Daniel Lütolf – A Breeder Ahead Of His Time

In my time, I have interviewed hundreds of very good breeders in their aviaries in many parts of the world – all have contributed good ideas. Occasionally I come across a few breeders who seem to think more deeply than their contemporaries. One such breeder is Daniel Lütolf in Würenlos, close to Zürich, Switzerland.

Daniel LütolfLütolf has that special eye that sees far ahead of the current ideal representations of the day. He sees what is beyond what is currently being bred and winning on the show bench. Harry Bryan in the UK had that ability, as does Jo Mannes in Germany and Henry George in Australia, to name a few.

Lütolf is 46 years of age and has been breeding birds since he was 11. A great deal of time and money was spent with little success until he purchased birds from Heinrich Ott, a top Swiss breeder. Heinrich Ott treated him very well, selling him stock, which bred superbly and produced his early winners. The pedigree background to Heinrich’s stock was based on Omerod and Sadler blood.

Lütolf’s career is as a teacher, he teaches senior pupils in maths, geography and history. He travels extensively, going overseas to far off places so that he can pass on his experiences to his pupils, but he never forgets his birds at home and the friends whom he trusts to look after his birds safely, and he gives a big thank you to them.

The Lütolf aviary is split into three levels because of the steep gradient of his home. It is modest in presentation, but the birds are exceptional in quality…but difficult to buy if you strive for the best.

Lütolf realised early, that he needed to design a bird to be ahead of others. This came from his ability to carve and paint.

DL: “I like big birds in proportion to their length. I knew that the 8 1/2 INS, small Budgerigar, in today’s exhibition world (216mm) was useless.

Lütolf cinnamon darkgreen 2008All top birds of today require a longer 9 1/2 ins (241mm) length to get the bird in balance, coupled with the shoulder substance that is required.

The shorter length results in a bird with no substance and is completely out of date if you wish to win on the show bench, irrespective of your chosen variety.

It is your choice, as a beginner, into which direction you go as you breed and as you create YOUR designer bird. You have to focus on that and set higher standards every season. I have always selected birds with big feet, but am careful in my choice of breeding hens.

I select birds with very big bone structure that are thick in the neck area. Interestingly, such birds create a problem that many of us are familiar with. This is the problem of today’s rings being too small for the bigger birds of today, and such rings have to be cut off before serious damage is done! Every year I was forced to cut off rings. I now get rings allocated officially that are larger in diameter at 4.4mm. They are perfect and there are no further problems for the birds and are accepted on the show bench.”

The Colours

The colour range that Lütolf has is broad. There are Spangles, all the Normals and some wonderful Violets, Olives, Lutinos, Texas Clearbodies, Yellows, Dilutes and Recessives.

All have mouth watering quality.

He is now starting to attack the Clearwing variety.

DL: “To improve any variety, you have to pair them at the start to your very best birds. This is what Reinhard Molkentin did, followed by Jo Mannes with the very small Spangles that arrived in Germany years ago.

To improve the recessive varieties, Clearbodies and Lutinos, I pair them to Spangles. The Spangle variety will improve such varieties considerably.

Always remember that if you want to improve a rare variety you have to pair them to the best you have and if necessary go out and find a super bird no matter what its colour happens to be.”

Pairing

Unlike the majority of breeders today, Lütolf breaks away from the conventional way of pairing Normals together.

Lütolf grey 2008He mixes many colour factors together continuously. Buying a pure bred is therefore difficult, but if the quality is in front of you, you take a different view. He never breeds two super birds together, or inbreeds, to avoid any feather problems or cysts. Nature does not select pairings as we do as fanciers.

Lütolf also watches the mixed sexes and ages of the birds in the flights. The practice of having the sexes separate in different flights, he feels, encourages homosexuality and the following effect of cocks being afraid of certain hens that are perhaps aggressive by nature. Hence infertile eggs. If he sees a pair making up, then the chances are they will go straight into a breeding cage – and they breed.

Lütolf is also critical of the standard practice we follow of pairing our Greens together and our Skyblues together and so on. He believes in mixing the colours, but in addition he uses the grey factor frequently, across the colours, a view held by Harry Bryan but not Dr. Alfred Robertson of South Africa, the well-known breeders of their period.

To support his views, Lütolf will buy an outcross, breed with it and very often sell it immediately. It has left its blood behind and served its purpose.

Lighting Periods

The breeding room has a very powerful extraction system and recently a superb timed spray system developed by Sigbert Pestringer, to remove dust. The aviary always feels fresh.

The lighting routine is interesting. Lights come on at 07.00 hours. The birds emerge to excrete and mate. They go off again at 13.30 hours and come on again at 15.45 hours. This follows a resting period that the observant will see easily in their own studs. At 15.45 hours they again mate with the light coming on until 23.30 hours.

Feeding

Lütolf opaline light blue 2008Avoiding discussion about the normal feeding procedures, Lütolf prefers to feed natural products as well as seed etc. Hormova is the only manufactured product used, together with various natural vitamin sources.

Water is often changed twice daily to which is added a small dash of vinegar and lemon.

DL: “This lowers the possible rise in bacterial infections.”

When breeding, the canary seed is increased. When not breeding, the millets have the upper hand. He feels that small sunflower gets the stock too fat.

We now come to vegetables. The range is very extensive and remarkable. Everything comes from the local market. Lütolf checks that none have been sprayed with pesticides and he uses natural food only.
Fennel, peppers, carrots, blackberries, broccoli, cauliflower, uncooked beetroot, grape leaves, tinned maize, and parsley to name most of them. All are chopped and desiccated, and when finished, some 10mls of olive oil is added and mixed in. Apple slices are dropped onto the flight floor.

I wondered what else olive oil could be used for?

DL: “When chicks turn white for no reason I give one drop to the beak and they return to normal colour.

However I do not know why!

The credit for this belongs to Reinhard Molkentin, not myself”

Soaked wheat and oats are fed on alternate days. Tree branches are always in the flights and changed regularly.

Conclusion

Lütolf birds are very big and my concluding comment is that Lütolf’s “quality of birds in depth”, in the top range, is one of the best I have seen anywhere in recent years.

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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. Priyank Dhami says:

    Hi,Daniel Lutolf,

    The quality of your bird is very appealing & very nice bird.

    As well the information of lighting period & Feeding is very helpful to understand.

    Thanks for your sharing.

    Regards,

    Priyank Dhami

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