The Dicavalli Stud – Henry George


Henry GeorgeThis original version, now edited for international appreciation, was written by Jean Horrobin and Marilyn Harrington and is reproduced with their kind permission and acknowledgement to the BS of New South Wales and The Budgerigar. My appreciation also goes to Keith Gough for the accompanying photographs.



Henry George lives with his wife, Diane in a stunning area just north of Brisbane in Queensland. He is arguably one of Australia’s pre-eminent budgerigar breeders and his results at national level are second to none. For the record, Henry was the driving force to get 4500 birds into Australia from the UK so many years ago and the leader of the first syndicate. Incidentally, Henry was not Australian born – he comes from Yorkshire, UK!

Henry George – In His Own Words

Henry George aviaryMy wife Diane and I live on a property situated in a picturesque valley with a mountainous backdrop. The aviary is large and is situated towards the middle of the property and is surrounded by horse paddocks along with 40 horses – which are my wife’s passion. We have a German Warmblood stud of horses with arguably the best bloodline in the country. Germany has the best dressage horses in the world. Our horses are headed by our stallion Donnatraum (Donny for short) who is unbeaten in the show arena.

My Budgerigar History

Henry George opalineI started with budgerigars in 1975 when my daughters expressed an interest, but, like others experiences, they eventually took a different route – but I continued. I discovered the Queensland Budgerigar Society (QBS) and went to meetings and obtained advice on aviary construction. We learned a lot about budgerigars at the same time.

I moved through the ranks to Open Status in the minimum time after successes on the show bench and then took the judges course to become a Queensland judge in May,1979. By 1991, I became a National Judge and have subsequently judged at the nationals on four separate occasions.

My major achievements included winning, at first, Champion of Show with a cinnamon grey cock at the QBS Annual Show – when still a beginner! However, the achievement that ranks highest in my mind was winning my first national with an opaline light green cock in 1982. Since then, my achievements include 27 firsts at national Level and include greens, blues, yellowfaces, dominant pieds, lutinos, opalines, spangles, lacewings and clearwings, all of which varieties I still keep.

My Stud

My aviary is 25 metres long by 9 metres wide (82 by 30 feet). It has four major flights, 75 breeding cages and a walkway from where to enter the flights easily. The aviary contains a store, an office, a 5 metres wide (16 feet) birdroom fitted with food storage bins, a bank of 16 show cage training cages and a further 12 more cages for newly weaned youngsters and birds being prepared for shows. There is also a quarantine room for new purchases and any sick birds that arise with a heated hospital cage to hand. The room also contains two glass-fronted trophy display cabinets.

Since our water comes from a borehole, all water has to be boiled and filtered before it is pumped around the property. In the aviary, various vitamins are added for half the week, and a water cleanser for one day a week – mostly KD powder. (A product from Dr Rob Marshall – click here for more details.)

The birds receive a softfood mixture daily. This comprises soaked wheat and oats, an animal protein called Hi-Pro supplied by the veterinarian Ron Woodhead; grated carrots or silverbeet and a square of multigrain bread which is dampened with milk, over which I sprinkle canary egg biscuit and Budgie Starter. Seed is soaked for 24 hours and rinsed, put back and KD powder added to kill off any bacteria. It is drained and then fed.


Henry George cinnamon henNest boxes are checked daily and my system is to have record cards on the boxes after which the vital details are recorded in the year’s main record system. Breeding time for me is spring and summer, not winter as winter gives bad results. I check that every bird that is possibly fit to breed is exactly that, starting with a hen and then finding the right cock that is related and looks visually suitable. My favourite pairings are aunt to nephew; uncle to niece, first or second cousins and half brother to half sister, providing that the cock or hen that I am breeding back to, was not closely related to the birds that produced the half brother or half sister involved. I never closely inbreed as it never seems to work for me.

With my selection process, it is rare to have a hen refuse to nest but if this is the case then I allow her three weeks to lay. If no results, then the pair is broken up and returned to the flights. I normally allow for two rounds, but if a pair produces real quality in their first round, I foster out their second round eggs and let the pair rear their third round.

I check all eggs for fertility using a laser torch. In hot weather, I get a bowl of warm water and place all eggs that are within two days of hatching into the bowl for 10 seconds. This is enough to soften the inner membrane and it increases the hatchability. Other fanciers seeing this have remarked how much this has helped them as well. Feather plucking can be reduced by putting a lump of rock salt in the breeding cage concerned – it sometimes works. If not, remove the offender and leave the partner to finish the rearing process.


Filed Under: Profiles



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. Habib-Ur-Rehman Sherani says:

    Love to read about Henry George’s budgerigar story & we need that kind of updated information for learning the art of breeding.

    Habib-Ur-Rehman Sherani

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