The Birdcare Company Blog

Breeding Tips For 2014


Improving nutrition
As the breeding season approaches improving nutrition is key to many species breeding. For budgerigars in the wild, the dry season turning into the wet season turns the feed from dry, dusty, survive-if-you-can diets into lush, vitamin, mineral and protein rich feeds.  For canaries and other  European species, winter turning into spring brings the abundance of plant feeds and insects they need.  The wild diet starting to improve is a key indicator for birds to start coming into breeding condition and for fertility to improve.

Mimic the seasonal diet for best results!

For budgerigars start 6 weeks before breeding and for canaries and European birds 8 to 12 weeks before breeding, to give their bodies time to make all the changes.  Improve the nutrition quality steadily week by week.
Feast eggfood gives top quality higher-protein food as well as unique herbal health support. Add Daily Essentials3 to it for broad-based vitamin, minerals and amino acids.  Add ProBoost SuperMax, a high protein complex product, to boost fertility, bring excellent breeding condition and support the young chicks.

Prevent common problems
If birds are carrying infections, it will seriously limit their ability to breed and chicks will be more likely to die. So now  is the time to resolve low level infections and parasites.

Airsac mite weakens finches and canaries.
Listen for the tell-tale rattley sound  of their breathing. Use lvermectin 0.1% on the back of the neck as directed.

Worm burdens
Worm burdens build up in birds with access to dirt floors and outside flights. Regular treatment with
Harkaverm is advised and is essential before breeding.

Going light (coccidia)
This is a huge problem in canaries and finches leading to young chick deaths.  It is easily prevented by using Feast Eggfood with its powerful anti-coccidial herbs. Or use the same herbs in supplement form, Flourish. If you've had a particularly bad problem in previous years use Acox first and then use Flourish or Feast.

Calcium deficiency raised in Cage & Aviary Bird - Hit back with Calcivet

Calcivet - A unique liquid calcium supplement

Feather plucking solved


The most common cause of feather plucking appears to be calcium deficiency....

As research tells us that 98% of pet birds are getting less than the recommended levels of calcium in their diet it is actually surprising that there aren't more cases of feather plucking. Calcium is involved in both nerve and muscle function. Calcium deficient animals often show nervous behaviour such as fear, aggression and feather plucking. So the central part of our recommendation is to add 
Calcivet to the diet for feather plucking birds.

Read more about our approach to feather plucking here...

Super Simple Supplementation...



Breeding season for canaries is coming up. Now is the time to think about what supplementation you will be using to bring your birds into condition and getting the best breeding season ever. Try using our EasyBird Super Breeder
. Just one product contains all that you need - vitamins, minerals, calcium and protein. 

Potent Brew is an excellent product for giving your chicks the best start in life. It also acts as a breeding stimulant as well. So start giving it to your parent birds just before you pair them up. Use it on a daily basis all through breeding and rearing. You will be amazed at the results! www.birdcareco.com

Bannish coccidia (going light)



Bannish coccidia (going light) and reduce chick losses by feeding one of our Feast soft foods or adding Flourish.  If you know your adults are suffering with coccidia then Acox is an important product to have in your first aid cupboard.

Ensure your birds are free from worms.  Ivermectin is excellent for some types but you will have to put drops on the back of the neck.  Harkaverm is another good product for keeping your birds free of worms.  This product goes into the drinking water so is really easy to use.  You will need to do this at least 3 weeks before breeding.


STOP MITES NOW!



Guardian Angel Saves The Day Once More!

Kakariki SAVED with Guardian Angel and Calcivet.  Read Anne’s amazing story… 


"I just wanted to say a huge THANKYOU for all your help when my kakariki was poorly back in August. We had visited the vet and he perked up for a few days with antibiotics but then went downhill again. He was unable to bear weight on one side and I thought I was going to lose him as he was sat down the bottom of the cage and was extremely poorly. After I spoke to the Birdcare Company I gave him Guardian Angel with Calcivet and he perked up almost straight away. He is still having Calcivet a couple of times a week but you would not believe how well he is. He runs and jumps about and chirps again and it is so lovely to have him back. Thank you to the Birdcare Company not only for your products but all your excellent advice. Anne Edwards"

Breeding best Budgies!

 
Time to get the Viagra out...


Dimmed lighting, soft music, cordon bleu food and a delicious bottle of wine, all experienced on a romantic weekend during springtime in Paris -just a few of the tricks employed by Englishmen to woo their sweethearts over the years. But when we come to breeding our budgies the story is different...


Breeding best Budgies!

Breeding best Budgies!
It’s not complicated once you know how – The Birdcare Company lends a hand.

Time to get the Viagra out...


