Underweight bird- how long to gain weight back? Other signs of improving health?
My budgie weighed 25g at the vet and they want her to weigh around 30g. I bought a foodscale with the best reviews for accuracy by the gram. However, it does not weigh more precisely than in gram increments (no decimals). So is she 25.1g or 25.9g? I won't be able to tell if she is slowly gaining until I see it hit 26g.
So that brings me to wonder how long might it take a budgie to gain weight? Has anyone had experience with this? I figure it will take some time. It has been 2 weeks and she still weighs 25g.
Since improving her diet (right now, still offering seeds, but also offering pellets, nuts, steel cut oats etc) she has started to get these little things on her head, I think they are called pin feathers, there are dozens of them. My understanding is that these are new feathers coming in. She didn't appear to be missing any feathers. Is this considered a good sign even though I haven't seen her weight increase yet?
Pin feathers just mean that she is molting, nothing to worry about. We can't give an estimate as to how long it will take her to gain weight. I use a food scale as well and it only gives weight in grams. I wouldn't worry too much about the decimal points, there are many factors that can change a birds weight slightly such as time of day you are weighing them, so small changes in miligrams won't really tell you much. I would contact the vet again and see what they say about her lack of weight gain over the past 2 weeks.
I also noticed in your other post that you are grabbing her to weigh her. What I do with my birds, is I set the scale on top of their cage and then I lure them onto it with some millet. It's much less stressful to them, I do this weekly.
Agree completely with IHeart on using a less stressful method of weighting her. Hands off, voluntary "participation" in the process. We do this at the Phila Zoo with most every animal that has to be weighed with success.
If there are dozens of pin feathers on her head that is an indication of a fairly heavy molt. A heavy molt is a stressful time for for any bird and they need all their energy to produce new feathers. Quite often during a molt you will notice that the bird may be quiet and less active than normal. Giving additional protein during this time is helpful, you should be able to buy ready made egg food wherever you get seed or give pieces of hard boiled egg to her. How much seed are you giving her each day and is she eating all of it?
How long it might take to gain weight is dependent on many factors. Individual metabolism, plus the root cause of being underweight.
As mentioned above, I agree that it’s time to contact the vet again, to try and figure out why the lack of weight gain over the past 2 weeks. She might need to be taken in again for further diagnosis or testing.
Especially since growing in new feathers, the addition of egg food is a good idea. It’s nutritious and convenient, and unlike fresh egg, it’s dry so doesn’t spoil. Most birds love it.
Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I guess I am just wondering if anyone has had an underweight bird and what their experience was with the weight gain process.
I'm no expert, but if proportionately 1g is similar to 5 pounds in a person, that would be difficult if not impossible to gain in 1-2 weeks. Maybe that is comparing apples to oranges...
Please correct me if I'm wrong, I thought molting was the process of losing feathers and then growing new ones? Plumpy has had no feather loss. Still, I assume requires good nutrition for all the new growth. If it's the same as with people, someone with malnutrition will have improvement in hair quality and quantity when nutrition improves, signifying nutrition is adequate to promote the new growth, rather than needs to be improved because of the growth, if that makes sense. I'm a dietitian, but obviously not for birds!
It's not the weighing process that requires grabbing. It's getting her out of the cage that is the challenge. We're working on it, but she is not lured by any treats.
Just another update! For a few days she went back to 25g and now is back to 26g. While this was the scale with reviews saying it was the most accurate to the gram, the fluctuating weight does make me want a more accurate scale. I know we all fluctuate weight throughout the day. So is she hovering around 25.9g/26.0g or is this more of scale accuracy thing? I'm going to look into a second scale...
Also continue to have great progress with taming Plumpy. For several days in a row she has hopped onto my finger and I've taken her out of the cage this way without chasing and grabbing! Ok, a little following her around with my finger and she yelled at me a bit but then hopped on... She won't step on the scale yet but is not freaking out as much about getting weighed (I set her in a large tupperware lined with a cloth and no lid). She seems to know it's no big deal now (no longer screams bloody murder) and gets to come right back out.