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January with your Rollers PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 02 November 2006

ImageBy the time the show season closes in early January, you will have selected your breeders for this year. If your planning includes the acquisition of new stock, it is wise to acquire it as early as possible. They will then have adequate time to get used to your handling and feeding. As a result, they will go into the breeding cages well adjusted and ready for their duty as parents. You must provide the best possible food available for them at all times; frequently changed water, and providing a bath on warm, sunny days. Preferably, these should be provided in the early morning so the birds' feathers will be perfectly dry when they go to roost at sundown. When changing their drinking water, it is essential the vessels be brushed clean daily, and frequently washed in detergent and very hot water.

Mites in the breeding room or flights must not be tolerated. Malathion powder (Pyrethrum Powder) dusted under the papers on the cage bottoms, on shelves, under cages, or under flights will insure there are no mites in the aviary. They crawl onto the birds at night, suck blood to their fill, and then leave by morning. The birds will have lost rest during the night fighting them off, leaving them weakened if not anemic. There is no excuse for red mites at any time. Strong disinfectants, kerosene, etc. used to destroy mites and their eggs are not fully effective and leave a disagreeable odor that can be actually harmful to the birds' health.  I used a mixture of kerosene and Pyrethrum Powder for this purpose. It must be well-shaken just prior to use as the Pyrethrum will settle out. It worked fine for me, and there were no harmful effects. The best product to use today is Frontline Spray 2% Dipronil.

Constant conditioning with good food is essential, as is light and warmth. If your aviary is without sufficient light during the dark winter days, electric lights should be burned fairly early in the morning, and later at night, but allowing time for the birds to actually roost. One should have two lights in the bird room; one to provide strong light by which the birds can see to eat, and another small one, (15 watt) to be utilized when you don't have a dimmer switch. After the strong light has been turned off, the small one provides enough light so the birds can reach their perches, and settle down to sleep. You should utilize this twilight period to work in the bird room, cleaning cages, flights, and providing seed for the following day. After a reasonable time, this small light is turned off.

Males selected for breeding may now be turned out into a large flight. One must watch them, to see that an aggressive male does not overpower a weaker one. It may be that some will have to be caged by themselves in separate flights or breeding cages, if they are this aggressive. If you have some old birds, it is wise to catch them occasionally to inspect their legs, feet and claws. If the feet and legs are heavily scaled, they should be washed in warm water, and often some of the heavy outer scales will be easily removed. If they do not come off, the feet and legs may be rubbed with olive oil or castor oil; being careful not to get any oil on the bird's body feathers. If the claws have grown long, they should be clipped using a sharp, heavy nail clipper. Bird Claw Scissors are better. They hold the claw in place while cutting from both sides, thus not crushing the claw. They are also more easily controlled. One should make sure not to cut too far into the quick or tender area of the nail, where bleeding will occur. Should one cut too deeply, and bleeding occurs, a heating unit on an electric stove may be turned on until hot (not red hot), and if the nail is quickly touched to the heated unit this will seal the wound.

Occasionally, one has a bird with a bald spot on the head or neck and often this can be treated with a little olive oil or castor oil several times to encourage new feather growth. Often, however, birds that remain bald have a bodily malfunction, and they sometimes will fail to breed. If birds constantly get very dirty feet, there is something wrong with the bird. Either the nails are too long, or the bird is not healthy. A close watch on such birds, cleaning the cage often, changing the diet, etc. may be helpful. Try using larger diameter stock for the perches.

Remember, birds can endure cold without drafts. No bird or birds should be near open windows or doorways, where there is a danger of drafts. Of course, warmth is essential to bringing on the breeding cycle, as is light, and if one intends to breed early in the year these should be provided. But sudden changes of temperature are not good and it is best if one maintains a somewhat constant temperature in the aviary or bird room. Newly acquired birds should be kept warm and never subjected to excessive changes.

One should have his yearly supply of seed on hand, and this is especially so with Rape Seed. It is most essential to have the best Sweet Summer Rape for our Rollers, for this develops the tone quality to a greater degree than do other types of larger winter Rape seeds. These should be stored in open containers, or containers that allow some air to circulate over the seed. This is done to assist in preventing the seed from going rancid, which may occur when it is held in an air tight container. Since Rape Seed contains so much oil, it should be stored in a dry, cool place. Between now and the start of breeding, the hens should be receiving larger quantities of Niger (Inga) seed. This seed, rich in oil, will help to prevent egg-binding. This problem can be nearly eliminated by supplying good light, proper food, and warmth at the time eggs are being laid.

 It will also help if you refrain from the temptation of starting the hen before she is ready. Don't be in a hurry. However, if you do run into the problem, the following will help. Dampen a soft towel in warm water, and place her down on it so her tummy is in contact with it; holding her there. Repeat this several times, reheating the towel. Return her to the nest, and she will lay the egg easily.

Last Updated ( Friday, 05 January 2007 )
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