Dimmed lighting, soft music, cordon bleu food and a delicious bottle of wine, all experienced on a romantic weekend during springtime in Paris -just a few of the tricks employed by Englishmen to woo their sweethearts over the years.

But when we come to breeding our budgies the story is different. We wait until mid-winter, grab a cock and hen from their respective stock flights and put them in a cold, tiny cage. Then we give them the same old seed and expect them to get all romantic. Not surprisingly quite a few of them are less than cooperative.

Of course we could help ourselves and help them to get into the mood for love.

Let’s start with a few environmental things we can do. Budgies breed in the wet season which, in Northern Australia is the spring and summer. So, just like temperate climate birds, an increase in day length is a good indicator of the arrival of the breeding season. So a good lighting system with dimmer switches and adjustable day length is a good idea.

The Australian summer may be wet but the cloud and rain are not there the whole day. So some Arcadia full spectrum bird lamps are a good idea too to match the needs of a sun loving bird.

British winters are pretty good at providing the other key environmental stimulus – humidity. So there isn’t much you need to do about that. In theory some warmth would be welcome but is probably not at all necessary. A healthy modern budgie has plenty of feather for insulation!

Of course the real reason for breeding in the wet season is that the feed plants grow and change in their nutritional composition. The increase in vitamins, minerals and particularly protein are the key indicators to the adults that raising chicks is likely to be successful. The change in the plants is also enhanced by the arrival of lots more insects – and yes, wild budgies do eat live foods with their significantly better quality protein than seeds can provide.

So there is no need for drugs like Viagra to get your birds in the mood. But improvements in diet give all the right messages. See the “How to” section further down the article.

There are a whole host of other important nutrients and herbal nutricines that can help breeding too. Let’s start with fertility issues as this is one of the biggest issues with modern budgies. The protein certainly gets birds in the mood but it doesn’t necessarily get their reproductive organs working to perfection. Surprisingly oxygen can be the enemy here. We all know we need oxygen to live but it also produces a whole host of toxic “free radicals” in the body. To overcome these, nature has provided anti-oxidants like vitamins E and C. These work in conjunction with minerals like selenium and sulphur to mop up the free radicals with important benefits in both male and female fertility.

At The Birdcare Company we are the only bird feed or supplement company in the World to offer bio-available sulphur – we have been adding it to many of our products since 1996. And we are also the only firm to use the most up-to-date and natural anti-oxidant herbs and vitamins (actually designed to help premature human babies who are also very easily poisoned and damaged by oxygen). So the power of our package is unmatched by others.

So the birds are in the mood and their reproductive organs are on fire. But what else might they need? Have you ever noticed that most breeders lose more hens than cocks? This gives a strong clue that calcium is crucial for health because the calcium demands for egg shell manufacture are huge. The losses of hens have been with us for decades – probably centuries. This highlights that the traditional calcium supplements (cuttlebone and oyster shell grit) simply don’t work very well. Both of these are made almost exclusively of calcium carbonate. So when the makers of complete diets or complementary foods supplement their products with limestone (also calcium carbonate) it is not surprising that problems still persist. This is not only true of cage and aviary birds. We are finding calcium problems in dogs and cats and horses as we get more involved in other species. And even humans are suffering more as milk and dairy foods get replaced by more cereals and carbonated drinks.

So if calcium carbonate isn’t much good what is? The answer is highly bio-available “chelated” calcium. As the result of more innovative R&D we can now offer this approach in water soluble liquid form and on-food powder. Your choice. Of course calcium should always be provided alongside vitamin D3 and magnesium so all of our calcium supplements contain these important co-nutrients.

Get your calcium supplementation right and you will get lots more eggs, better shell quality (so improvement in hatching rates) and far fitter hens capable of more rounds (if you want to).

Calcium is the one nutrient that needs a little care

  • If you live in a hard water area and use tap water you may need less than our normal recommendation.
  • If you live in a soft water area or use filtered or bottled water you will need at least our maximum recommendation and possibly more.
Ring our free advice line or email advice@BirdcareCo.com if you are not sure.

Protein and calcium are important. But wet season diets are rich in all sorts of other important nutrients that help adults to breed and babies to grow into strong healthy birds.

