Sunday, January 25, 2009

Privacy Curtain for Open-Backed Cage Nests

If Momma Isn't Happy, No One Is Happy!

The most basic instinct of the canary hen who has new chicks is to protect them from harm. This means she will sit and sit until she perceives it is safe to get off the nest to gather food and feed them. The more she is aware of people in the room and even anyone looking her way, the more frightening her environment becomes so she sits so tight even after you leave the room that the chicks fail to thrive.

In addition to taming the hen that I mentioned in an early blog post, you can greatly increase her perceived safe environment by putting a curtain over the open side of her outside nest. Some outside nests have a solid back and do not need a curtain but other brands have open plastic bars. The open back allows her to observe your coming and going and can make her fearful as she is unsure when you might pop into the room.

Her security level will go up if you make her a privacy curtain! For the curtain, I cut a six inch square piece of scrap material that is large enough to cover the nest's open backside. Then I attach a piece of elastic about seven inches long to both of the fabrics outside top corners as shown in the photo.

To hang the curtain, put the top of the fabric cover along the top of the backside of the nest and stretch the elastic piece down so that the elastic fits snugly around the bottom of the backside door as shown in the second photo. The top of the fabric and the elastic band will keep the curtain firmly in place. Having a privacy curtain will keep her from seeing aviary activity and will keep momma happy!


yob said...

I have something just like this and it works very well

Paul Cruise said...

Couldn't agree with you more about privacy panels. In my first year of breeding (2007), I had a male and three American Singer hens. They were kept in a room that also had my computer and where I spent most of my day. In 2007, I only got 12 chicks from the three hens and I had to hand-feed 7 of them as the hens just abandoned them. I was told that AS hens are usually very good mothers and were not known for abandoning their chicks. I then read about privacy panels and for the 2008 breeding season got a supply of 24" X 16" black terrycloth kitchen towels from Walmart. I placed the towels lengthwise along the side of the
24"x16"x16" double breeder and used the remaining 8" to cover the front of the cage. The nest was then put in the corner of the cage covered by the black towels. Not only was the front of the cage covered, but birds in cages close by couldn't see into the cage and bother the hens.
Not surprisingly, I didn't have a single hen abandon her chicks. I had purchased 6 Fife hens prior to the 2008 season as I heard they had a very strong maternal instinct and could be used as foster mothers. Unfortunately for the Fife hens they weren't needed and late last year, I gave them away.
I also think that privacy panels cause the hen to sit tighter. Since I always have music playing in the Computer Room/Birdroom, I am able to sit at the computer and my presence doesn't bother the hen.
I think this is something every person who is breeding for the first time should absolutely be aware of.
Paul Cruise
Charleston, South Carolina