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Copyright 1999-2010
Flying Gems Aviary
Mr. Rebates

PaperBackSwap.com - Our online book club offers free books when you swap, trade, or exchange your used books with other book club members for free.

 

     You can find the products I use on my Recommendations Page.

 

This page is about how I breed my lovies.  Every breeder is going to have their own methods and opinions.  This page is not meant to be a guide but to tell you how I breed my lovies.  

     Things that you want to think about before you start.  There is no real profit in breeding birds.  Most people breed birds for the love of the birds. You must also think about the time that you have available to work with the birds.

Take a Tour


Time
 
Space Nest Boxes Humidity Bedding

Diet
 
Breeders Together Breeding Babies

Time

     Time is very important, depending on how much you have depends on the way you are going to raise the chicks.  If you have plenty you might want to think about hand feeding the chicks from 2 weeks on.  If time is a problem, you might want to think about raising parent raised chicks.  A thing to remember is that not all birds are good parents and that you might have to raise that chick.  Raising a chick includes every couple of hour feedings and waking in the night to feed.  This is not for days but weeks.

 

Space

     Space also plays a big role in breeding.  Depending on the size of your area will depend on how many you can breed and your cage size.  My breeding cages are 32"H x 16"W x 14" D.  They have a slide out tray for droppings and 4 sliding food doors and 2 large doors.   I also recommend a cage that has sliding up and down doors.  My hens can become very protective of the cage when in breeding season.  Sliding doors that you can remove the food and water with out sticking your hand in is a finger saver.  You want a large enough cage to fit the 2 adults and a cage that is able to handle a nest box.  
Many people have asked where I get my breeder cages from check out our Recommendations Page.

This is one of my breeder cage set ups.  It has 6 doors.  1 door is the opening to the nest box, 3 doors are the food and water doors, and 1 door is the entrance.  I love that the doors slide up and down and that I can slide the door down and I am able to take care of the nest box.    Breeder Cage
This is my breeder set up.  This is three pairs. 

Nest Boxes

     Nest boxes come in different sizes and materials.  When thinking about the cage make sure you think about the nest box you are using.  Wooden nest boxes are very heavy depending on the wood.  I use a parakeet/ lovebird nest box made by Hagen.  You can find them at That Pet Place.  It is a plastic nest box that clips on to the side of the cage.  It comes apart and is easily cleaned.  There is a sliding door on the side that also has a window.  I used the wooden ones once and found that they become soiled very easily and that cleaning them was not that easy.  With the plastic I could soak it and have it cleaned in no time and have the box back to the parents.  This is just my preference.  The nest box is smaller than the normal wooden but I found that I did not have any problems with either chicks or parents.  The biggest clutch I had was 5 and both parents and all babies fit just fine.  There is vents on the opposite side of the box to help with air circulation.

  Nest box Carton
  Diagram of the nest box
  Nest box
This is the side of the nest box. It has a black plastic piece that covers a clear plastic piece.  You can lift the black piece to view the birds through the clear plastic. side of the nest box

Humidity

     Some breeders recommend putting a small bowl of water in the nest box for humidity problems.  Depending on the temp and climate where you live you will need to provide your birds with the right humidity.  This will also have an influence on box size.  My hens bathe regularly and bring the moisture back to the nest.  Proper humidity helps with hatching.  The wrong humidity and the chicks will not be able to hatch out of the eggs.  It is recommend to have a humidity between 50%-80% for proper egg development and hatching

Digital Humidity Reader
Bedding

    Now that you have your cage and you have picked your nest box, next comes the proper nesting material.  You do not want to use cedar shavings.  You can use many types of bedding material.  Some very popular ones are:

Pine Shavings Can be coarse, but cheap  
Oatmeal Very soft, can turn moldy if soiled and not changed regularly. 
Care Fresh Bedding Very soft, can turn moldy if soiled and not changed regularly
Natural Shred Very soft and cheap.  These would be items that you would give your birds and that are natural.
Safe Tree Bark
Safe Tree Branches
Coconut hairs
Shredables
Palm Fronds
Millet stems
I use this litter in my nest boxes.

