I want to say this right at the beginning, what I do works for me; they are merely suggestions to help a person out. You may or may not agree with me, and possibly even have a better way. I am open for suggestions.
As I was saying, I do not claim to be an expert in budgies. What I have learned has been through trial and error, research and asking for help.
Breeding Budgies is not easy. It is not a matter of getting a breeding cage, adding a nest box and throwing two birds together.
If all you have are two birds. It is likely they will never breed. Budgies need the noise of other birds to start them into breeding mode. They are after all, flock birds.
I keep my birds in large flights all six ft high and anywhere from six ft long to sixteen feet long and 4 foot wide to six foot wide. I do not separate the hens from the cocks. The interaction seems to bring them into condition better.
For all the novices and beginning people out there. The birds have to be in condition to breed. If they are not, they will not breed.
Breeding season runs when the weather cools off, dampens or approaching fall and winter, October, through April. Some parts of the country birds breed year round, here in Arizona it is too hot in the summer. When it gets too hot, the babies seem to be small, susceptible to disease (like French molt) and never seem to thrive.
Breeding room, the urge to keep a breeding room warm for the babies is the wrong approach. Neither the breeding room nor the flights are heated unless it is cold (seldom in Arizona) the breeding room is kept around 65 degrees. Doors and windows are open for ventilation. The birds breed better, the babies are healthier.
Are your birds in condition?
Hens, the cere on a hen will turn brown or tanish depending on the hens coloring. Generally, she will be chewing up everything wood in sight, also she may be flattening out on the perch flicking her wings.
Steps to breeding
- Cages & Nest boxes– all the cages, nest boxes and perches are cleaned at the end of breeding season. However, they are taken outside, hosed down again, then all are sprayed with a 2% solution of Virkon S and left in the sun to dry before being taken back into the breeding room.
2 . Cuttlebone, mineral blocks, waterers are added to each cage.
- Square perches, Exhibition Budgies are of good size and it is nearly impossible for the hen and cock not to slip or roll off the perch while breeding. That is where the square perches come in. The square perches are run crosswise at mid cage height (which is about the height of the nest box entry) on each side of the cage so the birds have room to fly back and forth to get exercise. I make mine but you can by 5/8 square perches at local lumber or hardware stores. This allows the hen a better grip and easier time breeding for both birds. Two other perches are added one by the nest box opening, the other low one as an extra the babies will use mineral and cuttlebone there.
- Nest boxes used in the aviary are wood with the slider backs, and a concave wood in the bottom. They do not have a perch inside the box. The nest boxes are attached to the side of the breeder cage with cable ties, leaving the wire piece in place not allowing access to the nest box immediately. On the side of each nest box is glued a wooden clothespin holding an index card that has the cage number and is used to list the cock, hen , dates – in the box, eggs laid, fertile, numbers, hatches, and bands on chicks. The nest boxes are powdered with diatomaceous earth food grade, and then a good bit of shavings are added to them.
- Waterers that have the lip are set up at mid level until babies are weaning, keeps them cleaner. These as well as nest boxes are labeled with the cage number in permanent marker.
- Little flat plastic two dish cat feeders (from the dollar store) are used for soft food. They eat it well out of there plus they’re dishwasher proof, sanitizing is a good thing.
- Seed feeders that have the glass jar with the screw on plastic footer that feeds out the seed set in ceramic dishes are on the floor of the cage.
- Hens are caught first-They have been previously chosen, first the proven hens, young hens are not usually put up for breeding until after the first of the year around second clutch time. As each hen is caught, she is checked for overall health, her nails are trimmed, vent feathers are trimmed weight taken and then put in the cage *** (this is something I changed this year on the advice of two very successful and long time breeders )then the cock is added, checking his health, trimming nails, vent, checking their weight. They are left together for a few days to see how they are getting along before the wire over the nest box opening is opened up.
- Once the hens start going in and out of box in a few days, dumping out the shavings that is a good sign.
- Things to watch for are birds that are not getting along, hens that get box bound, meaning they go in and don’t come out. I will chase them out of the box when I am checking them, to get used to me opening the box and to get them exercise. Some hens can get mean about the nest box; you have to watch them closely.
- A humidifier is run in the breeding room 24/7 as it’s very dry here, humidity is important for the eggs. Too dry and chicks will die in the egg.
- Cuttlebone is not enough calcium. The hens need calcium for forming egg shells that are hard enough to pass. Not enough calcium causes babies with splayed legs. The easiest way for most folks it to buy the liquid calcium and add it to the water according to directions. It prevents a great deal of problems down the road. An egg-bound hen has very little chance of survival and if they do, they may not produce again. Some will, but the best way is to avoid the problem by making sure there is enough calcium in their diet. Cuttlebone does have its purpose, it provides not only a bit of calcium , it also provides trace minerals and allows them to chew. I buy mine in bulk of five pounds to ten pounds at a time. Personally, I prefer the pieces that are six to eight inches, they seem to be whiter thicker and cleaner. If you do not have the little cuttlebone clips, it is easy to drill a couple holes through them and run a cable tie through to fasten on the outside of the cage.
Wishing everyone the best breeding season ever. It is a fun and rewarding hobby!!