Creating A Stud

After 20 years in the hobby, the author realised that he still knew very little about budgerigars even though the subject had taken up most of his daily thoughts. He was still a beginner. After 70 years, there is still room for new ideas and new ways of breeding budgerigars. Strange, but true.

A beginner faces many problems. At shows, all he/she sees are rows and rows of birds. He/she can spot the winner of a class and those unplaced, but filling in the gap and knowing the reason the sixth bird beat the seventh is beyond him/her. He/she knows perhaps a little about nutrition and he/she has some idea that his/her children grow more quickly with a sound diet. He/she wants to get involved in the hobby, breed some birds and get the pleasure of the “hands on” feeling of being in charge of a real stud.

What is a Stud? A true stud is a group of inter-related livestock which all possess similar high quality features which are highly desirable to everyone. If these parameters do not exist then you possess a “collection” and no more.

Looking at Detail

My advice is to spend the first year looking around. In that year you will need to study birds and by that is meant close study, not a fleeting glance. Every bird possesses fine detail. Each one has a different feather density and pattern. They have differing lengths, widths and direction which all combine to create quality, or otherwise. Feathers can make or break the showbird or result in the stockbird, the latter possessing more faults than the former. Until you can foresee an Ideal Budgerigar, which is slightly ahead of its time, from every aspect and feature, then you will be breeding budgerigars which will soon be left behind in the pursuit of excellence.

The author is on record for spotting a critical measurement in quality birds that he had not seen in 25 years of practical breeding and showing. That said, nobody else had spotted it either. The point is that you think you are looking at show features, but often you can miss the obvious. Only experience can overcome these difficulties, with a near obsession for the hobby.

Initial Purchases

This 1997 model by Ray Turner depicts style, deportment and above all - 'swank'So Mr/Mrs Beginner you’ve done your opening homework. What do you do now after your gleaming aviary is finished and is ready for stock? Certainly your travels will have left an impression, but you may not have thought about which style of bird you want to breed. It is no use buying a selection of good birds. They have to be the right birds with the right faces. When you look at a person it is their face you look at first of all. The same applies to budgerigars.

Look at the Ideal and look for birds with the qualities that can push the budgerigar ahead of the Ideal. Some fanciers will possess birds that have some of those features. Concentrate on them and buy them or their older relatives which may be cheaper. Buy this bird with width, that bird with length, those with type and so on. Try to buy every feature that is needed in YOUR IDEAL. If one feature is missing then the house of cards will fall.

Spots are very important. You can breed outstanding birds, but if the spots are small the impact is lost. A bird without large spots is like a man in a suit without a tie. Both are unfinished. Learn the hereditary faults such as hinged tails and short masks. Think about buying some select three year old cocks that you have confirmed, bred well in their last year. They will go on to breed very good birds and the outlay will have been much less.

Always try to buy young hens initially, and subsequently breed your own, if at all possible. Everyone needs hens. Remember it is the hens that have a strong bearing on spots and it is the hens which give more problems than cocks when breeding.

Areas to Avoid

Birds at exhibitions possess, in general, one vital feature. It is called SWANK. Without it established in your stock from the start, you will not compete for the top awards.

What are the features that contribute to swank? Firstly, length has to be evident. With length in your birds you can create a smart bird with all the other features, but build up those features on a short bodied bird and all you create is a cobby bird, as it is termed, with which you can do very little. You must learn to appreciate the length of a bird’s body from the top of the wing butt to the perch. This is the feature the author missed for years and it is so important. It dictates the length of body and also the stance. Budgerigars with swank look down, not up. This is partly created by the head feather formation. Some birds stretch upwards and possess an aristocratic look. That’s swank! Avoid buying birds that lie across the perch thus reducing the length just referred to.

Avoid visually poor birds when you first buy, irrespective of the entreaties of the seller that, “it’s related to my Best in Show winner from my best line”.

Avoid purchasing birds from unhygienic aviaries. Birds often carry hidden diseases from such places.

Avoid fanciers who only have a few top quality birds with no depth of quality behind them. You want to buy from aviaries that possess large numbers of outstanding birds because you will want to buy from them again, in future years, to sustain that line.

Beware being sold birds that have had difficulty breeding; hence, purchase young untried hens! Ask the breeder to show you his/her breeding records before you make your final decision. The author has always had the practice, for first time buyers to his aviary, of offering to change any bird that doesn’t breed, provided the bird is returned fully fit. This applies only to the first visit. After that initial help, the purchaser is on his/her own. Other breeders criticise this as being too generous, on the grounds that the birds are often in unskilled hands. In practice, it works out at perhaps one bird a year being changed and it is an endorsement of your reputation at the same time. Look for such breeders.

Final Advice

A very sensible policy is to buy from two studs only. Remember that by buying all over the place you accumulate all manner of hidden faults as well as good visual features. Selecting two studs which possess the style of bird you want to breed, which could even be cross related in themselves, is perfect.

Keep the picture of the birds you want to breed uppermost in your mind at all times and don’t buy stock that doesn’t possess some of the details required to achieve your ambition.

When you acquire your initial birds, be patient with them. You are inexperienced, so accept that and remember livestock doesn’t always behave as you would wish it. If 75 per cent of them breed well, be pleased with that to begin with and learn from the habits of those who have misbehaved.

Reinhard Molkentin, the world famous German fancier now living in South Africa once said, “The outstanding fancier has a vision of a bird of the future. He/she can see special features and he/she selects birds with those vital feather features and puts them together.” Nothing has changed since then.

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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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  1. Lorna Peterson says:

    As a very keen beginner breeder I found this article very interesting and helpful.

    Very impressed with the site content, layout and organisation. Accessible to all and potentially the internet ‘magazine’ of the future for fanciers worldwide, very exciting.

    I look forward to my daily visit and learning more from the articles, news and information here.

  2. Douglas Curl says:

    I love this website!

    I am a beginner and need to read and draw on as much information as possible – and a lot of it is here.

    It’s now on my favourites list.

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