Pre-Breeding preparation is critical in ensuring birds are in peak condition. This can be achieved by feeding good quality seed plus other foods such as carrots, silver-beet, endive, celery, beetroot, etc. Supplements such as vitamins, proteins and mineral water supplements can be included in their diet. Precautionary treatments for worms, lice, mites etc will further ensure the birds health ready for the breeding box.
To ensure birds are ready to be paired up look for the condition on both the hen and the cock and don’t try to force them together as this will most likely be unsuccessful in achieving the results you want.
Make sure the nest box is available immediately and spray with Avian Insect Liquidator below the concave and in nest box to treat for mites, lice. Etc.
Feed should include seed, grit, calcium, protein, etc which all aid the development of egg quality and healthy hatchlings. Use supplements such as water cleanser, vitamins and minerals which should be as natural as possible. Examples include Soluvet D Breeder, Immunity Plus and Aviclens. A regular helping of vegetables should also be included.
Once birds begin to lay you should get an egg every second day. Check the nest box at least once per day and be careful not to handle eggs too often or hatchlings until they are at least 3 to 4 weeks old. Continue to feed adding oats to the diet within two days prior to first egg to hatch. Don’t panic if you get some infertile eggs as this can occur naturally. Replace shavings in the nest box regularly and check to make sure chicks are being fed properly – if not transfer them to a foster mum.
Rings should be placed on chicks between 4 and 10 days. Use millet sprays in the nest box and breeding cage to encourage chicks to eat seed. Ensure they are eating by themselves before weaning them from the parents.
Handling them at 3 -4 weeks will help with their preparation for the show training. Leave chicks in the weaning cage until their first moult.
Finally never be afraid to ask questions. Visit other breeders. Find a mentor. Go to shows. Buy birds from reliable breeders and concentrate on one or two varieties rather than a ‘hotch-potch’ of birds. Read books on keeping and breeding.