Jos Reynders & Daniel Lütolf on Feather Problems

Jos Reynders

Jos ReyndersI was in touch with Peter van Amelsvoort recently and we discussed the matter of feather problems that occur in budgerigars.

If they are pets or show birds, the problems are the same, but best avoided. Today, we have big birds, but with, in some cases, narrow primary flights which have not broadened sufficiently during their early growth in the nest.

The result could be seeing a lot of birds on the flight floors, but that is too big an assumption in most cases as so many birds these days actually like to spend time on the floor hunting around for scraps and bathing where possible, but they are all on the perches at night.

If you are to avoid narrow flighted birds, you have to have first class nutrition in the first place and quality feeding from the parents.

That does not always happen.

The alternative is to have such birds in stock cages all the time, but that is defeating matters.

What is needed is a selective approach to using only birds that can fly perfectly and gradually get the primaries wider vis-à-vis their overall size.

A suggestion is that we select wide and long feathers on the head region, but shorter feathers below the spot line on the wings and tails. Difficult, but not impossible.

This was the background to me approaching Daniel Lütolf in Switzerland for his thoughts.

My question to him was simply could these different feather structures be achieved in the one bird?

Daniel Lütolf

Daniel LütolfI agree that feather problems may be come a bigger problem than it already is.

I do not think that the canary or pigeon fanciers suffer very much with this area, but all the parents, grand-parents and so on of a bird about to be purchased have to be checked first before using them.

Attention must be paid to looking at all the primary, secondary and tail feathers when you are buying a bird and of course looking for developing cysts at the same time.

Strict rules and attention to see if a bird has any of these problems, has to take precedence over any other qualities a bird possesses. It’s the only way to rid a stud of such problems.

A breeder has to check all his birds individually for such features before he goes out buying new outcrosses and act accordingly. Commonsense tells you this.

It is not a secret that I buy in about 10 birds each year. The problem I have is where to buy the right birds in a quality sense, that also have no feather problems at all and are good flyers, however big they are.

Birds that are not fully complete can be used successfully provided there are no cysts at all including on the wing butts and up in the tail region.

When I get, say, 12 chicks from a pair and two top ones have a mild feather problem, I will note it but breed successfully with them. Normally the resulting chicks are fully feathered because they have received a better quality nutritional input from the parents, in particular from the hen. A borderline french moulter, for instance, will not necessarily breed the same problems. Nor will the next generation.

I do not like studs with small flights where the birds tend to just sit there and not fly frequently. Your question Jos, is a difficult one that we all face.

Somehow we have, as breeders, to find a balance between long feathers in the head region and much stronger feathers on the wings and body.

This is the big challenge, but few people really examine their birds carefully for these features before they go out to buy new stock with the same problems.

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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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