Q: How do I become a successful finch breeder?

Q: How do I become a successful finch breeder?

From Magazine issue 07 vol 29 – August 2013: Written by Bev Kayes

Question Corner
How do I become a successful finch breeder?

A: There are a lot of things to do, and they all must be done well. Housing. Warm, clean & dry housing with plenty of light.

Young un-related stock. You will have few, or no results with old stock. Buy your stock from a reputable breeder.

Food. A good finch mix. For example, equal parts of:- canary, red panic, yellow panic, jap millet, rye grass and french white millet. Also an additional food is a herbal mix of:- 3 parts phalaris, 1/4 part each, of niger, maw seed, red clover, chia seed (black & white), and amaranth. Topped up with a little vitamin mix, and bee pollen.

Don’t forget grit, cuttlefish, charcoal, a fine crushed oyster shell, baked eggs shells (Gouldians especially like these), and of course fresh greens and fresh water. I have already written about softfood previously.

Consistency. Why? Because birds like to be fed at the same time everyday. They like consistency in feeding softfood, livefood. If you start to feed livefood for chicks, then you must continue.

Observation. Watching your birds and making sure all look healthy and contented, and acting quickly should anything go wrong. If you want to inspect nests, do so as little as possible and never at dusk.

Cleanliness. Keeping dishes, floors, plants clean and tidy, generally being very particular with hygiene in and around the flights.

Reading. Knowledge is vital when breeding birds. You must know all you can about each species you have, or intend to buy.

Record Keeping. If you want to become a successful breeder, you must keep accurate records. Indentification of each pair of birds,

nesting habits, eggs laid, date hatched and fledged etc. Also invaluable for the following season when pairing your birds.

Q: I have a pair of Cubans, and I would like to know what members recommend in the way of a nest box. My pair have raised 1 chick this year and thrown 3 chicks out of the nest when 2-3 days old. They have nested in some bracken and have built a deep nest, which I can’t see into, to see if they have eggs, or young. Should I provide them with a better designed “nesting box”, so that I can take eggs out and put them under Bengalese if necessary?

A: Cubans prefer to build their own nests rather than use a nest box, but they can take over other birds nests and rebuild them to suit themselves. Cubans usually prefer a quiet corner to nest in, as they are easily disturbed. They can be a secretive bird, so carrying out any nest inspection carries some risk.

Cubans are usually good parents, but if your birds are a young pair they may exhibit territorial behaviour, which may unsettle them, which in turn, may affect their behaviour at the nest.

I can’t stress more, that consistency with your routine at breeding time is so important. Feeding softfood at roughly the same time each day, and not changing what you feed them. If you start to feed live food, you must continue until the chicks have fledged, otherwise you may find your chicks turfed out of their nest. Any stress can cause parents to abandon chicks, e.g. a mouse, a nest inspection, or no softfood.

Q: In Tauranga we are experiencing the cold front and we have had a couple of light frosts. One hen Gouldian died last week and this morning a cock has died. I don’t know the cause - the flight is protected from any wind, but the temperature was down to 2 degrees this morning in the flight.

I have seen in the magazine about having heat lamps in the flight to give warmth. Is this good practice for Gouldians and if so what is recommended?

A: First, how old were the Gouldians? Gouldians can take cold, but not draughts, but older birds may find that consistently low temperatures too much for them.

Secondly, do you have an inside shelter for your birds? If so a heat lamp would be ideal. Either hanging it over a perch, or have a transportable lamp, especially useful when fledglings are on the floor of the aviary. Mounting a 60 watt reptile infra-red lamp on a small wooden frame, which can be moved around wherever warmth is needed. These also provide a soft light to guide your birds to food if they are on the floor. You could also buy ceramic lamps for warmth, without light, to hang over perches, (these are expensive), but if they save your birds they are well worth it. The infra-red lights are obtained from pet shops. Also an oil filled heater can lift the temperature inside of your aviaries by 3-4 degrees.

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