Monday, February 23, 2015

Friends In The Fancy Stuart Mason Breeding Border Canaries Part 3 Feeding Program For Conditioning Period

Feeding program for this eight week period

The birds are given increased amounts of soft food throughout this period but being very careful not to overdo it. I adjust what I give them as to how they are behaving.
The birds do not require a great deal, just enough to enough to start bringing their condition forward. To the soft food I add wheat germ oil. The whole idea of this program is to stimulate the birds both in body and mind. The light takes care of the mind and the vitamin E looks after the body.
Beginning of February I will start sprinkling some insectivorous food on the softfood – no rocket science to this, just a little to increase mindset that quality food is about and they come further into condition. I used calcivit last year but not sure it made any difference so not decided yet for next year.
I will Baycox all the birds 5 weeks out from pairing up:
Baycox (2.5) on one day and overnight so they get good drink 1st thing in the morning, then take off and exchange for clean water.
Repeat above 7 days later.
Then treat for fungal infection for a treatment of 7 days sulpha based product, plenty on the market – I get all my medication from Dr Peter Coutteel
By end of Feb the cocks should be in full song and, as they say, tearing off the cage fronts to get at the hens.
Provided things have gone as planned, I want to pair up 1st week of March and I will try to get as many down together as possible. This way it just increases the chances of moving young ones around if necessary. I will have the incubator all fired up a few days before 1st eggs are due.
 I have a thermostatically controlled heater (12 to 14 C ) plugged into the light timer. This is so that when the lights switch on the heater can come on and heat the shed before the hens lay their eggs. The heat helps to minimize the chance of egg binding on chilly mornings and later when the chicks hatch the hens are more inclined to get off and start feeding soon after the lights come on if the chill is off the air.
I will use Flaggella mix by giving it to the hens the night before the chicks are due to hatch and for 7 days after hatching.

I will use GROG the whole time I am feeding the chicks.

I have this year been introduced to Perle Morbide and the birds really like it so I will use this year on trial basis with a few pairs.

That is very rough outline and I will make many changes as the weeks go by and react to how the birds are looking. That I think is the golden rule “be adaptable” and the birds will tell you when they are ready.

Provide: Light, Food and heat as and when needed and they will breed.

Thank You So Much Stuart For Sharing Your Methods With Us!!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Friends In The Fancy Stuart Mason Breeding Border Canaries Part 2 Lighting

The next thing to consider is the shed. I have mine fully wired electrically, with both fluorescent and heating, so I am in ultimate control of the birds environment – if I get it wrong then I am to blame. Circumstances dictate that I have no windows so no natural light.
My conditioning goes like this :
Weekend of 30th November: I will run 3 hens and 1 cock in treble breeders, preferably the hens that the cock will be paired to in the spring


The fluorescent lights come on at 7am and go off at 5pm until 1st January then the timer is advanced 30 min a week  by the first week of Match the lights will be on 14 hours.  During those 8 weeks the birds have been kept in flights. But at the beginning of February I will take the cocks out and put in the back shed (new idea this year) leave the hens in the flight cages though. 
You may have noticed that when you first put nest bowls in your breeding cages the hens are scared of them, try putting one upside down in the flight cage before breeding starts – this gets them used to having the strange object in the cage when next bowls introduced for breeding purposes.
About the 3rd week of February I will put the hens in the respective breeding cages and check claws and trim vents. The feathers are then cut away from around the vent and the toe nails are trimmed. It is still a week before pairing up and this is enough time to allow the birds to get over the ordeal of all this.
The cocks will be brought back into the front shed at this time too
So by 1st week of March, hens in breeding cages, trimmed, toe nails done and cocks back in main shed – all on 14 hours light

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Friends In The Fancy - Stuart Mason Breeding Border Canaries Part 1

Linda asked me to pen some of my experiences in breeding my border canaries and that she can share on her website blog. Firstly, who am I? Stuart Mason from Blackpool, England and have kept borders continuously for over 40 years – this included being in partnership with my grandfather (Bill Mason) when I was just a boy and then when he passed on I continued to transport the current stud at the time around the world with me during my military service.  Both in the late partnership with my grandfather and most recently with my current partner John O’Callaghan we have enjoyed success on the show bench and able to claim that we have never shown at an all border show and not had a special award.  Recently due to work commitments the chance to show the birds has reduced to zero.

