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BREEDER'S CALENDAR

Nearly all of us depend to bigger or smaller extend on the seasons of the year. When I say us, I mean all leaving creatures big and small. Following it is a calendar outlining birds’ activities in a particular month of the year. The seasons and months are presented as for Southern Hemisphere. I gave an approximate equivalent of a month in the Northern Hemisphere

January (equal to July in Northern Hemisphere)

January is a second month of the summer in the Southern Hemisphere. In the middle of January the birds are starting to mold. The mold is a physiological event when the birds loose gradually their old feathers, all feathers, and replace them with new grown ones. It is natural annual process, which should go without any problems. The teething in young babies it is also physiological, natural event, but from time to time, they suffer a lot of pain, they have fever and in general are quite often very miserable. It is the same with our birds. During molding process I give the same seed mixture to both cocks and hens. Their requirement during that time is the same.

My recipe for seeds’ mixture is:                                          

Fresh green food should be given each morning and bath offered every day. An extra amount of cucumbers and tomatoes should be offered every day. The cucumbers are very helpful during molding course. I must stress the beneficial effect of the cucumbers on molding process. But prolonged supply of a cucumber can prolong molding, so I restrict feeding with a cucumber to first 6 or 8 weeks of molding time, which last approximately 12 weeks.

I must mention that I came against an opinion that green food should be not given during the mold. That green food is not beneficial but even harmful. What a horrible, ignorant advice it is? I can be eventually been persuaded to believe that it is not necessary to be fussy with elaborated seed mixture. And that it is absolutely not necessary to limit an amount of this seed mixture to ˝ teaspoon per bird, because the birds know better what and how many to it. So, once again, the green food with a cucumber in a first place is a must during mold.

We must also supply mineral elements mostly calcium in the form of cattle-fish bone, or chicken eggshells dried in an oven.

February (equal too August in Northern Hemisphere)

It is a month during all birds is going through molding process. The molding is fully in progress. Canaries need fresh air and plenty of exercise for a successful mold. We can put them in bigger cages if we have ones, or we should remove the partition in our double breeders to give them more space for exercising in the form of flaying. For this reason, to create non-obstructive space, we should left only two perches on far away ends.

They are getting the same seed mixture and green food as in January. We should not forget about daily bathing. The "bath-rooms" should be hanged with fresh water on the doors of the cages every day.

March (equal to September in Northern Hemisphere)

In March, the molding process is coming to an end. Gradually the cocks are separated from the hens and every cock is getting a cage on his own. The cocks are slowly starting to sing. From now on, we can watch carefully our cocks and their singing in order to choose our team for show. A team for show, it is an assembly of four cocks, which will be in special training cages preparing for contest. We will have later a special chapter devoted for training only. At the moment we can say, that all our cocks are potential members of competition team and candidates for training, even if they are not in training cages yet. From middle of March, we can give the cocks specially prepared seed mixture, which is more suitable for singing birds. Again I must stress necessity of green food supply including some fruits mostly apples.

Seed Mix for cocks in training:

Reduction of the oily seeds prevents the birds become to fat. The fat birds have tendency to sing less. As in previous month I gave my seed mixture ˝ teaspoon per bird per day, with unlimited quantity of rapeseed in separate container. The green food, a bath and a general care every day as usual. About general care we will talk a bit later and it will be a subject on its own.  We can start to give "singing mixture" at the end of March or wait a bit and start feeding the mixture in April.

April (equal to October in Northern Hemisphere)

The cocks are singing nearly all day, or we hope they will sing like that. Every bird  in his own cage. The cages are separated and the birds do not see each other. The mornings can become quite cool and it is necessary to prevent the stock from exposure to cold draughts. The cocks should have unlimited quantity of rapeseeds, abundant supply of green food and fresh water every day. As the water supplied to us is full of chlorine it should age for 24 or 48 hours and should have a room temperature.

 May (equal to November in Northern Hemisphere)

There are two the most important task in May: it is special care for hens and preparing the cocks for a show. The hens should be now in their own quarters. Their rape’s containers should be full of seeds. A drinking water aged for 24 or 48 hours should be change every day. Also sufficient supply of minerals as cuttlebone, greet, crushed chicken eggshells must be in a cage all the time. Hens awaiting their breeding season should have at least three times a week half tea spoon of seed mixture with following ingredients:

Canary seeds 250g,  Niger 200g, Poppy seeds 100g,

Millet 75g, Oats 75g,  Buckwheat seeds 150

Linseed seeds 150g, Lettuce seeds ---- TOTAL = 1kg

If we have been lucky enough to have at least four promising male birds, we can put them into special training cages and start to train them for song competition. To be able to take part in a show it is the coronation of the breeder’s effort, and to have a price or even a ribbon, it is a dream. The training for song will make a chapter on its own.

Now again, the birds in training require different seed mixture.

Seed Mix for cocks in training:

Three times so much of lettuce seed is probably the most important change. The lettuce seeds have distinct effect on the quality of canary’s song. Giving less or more lettuce seed, we can regulate the strength of its song. For the canaries singing very loudly we give less lettuce seeds.