I do not clean the box till the babies are at least a week old.  The babies droppings are in a nice little package that the hen can pick up and drop outside the nest box.

I find that the nest box starts to get dirty around the first week. After about a week the droppings start to lose their package look.

At about 5 weeks the nest needs to be changed every two days. 

litter
Diet

    One important thing to think about before you start breeding is the diet of your birds.  When I start to breed my birds I start to mix in vitamins into their foods.  When the babies come I also give them a cup of  Nestling seed.  I also give them millet every day, I found that the millet was easier for them to feed their babies and when the babies left the nest box the first thing that they would eat would be the millet.  It is also a good idea to have a cuttle bone and mineral blocks in the cage.


We now feed Kaylor of Colorado Rainforest Exotic seed

We buy Cockatiel and Conure/ Lovebird and blend together


White proso millet, canary seed, red proso millet, oat groats, buckwheat, medium black sunflower, carrots, raisins, apple, papaya, split green peas, safflower oil, puffed corn, safflower seed, rolled corn, pumpkin seed, shelled peanuts, vitamins, rotini pasta, sesame bread nubbins, puffed wheat, bay leaves, banana chips, whole wheat, small red beans, rolled barley, chili peppers.
Nutraberries
Zupreem pelleted diet  
Millet seed

 

 

 

 

 

Mineral blocks

My birds prefer this brand over all other brands.

 

Breeders

    We have talked about getting the environment right now lets talk about picking the birds.  You need both a male and female.  One of the easiest ways to have a true pair is to purchase one.

There are several different ways to find out if you have a male and female.    

Observation This is watching your birds and observing their actions.  This is not 100%.  Males and females will display both. 

Males:  Naughty things to toys, hoping on top of another bird, regurgitating their food for another bird, you or a favorite toy

Females:  Spreading wings and bowing, Shredding paper and tucking into their tail feathers, laying eggs (100%).

DNA Sexed This is done by either blood or feathers.  You take a sample and send into the lab.

I use Avian Biotech  they can use both feather and blood.

Surgical Sexed 100%  This is a surgical procedure and must be done by a trained professional.

They will Tattoo the bird under their wing to identify the sex.

Female will be Tattooed under the left wing
Male will  be Tattooed under the right wing

Proven They have bred in the past and have produced eggs or chicks.  Many first time breeders might want to start with a proven pair.  It will save you time and money.  You defiantly know you have a pair and that in the past have successful raised chicks.
    You want to pick healthy big birds.  You want your hen to be at least a year old and the male to be at least 10 months.  When you pick your birds do not look at colors look at the size of the bird and the quality of the feathers.  Is the birds eyes bright?  Does he respond when talked too?  These are all things you should look for.  

     The best way to find a healthy bird is to buy from a breeder and not a pet store.  Not all pet stores are bad but most breeders breed for quality.

     When you bring your birds home please separate them from each other unless bought together.  Quarantine them for at least 1 month checking them everyday for signs of sickness.  3 months is highly recommended for quarantine.  

Together

     When you first start to introduce your birds I would recommend putting them in cages side by side.  Watch them for any type of aggression.  Make sure that they can not hurt each other through the bars.  It is a very good sign when they hang near each other in the cage.  You might want to put perches up near the other cage so that they can sit near each other.

     I also like to let one out and let them play outside the cage.  I find that when they stay near the others cage that this is a good time to introduce them.  I always introduce my birds out side the cage so that one can not corner the other.  I also pick a neutral cage for them to live in and put new toys in the cage that neither have seen.

     Once they have been introduced give them at least a month to settle and get to know each other before introducing a nest box.

     Depending on the age of the birds and temperament this whole process might take anywhere from 2-4 months or more.

     If the birds become aggressive in the cage separate and start all over.  Birds will kill each other, so watch carefully.

Breeding

     Now that we have everything set and the birds are ready, it is time to wait.  We must wait on the birds to breed.  Lighting, temperature, and seasons can play a big part in birds that want to breed.  

