Producing Fertile Eggs – Gerald Binks UK

Let us consider what happens when we put the chosen pair in the breeding cage with the nest box open, and leave the rest to nature.  The cocks, being usually very sure of themselves, are not unduly disturbed by their sudden new quarters.  They see a hen (which perhaps they have only heard at a distance) for the first time, so they go immediately into the displaying routine, cavorting up and down the perches, generally making an already excited and nervous hen, who is disturbed by her surroundings, even worse.  More to the point, she may be a maiden hen, perhaps only ten months old.  The “whatever is this mad idiot trying to do” look, comes over them very quickly.  In short, she’s upset, doesn’t want to know about mating and he gets a definite “Not now George, I’ve got a headache”.  Result – an infertile clutch of eggs.

Many years ago, I noticed the behaviour of birds in the wild, in nature programmes on T.V. in a number of cases the females prepared their nesting areas, before the males were allowed to approach and mate.  I thought about this, and realised at the same time, that all birds possessed territorial areas which eventually the males defended.  Our robins are a typical example in theU.K.  Applying this to budgerigars, I realised the breeding cage has to become the territorial area.  Also, as the hens are more highly strung than the cocks, I felt they should be introduced first to the territorial area, from what I’d learnt on T.V.  This was done, and by quiet observation I noticed the hens still behaved badly in these new areas for several day – the question was now, why?

All the food was there and the water, nest boxes were in position, but still they were wild, when one walked into the aviary.  Obviously one or two birds were different to the general pattern, so what was different about them?  The answer came, in that they had devoted their attention to trying to get into the closed off boxes which they had experienced before.  Was it right for these boxes to be closed before the cocks were put in, or not?  It seemed not – so I opened them.  The next evening, all traces of nerves with all the hens, had gone, without exception.  They each had something to think about – nesting.

Three Day Process

So to re-cap.  The hens are introduced to the territorial area alone, with the nest boxes open for three days, before the cocks are introduced.  Eventually, I realised what was happening with this technique, spread over those three days.  The hens are able in their own time, and without any pressure, to explore the full area and make it their own.  The sight of the inviting opening to the nest box calms them very quickly, and within 48 hours they have everything to hand with the exception of the cock.  By the third day, all the hens are at a pitch of sexual arousal and by this time perfectly content with their individual territories.  This is the time to introduce all the males, which I do first thing in the morning, before going to work – they are not watched at all,  just left alone.  Result – a very high fertility rate.

Years ago, one used to read articles and books saying “if you do not see mating occur in five minutes, split up the pair again”.  I do not accept this at all.  Many pairs, perhaps as much as 60% of the stud, I never see mate at all.  Very often, mating takes place at dawn – long before I’m awake myself – so pairs are only split up, if the hen refuses to lay for any reason, or a full clutch of infertile eggs have been laid.

One matter I must touch on and this is square perches.  With the modern large exhibition bird, it is essential that square perches are used in the breeding cage and that applies to all the perches, not just one of them.  When mating takes place, the hens have to grip firmly on to the perch and tip forward while taking the weight of the treading male.  If round perches are in use, and incidentally they become shiny and slippery very quickly, then the hen is unable to hold on and infertile eggs are the result.

Some of the early problems will now begin to manifest themselves, the first of these concerns the cock.  Sometimes you will find a male budgerigar dead in the cage, with no evidence at all of intestinal problems and no signs of attacking by the hen.  However, if the crop is felt, it will be found to be empty.  The cock has fed the hen continuously and has not allowed his crop to absorb goodness via the proventriculous into his own body.  In short he’s starved himself.  This problem can be overcome, if the fancier feeds soft food, which also contains added glucose.  It has the capability of sustaining energy and providing energy quickly and it is rarely this problem that appears if you have this mixture available.

Prolapse Of The Oviduct

The next problem which sends us on our merry way to work is a total prolapse in a hen.  More specifically the problem is called, “the prolapse of the oviduct”.  This occurs when hens are unable to pass the eggs, sometimes the first egg but not always the case.  The hen may be found in the nest box looking very ill with a swollen vent.  The egg may be outside the pelvic area enclosed in the stretched cloaca and oviduct.  For the inexperienced, this is very often a distressing condition, and one doesn’t know what course of action to take.  Normally veterinary action is the safest route, but if time is against you this is what you should attempt to do.  If no action is taken, the swollen area, protruding from the cloaca, is often covered in blood, becomes coagulated, and gangrene sets in with fatal results.

