Question: My cock birds are on 13 hours total daylight and my hens are on 11.5 hours. I am getting a couple of pairs shipped to me this week. The new birds, cocks and hens, have been on 14 hours plus 30 minutes dimmer. I am planning to gradually decrease the new birds lighting to conform with my shorter days. Is that a problem?
Answer; You should not decrease total day length this time of year as that is the natural signal for birds to start molting. Increasing day length brings them into breeding condition but decreasing brings on the normal molt.
Monday - Finding A Specific Bird In A Flight When They All Look Alike
Question: I have some large flight and invariably I will want to catch a specific bird and without catching them all, I can't get the one I want. Frustrated.
Answer: The easiest way is to pack a pistol in the aviary! That's a kids water pistol! Just squirt the specific bird with water and catch the wet one you identified!
Wednesday - Conditioning With Light
Question: Luke writes I write to you seeking your advice on the use of artificial lighting, having been referred to you by a top Border Canary breeder.
I write to you to ask for your opinion on the use of artificial lighting in the bird room. It is a factor that seems to be getting more prominent amongst fanciers each breeding season.
Having had a relatively successful breeding season last year, myself and my father are keen to get a similar return from our hens this year, except to have them breed a little earlier than last year. It is with this in mind that we are considering the use of artificial lighting as a means of bringing the birds in to condition earlier than normal.
I have read your article on Day Lengthening and having previously only been aware of the Gradual method, the Abrupt method did come as a surprise to me, with such a change in daylight hours being suggested. However I did note that the Gradual Day Lengthening system "produces less sperm production than the abrupt method", this is something that I would be nervous of, however I would also be somewhat uneasy using the Abrupt method, as it appears that it is something that could go right, but could also go very wrong.
Would you have any system in mind that could suit us? having not installed an automatic dimmer system yet, but at present have been giving 1 hour extra light by manual dimmer switch.
Answer: Both gradual and abrupt work well. If I had two rooms, I would do abrupt on cocks and gradual on hens. One hour a week will bring them in sooner than natural lighting. I have two systems working, one I program for the overhead lights and the second is just a plug in one that you can program, I have it come on about an hour before the overhead lights go out and then stay on 30 minutes after they go off so that the hens can use the dim light to find their nests. The overhead are on 14 hours and the dimmer single plug in light extends that by 30 minutes.
Three things bring the birds in to breeding condition: light, heat, and food. When the temperatures are below 65 F, hens will hold off laying.
Vitamin E, I like the ABBA one that is given in the water once a week and stopped when the hen lays her first egg. I also have the recipe for coating seeds with wheat germ oil blend ( extra vitamin A, E and D given to horses).
Calcium and multiple vitamins containing D3. Biodecken or Orlux are good vitamins.
Amino acids: I like an amino acid high vitamin called Miracle from Italy. I use 1 tablespoon to 4 cups dry nestling food as a conditioner several times a week.
As time gets close, I use wheat germ and brewer's yeast but first to cocks as any wheat product will push egg laying if temperature is warm enough.
Saturday: Hen Flaky Belly Skin
Question: In examining my birds for nesting, I have discovered some birds with dry, flaky skin on their bellies. They are fed a diet of seed mix with flax, pellets, and the Biodecken products. Greens are fed a couple of times per week. The Biodecken is new to their diet. What do you suggest?
Answer: If the hormone balance is not correct you will see flaky dry skin on the belly. Typically, it is more common in older hens. I would give the Biodecken multi-vitamin and immune support in the water daily for at least two weeks to help condition them better. If you have the Biodecken Fertility E make a mix (for 3 liter add 30 ml of each multi-vitamin and immune support and 10 ml of fertility E) use this for water till breeding season is over.
I would also coat the seeds with the horse wheat germ oil blend. Recipe is on the blog. Basically for 50 lbs, you add one cup of the wheat germ oil blend (fortified with extra vitamins) to 5 lbs of mix. Set a day or two and stir frequently. Then mix into the rest of the 45 lbs of mix. Feed wheat germ oil coated seeds throughout breeding season. If you are not using Biodecken fertility E, use ABBA fertility E once a week, I would get that started, preferably the birds get it a minimum of three weeks but better if six weeks.
Add Manna Pro Poultry Conditioner. Just process in the food processor to fine and offer in a separate dish. This is 22% protein, multiple amino acids and other nutrients. Sold at feed dealers, mine costs $6.95 for 5 lbs.