TRAINING YOUNG BORDERS.
By Malcolm Barnett
Mid-August is now approaching and the show season is 6 weeks away. There has been some good advice on the Convention web-site regarding moving our birds through the moult. So I thought I would give you a few of my views regarding training young Borders.
I try to house my youngsters 2 per cage. I feel that they come on better in pairs and only cage in singles if feather plucking starts.They will try to chew end of tail and wing feathers. I dip feathers in hot water and straighten them out, at this time I have only one perch per cage at a low level. This helps prevent stiff claw and makes it easier to train the youngsters. When the young borders are eight weeks old I hang the show cage onto the stock cage. I leave them on all day for about 3 days, I remove all the show cages at night.After the first 3 days the bird should be familiar to going in and out of the show cages. From now onwards I only put the show cages on for 1 hour a day. If you leave the show cage on all day, birds can become cage lazy and not show their best potential at shows. It’s better to handle the cages more. Put them onto a judging stand or table for a few minutes at first, increasing the time left as the birds become more familiar. I carry on training my young birds even though they are moulting, but patience and careful handling creates well trained youngsters which will perform for you on the stage.
In mid-September I remove the single perch and put two perches at the normal level. I feed soft food every day until late September, then feed on alternate days until mid-October when I stop feeding soft food and not offer soft food until I start conditioning the birds at Christmas.
The light in the bird room at present is 6am – 8pm. This I will decrease each week, no sudden changes because for the birds it needs to be as natural a change as possible. Sudden changes in the light can cause problems. My bird room is very light and the lights are on all day. This creates a pleasant environment both for my own pleasure and for the birds as bright long days allow the youngsters extra feeding time.All young livestock need to be encouraged to grow.
I believe that keeping the bird room dark to encourage the birds to moult quickly is an old wives tale. Good varied feeding and vitamins are important at this time of year. But bear in mind offering too many vitamins can result in poor colour. 2-3 days a week is adequate.
When my young birds are 8 weeks old I give them a 5 day course of CoxiPlus to prevent the birds going light.
Two years ago I tried an alternative to my usual routine, I turned the lights off when the last youngsters left the nest. This proved to be of no advantage what so ever. On dull days the birds sat on the perches looking lethargic, so I have reverted back to what has been successful for me for many years.
Show Cage Training
By John Furley
When you start taking birds out and putting them into show cages you know you are getting close to, in my opinion, the best part of the year “The Show Season”.
I start training my young birds when their tails have grown fully .I hang on the training cages in the morning before I go to work and take them off again when I come home. I do this for a couple of weeks so the birds get used to going in and out of the show cage. Once they are used to this I take them and put them on a shelf at the window. I will handle and work them as much as possible in order to get them as steady as possible making sure you do not over do it and make them too steady. We want them to move between the perches, that is what we are looking for, a bird that moves well and shows itself. My main time for training my birds is at the weekends. The more handling they get the better, so take them out as much as possible. I keep putting birds into show cages right through the moult. I just would not have the time to do it if I waited until they finish their moult.
When I have them at the stage that I am putting them on the shelf, I put a divide in between each show cage and the birds will stretch up to see what is on the other side .I than put a small amount of honey on top wire of the show cage and as soon as they find it they will pick at this all day. At this stage the honey takes over from the divide and they are than removed. I am a firm believer in good show birds are breed by that I mean it is in the breeding of the bird that they move well and show themselves. All we are really doing in training them is getting them used to an all wire cage and being handled and worked. It is advisable to train all the young birds because you just do not know which are going come through to be worth putting in a show.
Getting birds to drink from a show cage drinker can be a bit of an ordeal at times. I use condition seed in my drinkers from the start until a couple of weeks before the first show. I find this gets them used to putting their heads out on a regular basis. So a week or two before the first show I remove the condition seed from the drinkers. I put the birds out on the shelf and leave them for an hour or so .Than I fill the drinkers with water and check to make sure they all have a good drink. This, I feel is very important to make sure your birds are drinking before you send them to a show. You do see birds at shows that don’t drink, especially at two day shows.
I find that good birds need little training it seems to be just part of their nature. It is a matter of getting them used to new environments.