were bought as parrot cages but I wasn't sure of their composition. 

Thank you very much for the article I will read it now.

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Hi hopea2, :D some cages made in China (wrought-iron/powder coated) contains zinc. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

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I love in Scotland. How can I test if the cage itself is safe? I have checked it and see no rust or worn down  parts 

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1 hour ago, hopea2 said:

I love in Scotland. How can I test if the cage itself is safe? I have checked it and see no rust or worn down  parts 

:) Check this site out...

Testing for Zinc in Parrot Toys, Play Gyms, and Cages

by

Ed Harris

http://www.synnovation.com/zinctesting.html

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