Although the bulk of exhibition budgerigar breeders’ ultimate goal is long-term success on the show bench, nothing beats the excitement of watching a handful of high class babies emerge in the nestbox and proceed into the stock cage.
This is the most fulfilling and enjoyable aspect of our activity for me. All too often, however, expectations are disappointed, and the promise of success offered by top-tier breeding stock goes unmet. There is little question that many failures may be attributed to chance or accident. However, I am certain that many bad breeding outcomes are the consequence of insufficient planning.
As with any pastime, the return on investment is only as great as the work put in, and budgerigars are no different. Correct preparation, not only in the organization of the breeding chamber, but also in the preparation of the birds, in terms of general management and feeding, may significantly boost the likelihood of success. For the sake of this paper, I aim to focus mostly on bird preparation. One challenge is ensuring that the birds are in peak breeding condition at the proper time. The greatest and largest displays normally take place in November or December, which unfortunately does not correspond with the optimal period for the birds to effectively reproduce; the best time is after the yearly moult, which takes place in September or October. The German Society recognizes this and makes plans for early ring delivery.
Despite the fact that budgerigars have been domesticated for almost a century, they nevertheless exhibit their natural tendencies, including the drive to breed, in what would be the Australian Spring, meaning our Autumn. As a result, they must be actively encouraged to maintain or preserve reproductive condition somewhat later in the year to coincide with ring issuance. This may be accomplished by the use of artificial lights to lengthen daytime hours, warmth, and, of course, diet.
First and foremost, evaluate the diet. It is amazing how many fanciers give their stock a dry seed diet on a regular basis throughout the year. Although most birds may live happily and healthily on this diet, a more interesting and diverse feeding plan can increase their general well-being and overall breeding performance.
Although a diversified diet is extremely desired throughout the budgerigar’s life, from nest-box through maturity and breeding cage, stimulation may be provided by boosting the food right before to the mating season.
I provide a broad seed blend of Canary seed, English seed, and Australian seed. The millet seed is fed individually and is a blend of all available millet with a majority of Japanese millet, which I believe to be a suitable practice that eliminates waste. They benefit from a modest amount of tonic seed twice a week, which comprises of several kinds of seed, such as linseed, niger, sunflower, hemp, groats, and so on. In late August, and during the breeding season, I add two tablespoons of cod liver oil and wheat germ oil to around 5 kilograms of seed. The oil is well mixed into the seed mixture before being allowed for 24 hours to penetrate the seed. Two teaspoons of kelp (powdered seaweed) is carefully mixed with the seed before giving to the birds. Kelp is widely accessible in health food shops and is an excellent source of minerals and trace elements that are vital to the birds’ general health. In terms of drinking water, I solely use rainwater that I collect in a huge plastic bucket. Those who are unable to gather rainwater could feed bottled spring water. The authorities’ mains water is loaded with water treatment chemicals. This is OK for people, but it is not good for the birds. Over the years, I’ve met several fanciers who believe that using non-mains water enhances their stock.
Then, in the run-up to breeding season, I add one teaspoon of a multi-vitamin cocktail to a.5 litre of water, along with a teaspoon of Cider Vinegar. This improves the overall health of the birds, while the cider vinegar keeps the water drinkers clean and prevents the formation of a sticky coating.
A good grit combination is advised. My birds have just received mineral-menu blocks from Alfred Merkle. This, I’ve discovered, replaces grit and cuttlefish. It is good recommended offering a soft food combination at this stage. There are many different soft meals on the market; select one that best fits you and, once begun, should last the whole season. It takes some time for the birds to grow accustomed to the soft food, but by introducing it early in the season, your pairs will be used to it and look forward to it being provided to them by the time chicks arrive.
After discussing the feeding strategies utilized in the preparation for breeding, it would be negligent of me not to add other things that I believe are most important in the overall build-up to the mating season. Of course, I’m referring about exercise, illumination, and, to a lesser extent, heating. It must be recalled that we are seeking to stimulate breeding in our birds at a very unusual period, and every effort must be made. I remain confident that, if not necessary, exercise in flight, ideally partly in open air, would significantly enhance the well-being of budgerigars. This also allows you to feed the bird bundles of twigs, seeding grasses (if accessible), and green food.
Chewing, especially by the hens, seems to make them more motivated to reproduce. I’m sure the ingredients of the bark and leaves assist the chickens. In terms of illumination, I utilize low-voltage lights throughout the hours of darkness at all times of the year. This, in my opinion, helps to prevent injuries and fatalities caused by night terrors. It also lessens issues in the breeding cage while hens are incubating or feeding newborn chicks. From the end of August until the time of pairing up, I progressively increase the quantity of artificial light. This will trick the birds’ metabolism into thinking spring has come and mating season is approaching. However, keep in mind that not every bird will be ready for pairing at the same moment. More success is expected if you wait a few days before pairing birds to ensure that both couples are in peak physical and mental condition for breeding.
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