June (equal to December in Northern Hemisphere)

It is a month in which we should sell our surplus birds or buy extra one if necessary. It is a time that hens and cocks must be definitely separated.

The breeders, who are using a light program, should begin increasing the light time. Gradual increasing of the light time, using electrical light, is speeding the beginning of breeding season. Personally, I did not use it and I do not advocate it. To many clutches exhaust the hen and practically gives very little gain for the breeder.

July (equal to January in Northern Hemisphere)

A special care in this month is aimed toward the hens. A specially prepared mixture, half of a teaspoon, should be given every day. All birds must have a sand change once a week. Cattle-fish bone grid and chicken eggs shells should be all time supplied in good quantities. We give greens, watching that they are not frost damaged.

It is still necessary to supply water for bathing as often as weather permits.

August (equal to February in Northern Hemisphere)

August, the last month of winter in Southern Hemisphere, it is for me the most busy month in my breeding calendar  At the beginning of August, we put nesting materials in the hens quarters. We also should hang the nest, lining it with soft felt. We can buy self-adhesive felt in craft shop or stitch it to the bottom of the nest. Lining of the nest is necessary to prevent new born naked chicken to be exposed to uncovered plastic nest

In the middle of August, on top of staple rape seeds, we are giving to our hens following seed mixture:

A mentioned two recipes given by two different breeders. . First one on the left, given by another breeder and second one used by me.  They are some other recipes as well, and also a strong opinion, that such changing of seed mix according to the season it is absolutely not necessary. The advocates of the last theory say that one seed mixture is good year around. The birds will know the best when and how many seeds to eat.

On a top of it we give ˝ teaspoon of egg food, per bird, per day. The same as with seed mixtures there is several egg food recipes. I use the egg food formula as below:

I prepare my egg food using one hard boil egg, boiled at least for ten minutes. I add one fool tablespoon of bread or biscuit crumbs, grated carrot or apple, 1 teaspoon of powdered cuttlebone, ˝ teaspoon of Poppy seeds and 10 drops of Wheat Germ Oil or 10 drops of Cod Liver Oil. The mixture should be not too dry and not too moist. I regulate content of moisture with grated carrot or apple.

They are even greater variety of egg food recipes than seed mixture. Some breeders re using honey, some add orange juice e.t.c.. Without exaggeration, I can say that it is as many egg-food recipes as the canary breeders. I will try to cite some of them later, for your evaluation.

Some breeders starting mating in early days of August and have first new birds at the end of August. We should not forget to supply of nesting material and nest pans.

The hens are starting to get an egg food just before mating and have it till the end of breeding season, or even longer, till the end of molting season. In fact, I give all my birds an egg food till the end of the molting.

September (equal to March in Northern Hemisphere)

With beginning of September all breeders starting breeding season. Two weeks before, we must pay an extra attention to feeding the hens. The feeding program was described in August section. The cocks during this period should have also a quarter of a teaspoon of an egg food.

When the eggs hatch, an egg food is given two or three times a day and the hen are giving it to the hatchlings.

An uneaten food must be removed. The soft food dishes should never be top up. Feeding a sprouted seeds and a new growth green food should be normal event. Also a bath is given daily.

October (equal to April in Northern Hemisphere)

The breeding season is well advance. Feeding program is continued as outlined in August and September.

We should have new young birds. They should stay with mother as long as possible. But when a hen is starting to make some improvements to the nest and when she is squatting during cocks calling, the young birds must be removed to another cage. They are getting same food as before but gradually we introduce them to rapeseeds, at first to scalded seeds.

To delay a bit next nesting we can stop giving an egg food and seed mixture to the hen during first ten day of egg sitting. She should have a rapeseed only. Less rich diet suppresses her desire to lay eggs.

November (equal to May in Northern Hemisphere)

It is a month when we can expect new young birds leaving the nest and transferred to flight cages. But before they will be transferred, we must supply a lot of new nesting material for the hen to prevent plucking the young. Feeding program is carried as outlined above, with sprouted or scalded seeds, a lot of green food, soft egg food and a lot of mineral components for formation of next eggs.

December (equal to June in Northern Hemisphere)

It should be the month with the biggest number of new birds. Feeding schedule, breeding program can still go as usual according to the plan.

The new activities: careful watching if the youngsters are not plucking each other. If they do, we must hang up some pieces of wool strings or material to play with.

In December some young cocks are starting singing exercises. They must be separated from hens, put in cages for cocks only, in order to concentrate on singing without any disturbance from their female partners.

End of December and definitely beginning of January marks the beginning of a molting process. Slowly, we can start to separate the breeding pairs and take them to flight cages or aviaries, where they will be again with their youngsters.

My feeding program was, as outlined above, nearly without any change, all my life. Rarely I had a disappointment. Hardly ever, I had non-fertile eggs or death in the egg. 

But reading many books, articles, talking to many fanciers and above all looking into so named personal pages on the internet, hundreds plus pages on canaries’ subject, I came against many recipes, some useful, same strange and some ridiculous. Some of them I would like to quote later and it would be to you, to decide if to use them or not.

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September 09, 1999 11:27 AM