Monday, June 30, 2014

Surely These Stafford Chicks Are The Last Hatches of 2014

The two chicks on the left hatched yesterday and the one on the right hatched today. By now I had quit taking the eggs out and was thinking yesterday, I needed to finishing separating hens and cocks. Boy was I surprised to see two well fed chicks in the nest when I moved the hen off to check her eggs! The last egg looks good so I might have another chick tomorrow.

With unbanded chicks in the nest, I will wait awhile to drop my lights as I do not want to take a chance on the mom not feeding although the feeding hormones should prevent even dropping the lights from putting her into a molt.

July 3, 2014

July 10, 2014

Wow! This crest is looking pretty round for this stage. Wonder if he would like to fly to Dayton Ohio for the National Cage Bird Show?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Scoring More Chicks Using the Striker Method

While working with my Border hens this year, I would sometimes get frustrated when paired hens failed to invite mating. At times, they even ran from the male and I would think oh she's not quite ready but alas with a ready male in the cage with her, she never did get interested in inviting mating. When he was moved to another hen, mating would occur immediately.

When the hen is not receptive, I like to use divided cages and put him on one side her on the other and give him all the extras so she will beg him to feed her through the wire and once he is feeding her through the wire remove the divider. This works well but often when I have an uninterested hen, I do not have any divided cages available.

Avoid The Problem:

Planning ahead to avoid the problem by setting up a number of cages all in the same area of the aviary at the same time rather than scattering the ready pairs all over the room. This ensures that breeding song will be all around the hens. Just hearing it helps gets her in the mood to invite mating.  You may even notice her squatting for mating even when a male is not in her cage just because she hears the breeding song. I sometimes use a vigorously singing male who will not be mating with her, even of a different variety, under her cage if she is not surrounded by breeding song.

Striker Method For Troubleshooting The Uninterested Hen:

When the disinterested hen has built her nest and she is approximately five days from laying, introduce the breeding male and leave him a while with her only if she invites mating and mates immediately with him. After a few times, I put him back in his own cage to rest.

Introduce him again for a short period again each day until she lays her first egg. When mating occurs several days before the first egg, most eggs will be fertile. Once she starts laying, mating produces few fertile eggs.

Give him at least a minimum of a couple days rest to build his sperm count before repeating with another hen. I have done experiments with introducing him to two or more hens on the same day using the striker method and found that fertility is much better when he is only striking with one hen at a time and then resting.

Lucca loves to play soccer. He is comfortable playing 90 minutes before he needs a break! He is especially good at defense! Wonder if the US could use another back-up goalie?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Molting Time - Offer More Seeds and Greens

 My Borders love greens and this young male is enjoying fresh kale from my garden. The dish on the right is BioDecken Novafood, a complete food with only 14% protein. Novafood is offered free choice and they clean up their dish everyday. Novafood is available from Ricardo Sanchez at or 214 998-7474.

This kale leaf will be totally eaten, made a little stem left, but that is it! Yellow ground birds get all the dark greens they care to eat daily!

 Another young Border male has green all over its beak!

 Blattner Siskin & Finch Seed

 Finally, we can again get Blattner Siskin & Finch Seed in the US. I just got an order from Bird Supply of New Hampshire. They also have CeDe Nestling Food. I inquired about CeDe Handrearing Formula that I use for weaning and feed twice a week to young birds through the molt. They checked and they can get it from their distributor!

ABBA Products soak seed is feed at least once a day and quickly eaten! They take vacation from June 30 to July 9th.

Today, I will place an order for Higgins Song Food and begin offering it too. I like to feed a variety now during the molt but will work toward mostly canary seed after the molt for show season.

I buy poppy seeds in 5 lb package from Natural of Course, Health Food Store in Wichita. It is added generously to cooked quinoa, cous cous and oil olive mix.

These young Columbus Fancy are alternating between the Blattner's seed and Abba soak seed!

Last weekend we held the annual family reunion of my family in Hamilton Kansas. Hamilton is about 80 miles from Wichita. While there, I drove out to check one of my pastures and was totally impressed with the quality of the grass. This one is 160 acres and we call it the South pasture. It was part of the 3000 acres homesteaded by my grandfather around 1880. My father was the last of his twelve children! The pastures have never been cultivated and at the foot of the famous Flint Hills. Cattle from Texas are sent up to fatten on our bluestem grass and leave around the first of August. When the cattle lay down, only the tops of their heads are visible!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Balance Problems

Occasionally, I have had a Border who had balance problems. They may sit with squinted eyes especially when I test them by raising my hand to stress them a bit, display wide tails, jerky head movements, unstable wobbly perching to being unable to maintain an upright perching position to instead laying on their backs on the floor. Invariably these are great looking birds and it just makes me sick to see them have neurological problems.

