Get an Excellent Breeding Season;
By Dr.Peter Coutteel courtesy of Mercasystems
Let us begin!
Hi, I'm Peter Coutteel and in this article, I'm going to talk to you about hidden diseases in healthy birds, specifically, I'm going to teach you the 5 steps you must complete to detect these hidden diseases that, if not detected in time, can appear during breeding and ruin it completely.
As a bird veterinarian, I would like to demonstrate the importance of good preparation of the breeding season and highlight several aspects of this to enjoy our hobby with enthusiasm.
We can say that most breeders have birds that look perfectly healthy. Still, they can be carriers of some disease, e.g., atoxoplasmosis, circovirus, polyomavirus, worms. Even a little coccidiosis or trichomonas can sometimes be present without any apparent symptoms.
Birds become more susceptible to diseases; the further we go away from the original species by allowing or looking for specific mutations (colour, posture, ...). We all realise that life and survival in nature should be in harmony with all kinds of attackers from the environment and that the immune system ensures that this life is possible.
Breeding requires knowledge of the genetic background and possible diseases because of this increased sensitivity. Therefore, we must focus more on hygiene, good nutrition without deficiencies, medical supervision, and some products to help.
Physical exam by opening the wing and blowing the belly
5 steps to detect hidden diseases in apparently healthy birds
The check-up of breeding birds is done 6 to 8 weeks before the start of the breeding. For this, it is essential to use your bookkeeping unless you have a good memory.
Take the following steps to detect hidden diseases:
1.Do a complete physical examination yourself by first observing the future breeding birds from a distance and then taking each individually in your hand.
2.Open the wing and look for parasites.
3.Belly blowing to assess condition: the presence of fat, the quantity of muscle. Red bowel loops are not regular and indicate an underlying problem
4.Look at the faeces: colour, quantity, digestion, urates.
5.Make an appointment with a specialised veterinarian with a couple of representative birds placed in a cage with a smooth paper at the bottom. In this way, it is easy to take a faecal sample for microscopical evaluation. It's crucial to detect oocysts (coccidiosis), worm eggs (roundworm, hairworm, tapeworm, windpipe worm), flagellates and mega bacteria. With a cotton swab, soaked in warm physiological water, the vet can take another sample from the throat/crop to detect trichomonas' possible presence.
Microscopic examination of a fresh sample. Worm eggs. Oocysts from coccidiosis.
If illnesses are diagnosed during these steps, we will immediately proceed to their specific treatment.
Only in this way can we be sure that our breeders are not carriers of hidden diseases and we will not be surprised during breeding.
What about preventative treatments?
We will start with a very important rule, which although it seems very simple, it is vital:
We must always evaluate the problems we had last season and learn from them to avoid a repeat this year.
This information is vital and we must keep it in mind and learn from it so as not to repeat the same problems this year.
If last season we had problems with coccidiosis, atoxoplasmosis, respiratory problems ... we must do a preventive treatment in order to guarantee that our reproducers are not carriers of these diseases.
•Preventive treatment is often advised for canaries and European finches to control coccidiosis and atoxoplasmosis. It consists of the use of coccidiosis drugs such ESB). Just click on the following button to get the detailed treatment in pdf format.
Looking for the perfect Breeding Condition
The transition from resting to breeding period is vital for building up the right reserves in a bird. Good nutrition is essential but also knowledge of the light and manipulating daylight length can be necessary for "artificial breeding".
Nutrition during breeding period
During the moulting and resting phase in winter, birds eat differently and should do so in a shorter period. The provided seed mix, called "a moulting mixture" is more one-sided than a breeding mixture. The administration of some extras and soft food is also limited in quantity and sometimes only once a week.
We now know that all seed mixtures are deficient in several essential nutrients, but the birds do not need this during the resting phase. The egg food, on the other hand, contains some high-quality proteins that do have the essential amino acids.
A possible way to achieve a perfect breeding condition and still provide the necessary vitamins, amino acids and trace elements in this transitional period is to administer these supplements weekly in the drinking water
My years of experience working with birds has led me to design a method with supplements that I call the Weekend Trio, which aims to optimally prepare the breeders for breeding.
This method is:
•Easy to put into practice
That it should only be applied on weekends during the 6 weeks prior to the coupling of the couples.
Click on the following link to download the PDF of the Weekend Trio method.
