Stock Birds and Show Birds – Gerald Binks UK

Our International Editor, Terry Tuxford kindly delivered a curved ball which landed at my feet recently.  He felt that many fanciers today are confused about their studs in respect of its contents.  Do they possess studs of stock birds only, or show birds only and what does one do when you feel you have a stud of stock birds that cannot win?  Should we have stock hens and show cocks or vice versa?  When buying, what should we buy – a stock bird or a show bird and what ratio should we keep in the birdroom?  All in all a good set of thought provoking questions.

Defining The Difference

It is essential to define a show bird and a stock bird separately.  A show bird first of all has style and grace irrespective of its size and other features.  There are as many good beginner show birds as there are champion exhibits.  The type a bird possesses defines a show bird, or otherwise.  It is a bird, hopefully of quality, that stands at 11.25 on the clock with good height from the perch to the top of the wing butt and a body fullness under the perch which does not allow it to be termed, “short in body”.  The tail is held in line with the body axis.

The stock bird, and this is my own personal definition, is a bird which possesses useful points which can be extracted during the process of breeding to subsequently make up better birds which themselves may be better non-showable stock birds, or, show birds in their own right.  At the end of the day, a winning show bird is a bird with the least faults on the day which is in perfect condition.  The stock bird has many faults which need correction or elimination by selective breeding.

In contrast to 30 years ago, one can find more studs of birds where there are quality hens but not quality cocks.  There are however studs where the reverse applies and every fancier will be able to name such aviaries.  Ideally one needs to have a stud of quality stock birds in both sexes that have the ability, given an owner with the “eye” for a bird, to reproduce show birds at will.  In every generation there are a few fanciers who stand out at beginner level and have that special extra quality and determination; coupled with a brilliant eye for detail, to drive right through to the top in whatever Country they live.

A Stud Of Stock Cocks – A Problem

If you have stud of stock cocks with not a show cock among the, then you have a problem. Often this coincides with the stud which has a high production rate of quality with the hens.  I had such a stud years ago and in my case I found the only way to rectify the matter was to buy in from one stud some 24 cocks which possessed the right compatible features to our hens and which emanated from a stud which had a large number of show quality cocks in it.  These had an immediate effect over the next two seasons and then out came the show cocks I needed so badly; an expensive outlay at the time, but well worth it.

With a stud of quality cocks and inferior hens, the problem has to be greater if only for the fact that to bring in a good number of hens is more difficult, particularly if you are an established champion.  Who will sell you such numbers if they are needed, is a valid question, and will they reproduce in quantity, for it is quantity that is needed, is the next worry.  There is however no alternative – you must get out and search.

Terry Tuxford poses the question, “should we pair with the intention of breeding stock birds for future use?”  The answer is most certainly yes, but to a degree only.  We breed Opalines together to breed Opaline hens of size, substance and impact, if at all possible.  Power birds with Punch, if you like.  They do not necessarily have show quality and this applies to 90%, but they are the key to sustaining size, and shoulder and spot impact with the show birds that one hopes by careful pairing, to breed. 

The ratio of stock birds to show birds in a big stud is perhaps 4 : 1.  If you end up with a stud of entirely stock birds, you have only yourself to blame.  I certainly did this in my formative years.  I recall being, like many others, desirous of obtaining Finey stock.  Their heads were the lion heads, but they had poor wing carriage, poor backlines, hinged tails and masks so rough and buff they had little or no feather quality.  I could see only the good points at the time they appeared and I finished up with a stud of ugly birds.  The Budgerigar Society Ideal Standard does not award prizes to studs like that and Finey himself was no exception.  When it came to the top awards at National level, he lost to show birds that were inferior in head qualities but which had length and style and balance overall.  I feel to this day, he could never quite see it himself and eventually I believe depression set in and he left the fancy.  They were wonderful birds though, they were stock birds!

Fanciers Who Buy Their Way To The Top

Should you buy stock birds or show birds?  Some would argue that there are fanciers who buy their way to the top by purchasing the finest show birds they can find.  Unfortunately that is usually a short-lived procedure, especially if the buyer’s knowledge and husbandry is lacking experience.  My feeling is that one must decide what is needed by taking a generalised look at the stud as a whole.  Do not just look at the best which very often are your show team.  Take a general overview and say to yourself, “Yes, this bunch needs to be improved in depth of mask this year and next.  I have the show birds, but they are lacking in spot and mask so I must buy in some stock hens; as many as I can afford, to correct this and pair them with that very aim in mind.  Obviously a stud of stock birds which lack any style, perhaps have not that “look down” feature or have bad backlines, desperately needs a quantity of cocks with these features to be bought in and spread across as many hens, in a short a space of time as possible.

Always remember what you are trying to achieve.  You are after a quality bird which has length, shoulder size, depth of mask, spots of impact with a width of face such that you cannot see the eyes from the front and with no lack of backskull.  If this specimen happens to stand at the correct angle as well and is not short in body so much the better.  I often get asked for such a bird, sometimes for £25 which causes a smile, because I keep trying to find them as well.  If you can get all these features on to all your birds, whether they are stock birds or show birds will then be of little importance but the sight will be tremendously satisfying.

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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. Thank you very much Gerald.

    The entire ‘Inventory’ or holding birds in the aviary refer as ‘Stock’ and it may be as raw/or not showing feature visually but blood,semi finished/or developing means going to improve gradually and ready for display or true show bird.

    There no win win solution but we can not least count significance of any stock bird because when blood bounce back in term of champion bird, just my opinion.

    I personally believe BA23 bloodline have full tendency to term up at show bench with style and stance.

    Best Regards
    Habib Ur Rehman,Pakistan

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