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LEG RINGS IN BIRDS

  

1. What are leg rings and what are they used for?

A leg ring or band is an identification device applied around the lower leg of a bird. Leg rings can be metal or plastic and often have a unique identification number to distinguish individual birds in a flock or can be used as proof of ownership.

 

2. What are some of the complications seen with the use of leg rings?

Complications include pressure sores at the site of the ring, infections, bone fractures and/or loss of circulation to the claw leading to tissue necrosis (tissue death). In severe cases the claw may need to be amputated if the leg ring has caused irreversible damage. The leg may dislocate or break if the ring catches onto items such as branches or the cage bars.

 

3. Is there an alternative identification method available?

We do not recommend the use of leg rings on your bird. Alternatively, you can have your bird microchipped. See microchipping handout. 

4. My bird has a leg ring. Should I have it removed?

It is recommended to have unnecessary rings removed. Ring removal should be performed by an avian vet. Most birds require a general anaesthetic to safely remove the ring. This is performed using either special leg ring removal instruments or small high-power tools.

5. Are there any risks involved in removing leg rings?

***Most leg rings are removed without complications***

Possible complications of removing rings that are too tight or have caused damage include:

     Anaesthetic risk: The procedure is generally performed under light anaesthesia which dramatically reduces the risk of complications. There is always a small risk with any anaesthetic.

     Broken legs: Tight rings can cause stress fractures (a fracture that occurs as a result of prolonged pressure applied to the bone). Stress fractures can weaken the bone and make it more prone to breaking especially at the time of ring removal. Some birds will require bandaging after ring removal.

     Haemorrhage (bleeding): Tight leg rings may result in haemorrhage upon removal of the ring. This occurs because the skin tissue has often healed over the ring and removal may reopen the wound. Bandaging and/or fluid therapy may be required to manage bleeding complications.

     Mild tissue damage and burns: Some of the instruments used to remove a leg ring can cause burns or tissue damage, especially when used to remove metal rings. If this occurs pain relief or bandaging may be required.

     Infection: There is always a risk of infection when there is an open wound. Birds at risk are often sent home with a course of antibiotics.

 

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