Can you tell breeding condition from show condition?

By Cyril Rogers (Circa 1970)

Those who are breeding Budgerigars for the first time may find that the odd pair will not take the slightest notice of each other; on the other hand they may fight like "cat and dog". This unusual behaviour by either or both partners is an indication that the birds are not in full breeding condition.

If the pairs refuse to take a lively interest in each other they should be broken up and put back into their flights or aviaries until they do come into condition. Fighting pairs should also be parted if they do not settle down quietly in a reasonable time as it is obvious they are not suited to each other.

Fighting does occur with all kinds of breeding stock, especially if one of the partners has already taken a fancy to another mate. Should the pairing be a very special one, however, the birds should be tried together after ten or twelve days of complete separation. And if this method is of no avail, fresh mates must be found if any breeding is to take place.

To get back to the term "breeding condition," it must always be borne in mind that it is not the same as "show condition". When a bird is said to be in breeding condition, it means that it is vigorously healthy and ready to start breeding operations at once.

Broken Tail Feathers

It does not matter in the least if tail feathers are broken, spots missing, or mask and body feathers soiled, provided the bird is full of energy and flying strongly; and this applies equally to cocks and hens. Only birds that are in this full breeding condition should be used in the breeding quarters. Much time can be lost and unsatisfactory breeding results obtained by being over anxious and pairing birds before they are ready.

When a hen Budgerigar is seen to mate satisfactorily with her partner and appears to be preparing to lay but no eggs appear, it is mostly a sign that she has some internal trouble. Should this happen it is best to split up the pair and give the cock bird a new partner, even if only temporarily.

The original hen should be returned to the flight and can be tried again with a new mate later in the season. It is only on very rare occasions that I have seen this type of hen bird of any use in the breeding quarters. Even though the hen may seem to be a good one it is not worth wasting time, space and a good cock bird on trying to achieve the impossible.

The right kind of nest-boxes must, and do, play an important part in the success of the breeding season. I like to see next-boxes made of thick clean timber and fitted with good, deep loose concave bottoms. I have seen many nest bottoms that are far too shallow and, consequently, the eggs become chilled and fail to hatch.

When this happens the hens are generally blamed for being bad parents, whereas it is actually the fault of their owner. Nest-boxes made of stout wood will also help to prevent eggs from getting too dry and causing dead-in-shell. The entrance holes should not be made too large as the hen birds seem to prefer to be able to squeeze through the holes into their boxes.

Facing Egg Binding

A problem that most of us have to face from time to time in our birdrooms is that of egg binding, which is the inability of a bird .to pass an egg in the usual manner. If such cases are not dealt with at once and with care, the bird will invariably die. The cause of death may be shock, internal bleeding, a prolapsed oviduct or an internal infection.

It is essential to keep an eye on all hens when they are about to lay. Any that look a little off colour should be watched for a few hours and if no improvement is seen, or the bird gets worse, it should be moved at once into a small cage in a warm room.

Other than applying a few drops of warm olive oil to the vent when first putting her into the cage the bird should not be handled. No manual attempt to force the egg from the hen should be made and the bird should be placed near an electric fire where the temperature is between 70 andr 80 degrees F, or in a hospital cage.

Seed should be given and a few drops of whisky or brandy, can be added to the drinking water. Coarse flannel or woollen material must not be put on the floor of the cage; I have seen hens get tangled up in these materials and expend the valuable energy they need to carry them over this critical period.

Usually, after a few hours' rest in the warm, the hen will pass her egg naturally and once this is done she will recover quickly. It is not wise, however, to transfer the bird to an outside aviary or birdroom straight away, without giving her a few days to get accustomed to a gradual change in temperature. In very bad cases of egg-binding the help of the nearest experienced Budgerigar breeder should be sought.

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