Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Parade - Bumper Crop 24 Cages With Babies!

 First Columbus Fancy Chick. See its birth pictures posted March 6, 2013!

Columbus Fancy Chick with Papa

Young Stafford Chick

 Young nest of newly hatched German Rollers.

 Nest of four Border Chicks

Same nest of Border Chicks now leaving the nest.
Border siblings
 Content nest of German Roller chicks nearly ready to leave the nest.

 Stafford Nest When I banded the fourth chick I found a surprise small 5th one! Note the whitish chick in the foreground. It is a mosaic. Also notice how much baby fuzz it has on his forehead, that is a early clue that it was going to be a mosaic.

Lucca with his new crowing rooster Easter toy. Getting this toy for Easter during breakfast this morning, it already has lost it cute red comb.

Big Bird is very proud of the Wichita State Shockers who won the West Regional last night and are heading for the Final Four NCAA Basketball Tournament! Would love to go but alas too many baby birds! Go Shox's!!

Re-cycle Egg Shells

We save all egg shells. I microwave them about a minute and a half and then grind fine in the food processor. I add to egg food or when plentiful I feed in a separate dish.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Stafford Momma On A Mission - Plucking Chicks

With four chicks in the nest and two already out of the nest, momma has decided to pluck a few feathers to line the nest for her next clutch.

When this happens, I put another nest in the cage and lots of nesting material to distract her from looking for nesting material. I try different places in the cage and try to get her interested in a lower position nest as it is natural for birds to want to go to the highest place in the cage and that way the chicks might congregate above while mom lays her eggs without interference in a slightly lower new nest.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Mountain Really Mole Hill - Big Bird Stands Firmly On The Twig

After the cardiologist nearly frightening me to death, I reach out and you were there for me. A Grateful Thank You to all of you for the outpouring of support and prayer. I firmly believe that your prayers are the very best medicine!

Immediately, my spirit calmed and I went to the heart cath with a sense of peace and trust that if it was my time to fall off the twig, I would accept it. Instead the heart cath showed absolutely no blockage, as he predicted, but rather the stress EKG severe abnormalities were due to a congenital mitral value prolapse and very treatable with very small amounts of medication and although they want my cholesterol below 150 starting at 173 is very doable.

Praise God!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Oops..Big Bird Hit A Bump In Life's Road

Big Bird has a problem and I would like you all to be with me on Friday in your thoughts and prayers as I learned yesterday that I have a block in my heart in the left ventricle region and will be in surgery at 8 am central time on Friday. Also please remember my birds and family who care for them as I have been blessed with birds hatching everywhere and my family are going to need to care for them for a few days.....

I am Lucky in a way as I have no symptoms just failed the EKG stress test miserably. When I got off the treadmill my heart quickly returned to normal.. Dr said, I was one of those who with no symptoms who could drop dead while exercising. Hoping for a stent rather than a full open heart.

Will keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Colmbus Fancy Chick - Membrane Stuck to Head

How excited I was yesterday to see my very first ever Columbus Fancy chick hatching! (I have only been able to get one hen for my five males.) Click on each photo in the series for a good look.

Gently I gave him a helping hand but note that a piece of membrane is stuck to the side of his head.

The best thing to do is to moisten the stuck membrane first with a drop of warm water before gently removing it.

Mission accomplished, I returned the nest to the parents. Around 2 pm as I was leaving for work, I checked and sure enough the parents are feeding it. Looks like it might be crested as there are no feathers on the top of the head!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Stafford Chicks Hatching In Too Wide Nest

Somehow the hen has nestled around until when her chicks starting hatching they are in a very wide hole. Without protection, they are high risk for getting smashed by an overprotective mom.

I like to add extra plastic eggs as they hatch for protection and it offer support for the chicks to lean on when they raise their heads to beg.

Note the dark blue egg on the left. Sure to hatch but look a half of shell has attached to it. Luckily it was the bottom end opposite the air sack end and I quickly removed the extra shell cap. The chick in the foreground looks like it will be crested.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Share A Tip or Ask ? - Fixing Broken Leg - Sneezing

Please Share Tips or Ask ? Unrelated to Current Posts.

Anonymous shared this tip: "In addition to feeding BioDecken Novafood dry, I also make up cous cous with poppy seed and little olive oil. The liquid I add to the cous cous is BioDecken Multi-vitamin and BioDecken Immune Support made up 10 ml of each to a liter of water. Parents are enthusiastically feeding this along with the Novafood to their chicks."