     Watch for breeding activity.  The female will tuck paper in her tail and take it down to the nest box.  I find that my female during breeding season will spend most of her time in the nest box and that the male will sit on the outside of the box.  Watch for copulation, the female will spread her wings out and lift her tail and the male will mount her.  They might do this several times a day for a couple of days.

     The first egg is usually laid a couple of days after the first copulation.  The hen will usually not start to incubate the eggs till the second egg is laid.  A usually clutch is between 3-6 eggs.  Eggs vary in size and shape.

     Once incubation has started the hen will only leave the nest box to eat and drink.  She spends most of her time incubating.  Try not to disturb her too much or she will abandon the nest.  Pick one time of the day and every time you go to look in the box give a slight tap so that she knows you are coming, after a while she will associate the tap with a peek. 

     You may candle the eggs gently after a week of incubation.  Candling is when you take an egg and hold it over a light source looking for signs of fertility.  At this early stage you will see a red dot with spider webs.  I use a flash light.  Do not toss non fertile eggs, they are essential in the proper development of the chicks.

Candling an egg.

In the picture you will see a red ring with spider webs.  This is the very beginning of a baby.  This egg still has 3 weeks to go before hatching.

Thank You Santa (02')  This is an Egg Buddy (Avian Biotech).  Now instead of Candling I can place eggs into this machine and get the heart Beat and movement of the chick.  This is very helpful because when the chicks reach a certain time in their development you can no longer see into the egg.  This machine will help tell if the chick is still alive.
The eggs will start to hatch in 21-23 days.  And every other day after that an egg will hatch.  This is not exact.  Just because a baby did not hatch when you thought is was going to, do not toss it.  Leave it for a couple of days.  Eggs will usually not go bad till they are broken.   
Babies with eggsOther baby pictures 

 

     When I think a baby was suppose to be born, I will pick up the egg and place it against my ear.  I tap gently and listen for any chirping. 
Light Chirping I am Ok I will be out soon
Medium Chirping I will be out soon
Loud Chirping Today is the day
Extreme Constant Loud Chirping I need Help! Get me out!
     Only assist in hatching if you believe the baby is in total distress.  Egg tooth's can break off as the chick is trying to get out and that is when you need to help.  Though only help if you hear the distress chirping.  You want to carefully and slowly make a hole where the air sac is and gently peel the egg away.  Immediately return the baby to the hen.
Babies

     Now you have your babies.  In the first couple of weeks leave everything to the hen.  She will feed them and take care of them.  You want to band them starting at 1 week.  I use to band at 1 1/2 -2 weeks but depending on the size of the chick is how the band will fit.  So I start early and then one day it will fit.

     I always make sure that my birds have plenty of food at this time and this is also a good time to introduce fruits and veggies and other foods.  Birds that have chicks tend to try new foods.

     If you want to hand feed the babies, you will pull them at 2 weeks.  See how we Hand feed our Babies.

Setting up to hand feed

 If you choose to leave the babies with the parents, make sure that at least once a day for 10 minutes you play with the babies.   

     When I parent raised my babies:  I separate my babies from their parents as soon as I see them eating on their own and spending at least 85% of their time outside the nest box.  Make sure you take the nest box down after removing the babies or your pair will breed again.  You should give your pair at least a 4 month rest.

Take a Tour

We do not allow visitors into our home.  We feel that our birds would be put at a great risk.  We would like to decrease the chances of our birds getting any diseases that may be brought in on visitors clothing.

First walk into the room and look to the left.

Breeding cages set up for Peachfaced and Black-Cheeked lovebirds

Peachfaced Lovebird Poster

Available from ALBS
Soot
If you know where to find more prints like this, let me know.
Resting and Bonding Cages
The Whole room
Lovebirds 2: Masked, Fischers, Black-Cheeked, Red Faced, Abbys, Nyasa, Madagascar
Ringnecked Parakeets
Jake and Ticho in the first cage.

Austin and Zipper in the second cage

 

As you turn to leave the room
On your way out
If you know where to find more prints like this, let me know.
If you know where to find more prints like this, let me know.
If you know where to find more prints like this, let me know.