Saturday, December 28, 2013

Richard May

Richard May National Cage Bird Show Banquet 2013
Rich Accepting German Roller Division Higgins Trophy

It is with great sorrow that I received the news that my good friend Richard May had passed on December 25, 2013. Richard was a sensitive and caring person who always looked after me at the National and the first to help me when he saw me over burdened with show responsibilities and to defend, fix it and support me when my efforts did not please everyone. This year he managed the German Roller Division for me.

My last e-mail exchanges with him was late Christmas Eve and when I sent him the You Tube Feliz Navidad to get his opinion before posting, he responded that it was just too too funny!

This year he also shared one of his very best Hollow Roll (17 pt) German Roller males with me that I promptly named "Richey" who will be a very busy boy this Spring! Richey is in his own cage and sets in the aviary where I can even see him through the aviary window every time I come and go in my car.

Please send family condolences to his brother Robert May

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Friends In The Fancy - Dr. Jan Vanderborght - Dead In Shell


Dead in shell (DIS) in Border breeding rooms has become an apparent and not yet solved problem. By DIS we are speaking of a fully developed chick unable to pipe the egg.As the exact mechanism behind this has yet to be solved, we might reflect on some thoughts about this issue.
First of all some breeders don’t have this problem, so I would say, never change a winning team, as because you don’t know exactly what you are doing right, things seem to go well. But, it could  be you are using birds with another genetic background as to others, might be a cause.
One of the main causes has to be found in eggshell structure, read: something is wrong with it.
The main constituent of the eggshell is calcium, so maybe there is something wrong with the calcium metabolism? If the hen does not get enough calcium on eggshell formation, eggshells might be thinner. Now, here is the delicate balance on this. If eggshells are thin, the pores in the eggshell are bigger from the day the hen lays this egg. If you pull the egg and store them till the day the fourth egg deshydratation of the egg can start right away. So, when eggs are stored we have to be sure humidity in the breeding room is already around 55° RH. During the incubation of the eggs the chick inside of it is using calcium from the eggshell for development and in this way the pores do get bigger during incubation. In this way, the egg undergoes deshydratation and the chick gets stuck to the egg membranes. Another thing to watch for is when storing the eggs you put them “small end up”, as in this way the contact surface for possible deshydratation diminishes. Also, for this period of 3 to 4 days, there is no need for turning the eggs. So, humidity is a key factor thinking about us breeding birds who sometimes do have a problem with incorrect eggshell formation., and the right balance of eggshell thickness and humidity is a major factor.
Also remember the pores in the eggshell have another function: respiration! Through these tiny holes oxygen is taken up and carbon dioxide is eliminated. So, keep the shed well ventilated, all year round.
On the other hand if eggshells are too thick by incorrect use of megadose of calcium and vitamin D the eggshell becomes too thick, by which a normal loss of weight of about 15% can not take place, and the chick drowns in the egg fluid.
Calcium, or lack of calcium seems to be the main cause in faulty eggshell structure. Calcium needs increase while breeding but as we all offer cuttlefish bones and some mixed mineral supplement, it seems we do things right, which is correct. So, there has to be some problem with the calcium not getting where it has to be. We all know calcium is absorbed in the intestines under the influence of vitamin D. But vitamin D, before becoming the active form of vitamin D, has to be transformed twice after absorption before being active. The first activation is done by the liver giving rise to 25 OH-Vitamin D, after which a second activation occurs in the kidneys giving the active form of vitamin D, the 1-25 OH Vitamin D3. 
So, if thinking about this, there might be a problem in the liver , this can be due to infectious disease (latent atoxoplasmosis), nutritious (fatty liver syndrome) or genetic, by which I mean breeding birds who have a genetic defect of the enzyme in the liver.
Another cause could be the kidneys, if kidney function is impaired enzymatic function decreases, for example by giving too much calcium in the drinking water, or, again, some genetic enzymatic inherited problem of kidney enzyme activity.
Calcium being given in the drinking water is one of the things often being done by fanciers with success. By doing this the route of vitamin D dependent calcium absorption is being bypassed and the calcium is absorbed through passive diffusion in the intestines, no need for vitamin D! But, if overdone, as already mentioned can lead to kidney stones and impaired kidney function with impaired vitamin D formation.
Another aspect is the chick, when piping the egg needs calcium for muscle contraction when piping the egg and turning around on itself. Also this chick, albeit possible getting the calcium needed from the eggshell, also needs vitamin D. Vitamin D is being stored in the egg as the 25 OH vitamin D, and this is activated by the chick when calcium is needed for piping. So, even if you get good eggshell quality by giving calcium supplements, it might be possible you have  not met the chicks vitamin D levels in the egg.  In poultry breeding 25 OH vitamin D is being used as well as for getting better eggshells and as we know by now, the necessary 25 OH vitamin D3 levels stored in the egg, so the chick can activate this when it needs calcium for muscle contraction.
Also of importance is the energy source the chick uses when piping the egg, which is mainly energy from fatty acids. It has been shown when supplementing the hens food with the necessary antioxidants, these fatty acids are not broken down during the incubation period and the chick can use them as the main energy source when piping. In these antioxidants we think about vitamin A, vitamin C, selenium, vitamin E, carotenes and glutathione, as we can find them in fruits, vegetables and spirulina. One can also increase the amount of “good” fatty acids in the egg by supplementing the hens diet with some brewery by products which do contain linolic acid.
Infectious factors have been mentioned by some, like Mycoplasm infections, but till today nobody has been giving feedback the problem has been solved by a prebreeding cure of tylosin or tiamulin. I am sure many have been trying this, so reports should give us some more insight in this.