  • A broad range of vitamins to help all sorts of biological processes in the bird. Not least these essential nutrients are required for strong immune responses.
  • Essential oils for brain development and strong cell membranes.
  • Bacterial and yeast probiotics to maximise gut function and support immunity.
  • Herbal health support to further boost both gut and immune function.
  • Limiting amino acids for strong muscle growth and development of quality feathers. In later life these nutrients help prevent obesity – the biggest killer and a major cause of poor breeding.
  • A broad range of trace minerals which, like vitamins, are responsible for a whole host of biological processes. The depleted soils that your bird seed is grown on these days is often deficient in these nutrients. Farmers are not paid to produce copper rich seeds so they won’t spend money on trace minerals in their fertilisers.
  • As you can see this list is far more extensive than just giving your birds a vitamin supplement. And as you have no way of knowing what nutrients are the “missing links” in your birds’ diet a truly comprehensive broad spectrum supplement is advised for all budgerigar breeders.
How to

Most budgerigar breeders keep their non-breeding birds in single sex stock flights. And most have lots of spare birds so that, when they want to start breeding, they have at least some birds in condition to pair up. Of course the birds that are in the best breeding condition are the ones that are at the top of the social “pecking order” as they get priority access to the best food. Inevitably these birds are not the ones you expect to breed next year’s champion from.

Out of the breeding season

So the first thing to do is cut down the numbers in your stock flights. If you don’t think a bird is good enough to breed from sell it. It is a waste of seed to keep it. You now have far less crowding in your stock flights. Even the birds at the bottom of the social tree will get to the supplemented soft food.

  • Out of the breeding season mix 50 grams (20 level or 10 heaped 5 ml teaspoons  – included in every pack of EasyBird) of EasyBird Rest Moult & Show with one kilogram of dry soft food. Offer about 15 grams (4 heaped 5 ml teaspoons) of dry soft food for every 10 birds in your stock cages six days a week. So long as this is all eaten you can dilute this with any other food you like.
  • For American readers mix 0.8 oz (9 level or 4.5 heaped 5 ml spoons  – included in every pack of EasyBird) of EasyBird Rest Moult & Show with one pound of dry soft food. Offer about ½ ounce (4 heaped 5 ml spoons) of dry soft food for every 10 birds in your stock cages six days a week. So long as this is all eaten you can dilute this with any other food you like.
If you think your birds are still a bit crowded also put Daily Essentials1 (daily) and Calcivet liquid [CalciBoost liquid outside Europe] (twice a week) into the drinking water. This ensures that even the birds at the bottom of the pecking order get a good quality vitamin and mineral supplementation.

Before the breeding season

About 4-6 weeks before breeding switch from EasyBird Rest, Moult & Show to EasyBird SuperBreeder. But use this new product at half strength. This is to give the birds the idea that the food quality is improving. So the instructions are now like this

  • Mix 25 grams (10 level or 5 heaped 5 ml spoons- included in every pack of EasyBird) of EasyBird Super Breeder with one kilogram of soft food. Offer about 15 grams (4 heaped 5 ml spoons) of dry soft food for every 10 birds in your stock cages six days a week. So long as this is all eaten you can dilute this with any other food you like.
  • For American readers mix 0.4 oz (4.5 level or 2.5 heaped 5 ml spoons – included in every pack of EasyBird) of EasyBird Super Breeder with one pound of soft food. Offer about ½ ounce (4 heaped 5 ml spoons) of dry soft food for every 10 birds in your stock cages six days a week. So long as this is all eaten you can dilute this with any other food you like.
If you think your birds are still a bit crowded also put Daily Essentials1 (daily) and Calcivet liquid [CalciBoost liquid outside Europe] (twice a week) into the drinking water. This ensures that even the birds at the bottom of the pecking order get a good quality vitamin and mineral supplementation.

Pairing up and breeding

When you select your pairings and transfer them to the breeding cages switch to the full strength breeding mixture:

  • Mix 50 grams (20 level or 10 heaped 5 ml spoons- included in every pack of EasyBird) of EasyBird Super Breeder with one kilogram of soft food. Offer about 1 heaped 5 ml spoon of dry soft food for every pair six days a week. So long as this is all eaten you can dilute this with any other food you like.
  • For American readers mix 0.8 oz (9 level or 5 heaped 5 ml spoons – included in every pack of EasyBird) of EasyBird Super Breeder with one pound of soft food. Offer about 1 heaped 5 ml spoon of dry soft food for every pair six days a week. So long as this is all eaten you can dilute this with any other food you like.
If you want to give your newly paired breeding birds an even bigger kick ahead start them on Potent Brew when they reach the breeding cages. Just add 3-4 drops to the soft food in each cage every day. This will boost their desire to breed and give the young chicks the very best possible start in life.

If you want to know more, why not visit our every informative website www.birdcareco.com or call us for free advice on 0845 1308600

Business Innovation Winners!!

WE WON!! Calinnova Ltd has just been awarded the Stroud Life Business Award for Innovation. What a wonderful evening, wonderful food (except the starter!!), brilliant atmosphere, and an award to go with it.