Breeding Advice

I thought I would cover a range of breeding topics.

Grits

I begin with grits.

So many fanciers do not pay sufficient attention to the supply of grits to their breeding pairs while they are involved in the very important process of rearing their families. Whatever the “clever” writers about our hobby say (i.e. that grit is not necessary), they are absolutely misguided in their views.

GritsNature has provided birds with a very hard and tough muscle in the zone below the crop – the gizzard. This holds the grit when it is present and it has the capability of movement. As a result, the grits that the bird consumes (and there has to be grit in an insoluble form and soluble form) act in a “mechanical” way to grind up the seed grains – in a similar way that wheat is ground up in a mill for bread.

Without those grits, the bird will live but will not be able to function properly in a metabolic way. Therefore the chicks that the pair is feeding will in turn lose out and will appear scrawny in some cases or may look satisfactory but never attain full growth.

One has to remember that today we strive to breed bigger and better birds. General feeding apart, you must always provide grits which possess granite like particles (insoluble) and shell particles (soluble). Not only should it be given but it must be changed every week to every pair.

Budgerigars will always take off the top layer of grits. They rarely dig down when the particles on the top of the bowls have been reduced to “dust”. Budgerigars are very selective where grit sizes are concerned and require 1-2 mm grains (at least) in front of them.

Ever noticed that when your birds have been out at show, the first action they take is to head for the grit bowl? That should tell you something.

Soft Foods

I now turn to the feeding of soft foods to the breeding birds.

There are countless systems and mixtures that breeders put together or buy in a proprietry form from suppliers. Common ones are Deli Nature Biovit and CéDé Budgie Egg Food to name but two.

BiovitFanciers will work away hard at providing such protein-rich soft foods while breeding is in process, but then tiredness cuts in when the chicks are in the flights approaching their major moulting period. The soft food is then dropped at a time when the developing birds need every nutritional support if they are to attain size in the long term. I work at this all year round – each day and every day! If you went to the aviaries of Reinhard Molkentin and his son Holger, you would see exactly the same principle being injected on a daily basis.

What is the other major advantage, I hear you say? Well it’s very simple. Not only will your original “chicks” have attained size but they will be very healthy, strong boned and with plenty of muscle around them. They will also be in a perfect metabolic state to breed super chicks themselves – that is the benefit of all the work you have sustained throughout the year.

Lastly, your birds, when they are sold, will in turn breed well for your fellow fanciers and if they do well they will be back next year for more. The question they have to ask is do they do what the Molkentin’s and myself do every day thereafter?

Cage Cleaning

A common question I’m asked is how often do I clean the breeding cages?

Mike Ball - Mike Freeborn - Harry HockadayI am known for always having a smart appearance to the aviary when people walk in, but I like to keep fanciers away from the aviary when I am breeding since I will not disturb them at this time.

So I use the “deep litter system” which really is a convenient term for doing nothing about cleaning out except for the large female droppings. Its benefit is that nothing is disturbed when birds are sitting on eggs or chicks.

It is very common for me to allow some visitors in to the birdroom towards the end of the season, only to find one or two chicks that have been crushed by the sitting hens getting agitated by strange noises. Keep visitors out. They can always come later.

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About the Author: Gerald Binks began breeding budgerigars when he was 12 years old and is now arguably the most knowledgeable budgerigar fancier in the world. He has bred his fair share of Best in Show birds, judged in no less than 20 countries, founded the World Budgerigar Association, and has published two of the three classic books on the hobby. His stud in the UK attracts fanciers from near and far and is always high on the list for those wishing to purchase BA23 quality budgerigars.

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