Saturday, September 29, 2012

Big Bird's Latest Experiment - Poultry Conditioner

Recently, I was bird shopping and learned that local pigeon breeder who wins at National Shows uses a Poultry Conditioner by MannaPro. That intrigued me and immediately I started wondering what would it do for my canaries.

This product is designed to condition birds for performance and exhibition and at $7.95 seems like a real bargain compare the price of special bird vitamins. The ingredient list is impressive and contains protein, omega 3 fatty acids, multiple vitamins, minerals, amino acids and pro-biotic digestive aid.

I tried moistening the pellets but the birds wasted most of it so in the food processor it went.

The birds readily ate the crumbles and some birds showed remarkable improvement overnight. Right now I am feeding it free choice one day a week.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Looking Over The Birds - Part 4 Tightening Feathers

Several things help tighten bird feathers.

1st: Changing seasons especially cooler weather. For this reason, my aviary windows are open and evening temperatures are now down to low 60 or high 50 F degrees. Nothing like a cool breeze to tell us and the birds that show season and winter is coming.

2nd: Make sure the birds are healthy. The best product for building the immune system is Dr. Rob Marshall's KD powder, available from Lady Gouldian Finch. It should be used two consecutive days in the water and is effective at promoting overall strength and development of immunity to a variety of types of organisms.

 3rd: Optimal nutrition. Start with overall vitamin products such as Orlux Omi-vit, Boost, Pro-vital or similar multiple vitamins. Keep a close watch for proper wing carriage and the a tight narrow piped tail. Wide tails or poor wing carriage or loose feathers is a sign that we need to do more.

For difficult cases or special birds feed CeDe Hand Rearing Formula (Higgins sells it.) and/or Harrisons High Potency best or Adult mash.

4th: Add Liquid B to the water. This really helps tighten them up! Over night the results are amazing.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Looking Over The Birds - Part 3 Too Thin

At first it may appear that this frighten German Roller has just messed his feathers up but a closer look in the second photo shows that it is too thin, so thin that the ridge is really a very sharp breast bone!

Too thin birds will not sing in competition nor show them self well at other competitions. It is a waste to take them and with additional weight loss they will likely get ill.

Several things can be done to put weight on a bird. It lots more perches and easy access to food. More oiley seeds such as sunflower chips and more carbs like pieces of bread. I also noticed that birds who ate the most Meatbird formula developed more breasts!

Look at the chest on this well-endowed German Roller Young Cock. Can't wait to hear him sing!! Hope he doesn't mind me calling him Dolly!! (He really loved the Meatbird crumbles!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ask Big Bird - Molting During Breeding Season

A Border and Fife Breeder in the Southern Hemisphere writes: 

Hello Linda - What a bad breeding season. The hens are dropping are dropping flight feathers but not the cocks. This is also happening to the few hens that are feeding. The few hens that have weaned chicks are just sitting on the perch and not interested in the cock. I have 16 hens in the flight cage because I cannot get them into breeding condition, they also are dropping feathers. My fife canaries have the same problem- to date no fife chicks. Please help.

Big Bird reply:

It is so frustrating when things do not work out as planned. The more motivated we are the higher our frustration level so I have been there too,  many times..

Molting and breeding condition are opposites. The cock were likely conditioned better early on and the hens never really were. Seeing long flight feathers signals a full molt. The usual reason is a drop in the number of total daylight hours. Do not drop the total daylight hours but do raise them to 15 hours if they are not on that long of day.

Immediately, push multiple vitamin B in the water. This is the product I use (it is also good to encourage birds to stop molting quickly during the normal molt) but you  could just buy multiple B complex tablets and dissolve in water. How much do you use, just make the water a dark canary yellow color or brownish amber depending on the product. These are water soluble vitamins and not fat stored so you can not overdose. Because there is a problem with them wanting to molt, keep the birds on this till you are finished breeding. It does work fast. Just overnight and the number of feathers should be way down.

My original experiments with this product were done on cockatiels and they love to molt several times a year. I was able to control their molting and limit it to once a year instead of twice or more. I also have done this on a border hen. She had raised chicks and I fostered her eggs and she started dropping long feathers. Unfortunately, the foster mother and all the potential mothers would not feed her three chicks. So I put her on the liquid B and gave her the struggling chicks and she fed them and they grew normally.

After stopping the molt, you need to get the hens in breeding condition. I would give them Orlux Omi-vit daily or a similar multiple vitamin (containing vitamin E especially) with lysine and methionine and wheat germ oil coated the seeds as I posted recently. Feed all birds the wheat germ oil coated seeds and all cocks and the hens you are conditioning for breeding the daily vitamins. Do not feed the daily vitamin to the hens once they lay their first egg or during setting until they are ready for another nest.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Looking Over The Birds Part 2 - This Bird Is Too Fat

Love the color on this Columbus Fancy cock! But while polka dots are in fashion this Fall, the Dolly Parton chest look on this breed is definitely out!

Looks like I need to make him fly more (remove all but a perch leaving one on each end of the cage) and move all food to the floor and as far away as possible.

Time for a diet too. Not wanting to soil and stain the feathers around the beak by feeding fresh greens, I changed his seed to half and half L'Avian Plus, which has mostly canary seeds and untreated grass seed.

The only place I know to order these edible untreated organic grass seeds is Wings Connie Gahman. Google her name for web site and phone number.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Looking Over The Birds Part 1 - Better Watch Out

Checking out the potential show birds, I could not help but notice this Stafford!

He is a beauty!! Wonder how the crest looks?

Perfectly round, although my hand got in the way of the picture!

It is important to separate great crested birds from the others as some self-appointed feathered groomer may just decide to pluck a feather from the cap!