Questions & Answers

I have compiled this section with a hope it will trigger many future topics for discussion. If we all lived to be one hundred years old we would still encounter new hurdles in our hobby. As a novice in my final year, I write this including many questions I asked myself and enclose the answers I received. As many fanciers do, I learned also from my experiences.

Q: Should artificial lighting and heating be used, and if so at what times?
A:

Artificial lighting I find most beneficial, especially during preparations for the breeding season. The extra light means I can condition my birds and commence my breeding season a little earlier and have the young birds moulted through for the early shows. Starting work early also means I can feed the stock before going to work and if the aviary is in a not so suitable position, artificial lights can help with this. I find the current British weather too variable so artificial light can be used to obtain consistency. Large windows would be great for admitting sunlight but the internal temperature would probably vary so much. On the other hand, I believe too much artificial light can induce moulting.

Heat I use but it only switches on in extreme cold spells. Until recently I would have my heating thermostat set to bring on the heating if the temperature dropped under 48 degrees. After an infestation of northern mite in February, which I believe was assisted by the mild weather and the warmer temperature in the bird-room, I now only use heat if there is a frost. I also let the birds quarters actually drop to near freezing once or twice to kill off any parasites or germs. I believe since I have done this and allowed more fresh air into the bird-room the stud appears fitter and healthier. (I do not allow the drinkers to freeze over)

Q: If I cut the crest on a crested bird will it damage it?
A: I was once told it would but I actually cut the crest at the same time I trim the bird’s vents and cut the beaks and toenails (prior to breeding). This practice gives the bird a better view of its world and the hens can see the young better. Some crests also get rather messy and smelly with food etc. Once the bird moults all its feathers in the cap, they will all grow back again.
Q: Would it be an advantage to use feeders for rearing Crested Canary’s chicks?
A: If space and time permitted yes. I know people who use feeders but I prefer not to. Fifes or Coloured Canaries are popular, but a Fife Canary would find it a tough job rearing more than two Crested Canary chicks. I hand feed the young until they can pester their parents for food, I also top up the youngsters at night. Once the young and parents get the picture I encounter no problems at all. Feeders would also take up valuable room.
Q: Is hand feeding young canaries a good idea?
A: My answer is definitely yes. I did speak to a fancier only last week about this and he said he couldn’t be bothered as it was only a hobby. If you were at home all day it would be a little easier but if you are out at work all day then it is not so easy. Our aim is to produce quality Crested Canary youngsters. If hand feeding made the difference between rearing a dozen young or four times that number which would you chose to do. I believe that hand feeding my youngsters helps me to rear not only more of the chicks but also makes them a lot stronger and healthier, which in turn gives them a better chance of a quick moult. I have never found that by interfering with the youngsters to hand feed them has made the parents abandon them. Remember, in most cases, the hand feed is to supplement the parents feeding.
Q: I am a newcomer to the hobby and would like to set up with Crested Canaries. I am told they are very expensive and hard to obtain.
A: All livestock that is not readily available commands a higher premium, although top quality Crested Canaries change hands for a fraction of the cost of Borders and Norwich Canaries. At this moment in time, there are probably more Crested Canaries offered for sale in the US & UK than have been available in the last four or five years. 
Q: I have been thinking about using vitamins in my canaries diet. Should I use the products to add to drinking water or powders? Some older fanciers say I am wasting my time.
A: A Vitamin supplement would be more effective mixed with soft food. This way the bird would eat most of the soft food and the vitamin. Added to the drinking water they will probably waste most of it. Every article I read on the above subject seems to leave so many holes in the answers to similar questions I am not surprised many fanciers will not entertain vitamin supplements. I wish the companies who sell them to us would stop arguing amongst themselves as to whose products are best and spend time educating us on the benefits and methods of feeding them to cage birds. The fancier will then decide who has the better product – fancy a challenge, boys!

I personally think all cage birds would benefit from some kind of vitamin supplement all year round. At the end of the day, they are not chemicals or medicines. All living creatures require nutrition to exist. In today’s world, most foods are far less valuable nutrition wise and are popular sellers only through taste. Canary seed has very little nutritional value and most soft food is only biscuit or rusk based, which is really only carbohydrate. Consider what you would like to achieve through the feeding of supplements to your stud.

Q: How do I ensure good fertility and breeding rates?
A:

If a bird is healthy and your build up has been followed precisely then fertility should be OK. Bad fertility is more likely to come from within the stud. With a little understanding, all the powders and liquids available can be applied at the different times of year in the canary calendar to assist the birds through their natural cycles.

Some canary breeders will always breed a good number of quality youngsters with no light, heat or additives – the choice is ours. I for one use vitamin & protein supplements all year round. I have found the likes of spirulina and seaweed excellent for enhancing color in a canary. I have used vitamin and mineral powders for hens feeding young and whilst weaning chicks. I have experimented a lot and learned my own bird’s requirements. I do not think there is the perfect formula advertised but with the basic knowledge of what each vitamin does, we can create our own.

Listed below are some of the products I use at different times in the year.

Build up to breeding – I use Quiko’s, Living World and Nekton products, which helps promote fertilization. This is fed all throughout the breeding season.

Be sure to read “Crested Canary How-To Guide – Feeding-General Management” for product links.

Throughout the molt, my show team is fed the above with a little-added spirulina (a type of seaweed/algae). This product greatly enhances color but watch out – what is not absorbed by the birds is passed out in the droppings!

I have tried calcium supplements from both Vydex and the Birdcare Company. I also sampled both company’s products to increase the protein content in the soft food prior to breeding. The latter I still don’t understand and plant protein is not complete anyway. I found all the above detrimental to my canaries breeding activities.

So in a nutshell, birds will breed but with a little help you could breed more, healthier, quality young or save that potential champion. It is only a hobby but has a go with the powders, read all the info and make your own decision. I think you will be amazed with the results.

Q: I have tried vitamins in my birds diets but it made them loose?
A: Some birds will not have the ability to use the vitamin supplement as effective as others i.e. their body is just passing most of it through and expelling it in the droppings. Some vitamin groups B and C are water soluble, so the bird will excrete what is not used. The remaining vitamin groups are stored and used when required. Vitamin B and C must be fed on a regular basis. Try a lower dose than you are feeding and see if this helps.

 

Looking for a complete how-to guide? Be sure to read Common Canary Breeding Problems, Concerns and Care

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