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Sunday, 30 December 2007
ImageJanuary is a quiet in the canary bird room: most of the shows are over. It is a time, however, when the beginner should commence the gentle process of bringing his, or her, birds into the best possible condition for the commencement of the breeding season. Many newcomers make the error of over-feeding their birds with soft food, condition seed, etc., in large quantities for a week or two prior to pairing up. It would be better to leave the birds on only their staple seed diet than attempt to force them into condition in this manner. In this series of articles aimed at those new to the canary fancy I have mentioned feeding and supplements and I feel this may be a good time to give a brief summary of a bird's basic dietary needs. There are several different factors to consider: Proteins, Carbohydrates, Vitamins and Minerals.

Protein: We can consider protein as the body building part of food. Muscles, heart, lungs, brain, skin, feathers and blood, almost everything except bones are built on protein. Any diet we give our birds that is deficient in protein will not maintain growth in young birds and will have an adverse effect on the molting and breeding of the adult birds. Canaries existing on solely a diet of seeds are always close to having a protein deficiency. Insectivorous birds live mainly on protein and it is therefore not a problem with them. It has been estimated that a bird requires at least 12% of protein in its diet and that the growing chick or breeding hen requires somewhat more.

Carbohydrate: This provides the fuel that the system uses to enable the bird to breathe, fly, eat and, in fact, to go on existing.

Minerals: These are used by the body in many various ways. Calcium, Magnesium, Fluorine, and Phosphorous form the bones and Calcium is used to form the outer shell of the egg. Many other minerals are needed in small quantities: iron and copper support the red cells in the blood: sulphur, iodine, and cobalt all play a part amongst other trace elements.

Vitamins: Although only needed in small quantities, they are essential for the correct working of the body. Some vitamins such as A, D, E and vitamins of the B complex must be present in the diet of a bird. Vitamin A is needed to keep eyes and eras in good condition and to keep the membranes of the body in healthy state. Vitamin D is needed, for without it, Calcium, even when present in the diet, cannot be used by the body to build a sound bone structure. Vitamin E is the fertility vitamin and is essential for health and to aid hatching in the hens. Vitamin B complex are important vitamins and often are found to be insufficient in cage birds. They allow the energy in carbohydrate to be released and protect the nerves and heart. Canaries are unlikely to be sufficient for their needs. Vitamin C is present in sufficient quantities, as birds are able to produce it within their own bodies.

From the foregoing it is obvious that if we wish to maintain our birds in the best condition we should supply a vitamin and mineral supplement. Cod Liver Oil is often used to provide the D and A vitamins and Wheat germ Oil is a good source of Vitamin E. It is most important these are used that the oil is fresh; if old or rancid oil is used the birds can quickly become upset and the oil will not contain the vitamins originally in it. There are number of good vitamins and mineral supplements available, many of which are advertised on many websites. Email if you would like to find out where to get these products. As said previously this month, we should gently aiding the general condition of our birds to the peak of fitness required to give us good breeding results. A little good soft food with the addition of grated carrot once a week, a treat once a week of the condition mixture mentioned before, a little green food or fruit once a week and the beginner can be sure that a variety of food is being supplied which, with the addition of a vitamin/mineral supplement, will ensure that our canaries are healthy and in good condition. Spraying or a bath should be continued at this time, clean sawdust on the cage floor, clean perches and cages, all will go a long way to assist the good breeding season we all wish to enjoy as a result of our care and attention.

Now is also a good time for taking care of a pleasant task - making up your breeding record book. It is essential if you intend to create a stud of first-class canaries that full and careful records are kept. My own method is to keep my breeding records on a loose-leaf sheet placed in a strong binder. At the end of each breeding season these can be removed, placed in large envelope and marked with the breeding season year in question. This does provide a simple and not too bulky breeding records system, and I have records kept in this manner for many years. Each loose-leaf sheet contains the maximum of information, being headed with details of the cock and hen I am pairing together with their band number, date on which they were hatched, the breeding cage number and the stud number of the parents of both cock and hen. Other information is contained in sections to show first and second round details and comprises: 1. Date Paired 2. Date Laid 3. Date Set 4. Number of Eggs 5. Date Due to Hatch 6. Number of chicks hatched 7. Band number and description of chicks reared 8. Comments (here I enter all details relevant, i.e., if good or moderate feeder, food dislikes or likes and general behavior of hen towards chicks, etc.). Each sheet is then placed in the binder in consecutive order of the breeding cage number so that reference from cage to record sheet is straight-forward. I made reference a little earlier to the Stud Book number. My stud records are also on loose-leaves in a binder; on each sheet is recorded every detail concerning each bird retained in the stud for breeding, together with an individual stud number. In this way I have a sheet for every bird I have bred, and as many go to fanciers the keeping of good records is essential. As a beginner it is very worthwhile for you to develop the habit of keeping records. The only other requirement is a large desk diary for the bird room as, once the breeding is underway, you can record all day by day records in same and then transfer the details to your breeding records as time permits.

Whenever line-line breeding, the big secret is not what you retain but the material that is thrown away. A breeder has to be hard enough to discard any birds which do not come up to standard.

With all satellites flying around in space now days, it may be very dangerous to hitch your wagon to a star.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 30 December 2007 )
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