Advantages and Disadvantages Of Early and Late Breeding by Gerald Binks UK

In the past there have been numerous grumbles about poor results, and conversation has eventually drifted towards the date of the issue of our closed rings, which in the case of Great Britain, is 1st January each year.  Naturally enough the keen types, and that includes most of the Champions, do a quick calculation, working backwards from that date, allowing 5-6 days growth of the chick, less, the incubation period of eighteen days.  They then cancel another week, assuming the first egg will be laid in that time. 

All this, makes for a final decision that the day they pair up has therefore to be on the last day of November, or the first day in December.  That date firmly fixed, and bear in mind the object of this exercise is to have one’s chicks ready for the early shows.  They must be as advanced and as big as possible – bigger than everyone else’s, of course, so then off we go, full of enthusiasm, pairing the best ones up first.

The “early breeding school” are off to another exciting season!  For those outside of theUKwho are not aware of our average weather pattern here, let me tell you that in January and February and occasionally March, we tend to have our coldest period.  Low temperatures are for brief periods, down to zero at night, sometimes sub zero.  From March onwards, we approach our springtime, when the indigenous bird population is breeding.  June until August is our summer, if we are lucky, and from then onwards, when many major shows take place, we go through our Autumn until the last important show event occur in November.  Breeders will now appreciate why it is virtually impossible to purchase good stock between December and May – everyone is breeding.

Condition Of The Studs

All this early breeding, can, and does come unstuck, and indeed there are some breeders in the U.K. who may now be disregarding showing their birds at the B.S. Club Show World Championships, because they are so keen to commence.  This is partly due to the condition of the studs in early November, when they tend to be at peak.  Some fanciers are now torn between pairing when the birds are fit in November, or leaving the start until the calculated date described earlier, to ensure they get the rings on the seven day old chicks on January 1st.  It’s a very difficult decision to make.

BS Club Show Judges 2010

Many of the bigger studs take the first option, with the idea of starting the birds off in peak condition so that fertility will be at its best and certainly one must accept this view.  However, there is a way of controlling the aviary to suit the other situation.  The two factors which control condition are light and heat, particularly the former.  The light can of course be controlled, using time switches.

I have noticed that if you increase the total hours using artificial light, the birds are awake by one extra hour, in the third week of October.  The condition of the birds as a whole is sustained extremely well until December.  Without that increase, the birds inU.K.are fit by mid-November and can be in severe moult by the middle of December, through into January.  The point about heat needs to be considered.  Some budgerigars these days seem to get almost stuck in the moult, especially if that moult occurs in unheated quarters.

Put Up The Temperature

For reasons I cannot explain, such a bird, following loss of feathers, seems to become chilled though it shows no sign of enteritis or any other malady.  Birds like this no longer seem to want to eat and certainly they do not wish to join in the competition for food while they are at this low ebb.  However – put up the temperature of the aviary by a few degrees, say from 40 degrees F to 50 degrees F (4 degrees C – 10 degrees C) and there is an immediate change.  Such birds will suddenly become active, feed well, and they get through the moult very quickly from that moment.  There are a good number of experiments, using light and heat that could be performed as one approaches the breeding season, the object being to bring one’s stud to a peak when you want it.

The early breeding discussed, let us consider the opposite viewpoint.  One has often read, that newcomers to the fancy should start later in the year – the usual recommendation being March – when spring starts and the days are beginning to lengthen.  Certainly those breeders, who commence at this time, do in general, get away to a reasonable start, with good first round results, but in my view there are problems with the second round when it comes to feeding and rearing massive chicks.  What happens is that the advent of spring, with its extra natural light and warmth, brings about a change in the attitude of the breeding pairs.  They seem not to feed as well in the early part of the second round, and consequently problems arise in the form of less sizeable chicks.


Filed Under: BeginnersBreedingFeatured



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. Super Article.

    Thank you Gerald.

    Habib Ur Rehman,Pakistan

  2. John says:

    Mr. Brinks, I have a question on breeding? Why does the pair seem to feed only the best on the 1st round, when every thing has remained the same as, light, temp, food, ect.? They only seem to raise only 1 or 2 and maybe 3 chicks and then let the others die? I am a novice and would like any information on getting more quality chicks. Thank you.

  3. Terry Tuxford Terry Tuxford says:

    There are a number of articles published on this web site that should help you with your breeding. Additionally, you could do no better than buy yourself a copy of The Challenge.

  4. Nice Article ,can help out anybody!

  5. cedric aron says:

    terry tuxford had many articles on his old website from budgerigar I cant access them now how can I find them

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