So, by now we have:
-        Interaction between eggshell thickness and ambient humidity.
-        Calcium absorption: vitamin D dependant and not vitamin D dependant.
-        Energy source for the chick when piping, fatty acids, and the protective role of antioxidants in this.
-        Calcium and 25 OH needs of the piping chick for muscle action.
-        Infectious cause? No positive reports on this yet.
-        Genetic errors in metabolism in some strains?

For as it is by now, a single main cause of DIS has not yet been found, it is my opinion the causes are multifactorial and the way to solve this problem is by reporting as well some positive effects of some action being taken, as well as the opposite, we all can learn from both sides of the story. I know the Border Convention is taking all this under its wings, but I think more feedback is needed.

Dr Jan Vanderborght MD

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Oatmeal To The Rescue

Oh no, low temperatures this weekend is bringing a real chill to my aviary! Cool temperatures are part of my pre-breeding program as it helps keep the hen from premature laying before she has reached full breeding condition. But when birds are housed in colder aviaries, they require more energy to keep warm. So what do I do? Each cage gets a hardy dish of oatmeal!

Earlier in the week when the weather was somewhat warmer (high 55 F to low 20F) but cooler than I like for shipping, I needed to ship a box of birds to Colorado. So what do I do? Instead of bird seed in the container, oatmeal! I also packed cucumber and orange wedges and the birds did arrive just fine!

Sometimes, an occasional bird will favor a foot. Seeing only redness and no obvious reason for the problem, the likely cause is too much protein, So what do I do? Oatmeal to the Rescue! Within 24 hours the bird is fine and of course, I also have dropped the protein levels.

On occasion, I have noticed banding age chicks that are being fed well, develop loose stools that can lead to serious problems (nestling diarrhea), dehydration, sealed vents and death. Immediately, I drop back the protein levels and Oatmeal to the Rescue!

So you what do you do when you find a sharp breast bone. Too thin birds will not breed and should they breed, additional weight loss will likely result in their death. So what do I do? Oatmeal to the Rescue!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Friends In The Fancy - Dr. Jan Vanderborght - Fats And Male Fertility