This year, I have had four cases, all older breeder males. The first one was given all the extras I could think of including daily nestling food and in spite of all my efforts, he died.

When the next three cases presented, being discouraged with the first case, I just put them in my old age cage and thought I would let nature take its course. They were fed my wheat germ oil coated seed which is fortified with vitamins and multiple vitamins in the water three or four days a week and extra plain greens a couple times a week. Very plain diet compared to the breeding and weaning birds.

How surprised I am as these birds did not die but rather look like they never had a problem! Even the one who before being placed in the aging cage was laying on his back! He was an outcross bird and I so wanted to bring in some new blood.. Never have I seen these wobbly birds improve, in the past they have all died sooner or later! As exciting as this is, i will not bred them as the worst thing that can happen is not when a weak bird dies but rather when you save it and breed a whole aviary full of them!

Why these four birds, I ask myself? Normally, I restrict hard boiled egg containing eggfood to paired birds especially Border which for quite some time have seemed to me to be protein sensitive. (It also seemed that if the egg food was strong on egg, the hens either would not feed it or stop feeding after a few days. So this year when I added frozen peas to egg containing nestling food, ever hen fed!)

These problem males had been paired with several hens unsuccessfully and I just kept trying and trying first one hen and them well maybe this one... So they had unlimited egg food first with one hen and then the next.

It seems to me that the problem is not only genetic but manifested when the birds are given too much protein.  There have been some research on protein folding problems as a factor in human neurological problems and perhaps something similar is happening in our birds.  After this experience, I am cutting back on proteins on my Borders limiting egg containing nestling food to birds feeding chicks.

I have also given all my bird extra B vitamins to support good neurological health.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Feeding Weaned Chicks Part 2 Featuring Columbus Fancy Chicks

 These Columbus Fancy chicks have just graduated from a weaning cage where they spent time eating sitting on the floor,  to a small flight where they have the option of perching. Since canaries like to perch on the highest perch, I often use a cage with no perches to get them started eating well on their own. Marginally weaned chicks, when placed immediately in a flight will fly to the highest perch and just sit there and cry hoping to be fed rather than feeding on the available food below them on the floor.

Chinese celery cabbage is a good starter green as it stays crisp for a long time and they will nibble on it most of the day.

 Handrearing Formula by CeDe (African grey parrot on box cover) or BioDecken Neonate handfeeding formula are fed dry and are eaten almost immediately as they are white/slightly yellow in color. They are also excellent to have available dry in the cage for parents feeding babies.

Soaked or Sprouted seed is more nutritious and easy for youngsters at eat.

Columbus Fancy weaning chicks enjoy some sprouted seed. My favorite mix for sprouting or feeding as soaked seed is ABBA Products soaked seed mix.

Hulled hemp from Canada are also good starter feeds as they do not need to be shelled.

They also like wheat germ and bee pollen. I give them lots of variety and include some total nutrition products such as BioDecken Novafood and Roudybush pellets.

My running in and out of the aviary has led to unwanted flies getting in. This pantry or flour moth trap is an easy way to rid the aviary of flies! Often I prop them up in the window as flies will come to light.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Feeding Young Chicks Part 1

Two young Borders and a young Columbus Fancy on the right. Borders seem to be very protein sensitive so it is important to feed weaned chicks more other foods and less egg containing nestling food. Too much hard boiled egg makes it hard to fatten thin chicks or all varieties to a normal weight.

This morning I took outer dark green cabbage leaves and kale and processed them in the food processor.  The processed greens were added to cooled cous cous with poppy seeds and olive oil. To prepare cous cous I just add some olive oil to dry cous cous with poppy seeds and cover it generously with hot water leaving initially about 1/8 inch hot water above the cous cous. Stir occasionally and cool to room temperature.

This is also time to start Biodecken Molt in the water. This improves feather quality and helps prevent feather lumps in varieties prone to lumps.

Available from Ricardo Sanchez, or 214 998-7474.

While out gathering greens for the birds, Lucca is demanding I play football!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Greening Up The Aviary

I Love this time of year when our elevated bed gardens are full of greens for the birds!

The birds love the outer leaves from cabbage plants as wells as the leaves from broccoli plants and beet greens. They even eat carrot greens and radish greens.  Soon I will be splitting jalapeno peppers for them.

These collard greens from Saturday's Farmers Market are a little limp so I am refreshing them by submerging them in ice water before feeding. This makes them crisp again. I also bought them locally grown baby bok choy and Chinese celery cabbage.

Our Swiss Chard is very lovely and by picking outer leaves, it keeps producing more bird food.

 Big Bird enjoys some garden basil and asparagus.