Breeding Season F.A.Q.'s

If you have a question on breeding Border Canaries send it by e-mail to borderconventionsecretary@gmail.com and we will endeavour to answer.

Q.3 Why are my hens only laying small clutches, mainly threes?
Eight of my 12 hens, both flighted and unflighted, they are all sitting

A. Laying eggs for any hen is quite a challenge, having used a lot of nutrients moulting a few months ago she has to replace all the required trace elements and vitamins over the winter periods before she is in enough condition to lay a clutch of eggs.
Some trace elements and vitamins are not stored, others are only stored for a short time! so we need to provide a wide range of foods just as a precaution.
We are told that the seed these days have less of the trace elements they had years ago, farmers just use nitrates on the same ground year after year getting outstanding results, but the nutrients from the soil are exhausted!
So we find it’s important to build our birds up of all nutrients from the beginning of the year.
Our breeding program starts from the beginning of December, they get nothing in the way of extras for a month!
Looking at nature, wild birds go through a hard time, it’s when nature wakes up at the end of our winter that triggers a switch in the birds hormones, and with the daylight increasing they come into breeding condition.
So from the beginning of the year we gradually start to increase their diet with vitamins and minerals, also a small amount of protein.
A hen will only lay the amount of eggs that she feels able to look after when they hatch into chicks.
Later as the season progresses she will have had more variety of foods she will probably lay more eggs the next round.
Some families of birds do lay more or less eggs!
Breeders do forget that inbreeding and line breeding not only doubles up on good and bad points also other can have family side effects like laying more or less eggs!
The fact that all your birds laid the similar amount of eggs the first round does point to nutrients

Phil Warne

A.The reason I believe that hens lay small clutches is that they don’t have enough condition to lay a full clutch and don’t have enough reserves in their body ,so they only lay one ,two or three eggs . Small clutches can also be laid by unflighted young hens who are not fully in condition and also hens that are to old .
I would also look at calcium levels as these may be low .
I would also look at their diet and up the protein levels when hens are laying.
If things don’t improve as the season goes on a better conditioning programme will be needed to resolve the problem.

Ronnie Sillitoe

Q.2 I have hens that are squatting for the cocks, the cocks are the treading the hens then lay four eggs and some five
The hens are then only sitting for one, two or three days and then leave the nest of eggs, so that when I get home from work all the eggs are cold and the hen will not go near the nest or eggs
This as happened to me 8 out of 14 nests

What am I doing wrong?
Are the eggs any good if I can move them?

A.At the start of the breeding season this can happen as the hens are probably to fit , getting the conditioning right is a fine balance from being too fit to just right where the hens will sit the eggs full term .
It maybe also be the hen wants the cock in the cage with her while she incubates, if the cock has been left in then she is too fit so stop all conditioning and give the hen 50/50 mixed and plain canary seed and only water also remove the nest for a few days then return it and she will build again and hopefully this time she will incubate fully.
As regards the eggs that were with the hens if they have not been incubated for too long you can try putting them with another hen but if she has got the eggs started developing they will be no good , I hope this helps
Ronnie Sillitoe

A. Unfortunately I haven’t an answer for this problem, I’m starting to think it might be a gene tic problem!
This for me started 25 years ago, and with the help of a very enthusiastic doctor from Belgium we tried every method to find a cure! We covered all types of minerals vitamins etc then worked on light atmosphere and so on, still no cure.
So many fanciers had very promising ideas but they didn’t work with our bloodline!

The only consolation is that it very much improves the second round.

Another friend of mine who didn’t have a problem, and had all my blood! Contacted me to say that all his birds all deserted! I ask what he had done differently? He said his friend was suddenly taken to hospital so he volunteered to look after his birds for him, in doing so he had to put all his borders in one shed! I then found out he normally kept cocks and hens in separate sheds! He then took a cock into the breeding shed it mated and then it was returned! He bred so many chicks each year he had to pack up each year by the end of May!

I have to run two incubators to solve my problem!
But again it will get better,
Phil Warne

Q.1. My cock birds sing their heads off in the stock cages, but when I put them with a hen they go silent (not singing the hens down). Are they not in full breeding condition, and if so what can I do to get them fitter?

A. I have always been convinced that birds are able to see a type of glow or colour change that we are not able to detect!

This has now been proved and a lot of research is now being done!Your cocks probably are fit but they are not getting the response or glow that they want from the hens because they are not quite ready.

I had always thought because we had a lot of clear eggs in first round it was the cocks are not producing fertile sperm, so we checked our cocks sperm count in February and I watched a very active sperm in full action under the microscope, yet six weeks later the hens laid infertile eggs, so it’s the hens we have to be patient with.

They need at least two weeks of more than 12 hrs daylight to trigger a hormone that helps her produce fertile eggs
we are told.
Phil Warne

A. The cock birds are probably not yet in full condition and sense the hens are not yet ready either , continue with the conditioning programme offering vitamins , and wheat germ on condition seed or soft food check the daylight hours and when they are at 14 hours things should move forward. It could also be inexperienced cocks not yet knowing what to do.
Ronnie Sillitoe