Avian Sexing

Biobest provides specialist avian sexing and diagnosis services to bird owners and veterinary surgeons. We are the only laboratory conducting these tests in the UK.


Biobest offer a range of DNA testing options which can be performed on many difference species of birds.  This includes avian sexing to accurately determine a bird's sex and diagnostic testing for chlamydia, PBFD, polyomavirus and pigeon circovirus.

To make things as easy as possible for our customers we can provide sampling kits on request, free of charge.

We provide individual certificates with the results of all our avian tests. Advice on the interpretation of our results is always available from our veterinary surgeons. If you supply a fax number we will fax your results to you, otherwise certificates are posted to the address you supply on your submission form.

All our DNA assays were developed in-house by our molecular biology experts.

For more information on the different avian tests we perform please visit the Avian Diagnostics section of our Companion Animal Diagnostics page.



Avian Sampling Videos

To help avian customers with taking samples. We have produced two videos that explain how to take and submit swab and feather samples.

Avian Sample Type Guidelines

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Please Note

Sexing - On occasion it can be difficult to extract quality DNA from mouth swabs

Chlamydia - There is no published data confirming that blood gives comparable results to faeces or tissue for chlamydia

Pigeon Circovirus - There is limited validation on sample types other than tissue at PM


Egg Membrane

Carefully scrape the membrane from the inside of the egg (or take a small section of the egg with the membrane attached) and place in the labelled container provided. Please use containers provided and refrain from sending the whole egg as this will minimise potential sample cross-contamination. If storing samples for a few days before sending a batch, please allow to dry out before placing in container, to prevent DNA degradation.

Mouth Swab

Ensure the bird has no food in its mouth; if necessary rinse with water. Use only mouth swabs provided by Biobest. Remove swab from the tube (keep the lid attached) and rub the inside of the bird’s cheek, on both sides, firmly for at least 10 seconds. Allow the swab to air dry for a few seconds. Place swab in the tube and push down the lid to close the tube. Pull the swab handle firmly away from the tube leaving the swab pad inside the tube. Close plug to seal tube. Label the tube clearly with the bird’s reference (label provided). Please refer to the additional mouth swab sheet for further details.


Pluck at least three feathers and place them in the labelled bag provided. Feathers should have follicle cells attached to them therefore mature chest feathers which come out easily are not the best to use. Newly emerging larger feathers are preferable as they contain feather pulp in their shafts. Clipped or moulted feathers cannot be tested. Please do not pluck primary, secondary or tail feathers.


It is advisable to use your veterinary surgeon for blood sampling in order to reduce the risk of contamination. If this is not possible blood can be collected by clipping the bird’s toe nail. The tubes we supply in our kit contain heparin to prevent the blood clotting. About 50μl is required for all tests and one sample is enough to run any or all of the tests. If in doubt please consult your vet, or consider an alternative sampling method.


Collect a small amount of fresh droppings and place in the enclosed container. A pooled sample, i.e. a small amount of ‘rice-grain’ droppings collected over 3-5 days, will provide optimum sensitivity. Larger volumes of one sample will not increase the chances of a positive result.

Cloacal Swabs & Tissue Samples

These sample types should only be taken by a vet.  If submitting an avian mouth swab it is essential you read and sign the Avian Mouth Swab Instructions beforehand and include it with your sample submission.

Please take care when collecting samples from more than one bird to avoid cross-contamination between samples. Use fresh instruments and disposable gloves for each sample. Taking blood from birds which are sick or have poor clotting can be dangerous. If in doubt please consult your vet.


What do my test results mean?

Bird Sexing

The sexing report will state whether the sample was found to contain male or female DNA.

Chlamydia PCR

Positive: Bird is shedding chlamydia and may be clinically ill or an asymptomatic carrier. Risk to owner as potential zoonosis.

Negative: Chlamydia not detected in that sample. This does not prove bird is free from chlamydia, and if there is any doubt further samples should be taken at regular intervals.


Positive: Bird is suffering from an acute or chronic PBFDV infection. If the bird is showing typical clinical signs the diagnosis of PBFD is confirmed and the prognosis is poor. If the bird is healthy it should be re-tested after 2 months to confirm whether the infection was transient or the bird is a chronic carrier and dangerous to other birds. Contact with other birds should be avoided during this period.

Negative: No evidence that the bird is suffering from PBFD or is a carrier. If clinical signs are typical of PBFD then the possibility of poor quality sample should be considered and a repeat sample submitted.

Polyomavirus PCR

Positive: Bird is infected with polyomavirus. Not all birds infected with the virus develop clinical disease, so a positive test result must be interpreted in association with the clinical findings

Negative: No evidence that the bird is suffering from Polyomavirus. As for PBFD if clinical signs are typical of polyomavirus disease, the possibility of a poor quality sample should be considered.

Order Sampling Kits for Avian Testing

Please return your samples with the relevant submission form for testing

If more than 5 kits are required please email us at enquiry@biobest.co.uk