Breeding best Budgies!Breeding best Budgies!
It’s not complicated once you know how – The Birdcare Company lends a hand.
Time to get the Viagra out...
Dimmed lighting, soft music, cordon bleu food and a delicious bottle of wine, all experienced on a romantic weekend during springtime in Paris -just a few of the tricks employed by Englishmen to woo their sweethearts over the years.
But when we come to breeding our budgies the story is different. We wait until mid-winter, grab a cock and hen from their respective stock flights and put them in a cold, tiny cage. Then we give them the same old seed and expect them to get all romantic. Not surprisingly quite a few of them are less than cooperative.
Of course we could help ourselves and help them to get into the mood for love.
Let’s start with a few environmental things we can do. Budgies breed in the wet season which, in Northern Australia is the spring and summer. So, just like temperate climate birds, an increase in day length is a good indicator of the arrival of the breeding season. So a good lighting system with dimmer switches and adjustable day length is a good idea.
The Australian summer may be wet but the cloud and rain are not there the whole day. So some Arcadia full spectrum bird lamps are a good idea too to match the needs of a sun loving bird.
British winters are pretty good at providing the other key environmental stimulus – humidity. So there isn’t much you need to do about that. In theory some warmth would be welcome but is probably not at all necessary. A healthy modern budgie has plenty of feather for insulation!
Of course the real reason for breeding in the wet season is that the feed plants grow and change in their nutritional composition. The increase in vitamins, minerals and particularly protein are the key indicators to the adults that raising chicks is likely to be successful. The change in the plants is also enhanced by the arrival of lots more insects – and yes, wild budgies do eat live foods with their significantly better quality protein than seeds can provide.
So there is no need for drugs like Viagra to get your birds in the mood. But improvements in diet give all the right messages. See the “How to” section further down the article.
There are a whole host of other important nutrients and herbal nutricines that can help breeding too. Let’s start with fertility issues as this is one of the biggest issues with modern budgies. The protein certainly gets birds in the mood but it doesn’t necessarily get their reproductive organs working to perfection. Surprisingly oxygen can be the enemy here. We all know we need oxygen to live but it also produces a whole host of toxic “free radicals” in the body. To overcome these, nature has provided anti-oxidants like vitamins E and C. These work in conjunction with minerals like selenium and sulphur to mop up the free radicals with important benefits in both male and female fertility.
At The Birdcare Company we are the only bird feed or supplement company in the World to offer bio-available sulphur – we have been adding it to many of our products since 1996. And we are also the only firm to use the most up-to-date and natural anti-oxidant herbs and vitamins (actually designed to help premature human babies who are also very easily poisoned and damaged by oxygen). So the power of our package is unmatched by others.
So the birds are in the mood and their reproductive organs are on fire. But what else might they need? Have you ever noticed that most breeders lose more hens than cocks? This gives a strong clue that calcium is crucial for health because the calcium demands for egg shell manufacture are huge. The losses of hens have been with us for decades – probably centuries. This highlights that the traditional calcium supplements (cuttlebone and oyster shell grit) simply don’t work very well. Both of these are made almost exclusively of calcium carbonate. So when the makers of complete diets or complementary foods supplement their products with limestone (also calcium carbonate) it is not surprising that problems still persist. This is not only true of cage and aviary birds. We are finding calcium problems in dogs and cats and horses as we get more involved in other species. And even humans are suffering more as milk and dairy foods get replaced by more cereals and carbonated drinks.
So if calcium carbonate isn’t much good what is? The answer is highly bio-available “chelated” calcium. As the result of more innovative R&D we can now offer this approach in water soluble liquid form and on-food powder. Your choice. Of course calcium should always be provided alongside vitamin D3 and magnesium so all of our calcium supplements contain these important co-nutrients.
Get your calcium supplementation right and you will get lots more eggs, better shell quality (so improvement in hatching rates) and far fitter hens capable of more rounds (if you want to).
Calcium is the one nutrient that needs a little care
- If you live in a hard water area and use tap water you may need less than our normal recommendation.
- If you live in a soft water area or use filtered or bottled water you will need at least our maximum recommendation and possibly more.
