…and increasing protein levels.
When trying to get many species of birds to breed, what you need to do is to mimic what takes place in the wild. For example, with all sorts of species of birds, during the non-breeding season, you would not give them such a good diet. As you approach the breeding season, you give them a better diet.
The reason for this, if you think about the wild situation with birds, in the winter months or the non-breeding months, often there isn’t so much food or insects or fruit around for them. Birds always coincide their breeding season with the season where there is more food to feed to chicks. This is very logical and this is what we need to do when we’re trying to breed birds. So when it comes to the breeding season, they have more food and in many cases longer daylight hours.
One of the mistakes in captivity that people do, is to give them a very good diet, because there are so many products available for all species of birds from softbills to parrots, and they want to look after their birds properly so they buy them great food all year round. But this doesn’t help breeding at all because there are no changes, and often, if birds are fed on a very good diet all year round, they can end up getting fat.
So for example, with softbills and birds like that, normally people will not give them many insects or hardly any insects or livefood during the winter months but as the daylight hours get longer, you increase the livefood, because basically you are recreating what happens in the wild situation and by increasing the insects, you’re increasing the protein, and protein can be one of the key things to get your birds into breeding condition as this is what happens naturally in the wild.
With parrot species, it is the same sort of situation. Out of the breeding season it is not a good idea to give them the best diet on the market, and extra nuts and extra this, because they will become too fat and too well fed. Often a slightly poorer diet is better during the non-breeding months, and as you come to the breeding season, give them a better diet and perhaps a larger variety of fruits, so that you’re imitating what happens in the wild.
They will need a vitamin supplement all year round. Many people give them extra vitamins, or a vitamin E supplement, or more eggfood to increase protein levels… there are various products on the market that I’m quite happy to talk to customers about. So you can improve and change their diet, so that they’re getting used to things that are better when they’re getting ready to breed.
The other thing with all species of birds, if you’re getting ready to breed, is that you want to increase the daylight hours. If you have birds outside in an aviary, that’s fine as this process will take place quite naturally. In an inside environment, whatever species of birds you are breeding, longer daylight can make a big difference.
For example, many years ago, I had 50 breeding pairs of African Greys, and I actually bred these birds all year round. What I used to do, is there would be one group of birds outside in a big flight, and three groups of birds inside and I used to rotate them. Once a bird had been outside for two or three months whatever time of year it was, they would come inside, and they would have a better diet, new nestboxes and daylight hours were extended to up to 17 hours a day. This is one of the most important things to get birds to breed. This is how I was able to breed birds all year round, by giving them a better diet, longer daylight hours when I put them down to breed.
Not all species will breed all year round. But with all species of birds, its changing their diet (giving them a better diet) and longer daylight hours – these are the factors that you can use to encourage your birds to breed. I can remember on many occasions when I worked at Birdworld for 20 years, that it was always was a good idea to have more than one nestbox in an outside aviary when breeding birds, as the birds would then choose where they wanted to nest and often a choice of diets, and a choice of nestboxes in the breeding season, will increase the chances of breeding these birds.
But outside the breeding season, we need to keep things basic, without nestboxes, a basic diet, make sure they’re well looked after and that they’re warm, but we need to encourage the changes, from the winter months to the summer months to encourage birds to breed, whether this is parrots species or softbill species, this is something that needs to be done.
Often, it’s a good idea to think about how birds breed in the wild, what they use to breed in the wild, what time of year they breed, and as much of this as you can imitate or recreate in your situation where you keep your birds, will help them to breed.
This is different for almost every single species, and Rob Harvey is available at the end of the phone to give an advice (01252 342533).
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