The egg has to be removed without it breaking, and it is certainly a delicate process, but at the same time a firm process initially one should make up a warm one percent salt solution and very slowly lower the patient into this up to her mid-line for a period of five minutes.  Give her the full five minutes because she is shocked.  The muscles around the egg are under contraction and these have to be relaxed before any attempt is made to remove the egg. Heat is a wonderful relaxant – we all know this, but it takes time.  If you can get some extra help, now is the time for a second pair of hands.  While one is holding the hen on her back, after she has been in the warm water/saline, the other can thoroughly scrub up his hands, at the same time warming them and drying them.  Your finger tips need to be dry.

Oil is no use in this operation, because the cloacal wall has to be stretched to expose the egg.  The dry fingertips can achieve this slow stretching process around the egg and in nine out of ten cases you’ll be successful.  Like anything else, the first time you try it is the worst time, but success gives you a marvellous feeling of achievement, apart from the fact the hen will survive.   Do remember – sterilise the working area after this operation, with a very mild antiseptic; ease back the prolapse, and administer heat to the bird.  A dose of glucose/water direct to the beak, every two hours, will greatly assist recovery.  Such a hen should be rested for a minimum of three months.

Tips Of Fingers Possess Bacteria

Now a few words on the eggs themselves.  In general, it is advisable these are not touched in the nest.  The tips of your fingers possess bacteria upon them. Every time eggs are lifted, you add to the chances of introducing these bacteria into the egg itself, via the shell.  If this happens, an addled egg is the result.  This means the content of the egg has decomposed.  There are other reasons for addled eggs occurring, but fanciers should be aware of this cause which they themselves can introduce.

Eggs are sometimes eaten by the odd hen, as they are laid.  This can be very annoying and often the problem is not discovered for a while.  The cause, can be disturbance, but usually it is another example of a nervous debility and a general over anxious attitude by the hen.  It can of course be the cock bird who takes exception to the eggs, and lastly one must consider that some cocks try to mate within the confines of the nest box, with disastrous results to the eggs. 

What is the solution?  One suggestion is to substitute a dummy china egg, such as the canary fanciers use.  This will defeat the hen that chews her eggs, after which she will sometimes leave them alone.  I prefer however, to transfer all newly laid eggs if possible – if I’m quick enough.  Alternatively, some fanciers construct a catching receptacle under the nest box, drill a hole through the concave sufficiently big enough for the egg to pass through, and hope all goes well.  Sometimes it works well but not always.


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. All Wild & Go Wild, but what is not possible.

    Looks like face to face conversation with Gerald Binks.

    It’s a wonderful article and yes personally learning from jungle experience.

    Understanding the behavior essential for every breeder otherwise we can not reached on grass root level.

    Everything described by Gerald but few thing could not be ignored in this particular area – producing fertile eggs under captivity or in cage breed.

    Without going in depth of ‘reproduction’ it’s necessary to realize that what will happened with mating or intercourse between both sex, will brief you simply when budgies are ready to breed their entire reproductive system will co-relate digestive and urinary or body parts and organs like testes and ovaries swell or produce sperm and ova respectively.Cock budgies storage sperm in their cloaca till that mating arise or opportunity to score and hen will accept or receive that sperm into their cloaca before transferring or channelizing to fertilize their ova.

    Courtship behavior and principally observe the following:

    1.Singing and invitation approach.
    2.Body display including eye,feather,body shape all will advertising.
    3.Physical movement in shape of dancing.
    4.Preening and to attract each other.
    5.Feeding by club.

    Everything countable here and will impact on fertility exercise specially in cage so must care about season,nesting material,colour of room,light dimension,nest box dimension and overall environment.

    Have a look wild budgie mating on a thin perch but strong or solid without flexibility in choice.

    Sharing BBC World – The Wild Bush Budgie and must watch in the start you will find the flow of water waves and nest front – Ask yourself why? It’s choice of hen or cock or budgies know – west open direction during nesting.

    It’s a open world to fly and learning.

    Thank you very much.

    Habib Ur Rehman,Pakistan.

  2. Mike Burton says:

    I have recently retired and gone back to breeding Budgies.
    In the old days I bread them in a damp, un- heated wooden shed.I had good results though the birds were not of exhibition quality.
    Today I have a new brick built unit with dust ectractors, heating, plenty of light etc. and mostly have dead in shell young. They are fertile and generally turn black in the last couple of days. I heat the unit to about 10 deg, and have an air moisture reading of about 75. Can you advise me please.
    Mike Burton
    East yorkshire

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