Human sperm does contain lots of polyunsaturated fats, of the kind of omega 3 fats. In contrast to this, avian sperm does contain mainly fats of the omega 6 series. As these fats cannot be synthesized in the body they have to be supplied in their food. As fertility has decreased over the last 30 years every external factor which could contribute to this needs our attention.
Birds differ with many species as they demonstrate internal fertilization and the testis are inside the body, with a temperature of 41-43°C.  Another aspect is sperm stays up to 2 weeks in the uterovaginal glands of the hen, from which sperm is released daily to the upper oviduct and fertilization site. Avian sperm, just as human sperm does contain many lipids, mainly in the cell wall, and is made up for up to 80% of phospholipids and 20% free cholesterol. Of these phospholipids most are polyunsaturated fats. If we look at the omega 3 to omega 6 ratio, human sperm has a high ratio in contrast to birds having a very low ratio. This cannot be explained by diet differences between humans and birds, so these are species specific.
Detailed scientific information about all kind of fats can be found on the internet, but in this article I want to explain why some oils are better as to others and why. The main omega 6 fats in avian sperm are linoleic acid, arachidonic acid and DTA (22:4 n6). 
It has been proven that dietary changes in the food regimen of birds can improve lipid composition of avian sperm. But together with this the susceptibility of oxidation of these fats increase, by which antioxidant status has to be altered too. It is at this point where vitamin E comes along, together with selenium in the prevention of oxidation of sperm lipids. Vitamin E levels have to be around 200mg per kilo of food for this. Thus, vitamin E, known as the fertility vitamin, performs its action as to fertility.
The importance of these omega 6 fats can be explained on four levels.
One is they make up the most important structural component of the sperm itself, mainly in the membrane, as a structural component, but also very important for sperm motility. Inadequate provision leads to impaired differentiation and in worse cases the inability to produce sperm. The older the cock bird the more important!
Two, they prevent sperm from dying too fast, these fats protect the sperm from degradation as they reside in the uterovaginal glands for up to 2 weeks.
Third, supplementation of these fats stimulates spermatogenesis.
Four, they are very important in the hormonal control of spermatogenesis. Brain lipids are mainly polyunsaturated fats, especially DTA, and as we all know longer daylight hours stimulate the birds for breeding, in which the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and gonads all work together through different hormones like GnRF, LH, FSH and androgens to get spermatogenesis going. Also melatonin comes along, because it inhibits the release of hormones in the hypothalamus. 
Important note here is birds get sexually stimulated not only by lengthening daylight hours, but even more by longer wavelengths penetrating the skull and reaching the hypothalamus, this is important as these waves belong to the infrared spectrum of light, and most, if not all, fluorescent light tubes do not emit light in this part of the light spectrum. These receptors, apart from the eye, do need exceptional high levels of DHA, the only omega 3 fat needed in spermatogenesis.
Let’s get to the practical implications of these facts.
If we want to provide our birds pre breeding with some oils, the use of plant oils is not my choice as their seeds already contain these oils.
By the way, brewery by products also exert their action because of their linoleic acid and not because of their vitamin B contents, as often thought. And if you use bakery yeast you get a free probiotic which is in bakery yeast products, as big birdfood companies use the dead end product of making beer.
But we also need arachidonic acid, which cannot be found in plant oils, but are found in animal sources like eggs, and even more in abundance in larvae, like pinkies.
 This, and not only protein content , might be an additional explanation for the success of feeding pinkies pre breeding. I have never understood as many say the need for animal protein as, as long as the amino acid score is right, protein is protein, and eggs do match this. On a dry weight base eggs and pinkies have the same protein content, around 50%, pinkies even having a lower amino acid score, so there has to be another explanation for their fertility promoting action, in which their fat content in linoleic acid and arachidonic acid could be one of the possible explanations.
The fatty acid DTA (22:4 n-6) cannot be given in the food, but is synthesized from DHA, the only omega 3 fat in this context, can be provided through a little bit of fish oil, but as this can cause intestinal problems, oils made from sea microalgae are now produced safe for human use, used by vegetarians and approved by the EU. These oils are better tolerated and are safe to use.
Dr. Jan Vanderborght

Friday, December 13, 2013

What's For Breakfast? Quinoa

 Main Course: Cooked Quinoa (Thanks to Edith Benites, San Diego Show, for her tip to drop one cup of water from my 2 parts water to one part big batch quinoa recipe. Typically I cook 4 cups rinsed quinoa in a batch and use 7 cups of water and stop cooking when the water level is down to the grain level.  It is really light and not sticky!)

I also add processed broccoli and regular uncooked old fashioned oatmeal and some Natural vitamineral (available from Pigeon suppliers such as Foy's).

While I drink my delicious cup of PG Tips, the birds are having Biodecken Optimix in their fresh water!

With show season over and the sun setting a minute later each day, I am seeing the previously shapely cocks become more and more tubular and singing vigorously.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Great News! Successful Prevention of Recurrent Feather Lumps

 This lovely Stafford Mosaic presented with Feather Lumps on both wings following the molt. These were completely removed and he was given Biodecken Molt daily in the water for a couple of months. Seeing no lump recurrence, he has now been off the product a couple of months with no recurrence.

Both genetics and diet play a role in a bird developing feather lumps.  Genes control the feather texture and it can be so soft that the feather cannot break through the skin. When a lump is completely removed (see previous feather lump posts),  feeding Biodecken Molt daily in the water can prevent lump recurrence.

This Spring, I am going to feed Biodecken Molt daily in the water to young birds from weaning until completion of the first molt to prevent lumps from appearing.