Protein and calcium are important. But wet season diets are rich in all sorts of other important nutrients that help adults to breed and babies to grow into strong healthy birds.
- A broad range of vitamins to help all sorts of biological processes in the bird. Not least these essential nutrients are required for strong immune responses.
- Essential oils for brain development and strong cell membranes.
- Bacterial and yeast probiotics to maximise gut function and support immunity.
- Herbal health support to further boost both gut and immune function.
- Limiting amino acids for strong muscle growth and development of quality feathers. In later life these nutrients help prevent obesity – the biggest killer and a major cause of poor breeding.
- A broad range of trace minerals which, like vitamins, are responsible for a whole host of biological processes. The depleted soils that your bird seed is grown on these days is often deficient in these nutrients. Farmers are not paid to produce copper rich seeds so they won’t spend money on trace minerals in their fertilisers.
- As you can see this list is far more extensive than just giving your birds a vitamin supplement. And as you have no way of knowing what nutrients are the “missing links” in your birds’ diet a truly comprehensive broad spectrum supplement is advised for all budgerigar breeders.
Most budgerigar breeders keep their non-breeding birds in single sex stock flights. And most have lots of spare birds so that, when they want to start breeding, they have at least some birds in condition to pair up. Of course the birds that are in the best breeding condition are the ones that are at the top of the social “pecking order” as they get priority access to the best food. Inevitably these birds are not the ones you expect to breed next year’s champion from.
Out of the breeding season
So the first thing to do is cut down the numbers in your stock flights. If you don’t think a bird is good enough to breed from sell it. It is a waste of seed to keep it. You now have far less crowding in your stock flights. Even the birds at the bottom of the social tree will get to the supplemented soft food.
- Out of the breeding season mix 50 grams (20 level or 10 heaped 5 ml teaspoons – included in every pack of EasyBird) of EasyBird Rest Moult & Show with one kilogram of dry soft food. Offer about 15 grams (4 heaped 5 ml teaspoons) of dry soft food for every 10 birds in your stock cages six days a week. So long as this is all eaten you can dilute this with any other food you like.
- For American readers mix 0.8 oz (9 level or 4.5 heaped 5 ml spoons – included in every pack of EasyBird) of EasyBird Rest Moult & Show with one pound of dry soft food. Offer about ½ ounce (4 heaped 5 ml spoons) of dry soft food for every 10 birds in your stock cages six days a week. So long as this is all eaten you can dilute this with any other food you like.
Before the breeding season
About 4-6 weeks before breeding switch from EasyBird Rest, Moult & Show to EasyBird SuperBreeder. But use this new product at half strength. This is to give the birds the idea that the food quality is improving. So the instructions are now like this
- Mix 25 grams (10 level or 5 heaped 5 ml spoons- included in every pack of EasyBird) of EasyBird Super Breeder with one kilogram of soft food. Offer about 15 grams (4 heaped 5 ml spoons) of dry soft food for every 10 birds in your stock cages six days a week. So long as this is all eaten you can dilute this with any other food you like.
- For American readers mix 0.4 oz (4.5 level or 2.5 heaped 5 ml spoons – included in every pack of EasyBird) of EasyBird Super Breeder with one pound of soft food. Offer about ½ ounce (4 heaped 5 ml spoons) of dry soft food for every 10 birds in your stock cages six days a week. So long as this is all eaten you can dilute this with any other food you like.
Pairing up and breeding
When you select your pairings and transfer them to the breeding cages switch to the full strength breeding mixture:
- Mix 50 grams (20 level or 10 heaped 5 ml spoons- included in every pack of EasyBird) of EasyBird Super Breeder with one kilogram of soft food. Offer about 1 heaped 5 ml spoon of dry soft food for every pair six days a week. So long as this is all eaten you can dilute this with any other food you like.
- For American readers mix 0.8 oz (9 level or 5 heaped 5 ml spoons – included in every pack of EasyBird) of EasyBird Super Breeder with one pound of soft food. Offer about 1 heaped 5 ml spoon of dry soft food for every pair six days a week. So long as this is all eaten you can dilute this with any other food you like.
If you want to know more, why not visit our every informative website www.birdcareco.com or call us for free advice on 0845 1308600