Sunday, January 17, 2010

This Weeks Questions For Big Bird

Please use this post for this weeks question that are unrelated to current weeks posts.


How long can a hen be off of her nest and still keep the eggs viable? I have a hen that is certainly not sitting tight but when I checked the eggs today they looked good.


1. Janie writes: "
I have some breeding issues. This is my first time breeding canaries. I have three pairs. I had been keeping the hens in a flight cage together and the males in separate cages. I had increased lighting, increased egg food. I noticed one hen getting in feed dishes and the hens began fighting. I put each pair into a 30" long flight. The one hen did go to nest quickly. I took away eggs as you suggest, returned them to her on the fifth day, and she is about a week into sitting on five eggs. The other two pairs are not showing any signs of breeding interest, and on occasion one of the males chases the hen. If it seems too aggressive I put the divider in for a day or so. I have continued the egg food for the two pairs that have not gone to nest, but so far nothing. I'm not in a big hurry really, so can I just leave it up to them or do I need to do something different to get them to go to nest eventually?"

2. Your web site must be down, how can I order your book?


1. Protein levels in different commercial nestling food and pelleted breeding formulas vary from 14 to 18%. What do you recommend for conditioning and breeding?


Anonymous said...

In researching a pellet diet, I discovered there are varying degrees of protein percentages in commercial eggfood and breeder diet pellets. What percentage of protein do you recommend for conditioning and nesting diet for breeding birds? I have discovered 14 - 18 % protein levels.

Linda Hogan said...

There have been few scientific studies conducted to investigate the nutritional needs of aviary birds. The best studies have been done on cockatiels. The results showed !0% or 15% crude protein grew slower and had some stunting and some increase in mortality. Those fed 20 to 25% performed similar but with the 25% level there was marked increased aggression.

My opinion is the 14% crude protein is adequate for maintenance of an adult bird and is the lowest need for the entire life cycle.

Breeding and molting levels should be 18 to 22% crude protein. Condition requirements are the same as breeding as increase protein levels is one of the factors that bring birds into breeding.

Often breeders add hard boiled egg which is 50% protein. The first few days this is a very good idea as newborns tolerate protein much better than high carbohydrate, be sure to watch the skin tone of the chicks for signs of overdose (getting red instead of rose colored). Generally the pure hard boiled egg should be stopped about banding (when the hen feeds lots both she and the chicks can suffer protein toxicity, the hen would favor a foot and her feet turn red) and then not offered again till the first chick leaves the nest.

Too high of protein in the diet is also associated with weight loss when the birds do not eat enough carbohydrates. I mean the Adkin's diet...LOL

Linda Hogan said...

Clarification: nestling food containing hard boiled should be continued to feed unweaned chicks. Just stop the quartered hard boiled additional egg at banding.

If you see the redness, stop the pure hard boiled egg and cut the nestling food with more lower protein food and offer some dry nestling food in a separate dish to encourage the hen to feed a lower protein level.

There are some bred differences also as Borders prefer a lower protein diet even during breeding.

Linda Hogan said...

Janie: The best way to breed canaries is to take your clues from the birds but there are things we can do to work with their natural breeding instincts. If hens are not too thin, they may be housed either in groups or singularly. If they need to put on weight, house them separately, put in more perches, and feed them bread and sunflower chips to fatten.

Cocks should be housed in groups as the mild fighting over territory brings the cocks into breeding condition.

The easiest way to bring the birds into condition is to use ABBA fertility vitamin E. It is a given in the water one day a week. Cocks get the weekly treatment until breeding season is over, while hens get it till they lay their first egg.

The fighting of the cock with the hen, further means those hens are not ready yet. The divider is a good idea as it will allow the cock to court the hen and help her get ready.

Watch the amount of egg containing nestling food you are feeding as animal protein promotes aggression.

Linda Hogan said...

My oldest daughter, Sandy and her son Joe have had difficulty getting the web site back running...In the meantime you can order directly from me with a personal check. US $18.90 or outside US $24.90. Linda Hogan, 933 Wilbur, Wichita, Kansas 67212

Anonymous said...

Linda, thank you for the tips on breeding. I'll order the ABBA vitamin E. I wanted to get the ABBA mineral also. My canaries are thankful for your blog too! They get extra good things from your suggestions. Janie

Anonymous said...

Protein levels don't mean anything. Ths clue is the amino acid profile, as to the reference.
If you do have a perfect amino acid profile protein levels can be dropped to 13-14%. Eggs do have a perfect amino acid profile,so they are a good start!

Janet said...

Linda, How long can a hen be off of her nest and still keep the eggs viable? I have a hen that is certainly not sitting tight but when I checked the eggs today they looked good. She is my hen that sings - certainly has been a challenge to me. Janet

Unknown said...

I enjoy your blog very much. It is very informative. How can I order a copy of your book? Also, do you have any information on breeding one cock to two or more hens? Any comments would be helpful. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Linda, as for protein, in the poultry world 16% will give you eggs. 18% to 20% will give you hatchable eggs. Some breeders supplement with animal protein to achieve that--I think about the mad cows... Fred P.

Linda Hogan said...


When a hen does not sit tight, there is a higher risk of fertile eggs not hatching. I feed her unlimited hemp seed to encourage her to sit tight. Good quality hemp is available from

On unusual circumstances, like a hen accidentally got out of the cage, I have had her off her nest for several hours and still had most of the eggs hatch. I think the fact there were several fertile eggs helped keep them warm.