This is the method I have been recommending for years, with excellent results.
Try it and share your results with us.
They are sure to be excellent!
Birds' sexual organs become very small in size during the resting period and produce almost no sex hormones. When the daylight length increases, the more significant activity will occur. Many stimuli enter the brain that gently activates sexual hormones.
By extending the daylight length, hormonal releasing factors will stimulate the ovary's development in the female with various follicles, the future eggs. In the man, the testicles will grow in volume, and the production of testosterone will start. In this way, fertile semen enters the vas deferens.
FEMALE bird: the triangular organ in the centre is the ovary It contains thousands of follicles ready to develop. ADer possible fertilisation, the egg further develops in the uterus tube before laying.
In MALE birds, the genitals are stmulated at a specific time and start growing enormously in volume. At that moment the producton of sperm begins to accumulate in the vas deferens.
This is why managing light properly will provide us with a very powerful tool.
In a manipulated breeding, the light's extension is sometimes controlled with a timer and dimmer to offer more light day by day. In this way, the daylight length can be built up more quickly to the desired 14 to 15 hours of light.
Some breeders prefer to provide the needed daylight length suddenly. Be careful because in many cases the female bird is responding quicker than the male and starts already laying eggs before the male has done a copulation with fertile sperm.
Proper light in the breeding room
When using fluorescent tube lamps, it is best to choose daylight lamps with a UV spectrum (Philips TLD 965, Arcadia bird lamp), which give an average of 5.500 Kelvin light temperature. To avoid flickering of these lamps, integrate a High-Frequency ballast. It is a good idea to replace the lamps annually as the buffer gases' output is limited.
The new trend is the use of LED lamps, sometimes as general lighting, sometimes as strips individually in the breeding cages. These lamps have a much longer lifespan, consume much less energy and do not flicker. However, one must pay attention to strength!! Many cages are too brightly lit, which can become a particular stress factor.
We are going to discuss the fertilization of eggs and I will give you a series of tips to improve the percentage of fertilized eggs.
The first round is crucial because our breeding birds have been able to build up a significant reserve. Egg production in birds is very intensive and takes place in only one day. A new egg can be laid every 24 hours, and it must contain everything for the germ to grow into a full new life.
Tips to improve the percentage of fertilization
In addition to a complete diet and a correct light regime, some other factors are essential to achieve adequate fertilisation:
•The couple must accept each other
•Minimum age is required to be fertile.
•In old birds, there are often scales on the leg that can bother their movement. Use an ointment, such as BIRD PEDICURE, and give a gentle massage a few times so that these scales dissolve.
•Avoid loose perches and nails that are too long
•.In heavily feathered birds, trimming of the feathers around the eyes and vent is sometimes recommended.
•If individual breeding birds are too fat, mating will not go well because the male "tap" cannot find its correct position. One can use VIGO-CARNITINE to counteract fattening and thus increase the chance of conception.
Breeding room and special needs
Before introducing birds into the breeding cages, thoroughly brush and disinfect everything with an effective agent that is non-toxic, non-corrosive and quite virus-killing. Time to fumigate, a dash of Dettol and bleach are over; nowadays, there are better means to disinfect such as Virkon S or F10.
Only after disinfection, the entire environment can be treated with a spray against annoying parasites, such as the red mite. Also, all perches, nests and nesting material can be treated separately before being used.
During the breeding season, control of the red mite infestation can even present through drinking water. This is why the use of products such as Total Disinfection Solution is very useful, which prevent the proliferation of bacteria, fungi and viruses through drinking water.
Male birds that are too fat have more difficulties to fertilise. Old birds often have pronounced scales on the legs.
Control of diseases during the breeding
If all goes well, no medicines should be used during breeding, and we focus on good care and hygiene.
Breeders who have had severe losses in the past year due to a particular disease, such as atoxoplasmosis, should arm themselves against it and offer protection so the next generation is not affected by it.
This control was previously done using ESB Plus. Today, there are good results with GROG New based on diclazuril, which is a coccidiosis killer.
And despite everything, inexplicably, something can still pop up, no matter how well we have done our best. Compare it a bit with people who suddenly develop a cold sore, which is an expression of the herpes virus, and this because of "a situation".
We call this situation "a stress factor" and interpret it broadly because it is not always clear. Bookkeeping, analysis, good observation, correct interpretation by the bird veterinarian and quick reaction are the message.