Some Do’s And Don’ts Of Budgerigar Breeding


Now that the budgerigar breeding season has begun again, it is an appropriate time to mention some do’s and don’ts that may help in producing more eggs and, more importantly, more babies from the eggs produced. Budgerigars, as maintained by fanciers, produce much fewer offspring per egg deposited than any other bird kept for display, according to recent research at the University of Liverpool funded by the Lancashire and Cheshire Budgerigar Society. This page discusses some of the findings from this study, as well as some findings from other people’s work.

Do’s

  1. Clean nest boxes, ideally cleansed and disinfected at the conclusion of the previous mating season, should be used. Dirty boxes may harbor bacteria that can persist for years, infecting eggs and chicks with devastating outcomes. Usage cardboard nest boxes that may be discarded after use.
  2. If the box, concave, and bedding get filthy, the effect of using a clean nest box is lost. Dirty bedding should be changed as needed; most chickens will not be bothered by this until the whole round has been deposited. If no bedding is used, the concave should be cleaned on a regular basis, especially after the chicks begin hatching, since dirt that collects on it may cause disease and death. If there is a break between the chicks leaving the nest and the start of the following cycle, the box should be completely cleansed and disinfected. If you use sawdust or shavings, let them air dry for a few days before putting them in the nestbox.
  3. If, despite the fancier’s best efforts, any eggs get filthy, steps should be taken to clean them; otherwise, pathogens from the dirt might enter the eggs. Eggs may be cleaned by immersing them in water at 40 to 42 degrees Celsius (use a thermometer) and gently washing them with a sponge while wearing disposable plastic gloves.
  4. What should be done about the potential parents after the breeding environment has been cleaned up? Make certain that the birds are in breeding condition; pairing birds who are not in peak condition is pointless. This is not as simple as it seems; although one can generally detect whether the hens are fit, the cocks may be more challenging. Well-fed, robust cocks are only fertile for around 6 months out of the year, for a few weeks at a time. Even with an experienced eye, predicting when these productive times will occur is difficult. A veterinary surgeon may inspect cocks to determine whether they are in one of their reproductive phases if necessary.
  5. Both cocks and hens should have their big body contour feathers removed if they are buff, since these feathers might slip over the vent and prevent appropriate pairing during mating. The feathers should not be plucked since it is uncomfortable, and they will re-grow during the breeding season. The old wives’ story about guide feathers, which are said to aid the cock in finding the hen’s vent, is false.
  6. Allow the parent birds to have as much activity as possible, which means utilizing the largest breeding cages your bird room can accommodate. Recent research from the United States has shown that, everything else being equal, the more activity the birds have, the more eggs hatch. The author of the American article had the greatest success with birds he forced to fly by chasing them about – I’m not sure whether I would advocate this!
  7. Budgerigars are birds that create strong pair ties that, if “ignored” or not severed, might result in a poor egg production. When not being used for breeding, hens and cocks should be kept apart and ideally out of hearing, since the birds’ cries might sustain the pair-bond.

There is no need for many of the sophisticated diets offered if a balanced diet is fed – ideally a commercial one like Trill. If you wish to manufacture your own meal, combine a high-quality canary and millet blend with a protein supplement and a customized vitamin and mineral blend. In hard water locations, birds fed this water may create eggs with thick shells, and chicks may have difficulties hatching from them, therefore bottled or boiling water is recommended during the breeding season.

Finally, keep track of not only the number of chicks that hatch, but also whether a specific pair fails to produce chicks or if failure to hatch is due to clear eggs or dead-in-shells. This will aid not only in detecting infertile birds, but also in indicating potential difficulties, so that if advice is sought (as it should be if the breeding season falls short of expectations), these data will be accessible to assist rectify the situation.

Don’ts

Many don’ts are the inverse of dos, but there are a few particular items to avoid.

  1. Budgerigars will breed in a broad variety of temperatures; in fact, apart from the fancier’s comfort and keeping the water in the drinkers from freezing, there is probably no need to supply heat in the winter. What the birds will not accept is extreme temperature swings; birds maintained in greenhouse-style facilities that are very hot during the day and extremely cold at night will not reproduce properly.
  2. Handle eggs with caution. When asked why they touch eggs so regularly, few fanciers can provide solid explanations. The major reason they should not be touched is because bacteria on fanciers’ skin, no matter how well they are cleansed, may seep into the egg and cause dead-in-shell. If you must touch the eggs or keep the nest box clean, use disposable plastic gloves or use the special egg handling forceps. To check whether the eggs are transparent, one of the lamps made for the purpose may be viewed in the nest.
  3. Fanciers often label eggs (which also entails touching the eggs) to ensure that the eggs hatch on time. Personally, I think a notation on the cage record card would enough. The issue with many markers is that their main ingredient is spirit, which may enter the egg and harm the growing baby. If you must mark the eggs, use soft pencils grade 2B or 3B, which work just as well and pose no risk to the chicks.
  4. Handling and marking eggs disturbs certain chickens, which may result in egg cooling, and if done repeatedly, can result in eggs drying up, which can result in chicks dying or not hatching, or weak chicks hatching.
  5. Some fanciers prefer to boost the humidity in nest boxes, although in most cases, this is unnecessary. However, if it is done, wet peat or sponges should be used beneath the bedding or concave. Moistening the bedding (unless potentially shortly before the eggs hatch) might prevent eggs from hatching by preventing or reducing the evaporation of water through the shell. This must occur because eggs must lose a specific quantity of water during incubation; if too little or too much water is lost, issues arise.

Following these do’s and don’ts will not solve all of your budgerigar breeding problems, but it will assist in many situations. Breeding outcomes often increase if they are followed, according to experience. The main issue they will not address is where faulty eggs are placed; shell abnormalities at the microscopic level, which cannot be seen with the human eye, are a problem that must be solved. It will also have little effect on the quality of the chicks, since this is mostly dictated by genetics. Female budgerigars have the capacity to lay hundreds of eggs over their lifespan, and all of these eggs have the potential to hatch into chicks – if they all did, there would be a dilemma of what to do with all of the babies. We are still a long way from this, but a few little advances in that direction would only benefit the fancier.

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