There are two highlights to the bird keeper’s years and that’s either the breeding season or the show season. But make no mistake that the success of the show season is all about the good results of the breeding season.
So, make no mistake that this makes the breeding season far more important than any other time in the year.
It’s vital we get the breeding season right – be sure you have the right birds to breed with and by this time of the year – March, it’s probably too late if you have not got the birds sorted by now, so you will have to work with what you have! Get the birds breeding fit long before you think about making a start with nest boxes and nest pans.
For those of us who have kept birds for decades, we know that birds will naturally come into breeding condition as the days get longer, the temperatures start to raise and spring starts to kick in.
Birds are NOT machines, they tend to follow the season – spring, summer, autumn and winter.
Different seasons and if we watch our birds we will see the natural changes. The only real problem comes when birds are bred “out of season”, and then they seem to get confused when they should be breeding and moulting! But that’s another story for another time!
By March, the days are getting much longer and the temperatures should be increasing, especially if we are living in the south of the country, but for those in the north it might be a week or two later. We cannot change the natural seasons but we do have control of the birdroom and management – think lighting to extend the daylight and it’s not that challenging to raise the temperatures a degree or two.
Lots of birds benefit from a light spray or bathing and I think it brings the birds on considerably. It encourages the birds to preen themselves and the water seems to just bring the birds on and into a better breeding condition. Make sure any spraying or bathing takes place in the morning, and the birds are dry before the light starts to fail. Budgies love the spray while canaries and finches seem to prefer the baths.
What we do have complete control over is food, feeding and additives. We always need to be giving our birds the best food we can afford, and usually the better quality the food the more expensive.
Let’s look at budgies first:
By March many of the exhibition budgie breeders will be well into breeding but they are “pushed” into early breeding because of the early shows they start in June and July and seem to come to an end at the beginning of October at the latest. However, the majority of budgie breeders are less interested in showing these days, breed for colour and fun, and they enjoy their birds for the joys they bring in the birdroom and don’t bother about shows and showing. These are the people who follow the more natural path of seasonal breeding and pair up in March. Just think of the stresses and complications of colony breeding in an outside aviary before March!
Basic diet for budgies:
Feed to bring the birds into breeding condition – those extras.
The seed we should be giving our birds includes Budgie Breeders Mix. At this time of the year budgies benefit hugely with the addition of a regular supply of Haith’s Budgie Tonic.
Supplements – vitamins, minerals, iodine blocks, cuttlefish for extra calcium. There is a range of vitamin supplements available but I far prefer the water-soluble type that can be given to the birds through their fresh drinking water. It’s always worth remembering that our birds need fresh water changed at least once a day – ideally twice. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions with vitamins but always best to think of vitamins as a boost, rather than a routine feed in preparation for breeding. Some fanciers feed mineral supplements but these need to be considered as “extras” rather than basic feeding.
Never forget the grit, mineralised and oystershell.
Softfood of some type will be good for the birds at this stage but in small quantities, may be twice a week in the flights. Those “extras” in the softfood will advance breeding condition. Products such as CeDe, EMP, and Haith’s Rearing & Condition Food is ideal. Soak seeds will be good for the budgies too, and this can be offered as Haith’s Easisoak. Millet sprays are loved by the birds and best offered as a treat – but these become a vital feed when the hens are rearing young.
Greenfood can be a bonus but its best offered in small quantities and anything not eaten within a couple of hours, removed.
Canaries, Zebras and Foreign Finches
Good basic seed mix throughout the year is necessary for all seed-eating birds. One of the Haith’s Mixes such as is perfect. In preparation for the breeding season at this time of the year its worth adding Haith’s Canary Condition Seed to the diet and for those Zebras, Bengalese and Foreign Finches, its Haith’s Foreign Finch Tonic Seed.
Canaries will appreciate Haith’s Kraker Tonic seeds. This will really bring the canaries into breeding condition – little and often is recommended. It’s worth offering some Easisoak Seed, either just soaked and well-washed through in cold water or even germinated. It brings the birds into condition and it gets the hens used to this perfect rearing food for when the youngsters arrive.
Softfoods will advance breeding condition and get the hens used to the foods that they will rear chicks. Select one of the Haith’s softfood/eggfoords and offer a couple of times a week.
Supplements – vitamins, minerals iodine blocks cuttlefish for calcium, are all vital for the breeding preparation. Vitamins in the drinking water or in the softfood work wonders, offer plenty of grits and Haith’s Mineralised and Oystershell are recommended. Don’t forget the cuttlefish for added calcium for strong bones and good quality shells on those eggs that will appear in the nests very soon.
Mineral supplements are a bit of a personal preference, but it’s worth giving the birds a boost, and a small spoonful of charcoal will be appreciated from time to time.
Foreign Finches are not especially challenging to bring into breeding condition, while canaries tend to be slower, and require more attention. It’s worth noting that the larger canary varieties seem to take longer to prepare for breeding, so this means the smaller varieties like Fife will get fit earlier and breed earlier while the heavier, larger canaries like Yorkshires and Norwich will take that much longer and might not be fully breeding fit until the end of April or early May.
British Finches, Mules and Hybrids
Initially prepare them like canaries, but make use of Haith’s special mixes for Bullfinches, Greenfinch and Siskin Mix (including Goldfinches because it’s a small seed). Never forget Haith’s British Finch as a great mix for all your British Finches, Mules and Hybrids.
Be sure to use Haith’s Condition Seed and Haith’s Kraker Tonic Grains. "Kraker" Tonic Grains are renowned for their beneficial qualities as a supplementary feed to a basic diet. They are high in fat content and contain essential vitamins and minerals.
Feed "Kraker" twice per week or feed a pinch each day during the show season to help keep birds in peak condition. It's the first choice of the champions and makes a good bird better.
Why buy from Haith’s?
Haith’s is a highly credible seed importer, seed supplier and long-standing company supplying breeders for generations with their bird feed requirements.
Buying from Haith’s – it’s a case of ordering on the website, send an order through the post, or telephone the company. Within a couple of days – everything arrives.
The HUGE advantage with Haith’s is that for the breeding season we need small quantise of specialist seeds and products – and Haith’s are specialists as supplying seeds in large and small quantities.
Written by Fred Wright