Activities with caged birds

Information about the approved activities that may be carried out using caged birds in schools.

Caged birds – introduction to activities

As required by the Animal Research Act, the Schools Animal Care and Ethics Committee have prepared a list of approved activities. These activities are those that may need to be carried out in the school setting and have been deemed appropriate, when carried out by a person with the appropriate skill and experience and educationally justified.

The activities have been organised into categories 1-5. The category reflects the potential impact on the animal and requires a greater justification and expertise of those carrying out the activity. Visit Categories of activities for further explanation.

Taking measurements from caged birds.

Caged birds – non-invasive measurement

Approved activities Category
Respiration 2
Palatability 3


Respiration should be measured by observation only and not by captive methods. Time the rise and fall of the breast region. Keep your distance and minimize noise to ensure accurate observation of the bird’s regular respiration.


Palatability may be tested by offering a range of foods simultaneously and observing bird’s preferences or by comparing volumes of various feeds eaten. Timing the period taken for birds to investigate and begin consuming newly introduced feed types would be appropriate. High sugar feeds or other unsuitable feed types should not be given, nor should the bird be deprived of its regular diet. Ensure that students are aware that foods that are suitable for humans may NOT be appropriate for birds. Chocolate, coffee and avocado are poisonous to birds.

Collecting samples from caged birds.

Caged birds – collection of samples

Approved activities Category
Collection of feathers 2

Feathers found in the cage should be used rather than attempting to take feathers from the bird. Feather plucking involves stress.

Caged birds should be able to fly freely. The cutting of feathers or pinioning of wings, unless advised by a veterinarian for therapeutic reasons, must not occur.

Humane treatment of sick, diseased and injured animals.

Caged birds – euthanasia

Approved activities Category
Slaughter/euthanasia of stock 5

Where an animal has become so sick, diseased or injured that recovery is unlikely or undesirable on humane grounds, euthanasia must be arranged with a local veterinarian.

Students are permitted to watch a post-mortem of an animal provided there is no disease risk posed.


Birds may be sold privately or passed onto appropriate homes. If breeding results in surplus animals, these animals must not be killed as a method of disposal.

Carcasses must be disposed of in accordance with local council regulations.

Keeping clear and accurate records.

Caged birds – record keeping

Teachers who use animals must keep clear and accurate records of:

  • The number of birds owned or kept at the school
  • Identification of individual animals (by description of markings or photos)
  • The dates and sources of acquisition of each bird
  • Disposal details and dates for each animal
  • Dietary details for birds
  • Complete breeding records
  • The dates and types of husbandry practices carried out
  • The name, dosage, batch number, expiry date, withholding period and dates of any chemicals administered
  • Any accident, illness or injury involving school animals and the veterinary treatment provided (if required)
  • Any significant occurrences that adversely affect the welfare of school animals, such as vandalism, outbreak of disease etc.

The type and format of the records maintained will vary from school to school and be dependent on the number of animals kept, number of staff involved in maintaining the records and the layout and location of the rooms used for housing the animals.

The minimum requirement is a daily diary that is accessible to all staff that are involved in the care and use of the animals.

Where there are several staff members involved in the care of animals it is essential that there is a mechanism for each staff member to document notes about the general health status of school animals and that these notes are available to all other staff members who may be involved in animal care.

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