Biodecken Products are sold in the US by Ricardo Sanchez, or call him at 214 998-7474.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Friends In The Fancy - Dr. Jan Vanderborght - Feeding My Borders

On request of a few fanciers I will tell you how I feed my borders.
Seed mix.
This all depends on how you keep your birds, in a room in the house at room temperature, birdshed with or without heating, flights or no flights?
Most fanciers keep their cocks in single cages and hens in double breeders.
My birds are inside the house, so we are talking of birds being kept at room temperature.
From Newyear on till the end of the breeding season: 70% canary seed, 20% rapeseed, 10% Blattner siskin A1.
After the molt till Newyear I prefer a lower energy seed:
80% canary seed, 10% rapeseed, 10% Blattner siskin A1.
My birds get around 6 grams of seed per day.
I use the Aves method, with hard boiled eggs and biscuit, to which I add 1% spirulina, en during the molt 1.5% Herbots Methio Forte, as you know other products like B-Chol and Sedochol smell very badly and make your drinkers dirty.
From Newyear on I add a little Gistocal and Fertibol, from the Comed company to be sure the hens can be loaded with calcium before the breeding season starts.
From Newyear on, as well for cocks as hens, 3 times a week some softfood together with some sprouted seeds.
From March on I do add some pinkies, but be sure to stop once you start breeding as it may excite the cocks too much with the known chasing and fighting of the cocks with the hens.
During the moult softfood every day, remember it is in this period of the year you are preparing your next breeding season, and changing the whole feather coat is very energy demanding for all birds.
After the molt I do give the softfood twice a week.
As I do not want to take any chance of bringing in infections or insecticide sprayed greens I stick to the known broccoli, twice a week, no more, as it can cause irritation of the intestines with some loose stools.

I do use products of the Comed company, every day I coat my seed with an oil, Curol to which I add Winmix and Roni, which are vitamins and a prebiotic protecting the intestines.
Drinking water.
As mentioned above I do use the Comed products, so no need using any other ones, except I do use Vanodine V 18, 0.5 ml/Liter of drinking water. The reason why I do this is because some borders do suffer from a mal functioning thyroid gland, and an added advantage is iodine being number one in fighting against fungal infections, think at the megabacteriose story.
I also do use apple cider vinegar from time to time, most of the time after a two day course with Baycox.
I do not use probiotics because none of them has ever made any difference in my eyes. But at this time we are testing a new product Floracom, which contains the microflora of the tops of the flowerheads of 20 different herbs. Results will follow…
I do not give calcium in the drinking water as I do not have any problem with soft shelled eggs. I do use the Mineral mix from the Versele Laga company, and the Fertibol from the Comed company, as this product has the right balance between calcium and phosphorus, and to my knowledge the only product between may others. This is important because without the right calcium phosphorus balance, calcium will not be absorbed from the intestines, whatever vitamin D you give extra on top of it.
As you can see, not very complicated but scientifically proven to be correct.
Dr Jan Vanderborght

Sunday, December 1, 2013

2013 NIROC Type Winners

Best Type - Border - Exhibited by Jorge Rojas

So Many Excellent Borders, it felt like I was already in Heaven!

2nd Best Type - Fife - Exhibited by Jorge Rojas

3rd Best Type - Gloster Corona - Exhibited by Ioan Coca

4th Best Type - Columbus Fancy Crested - Exhibited by Robert Wild

5th Best Type - Gloster Consort - Exhibited by Alan Allawerdi

6th Best Type - Scot Fancy - Exhibited by Robert Wild

7th Best Type - Hartz Topknot - Exhibited by Robert Wild

8th Best Type - Columbus Fancy Smooth Head - Exhibited by Robert Wild

9th Best Type - Hartz Plainhead - Exhibited by Robert Wild

10th Best Type - Stafford - Exhibited by Omar Varquez

Friday, November 29, 2013

Meet Me At The Bird Shows

Hope you will come out and see the show!

My schedule:

October 19, 2013 San Diego California, Judging Type and Color Canaries.

October 26, 2013 Dallas, Texas, Judging Type and Color Canaries.

November 2, 2013 Hamilton Roller Canary Club, Brampton ON, Canada, Judging German Rollers Canaries. The show is being under the banner of the United Canary Bird Clubs.
Hosted by the Color bred, American Singers and Hamilton Roller Canary Clubs.

Nov.  2nd & 3rd 2013
Open to the public
Sat. 9am to 5pm
Sun. 9am to 4pm
12942 Heart Lake Road, Brampton ON Canada

November 14 -16, 2013 National Cage Bird Show, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Exhibiting My Birds!  Show information at

November 30, 2013 NIROC, Westchester, Illinois, Judging Type Canaries.

Show at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1101 S. Manchester Rd. Mario Valladares Show Manager 312 342-2488 or Joe Wojtowicz 708 352-9319

Mexican Sunflowers are in at least two varieties, one taller than the other. In the past I planted the tall one and it must have been 9 feet tall. This year its the short one and it is about six feet tall!