Lame cockatiel egg laying hen

by Keeley
(Cincinnati, OH, USA)

My female cockatiel is 11 years old, and started laying her first eggs about a year ago. She was very persistent despite our efforts to dissuade her from her inclination to lay eggs, and after a couple last spring her leg went lame.

We took her to an avian vet who, upon examining her, declared that he thought the egg laying had put stress upon a nerve and that this led to the disability of her leg. After a few days of waiting, she regained the use of her leg when she stopped laying.

She recently started laying again and we have tried to keep her in the dark longer amongst other things, but she still insists upon trying to procreate all on her lonesome. Today her right leg started to go lame again, and I'm not sure if it from constantly trying to sit on her eggs, the egg laying itself, or falling roughly on a hard floor when taken by surprise by a child. It looks very much like what happened last year.

I was told last time this happened that there are a number of very uncomfortable things that can result from a lame leg, and that there is not much one can do besides try to put the bird down if the disability persists.

Right now she puts her weight on her left leg held forward and on her chest when resting, and on her right wing, her beak, and her left leg when attempting mobility. She has spent much of the past two weeks sitting, with us trying to give her rare breaks which we realize was not good. She has not had the best diet, and trying to change her diet from seeds to a mix of pellets and seed and fruits/veggies has been refused in the past, and I don't know if now is the best time. We do have vitamin and mineral additives for her food and water, she has laid 6 eggs, and she lives with two parakeets since a year ago.

I cannot know if her leg will recover like last time.

I am looking for suggestions on how to situate her, what to do to make her stop laying, what to do about her diet, and what the possibilities really are if she has been permanently lamed, and how I should go about putting her down if it becomes necessary in the future. Please respond.

Comments for Lame cockatiel egg laying hen

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Jun 09, 2010
by: maureen

what do you think of a calcium supplement in the water?
just started doing this as my bird is laying eggs
lupron injections did nothing last year
she is on harrisons

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Jul 10, 2008
Lame Cockatiel
by: The Vet

This is very common.

This is very likely due to the egg laying, but I am sure that there is a component of calcium deficiency, too. You should give her at least 10 hours of day light. When she sits on the eggs, leave the eggs in the cage. If you remove them she will just lay more. When she is tired of sitting, she will stop, and then you can take them out. This takes about 25-30 days of sitting. Don't give her a place to lay them; no box, no nest on the cage floor. And if there is no grate in the cage, then put it back in, or get a cage with a grate. Don't pet her one her back; this only serves to sexually excite her and leads to more eggs. There is the option to have her spayed. This will prevent egg laying completely.

I would not put her down. Lameness is often treatable, and there are many one-legged birds that are happy and healthy. So, even at worst, an amputation would be desirable over euthanasia. But, I don't think that either will be necessary in this case. It could help to administer an anti-inflammatory drug to reduce the nerve swelling and alleviate some of the pain or discomfort.

At the moment, avoid clipping her wings so she can use them for balance. Most important, you need to do what ever it takes to get her eating pellets. Pellets should make up 80% of her diet. The best you can feed is Harrison's High Potency. Tracie or I can provide you with a switching method that works. (This can be found under our Parrot Training navigation button on your left.) Immediately stop using the vitamins in the water! These are bad. They do not give reliable nutrition and they cause bacterial growth in the water. There is a good chance your bird has or will develop sub-clinical infections from the water with the vitamins added. Side note: put your bird on a water bottle; these are more sanitary and will prevent the chance of infections from water borne bacteria.

Dr B

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