I made this up and the birds did eat and feed it well. Then I tried using this with the cooked quinoa and CeDe nestling food and they also like to eat and feed it too.

Question: I have a newly fledged chick with a broken leg. I made a splint by cutting the tip off of a small pipette. Then I cut a slit in it lengthwise. How long do you suggest I leave the splint on? Its been 24hrs and the chick is now using the leg, but the foot is still a little swelled and not gripping well.

Answer: The best person I know for fixing breaks is Debbie Eaton so I have ask her to respond to this question.
Debbie writes: The best method to repair a broken leg is a 'sandwich bandage' made from several layers of either paper bandage tape / or bandaid-tape. You make about 2 layers of the tape, position the leg and lay the tape flat-open on one side. Then you simply lay on the top (ie the sandwich) another layer of the tape. Then you squeeze the tape firmly shut until you have formed the tape to the leg in position. Then trim the edges to make the bandage of a size where the bird is not hindered by the tape sandwich. Using hard items often creates a break in the skin or cuts off circulation. The tape has 'give' to it and no hard edges that would aggravate the circulation etc. I have used this many times, as it was taught to me by a veterinarian. It has worked on compound fractures as well, although they can be tricky to keep the bird from losing it's leg if the blood vessels are severed with the break.
The normal time for a broken leg bone to heal is approximately 10 days.


Questions: Coop ask, Do you have any comment on why my canary's are sneezing? When they sneeze there maybe a little bit of spray, but nothing serious. Should I be concerned and what should be done?

Answer: Disinfectants used to clean enclosures and food dishes, aerosol products such as perfumes and cleaning agents, cigarette/cigar smoke and various fumes can cause irritation of the respiratory tract and sneezing. First, eliminate any such irritants. Failure to do so sets up good conditions for secondary infection. I would also treat with Dr.Rob Marshall's KD Powder as it often takes care of simple infections.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Opinions On Lengthening Light

Christel writes: I often read about a sudden increase in daylight hours, from 10 to 15 hours in one step, apparently with success. But from dr Coutteel, Belgium, I read:

The Role of Daylight Length
Most problems in canary breeding are due to errors in the manipulation of the light cycle. Canaries need a minimum of 14 to 15 hours of daylight to begin breeding (nest building and production of eggs). With this amount of light, they are also able to feed their youngsters adequately and raise them properly. The cycle of light is also a major factor in determining whether breeding is sustained. If the length of daylight is submitted to fluctuations, the birds may receive conflicting hormonal incentives and negative endocrine feedback. The result can be an early molt and the birds may cease breeding. There are two methods of manipulating the length of daylight [18].

Gradually Increasing Daylight Length:
Using this technique, the amount of daylight is gradually increased on a weekly basis. Depending on how quickly this is done, it may take a period of 2 months to extend the 8 to 10 hours of natural daylight to 15 hours. If a weekly addition of 30 minutes (5 additional minutes per day) is used, it will take approximately 10 weeks to obtain this result. This means that the fancier needs 2 to 3 months preparation before breeding can begin. Gradually increasing the length of the day is closest to natural stimuli and is used by more than 80% of the fanciers. Fifteen hours of daylight length appears to be ideal. Poor annual breeding results with higher chick mortality occur when the daylight length exceeds 17 hours.

Immediate Increase to Full Daylight Length:
The daylight length can also be increased suddenly from 10 to 15 hours. In this case, the birds reach breeding condition after 3 to 4 weeks, but most are unable to maintain good results throughout the full breeding season. However, some fanciers do have good results with this method. This method of sudden increase, used by approximately 10% of the breeders, often leads to poor fertilization of the first clutch, which normalizes subsequently, and higher mortality of females.

This worries me.

Would be happy to reading your view on this.

Big Bird: Thanks so much Christel for sharing this with us, it is well written by a knowledgeable person. I agree with most of what is written here by Dr. Coutteel, Belgium. 

It is critical if we want to breed earlier in the year, that we extend our bird's day length to a minimum of 14 to 15 hours.  Smaller varieties will breed on as little as 12 hours but much better results is obtained when even they are breed at 14 to 15 hours. One very successful colorbred breeder uses 16 hours and it works very well for him.

Longer day hours is one of the three factors: lighting, temperature, and feeding that brings birds into breeding condition. Using longer days for breeding also helps reduce chick mortality as the parents feed more hours per day.  

