Preparing to Breed

This article discusses questions put to me recently about the opening breeding procedures to deal with, as one approaches the actual breeding process. What do I do beforehand? I am fortunate in that I am a person who is never content sitting down, preferring to do things all the time. I like to look at what I have achieved each day and I get great pleasure at having used a day profitably.

Aviary Maintenance – External

The Aviary at Tanglewood - external viewLet me take this year as an example. It is November. In the last 6 weeks I have been working to get the aviary “winterised”. A very cold one by UK standards is forecast. So, having a cedarwood exterior, it needs treating every three years without fail. That has resulted in it still being as good today as it was when I purchased it in 1971. It would be massively expensive to replace as it covers 1200 square feet (110 sq metres).

The window frames need constant attention (I hate painting!) and the roof needs to be checked for leaks. Virginia Water is heavily wooded so leaves are a constant problem, hence the gutters must be checked too. Elbow grease is essential. What all this is about is not having to attend to problems that could arise in very bad weather. Dealing with a leaky roof in wet conditions is not funny and the disturbance to the breeding pairs also has to be anticipated.

Aviary Maintenance – Internal

Moving inside, I am fortunate to have bought my cage units from Reinhard Molkentin back in 1988. They are made of a composition of a plastic nature (very heavy) with a aluminium framework. They never need painting (I like that) and just need washing to bring them back to new. They are in many aviaries in Germany, Jo Mannes’s aviary being but one example. Expensive, but in long term well worth it.

All electrics are checked, especially the heating systems and thermostats. I used to have tubular heating but this was far too expensive to run and inefficient as the air was not circulated well. These days I use (Dimplex) fan heaters which work very well provided you are attentive to de-dusting them out regularly.

Nest Boxes

Coming to nest boxes, of which there are currently 56 in use (and being double boxes with one inside the other it means 112 really have to be cleaned), I use “VIRKON® S” a great deal. All are finally dipped into this solution and allowed to dry off. This appears to contribute to a maximum of 5 or 6 minor French Moult birds only, from approximately 300 bred per annum. They are affected very little and if stripped from flights and tails at 4 weeks, then recover fully.

Incubator

Some time ago, I bought an incubator. I use it to keep oversize plastic eggs warm at the same temperature as real eggs. When the first egg is laid, in goes a plastic one. Use of false eggs has the following advantages:

  • They prevent those strong day old chicks being crushed before you can get to them if they have not been fed. Note: Weak chicks because of poor management techniques will not survive anyway.
  • They can stop a pair smashing their own eggs – they get fed up trying to break a plastic egg.
  • They retain heat while in contact with eggs that have been left for too long thus saving the developing embryos.

Increasing Fertility

I am often asked what I do to prepare for increasing the fertility in my stud. Here are several thoughts for you.

  • Make sure you have a round-the-year source of vitamins A & D – in moderation. Overdo it and you will be in trouble, as both are stored in the liver and not excreted.
  • I use a powder product called Hormova. It again is present in the flights and cages all the time.
  • A certain “X” factor which you can buy in specialist horse tack and feeding shops – but that is up to you to think out and track down. Sorry, but we all have our little secrets!
  • Never give massive doses of antibiotics across the board with the exception of treating accurately against “yellow belly” in tiny chicks before breeding and the same again when breeding stops. This practice also improves fertility in my experience. I only treat a health condition which is preventative. If you start playing around with growth promotion then you risk ruining the whole stud – and it is banned anyway and rightly so.

Seed Mixtures

I now turn to the seed mixtures which we all use. I am after every chick I can get by every means possible. Seed that may have been harvested too early (and that applies to millets sometimes), is at risk of having micro fungi attached because of the dampness. Note: You can always test a bag of seed for ripeness by making a fist and plunging it down into the bag. If you meet resistance you know it is not fully ripened. Add any mites to the fungi, especially in millet sprays, and you have a recipe for loss of chicks. To kill off everything mentioned, use a super product from VETREPHARM (in Hampshire). This is put in the bottom of each bin before loading and fumes over 48 hours. The seed is unaffected and 100% safe to use.

Avian Flu

To conclude, a word about Avian Flu H5N1. Either keep the stock under cover or make certain that any indigenous wild visitors cannot excrete into the outside flights. As of November 2009, DEFRA has designated that the UK is free from any reports of Avian Flu. However fanciers should check the DEFRA website for any changes.

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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. Gerald,

    A very comprehensive coverage of the Budgerigar hobby, which you would expect from one of the household names.

    The site is excellent, whether from a beginner or champion perspective.

    If everyone is honest, they would be very complimentary to the work that you have done for the hobby as a whole over so many years.

    A very professional approach with this site, and best wishes for the future.

  2. Barrie Shutt says:

    Michael I cannot agree more with your comments about the site and like yourself I wish Gerald all the best in the future.

  3. javed khaanzada says:

    Hello Mr Gerald.

    Congratulations for launching very impressive and informative site.

    No doubt it’s an encyclopedia for fanciers worldwide.

    Regards
    Javed Khaanzada
    jk1 Stud
    Pakistan

  4. Mr Fardeen Patel says:

    A very comprehensive coverage of the budgerigar hobby. A very professional approach.

    Mr Fardeen Patel

  5. philbert says:

    This site is wonderful especially for breeders like me in the Philippines where information about budgies is scarce and based on personal anecdotes.

    The hobby is truly fortunate to have people with such passion.

  6. kev jones says:

    Hi Gerald,

    Here is a great site in the making.

    Very impressed with this site – very professional.

    I love it Gerald – great stuff.

    Kev Jones,
    Sunny Budgerigars.

  7. Salman Merchant says:

    Hello Gerald,

    I am a beginner in show budgerigars and I believe this site has given me a lot of insight about keeping and breeeding show budgies and creating a stud.

    A very professional approach on a worldwide level to get all the like-minded people in this hobby.

    Wish you all the best.

    Regards,
    Salman Merchant

  8. Gareth Simmons says:

    Hi Gerald

    A superb site, well done.

    “The Challenge” is a constant source of reference for me – a wonderful book.

    Best wishes for the future

    Gareth Simmons

  9. Hello Mr Gerald,

    On behalf of the Bird Industry Research and Development Society, Inc. – Philippines (BIRDS), we highly appreciate your having this site available. This will really be of great help to us Filipinos who love the hobby so much.

    I also thank Mr. Ghalib Alnasser of the World Budgerigar Organization (WBO) for informing us of your site.

    God bless

  10. Carlos Araújo says:

    I would like to congratulate this site, as initiatives such as these are very important to attract more people who share a common passion – budgerigars.

    Initiatives like these are also important in order to increase our knowledge – to show how we take care of our birds and to provide an easy way to share experiences.

    I want you to know they can count on me!

    Yours,
    Carlos Araújo
    Portugal

  11. To all those listed above, my appreciation for the kind remarks.

    Now, it is your turn to get involved with all your ideas, articles, photographs and techniques for breeding budgerigars of quality and in numbers.

    We are all interested and this is your site mainly and while I can lead, I want every individual to submit any items connected to the hobby, be it well written or otherwise – it is my job to help everyone, so don’t hold back for any reason.

    Send me your thoughts to me (by e-mail) – I will do the rest and importantly everyone will begin to know your name! That is how I started as a raw novice.

    Perhaps you are at work and have a spare moment or are even bored and you start thinking about your hobby. Try putting it in writing and the sense of achievement seeing it on a world site will give you a thrill. I guarantee that.

    A photograph of you, an article or articles and anything around your aviary – be it appliances, top 2-3 birds in sharp resolution, the aviary itsef – just send it through!

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