The following breeding information is from CSRCBA Judge Linda Hogan's on line web blog . Check it out, you never know what will be her topic of the day.
Back To The Basics
Although there are many options for working with our birds and supporting breeding behavior, the endless number of choices can be overwhelming. With this series, I will focus on the minimum requirements to meet our birds needs rather than all the endless options.
Day Lengthening - Natural Method: Adequate day length is necessary for hormonal changes that bring on breeding behavior. While small sized varieties may breed when day length is a minimum of 12 hours, better results are achieved when the day length is 14 to 15 hours. The simplest way to control lighting is to let the birds get up with the sun and go to bed with the sun. Using the natural lighting pattern, days lengthen gradually, about 15 minutes longer each week. This means the birds will likely start breeding naturally in April and continue through May, possibly into June.
Abrupt Day Lengthening - Critical Timing: If you elect to breed earlier, the easiest way is to use an automatic timer and suddenly change the day length to 14 1/2 hours three weeks before the desired breeding date. Timing the abrupt day lengthening, requires some preparatory dietary changes to get the birds ready. Cocks require about six weeks, while hens require only about three weeks of conditioning to get ready for breeding. (That is in addition to calcium which should be fed to hens year round or at a very minimum three months prior to breeding.) Using this simple sudden lighting change method, the timer is changed only once, before nesting begins. It is critical not to make abrupt day lengthening once a hen starts setting, any abrupt day lengthening then may result in her re-cycling and abandoning her eggs and nest.
More Gradual Day Lengthening - Faster Than Natural Day Lengthening: Some breeders prefer to gradually change their automatic timers every few days or weekly by 30 minutes. It will brings the birds in earlier than natural lighting but has a disadvantage besides much more ef-fort, the gradual method produces less sperm production than the abrupt method.
Making Sure The Hen Is On The Nest Overnight: Rather than have the lights go off sud-denly and catching some hens off their nest, it is good to have a 30 minute dim light time so that when the lights finally go off, the hens will be setting on their nests. The simplest way to do this is to set your lights coming on very early and going off about 30 minutes before natural sunset. Remember once chicks hatch you need to be in the bird room offering fresh foods when the light comes on. But do you really want to get up really early every day, especially before daylight savings time takes effect?
Using a Dimmer Light: I prefer to use a dimmer light which comes on the last 30 minutes with the regular lights and continues alone for an additional 30 minutes. As the season progresses natu-ral day length will exceed this time but I just keep this pattern even when natural day length exceeds it. This is not a breeding problem. Lengthening days does not brings on the molt, shortening day length initiates molting.
My Simple Way Summary: I breed a variety of kinds of canaries including Borders which do much better with longer days, I abruptly change lighting to 14 1/2 plus the additional 30 minute dimmer extension. This is done
after cocks have received the ABBA vitamin E for three weeks and coincides with when the hen starts the ABBA vitamin E.
Three factors: light, conditioning, and weather working in concert bring birds into full breeding condition. In part 1 of this series, we looked at simple ways to control the number of hours of daylight and how to lengthen the days to brings about hormonal changes that moves the bird into its natural breeding cycle. In part 2, I will begin look-ing at some minimal techniques to help bring birds into breeding condition. First, let's take a look at vitamin E.
Vitamin E - An Easy Way To Condition Canaries For Breeding
In addition to the previously identified hens need for minerals and especially calcium, better breeding results are achieved when the cock and hen receive high doses of the fertility vitamin E, during the conditioning period prior to pairing. Traditional this was done by adding fortified wheat germ oil to the seed. But the amount to give and when to give it was quite a guessing game!
A few years ago, I discovered an easier more effective product, ABBA high fertility wa-ter soluble vitamin E. One day a week six weeks before pairing, I prepare the ABBA vitamin E as directed by measuring 1/2 teaspoon of the powder and dissolving it in 1/2 gallon water. I then fill the cocks drinkers and leave that as the only source of water for 24 hours. After 24 hours, the drinkers are dumped and refilled with clean water.
After three weeks of the ABBA vitamin E once weekly treatment, the cocks will be singing vigorously and showing some signs of wanting to breed. Now is the time to abruptly lengthen the hours of day light as described in the previous post. And on the same day, I start the hens on the one day a week, 24 hour treatment with the ABBA vitamin E. This continues for the cock until I am finished breeding him but must be stopped on the hen when she lays her first egg to avoid premature hen recycling.
Many breeders do not realize the importance of controlling when and how much the hen gets of the vitamin E. If a hen is overdosed with vitamin E, she abandons the nest without going through the normal process of sitting, hatching and feeding her chicks .
In the unlikely event that a hen fails to recycle for her second clutch, she can, how-ever, again receive the weekly vitamin E treatment.
Check Linda’s blog for the remainder of her back to basics article