An very important point is to avoid dropping the the day length until molting is desired as dropping the day length changes hormones and precipitates molt. This is very important when you sell or purchase birds. Always find out the day length from the seller and maintain or extend it. I commonly send good pet quality birds to Trinity Bird Gallery in Colorado Springs and Anna makes sure that the day length is the same or longer to accommodate them. The importance of day length is shared with the purchaser who if unaware of the effect of day length on the bird's help would wonder why their bird is sick when they have had it only a year. Often they write me, "Why is my male not singing?" And when you get to the bottom of the problem, it is erratic lighting pattern. "Does the bird go to bed with the sun and get up with the sun, I ask? Yes, they often say, I cover him most every night and uncover him in the morning. Do you sometimes sleep late on the weekend? Oh.... How about not covering the bird and letting the light coming through a window get him up and put him to bed? Don't keep him up late in the family room etc. As dusk move him to a room that will be dark till sunrise.

Recently, I sent a couple of German roller pairs that were ready for breeding to a breeder in Texas. Before I agreed to send them, I cautioned him that they would need to be on a minimum 14 hours plus 30 minutes dimmer. He agreed, I sent them, the birds arrived in great breeding condition, a phone call a couple of days later, revealed that "he knew best" and was gradually decreasing their hours so that they could breed with his birds on 12 hours. I was just sick, as the birds are going to be very confused, and I told him had he been honest with me on his intent, I would never have sent them to him.  Oh well.....

Gradual increasing day length and immediate increasing require different skill levels. Gradually lengthening day length is easier providing you do not over stimulate with foods. I have done experiments using just one of the three factors each one can bring them in but by far what works best is the right touch with all three. When I used this method, I aimed for pairing on March 8th. I still think that where I live, that is the natural pairing day here in Kansas.

When the light is changed suddenly, the hormone levels change dramatically with cocks being more fertile and hens are encouraged to start laying in 3 or 4 weeks. If possible, cocks can be changed in a separate area 3 weeks before the hens. Mine are in one aviary so I start the cocks on high doses of vitamin E, given once a week, three weeks before the hens and breeding foods without animal protein (egg) and do the sudden lengthening to 14 hours plus 30 minutes dimmer when I start the first dose of vitamin E on the hens which is when the cocks get their fourth dose. 

Where day length and territorial fighting are critical for cocks, the breeding behavior of cocks is the number one factor for bringing in the hens. Changes in diet can stimulate hens to prematurely lay infertile "heat" eggs, an error in over stimulating the hen is more apparent when the lights have been changed suddenly. Experienced breeders avoid overstimulating the hen with food and keep temperature below 65 degree F to move the hen forward but only when the cock is ready to play his role in stimulating her. Experience teaches us to recognize  the darker blue single heat egg from laying a normal fertile clutch and so we toss the "heat" eggs and ignore the temptation to set a hen who fooling us. Should you set them up laying "heat" eggs naturally you will be disappointed.

The easiest way to bring the hen in full breeding condition is using a divider and only feeding cock the delicious new breeding foods. When she is ready she will beg him to feed her through the wire and success is just a divider away. She will continue begging and he will feed her and mating will likely occur shortly. Mating several days before egg laying produces the most fertile eggs.

To sustain the breeding season, once the birds are setting on fertile eggs and things seem near perfect, I move the day length 30 more minutes and again in a couple more weeks until it is 15 hours plus the 30 minute dimmer. If I want, my birds will still breed well in June and quit on their own around the 4th of July. I have even had fertile clutches when the male is clearly molting on the wing butts. So I do not have problems sustaining good results. I also have never seen higher mortality of females. I imagine Dr. Coutteel is referring to older hens death. Prolapsed uterus in older hens occurs in both methods and is fatal.

Breeding canaries requires learning to work with your birds and being the facilitator. Do you always get it exactly right? No but if you understand your birds you know what is needed. Often people want me to put out a feeding chart etc. That is not how it works for me, generally I move with them into breeding condition but I always take my lead from the Birds!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Feeding the Sitting Hen

After laying her last egg, I only feed the hen her regular wheat germ oil blend coated seeds and a dish of hemp hearts along with water. Seems the hemp hearts encourages her to maintain a good incubation temperature and be content sittiing all day even without a male in her cage. She should not be feed greens or egg containing nestling food during sitting.
Hemp Hearts, a product from Alberta Canada,  is sold for human consumption and  available at my health food store. Since they are hulled hearts and won't sprout, they are not inactivated in any way. Sitting hens eat very little overall but they do eat some hemp hearts!

As I started to sit down for breakfast this morning, Lucca had a different idea!