So, what is my ethos? I work on the basis that for a canary hen to breed successfully, she requires a minimum of 14 hours of light daily, warmth, and the correct high protein diet. When I say breeding successfully, I mean that, not only does she lay a full clutch of fertile eggs, she also rears the chicks with a minimum of trouble.

I like many others have brought forward the breeding season and for hens to produce chicks 3 or 4 weeks earlier than normal, you must provide an artificial Spring season and the correct diet and I do this over an 8 week period. I allow 8 weeks as this is enough time to bring the birds into breeding condition gradually providing that you’re all year round management is sound. If you try to bring your birds into condition in a shorter period your breeding season is very likely to end up in disaster, infertile eggs, hens leaving the nest and this sort of thing.

There a quite a few does and don’ts, but before I get into the nitty- gritty of light, diet, heat, etc, and at the risk of boring you or telling you what you already know, I feel it is important to make certain points quite clear. This is the way I successfully did it last year and not the law unto MASON. It helped me breed the birds early. Everyone has their own method of breeding and I am not suggesting you follow mine, but I am merely outlining the method I use. In no way do I want to be the cause of you or anyone else’s downfall this year.

Young stock birds should be a minimum of  10 months old before breeding commences. Therefore the first thing to consider is when the young hen you might be breeding with this year was actually reared last year? Try using a very late bred hen to breed early will only end up in tears, infertile eggs for sure or even egg-bound.  Always check the date of hatch of any outcross you might bring in, this is completely overlooked 99% of the time, be honest, how many times have you asked that question and then taken it into account when you pair up? 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Please Help Get Boost 250 Vitamin and Perle Morbide Available in the US

When I judge the Florida show, I met Laraine of Lady Gouldian Finch. As we visited it was apparant that she was interested in helping breeders get products that have not been available in the US.

Today, I got an e-mail from Laraine and she is able to bring in Boost 250 vitamin. It is an excellent product, absolutely fantastic at tightening feathers and bringing birds into full condition. It comes in a 50 ml bottle and can be used easily as a drop for one bird or added as a quirt to gallons for larger aviaries. I use about 12 bottles each year and I have around 300 plus canaries.

Boost 250
Composition (per litre)
Vitamin A (as retinyl propionate) 10.0 miu
Vitamin D3 1.25 miu
Vitamin E * 42,000 iu
Vitamin K 3,300 mg
Nicotinamide 60,000 mg
D-Panthenol 10,000 mg
Precursor of Folic Acid 1,000 mg
Biotin 175,000 mcg
Thiamine HCl 2,000 mg
Riboflavin 5-phosphate sodium 5,350 mg
Vitamin B6 4,000 mg
Vitamin B12 20,000 mcg
(*as alpha-tocopherol acetate)

It goes a long ways and is less expensive than most products. Now she need to know how many she should bring in to start with. Please --- Please send Laraine an e-mail to help her figure quantity for the first shipment.

She also is willing to bring in the Perle Morbide which I heard about in Ireland and receive e-mail frequently saying how pleased they are with it. The formula looks great even for Borders for parents to feed their babies. I plan on offering to all my feeding hens this season! Please Please check it out on line and let Laraine know your interest in it too!


Monday, February 16, 2015

Bee Pollen - Nature's Power-Packed Conditioner

Bee pollen is a natural power packed conditioner! Balanced in essential nutrients, it is an excellent conditioning food for our canaries and they love it.

Bee Pollen contains 16 essential amino acids and approximately 25% complete protein.  Because of the protein level it should feed in small amounts or added to other conditioning seeds and fed a couple of times a week. (Avoid Overfeeding as too much protein will cause the bird's feet to turn red and if overfeeding continues it will favor its foot, standing on only one foot.)

In addition to protein, bee pollen provides more than a dozen vitamins such as  A and B1 - 2 - 3 - 5 - 6 -12  and D and E and folic acid ,  all 28 minerals such as major minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, and iodine, 14 beneficial fatty acids, and 11 carbohydrates. What a great combination!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Conditioning Begins Six Weeks Before Breeding

Time to begin advancing toward breeding season!

1. Timers are being advanced now 30 minutes a week till they reach 14 hours with an additional 30 minutes dim light.

2. Regular seed mix is coated with fortified wheat germ oil. 1/2 cup wheat germ oil to 25 lbs seed. Coated seed will be the main seed mix fed till breeding season is over.

