Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Every Birdie Welcome

Home Sweet Home - Handling New Arrivals

I still get a joy from getting new birds in my aviary!! Each special new one is intended to improve future generations, as I continue my pursuit of the "perfect" bird.

I got a new Stafford male from Tom at the Tulsa show. I have been working with his and Carl's stock and although my crests are nice and round and pretty darn good, the color level is not what I want yet. I also got a pair, selected primarily for color enhancement from Carl at the National Cage Bird Show.

My border canaries have good heads and backs but suffer on the underline and have too short forward placed legs so that they just won't show their thighs. At the Tulsa show, Don helped my stock considerable by providing me with two new pairs of borders to compliment my birds, some of them are genetically related to my birds. He allowed me to pick the birds from his show birds prior to the judging. As people were checking their birds out, I began locating the new borders. I found three of the four quickly and had them set aside. But after asking the stewards and any exhibitor in sight to help me, I began to panic where is cage number 268? My anxiety reached its peak when after at least six people tried to help me find cage 268, it was still missing! I even looked under the table. Finally, I went to Don as I feared the bird had mistakenly been placed with someone else birds and possibly gone forever. Don and Tom both immediately started laughing!! Don said, "Did you check the top bench?" To my delight the missing bird was setting on the top bench with a special rosette from the North American Border Association for Best Flighted Border!!

Since it was October/November, it was simple to quarantine them 4 weeks and start the new bird's on the same light, temperature, and feeding pattern as my own birds. One border hen was loose feather and showing signs of soft molt so I gave her a special high carbohydrate/low protein diet and she is now looking fine! I think she will be even be tighter feathered once I begin the breeding message in a few weeks.

When new birds come into your aviary during the breeding season or approaching breeding season, outside of needing to quarantine them, you need to handle them differently than those acquired during the pre-breeding season. In my experience, whether the birds went to another breeders or to my aviary, you can expect the hens lay eggs in about three weeks just because the inevitable changes in diet and conditions at the new home are very stimulating.

Therefore, birds arriving during the breeding season need to have a clear breeding message so that you will successfully raise from them this year. That means the day length needs to be set immediately at 14 1/2 to 15 hours and cocks and hens are both started on the water soluble vitamin E. In addition, start the cocks on soy protein (dust it on their seeds, or make the border veggie recipe with whole soybeans and broccoli/cauliflower) and feed the hens and any thin cocks oily seeds including sunflower pieces.

I am making plans to get some German rollers from Debbie for this breeding season. She recently checked the intended hens for brood patch. Since they have not developed the brood patch, the best thing is to wait till they are closer before we move them. Even though they are not close to being in condition, changing aviaries would cause them to lay at my house in three weeks, ready or not!

The picture at the start of this blog (Every Birdie Welcome) was taken by Debbie. It is apparent from the hen's photo that she currently has lots of abdominal feathers, no bareness, and no redness which all confirm that she is not coming into breeding condition yet. As anxious I am, I must practice delayed gratification and wait for the hens to start showing signs of moving forward toward breeding condition before they are transported to Kansas. It is not difficult to bring a cock into full breeding condition during that three week window. They respond quickly to longer days, fighting for territory, and increase in protein. So the indicator must be the readiness of the hens.

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