So, you have a pair of budgies, a cage, and a nesting box. Is it really all that simple? The answer is absolutely not. Read this article to find out what breeding budgies really entails.
Before You Do Anything Else:
*Make sure you do as much research as possible!
*Make sure any budgies you plan to breed are on a good breeding diet (see below).
*Make sure you have plenty of cages for everyone. This includes one cage for every pair you plan to breed, a cage for newly weaned babies, and ideally another cage incase of fighting or other problems.
*Make sure you know what you will be doing with the babies. Do not just assume you can pass them off to friends, family, or pet stores!
A Budgie Breeding Diet:
*Fruit: bananas, oranges, apples, strawberries, etc.
*Veggies: carrots, lettuce, corn, peppers, etc.
Your Breeding Pair:
*Choose a male (cock) who is healthy and is atleast 1 year old but not older than 4.
*Choose a female (hen) who is healthy and is atleast 1 year old but not older than 3 1/2.
*Choose a pair that is in breeding condition. This means a deep blue, shiny, and a nice even toned cere for males and a deep brown, sometimes crusty cere for females.
*Choosing a bonded pair will help ensure a shorter time until your pair begins to mate.
Breeding Cage Necessities:
*Choose a cage that is atleast 30x18x18. Smaller cages can cause fighting and other problems.
*Choose perches for the cage that are secure and of different sizes.
*Do not use a grate on the bottom of the cage. If the cage has a irremovable grate, place the newspaper over the grate.
*Make sure the cage has a cuttlebone and mineral block.
*Make sure the cage has atleast 2-3 toys for the male to play with while the female is in the nesting box.
Nesting Box & Nesting Material:
*Choose a nesting box that can be attached outside of the breeding cage.
*Choose a nesting box with a concave circle in the bottom of it.
*Choose a nesting box with a bottom that is rough and easy to grip.
*Use appropriate nesting material in the nesting box. Some examples of appropriate nesting material are: corn cob bedding, unscented pine shavings (not dust!), and unscented aspen shavings (not dust!). Some examples of inappropriate nesting material are: finch nesting material, leaves, toilet paper, paper towels, etc.
Egg Laying & Incubation:
*When your hen is going to lay an egg soon she will have an increased calcium intake, bigger droppings, and she will develop an "egg bum" which is when a hen's lower abdomen gets larger.
*Make sure your hen gets a lot of calcium during this time.
*Your hen should lay an egg every other day until she has completed her clutch. A typical clutch is 4-6 eggs.
*Don't worry if your hen doesn't start incubating until the 2nd or even 3rd egg has been laid. This is perfectly normal and won't harm the eggs. Eggs are good for 2 weeks after being laid.
*An incubation period is about 18 days. Remember that this is actually from the day the hen began incubating, not the day the egg was laid (unless she began incubating it on the day it was laid).
Egg Binding & Uterine Prolapse:
*Egg binding is when a hen can't pass an egg because of lack of calcium and/or lack of a healthy diet.
*The risk of egg binding is increased when you are breeding a young hen who has not developed a mature reproductive system or a very old hen who has passed breeding age.
*Signs that your hen may be egg bound include: sitting on the floor or nesting box fluffed up, plucking feathers around her vent area, liquid droppings, and labored breathing.
*If you notice these signs, it is definitely an emergency! Get your hen to an avian vet immediately!
*Uterine prolapse is a when a hen doesn't have enough calcium and energy to push an egg out. Her cloaca (which is meant to be inside her body) then comes out. This is more common is hens that are too young or too old to breed or are not in proper condition.
*If this has happened to your hen, she needs medical attention immediately! Give your hen lots of calcium until you can get her to the avian vet. Normally surgery is needed to help the hen.
*Even if you do not plan to hand feed your chicks, it is still important to know how to hand feed incase a problem should arise. It is a good idea to get a few lessons on hand feeding from an experienced budgie breeder or an avian vet.
*Some supplies you should have on hand ahead of time include: a brooder, hand feeding formula, hand feeding syringes and/or spoons, a digital scale, and a thermometer.
*Splayed Legs are caused by poor diet, lack of a grippable nesting box bottom, and the hen sitting too tightly on the chicks thus making giving the baby poor muscle tone and making it unable to hold up it's own weight.
*Ways to prevent Splayed Legs include: making sure the parents and chicks are a good diet and receive lots of calcium, making sure the bottom of the nesting box is rough and easy to grip, and if you have a small clutch (one or two chicks) keep an egg or two in the nesting box (even if they aren't fertile) to help take some of the hen's weight off them.
Beak & Leg Deformities:
*Deformities are usually caused by poor hygiene in the nesting box. When a breeder doesn't clean the nesting box regularly, droppings get stuck to the chicks which usually results in deformities if not taken care of properly.
*Ways to prevent deformities include: cleaning the nesting box when it is dirty, checking the beak, face, feet, and legs of every chick each day, and if you notice food or droppings stuck to them make sure to clean them off very gently with warm (not hot!) water and a Q-Tip.
*Abuse to chicks is when a parent harms a chick usually because the parents want to start another clutch. Normally the female is the abuser and the male soon follows.
*If the chicks are 3 weeks or older, remove the female. Put her in another room where she can't be heard or seen by the male. Normally the male will take care of the chicks with no problems.
*If the chicks are 2 weeks or younger, removing the female is still the best option. If the male doesn't begin taking care of the chicks right away, hand feeding might be needed.
*Make sure the male has access to lots of food sources in order for him to raise the chicks by himself. Placing millet in the nesting box can also be a big help to the male.
*The loss of a parent can come suddenly and without reason so make sure you know how to hand feed and have the supplies available to do so.
*If the female has passed away and the chicks are under 3 weeks, you will need to hand feed until the male takes over.
*If the chicks are older than 3 weeks, the male should care for them with no problems.
*If the male has passed away before the chicks have weaned, the female should care for the chicks alone with no problems.
Chick Growth & Development:
*24 hours before a baby hatches, you can hear his/her little peeps from inside the egg.
*At 3-5 days old, the little chick is moving around and trying to figure out where to get the best spot to stay warm with his/her mother and siblings. His/her eyes are not open at this point.
*At 6-9 days old, the chick's feathers will start to come through and his/her eyes will begin to open.
*At 10-12 days old, the chick's feathers are starting to come in and you can see a tiny bit of the chick's coloring. The mother starts spending less time in the nesting box at this point.
*At 13-15 days old, the chick's down feathers start to come in more and the chick develops more feathers on their back wings and chest.
*At 16-19 days old, the chick's sheaths on his/her feathers start to come off and you can see his/her color very clearly. He/she becomes very active at this age and begins flapping his/her wings.
*At 20-23 days old, the chick's feathers on his/her face and head start to come out more.
*At 24-28 days old, the chick's feathers have nearly all come out and he/she begins to try different foods, crack seeds, and play around. The chick starts to come out of the nesting box on his/her own at this point.
*At 40 days old, the chick is completely feathered and eats many foods on his/her own.
Links For More Information:
I hope you now realize that budgie breeding is not something to be taken lightly and requires extensive research and planning. Please remember that you are taking several birds' lives into your hands.