3. Cocks are being started on the once a week ABBA Fertility E, once a week in the water. Cocks not paired with hens continue getting it weekly till breeding season is over.

Hens received the same product but not for three more weeks. I especially like this product as it is a measured amount put in the water and offered for 24 hours weekly.  Hens get the treatment weekly till they lay their first egg.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Agate Opal Canaries You Tube Video - Removing Feather Cyst - Trimming Vent

Just enjoyed watching a You Tube entitled:

Vivir entre Opales | Francisco Muñoz 

In addition to many great ideas,

Includes a demo of feather cyst removal and trimming cock's vent for breeding.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Check Out This Gloster Video

This morning I googled Gloster Canary at Gouden Ring Bird Show and enjoyed seeing the glosters and an interview with Richard Lumley and Rik Spillebeen, short comparison of British and Belgium Glosters!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Wide Tails - Catching A Bird

A blogger sent in this picture and shared their concern that the recently purchased bird has a wide tail. And wondered if they should be concerned about it.

First, it is hard to tell if a birds tail is truly wide unless you observe it from a distance when it is not being stressed. Some birds under stress fan their tail and may even drop a few feathers in your hand when you catch them.

Assuming you see the fan wide tail from a distance when the bird is not stressed, it is a sign that the diet needs to be improved or what it is being fed does not meet its needs either too little or too much of something.

The very next step is to catch the bird. To catch a bird cup your hand and gently catch it over the back being careful not to squeeze it. Hold it up to your ear and listen to the way it breathes and then turn it  over and look at the lower vent area for a thin yellow layer of fat under the skin and if you do not see any slim fat layer feel its breast bone as it should not be sharp but rather filled out.

If the bird is thin add 1/4 slice soft white bread poked through the wires and mix in some sunflower chips into their seed mix.

In any case make sure they are getting extra vitamins because seeds are deficient in many nutrients. Vitamin coated seeds such as L'Avian or added vitamins to food or water will likely turn this problem around.

Colorbred canaries do well on even high protein diets but if this bird was a Border,  I would recommend getting the protein level down to 16% immediately.

Follow up photo shows some dietary changes and its tail is fine now!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Moving Along Toward Breeding Season - Improve Thyroid Function - Iodine Deficiency

The thyroid gland, located in the neck region, has been observed to enlarge due to proliferation of epithelial cells in the follicles in many species of birds, including pigeons, canaries, budgerigars, and wild birds.

Several conditions are known to damage the thyroid gland. The most common is dietary iodine deficiency. An inadequate level of iodine in the diet leads to a lack of available iodine in the thyroid glands. Iodine is needed for the production of thyroxine. When low levels of thyroxine are in the bloodstream, the brain sends signals to the thyroid glands causing a proliferation of follicular epithelial cells. With sustained iodine deficiency, the signals continue to stimulate epithelial cell proliferation and produce thyroid enlargement.

Thyroid problems are further complicated by certain feeds such as rapeseed, flax, soybean, cabbage, and broccoli which block the normal production of thyroxine.  During this prebreeding/breeding season,  I feed almost no rape or flax seed and feed peas instead of other vegetables. Providing one drop of dilute Lugol's solution in 1 oz. of fresh drinking water once a week may be used as a preventative when these foods are being feed.

Canaries with low functioning thyroid hormones are lethargic and seem to lack vigor and when left untreated may contribute to immune deficiency and susceptibility to infection, infertility and embryo death in the shell and decreased hatchability. Even males losing their voice and not singing can be due to iodine deficiency.

Kansas is known for being an area that is iodine deficient. And over the years, I have use Lugol's iodine or vanodine iodine to ensure good thyroid hormone production. Yesterday and today, I added 5 drops vanodine per gallon and today and I can already notice raised activity, and a more "perky" disposition and feeding behavior.

I have a few German rollers from other breeders that were raise primarily on rape seed.  One bird was thought to be a hen but actually it was too thin and out of condition male. This bird is now starting to sing after two weeks with two consecutive days each week on vanodine in the water.  Likewise the other older Roller male and two  hens from another breeder are starting to gain weight. The older male produced very few chicks last year and his son even died and the two hens never came into condition. I think the all rape seed diet had quite a detrimental effect on them.