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Drinking Water

Wild budgerigars

First, I must make it clear that I feel prevention in advance is far better than curing a problem in your birds.

My experience over the years has shown that seriously ill birds rarely fully recover with treatment, and those that do never recover their full vitality and are not top producers in the breeding program.

I do not medicate my birds unless absolutely essential, preferring to use natural remedies whenever possible.

Assuming you feed a good variety of quality seeds, vegetables and fruit, grits and maybe a supplement or two to provide additional protein, you will have fit healthy birds if you stick with the basics, and do not introduce infections or disease when you bring in new birds… which of course should be quarantined before they are allowed to mix with your flock.

I have found that adding certain supplements to the drinking water is the best way for me to keep my birds healthy, fit, and disease free.


I am often asked how I supply drinking water to the birds and supplements I add.

First and most importantly water must be clean, fresh, and changed regularly.

Fresh Clean Water

I never use bowls or dishes for water, or any other accessory where there is a possibility that the birds’ droppings can foul the water.

Years ago, when I was a teenager, I had an aviary full of healthy budgies.. then suddenly I started losing one or two… It soon became epidemic and I was losing several a day. When a local vet autopsied the birds he found they were all suffering from enteritis. I had been using a bowl for water which was changed daily, but as the vet explained one affected dropping in the bowl and the water soon turned to bacteria soup which passed the infection on to any other bird that drank from the bowl. A short course of antibiotics and a change to tube bottle waterers and the problem was soon under control and losses stopped… But a valuable lesson had been learned.

Drinking Water tube   Tube Style water bottle

Tube Waterers

Although budgies in the wild may often drink from water sources we find unpalatable like swamps, stagnant pools, and dams with animal feces… it is important to accept that birds in the wild have a far more developed resistance to infections than birds we keep in controlled environments. It is important the water we supply should be clean and palatable and free from dangerous pathogens.

Depending where you live you may be able to supply water direct from the tap. In other areas you may need to filter the water, as I do. If you filter the water you may consider adding mineral supplements to replace desirable minerals removed during the filtering process.

I do add supplements to the drinking water.. Natural remedies rather than chemicals whenever possible. Because many budgies consume very little water except when breeding or during hot weather I change the supplements added weekly to ensure they get some. If supplements were to be changed daily many birds may not ingest any.

The supplements I use during the year are:

Liquid Calcium with Vitamin D3 – Although I feed a variety of grits, calcium blocks and cuttlebone I also add liquid calcium to the water to ensure they, especially the hens, have a constant supply of calcium. There are many products available on the market but I prefer Calcivet (also manufactured by Vetafarm in Australia) which is is included in the drinking water containing the Soluvite-D. I have observed since using liquid calcium year round the number of eggs hens lay in each round has increased. Most hens now lay 6-8 eggs. Not sure if the liquid calcium had an effect on this or if it was just coincidence.

Note: If you have a hen that becomes egg bound a few drops of liquid calcium direct to the beak, 2-3 times a day, will often help her pass the egg.

Also: Splayed legs in chicks is often the result of a calcium deficiency. If you catch it early enough a few drops of liquid calcium direct to the beak will frequently solve the problem.

Immunity Plus - A few months back I started using Immunity Plus from Hilton Herbs on a recommendation from Harry Hockaday in England. This product is a mixture of natural ingredients like Echinacea purpurea root, Milk Thistle seed, Gotu kola leaf, Nettle herb, Liquorice root, Cleaver herb, Rosehip shells, Seaweed & Apple cider vinegar that help build the birds natural immunity and keep everything in balance. I have already noticed a difference in the overall health and vigor of the birds, especially when going through the heavy Summer moult.

Organic (Unfiltered) Apple Cider Vinegar – I have used ACV in the drinking water for years. It keeps gut flora in balance and because of its natural antibiotic properties ACV will help control minor bacterial infections in the intestines that may result in diarrhea… If you have birds with megabacteria it will slow down the progress of the infection, although it will not cure it.

Lemon Juice - Helps keep gut flora in balance too, and the birds love it.

Ferti-Vit - Used only in the 6-8 weeks leading up to breeding season. High potency Vitamins and Minerals, high in Vitamin E. I thought they were joking when guys told me you would see a difference in your birds within 3-4 days... but it did. Do not continue after the first chick has hatched as they can become aggressive (so I've been told).

Soluvite-D – My birds are kept indoors and do not get access to natural sunlight. I first started using Soluvite-D to provide vitamin D3 which is necessary for the birds to process and absorb calcium and impacts fertility. The birds have thrived on it and fertility has been outstanding, year after year. The product also supplies a wide range of vitamins and minerals.

The Soluvite-D, Liquid Calcium, Immunity Plus, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Lemon Juice are each offered for one week.

At the end of each cycle they get 5-7 days of one of the following....

Garlic Juice – A natural dewormer that also gets rid of mites of all types. Just add enough so you can smell or taste it in the water. If you do not have access to garlic juice you can make your own formula… Crush a few cloves of garlic and soak it in filtered water for 24 hours then use as drinking water.

Iodine Solution – (formulated for cage birds)… Helps with feather problems, especially if your birds do not get additional iodine with powdered seaweed or kelp (which I add to grit and softfood). Be careful not to overdose as it can be toxic.

The following as added on an “as needed” basis… but at least 5-7 days every 4-6 months as a proactive precautionary measure.

Aloe Vera Solution – Another natural dewormer – Cut strips of an aloe vera leaf and soak in a litre bottle. The strips will initially float near the top. When they sink to the bottom the solution is ready. Now mix 50/50 with filtered water and use as drinking water for 7-10 days. The solution can be safely stored in your refrigerator for a week, maybe more.

Cold Tea – A natural remedy…Any drinking tea will do… black or green.. I replace drinking water with cold tea whenever I see loose droppings. The problem is usually corrected within a few days.

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