Thursday, June 30, 2011

Current Pictures Late Chicks

Colorbred Chick #1, yet to be identified! Clues Notices the white outlining the feathers and although it is red ground color it is not color fed until the baby molt.

Congratulations Ralph who was the first person to correctly identified the Stafford (Chicks number 2 and 3) as Crested chicks!! Way to go Ralph, he correctly identified them from the earlier picture post!!!

Hats Off To The Ladies - Feeding Co-op!!

These are Mario's five chicks hatched June 21st. Unfortunately, with hot weather and temperatures soaring outside over a hundred degrees, Sunday evening my aviary heat pump/AC decided that after 14 years it just could not do it anymore. Thanks to prompt services, I got a new digital one installed Tuesday morning. That sudden burst of heat caused any sitting hens to loose interest in breeding and setting, so the ladies have had it for this year too!!

The hen that hatched Mario's five chicks, has continued to feed through the crises. This is a very unusual nest in many ways: Mario fertilizing the eggs, Five out of five hatching so late in the season, the second hen accepting two of the chicks as her own even though she did not hatch any, and now the third hen with the heat has deserted her eggs and to my delight has started helping feed both nests!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

High Five - Five Out Of Five Hatch June 21st

Mario has done it again, five of five!!!

It is really getting late now for pairing. Mario's wing butts show new feathers, he is clearly molting. But I could not resist trying to get a few more chicks from I put four extra hens who had not been paired this season in a breeder cage and four nests. Three immediately built nests and the fourth I lost patience with and removed her. The first hen laid five eggs and hatch five!!

The second hen only laid two eggs and to my surprise, once the other hen hatched these five chicks, she abandoned her eggs and was trying to sit with the other hen on the five new chicks! So I moved the two smallest chicks to her nest and she is feeding them in her own nest! It is much harder to get a hen to foster chicks when they did not hatch under her.

Prolonging male fertility can be a challenge but I credit molting Mario's fertility to using ferti-vit (orlux parent company - ordered from Bird Supply of New Hampshire). This product has vitamins and amino acids and so effective but not overpowering. I plan to use it next year for conditioning. I will also use it on short term (likely three consecutive days, now and then) to tighten up feathers on the show birds.

Lucca loves to open the boxes of bird supplies arriving frequently at our house.

As I write this post, Lucca is helping me?

Maybe this chew toy will keep him pacified while I write.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Identify These Late Chicks

Chick number 1 is a colorbred. What kind is it?

Chick number 2 is a Stafford. What is it?

Chick number 3 is a Stafford. What is it?

Chicks number 4 and 5 are German Roller canaries that are very special as they are Mario's last two chicks with a hen from Almin!!

Lucca loves to play in the hose and tub in our back yard!

A quiet moment chewing!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Where's The Beef - Dropping Animal Protein In Weaned Chicks Diet

Chicks that are weaned are flighted or caged together in groups. Since some birds in the aviary are still breeding, I can not cut the lights to discourage picking and aggression. So I have cut the amount of animal protein in the diet.

Protein is protein and the same amino acids whether from animal or plant source but animal protein is more digestible and has a more dramatic effect on the birds. Certainly we need protein as feathers are mostly protein but I do not want the aggression, foot favoring, or weight loss that can accompany feeding larger amounts of animal protein. I soften the effect by increasing the vegetable protein instead of animal protein and increase the portion of carbohydrates in the diet.

My regular nesting food is now being diluted half and half with cous cous.

Take a look at the mixed nestling food, it is very light and fluffy.

I am also feeding Tropical Bits a 20% protein product designed for softbill's that is all vegetable protein. Tropical Bits is made by Scenic.

Recently, I added these two Raff products from Wings, Connie Garman. The Verdurello does not have animal protein but the FruttOvo has a small amount of egg.

I am hoping the Borders will take to the green one especially as they much prefer vegetable to animal protein.

A bonus in dropping animal protein and increasing the carb's in the diet is to make sure the chicks are a normal weight and not too thin. As you know, when the first chick leaves the nest, I feed quartered hard boiled egg as the chicks quickly learn to nibble on the cut edge but once separated from the parents, I move them to higher carb foods such as white bread, oatmeal, wheat germ, plain ABBA green 92. I stop the pure hard boiled egg as on a high protein diet, they lose weight. Thin birds are prone to going light.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Learning To Eat Seed

Not camera shy, this German Roller is first to eat sprouted seed! Sprouted seed is an excellent way to introduce seeds.

This shot shows a deep chest and gives me great hope that he will be an excellent singer!

In just a few bites, other rollers join in the feast.

During the weaning phase, my sprouting mix has a high percentage of millet. Millet being a high carbohydrate seed helps to balance the protein in the diet.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Graduate - Feeding Station

Border Graduate Senior Picture

From feeding sitting in a nest at the feeding station, chicks graduate to my hand.

At this stage the chicks prefer to nibble rather than open wide for a scoop of food. I use one or two toothpicks to encourages their natural nibbling tendency at this phase. (All of the shots are challenging as I am actor and photographer, if I was not taking the picture, I would be feeding with my right hand.)

After eating, the amount varying as he eats some on his own, I keep him on my chest or shoulder and at this point I open the cage door as when he has been sufficiently coddled, he will fly and I want that to be back in the cage.

When first training this step, I get him on my thumb and he will naturally go for the first available perch provided which in this case is his cage door. After just a few times, he will fly from my shoulder back to his cage. Supplemental feeding at this stage is very helpful to put weight on chicks.

This morning Lucca is watching as I write this post..

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Using A Feeding Station

Hand feeding is one way I tame my birds. Taming makes my birds easier to work with whether simply catching a loose bird or training in a show cage or being comfortable with my "checking" on newborn chicks. (These photos were difficult as I was both the feeder and the photographer!)

One feeding method I used this year I call a feeding station. I attached an empty nest on the outside of the cage, at a comfortable height for me, and then lifted the chick's nest out of the cage and set it on the empty nest on the outside of the cage. Regardless of where the chicks were located, I used the same empty nest to sit their nest on while I fed them. I could easily feed three chicks at once just rotating who got the bite!

At the beginning of a feeding they all want to eat! Should they not, I gently brush upward under their chin to get them started opening up wide. Once one starts the others will usually follow.

As they fill up they are less demanding till they stop eating and at that point, their nest is placed back in their cage. If I have the time or recruit Pat to help me, I hand feed them every two hours if the hen is feeding poorly or twice a day other wise.

Full, the chicks are ready to return home.

The chicks pictured in this post are German Rollers and very special to me as Mario is their father!

My favorite hand feeding formula this year is a mixture of Kaytee Exact and Scenic brands hand feeding formulas.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Big Bird Is A Too Busy _ But Will Try To Post More

Remember how sad Big Bird was last summer when our 14 year old Belgian Malinois Tosca developed a fatal hemorrhaging malignant tumor, Meet Lucca, Tosca's Great Nephew!!!! See liter at Sue Haase web site. Lucca is Mr. Blue and is he ever a busy boy!! Lucca was born March 5th in Lake Tahoe area. I flew to Denver and picked him up on May 10th. (Sue had traveled by car to Denver for a dog show.)

I was so embarrassed when he took one look at me and growled and kept it up for an hour. Finally Sue put him in the Sherpa bag and I walked to security. I really thought if I took him out of the bag he would bite me... But when I took him out to walk through the metal detector he nuzzled up to my double chin and it was true love, just not at first sight! He bonded with me just like that and he wants my constant attention!

Naughty boy gets in the garden!!

Playing with Bella, our other Belgian Malinois.

Loves water!!