Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Great Britain Border Breeders Visit Dr. Peter Coutteel Belgium Part 1 Lighting, Temperature, Humidity and Breeding

  Feedback from GB Border Canary Breeders making visit to Dr Peter Coutteel (Belgium)

Stuart Mason                                         Alan Scott                               Simon Hughes
Bob Hodges                                             Stuart Percy                          Bob Turner
Rob Harris                                                Graham Burgess                George McGougan
Colin Egner                                              Ian Southgate                      Mark Symonds
Mark Lowry                                             Mick Donovan

The group of  GB Border Canary Breeders had the idea that it would be a good idea to pay a visit to the surgery of Dr Peter Coutteel to learn from him about 2 things mainly, these were:

  1. Pre-breeding season preparation of our Borders – fertility etc
  2. Factual insight into canary diseases and research in to possible prevention

Doctor Peter Coutteel graduated at the State University of Ghent in 1983. From the beginning of his profession as a veterinarian, he has focused on the field of birds.  He has developed a number of bird products under the Dr. Couteel Trigenio brand which are part of his bird program.  For information: info@trigenio.be

Technical aspects of Lighting
Normal fluorescent lamps do not give continuous light, but flicker like a stroboscope at approximately 50 times per second (50 Hz). The human eye does not discern this frequency and the effect on the behaviour of birds is not completely known. However, recent studies reveal that birds may have a spatial difference of 160 frames per second. The stroboscopic effect of fluorescent light may lead to stress and may negatively influence the general condition of the bird. If many lamps are used at the same time or a combination of bulb lamps and fluorescent light is used, the stroboscopic effects will be less marked.
The latest development is the HF (high frequency) lamp. These lamps have a frequency of 28,000 Hz, have a longer life and make dimming possible. When using artificial light, a dimmer should be used to simulate dawn and twilight. In Belgium, 92% of the breeders are using fluorescent lamps and 8% are using bulb lamps.

Gradually Increasing Daylight Length

Using this technique, the amount of daylight is gradually increased on a weekly basis. Depending on how quickly this is done, it may take a period of 2 months to extend the 8 to 10 hours of natural daylight to 15 hours. If a weekly addition of 30 minutes (5 additional minutes per day) is used, it will take approximately 10 weeks to obtain this result. This means that the fancier needs 2 to 3 months preparation before breeding can begin. Gradually increasing the length of the day is closest to natural stimuli and is used by more than 80% of the fanciers. Fifteen hours of daylight length appears to be ideal. Poor annual breeding results with higher chick mortality occur when the daylight length exceeds 17 hours.

Immediate Increase to Full Daylight Length

The daylight length can also be increased suddenly from 10 to 15 hours. In this case, the birds reach breeding condition after 3 to 4 weeks, but most are unable to maintain good results throughout the full breeding season. However, some fanciers do have good results with this method. This method of sudden increase, used by approximately 10% of the breeders, often leads to poor fertilization of the first clutch, which normalizes subsequently, and higher mortality of females.

Temperature and Humidity

Most fanciers maintain the temperature in the breeding room at approximately 15° C (59° F) at the start of the breeding season. If the temperature is higher, the females start laying eggs even before pairing. Temperature is regulated with various heating devices (electrical, central heating, gas and fuel oil). During the breeding season and summer, the temperature may fluctuate. Therefore, good ventilation should be provided to remove exhaust gas and to eliminate temperature extremes. The temperatures should range from 15° to 25° C (59-77° F). In the authors’ experience the temperature should not exceed 35° C (95° F).

The humidity in the breeding room should be kept within the range of 60 to 80%. Maintaining the humidity at the lower end of this range minimizes the development of pathogens. It is important to have sufficient humidity at the time of hatching. Therefore, breeders often moisturize the eggs just prior to hatching with a spray of warm tap water in the nest or by plunging the eggs for a second into a cup of warm water (40° C, 104° F).


It is important to predetermine the sex of the individual birds in order to ensure they are paired appropriately. In males, the caudal end of the ductus deferens forms a mass called the seminal glomerulus. During the breeding season, the seminal glomerula push the cloaca walls

into a “cloacal promontory”. Females do not develop this projection and have a flatter vent. Cocks and hens should be trimmed and in breeding condition. The male is placed into the female’s cage when the birds are ready for pairing. In the classic situation, one male and one female are together for the whole breeding season and rear the youngsters together.
Alternatively, one high-quality cock may be used for pairing with several females. After copulation, the male is separated, and each female will rear her youngsters alone. Fertile sperm may be stored in the female’s sperm glands (tubular glands within the oviductal wall located at the uterovaginal junction) and may fertilize eggs for approximately 8 to 10 days.

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