Conduct and methods of breeding

Articles on behavior, the constitution of a strain, its improvement, the creation of lineages. Directions and breeding routes.

  • 8 questions to Jan Van Looy, veteran breeder

    1. Jan, why are zebrafinch ?

    We have always had birds at home.
    My father Lucien then started with the raising of zebrafinch and I started with the Glosters. With these canaries, I always managed to sell the best ! With zebrafinch, I had an illumination.
    R. Jef has been my technical adviser, when it comes to exhibitions that have been Gust U .. Gradually the exhibition results have gone up.
    We did not need more stimulating. So I knew a bird, a little bird even, but that fascinated me.

    Money is not the least motivation. If you do for the money, you have to get rid of the good birds and the quality of your stump drops.

    "So I knew a bird, a little bird even, but that fascinated me"

    2. How is a day at home with your zebrafinch ?

    Zebrafinch are scattered all over the house. The breeding room is in the cellar with 100% neon lighting. There is lighting from 9am until 10.30pm, winter and summer. Breeding starts in mid-December until the end of June, then the nests are removed.
    If the morning at the time of the departure to the school, it is still the darkness, the integral care begin from 16h. It takes one hour a day for care. Every day fresh water acidified slightly, necessary to raise good browns! (in my opinion) The 50 show birds. are in the garage, where they are also "trained". The young go to 4 aviaries in the garden. During the exposure period, care is more intensive.

    3. What are the important characteristics to become a top breeder ?

    A breeder at the top is distinguished from others by "the eye of the master". Everyone can raise zebrafinch, everyone can achieve a good level of breeding. Why so few manage to reach the top?
    What does a breeder see and what does a top breeder see in the same bird ? On the internet forums, fans disapprove pictures of birds of other amateurs. And that you have to analyze it. And yet, if you see the birds of these lovers, they are even worse than the bird they commented on. They will exhibit well with their birds. A class farmer finds more positive points in a zebrafinch than a middle class breeder, even though he may be an exellent healer. To him, you can quietly sell the best, after 2 to 3 years he has nothing left.

    "You must have visibility : The overall image, you must be able to see the image and the details" This, you can learn a little but it must be in you at the beginning.
    Another characteristic of a class farmer is that he knows how to calculate the risk of entering into his strain a zebrafinch with a fault, a risk that another will not try.

    Many of these breeders at the top select as soon as weaning young. If these are not yet beautiful in colors and drawings, the defects of form are already present and are without forgiveness. So for years, I have practically already sold my surplus birds to traders.
    Now I enjoy this severe selection: Tails drooping (I'm sick) still barely reach my stam. As an experienced breeder can / is / is prepared to trade the best birds. A good one for a good one ! I think of several very good breeders with whom I could exchange.

    4. What are, in increasing order of importance, your selection criteria for mating ?

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  • Importance and management of light

    In countries with mild climatic conditions and ideal for our birds it allows to raise them outside or with sufficient lightening of a room thanks to the present sun.
    It is different in other countries and depending on when the breeder decides to mate his birds. Sometimes to coincide this period with holidays or others.

    In this article, I describe solutions that I know to overcome the lack of light and give the right conditions to our birds following the different periods of their lives in our breeding rooms.

    1. What brings the lighting

    Appropriate artificial lighting can ensure the activation of vitamin D3 essential for the growth of young zebrafinch.
    Vitamin D3 deficiency can result in a beak, malformed or soft paw. Conversely, do not go into excess vitamin supplement administration which will produce even more harmful effects.

    2. What we are looking for by managing the light

    This allows to be able to raise to the unsuitable seasons to recreate the ideal conditions. Simulate in some ways at best what will stimulate the birds to reproduction or rest.
    In winter, prolonging the luminosity may also allow more time for the birds to feed in order to withstand low temperatures (I think of the case of an outdoor breeding).
    Conversely decreasing the length of the day can help calm a bird. For example a male too excited that destroys the nest to start a new egg. Give him a break in a dark place, may temper him before another attempt.
    Changes in brightness duration between 2 periods must be progressive. A sudden change can cause false moult or unusual behavior. A change of 5 minutes a day is appropriate. You will notice as and when changes in behavior, excitations during the increase of this duration.

    3. Solutions for managing light

    a) Cycle with 2 programmers and 1 night light

    The most economical will be to use 2 programmers (mechanical or electronic) and a night light.

    Programmateur mecanique Programmateur electronique

    The mechanical programmers get out of control in time, so I recommend the more precise electronic model.

    So let's start on a cycle set up with this material. 1 managing the neon (s) (programmer n ° 1), 1 managing the light bulb (s) (programmer n ° 2) :

    - The programmer n ° 1 will manage the lighting of the neon or neons during the day either for complement of light or simulation of the day if you raise in a room not benefiting from opening on the outside.
    - The programmer n ° 2 connected to (ux) bulb (s) will have for role to warn of the extinction of the neon in the evening and their lighting in the morning. It will choose low power bulbs adapted to the size of your breeding room and still allowing the birds to see enough to set up for the night.
    - Finally, you can add a night light for night light to reduce bird stress.

    Cycle avec 2 programmateurs et 1 veilleuse a

    So maintaining a regular cycle will provide important benchmarks that will help ensure the serenity of your birds.

    On the other hand, good management of quality lighting is not enough on its own. For example, for an optimum preparation for mating the extension of the day should be accompanied by a suitable diet (richer in vitamin etc.) and baths.

    b) Cycle with a dimmer

    2nd solution more expensive but probably more reliable and comfortable to install a dimmer.

    I advise you to choose a model retaining the settings (with an internal battery) and restart automatically by resuming the settings that you have carefully set up after a possible power failure.
    The principles of light management remain the same as in the first solution described below.

    Taking for example the dimmer that I own Besser Elektronik brand Gold Star model, you will have several interesting options :

    - All times are independently adjustable
    - Intensity of the lamps of the dawn and the bedtime is adjustable
    - Possibility of extension or decrease of the day in automatic
    - Lighting lighting for night inspection
    - Light sensor (do not use, for my part, to avoid the neon blinking)

    Here is an example of editing :

    Principe de montage eclairage piece d elevage

    Installing your dimmer near the entrance / exit of your room will also be convenient.

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  • Tip : How to keep the eggs gathered in the nest

    Nid plastique

    If you also use this type of nest this tip can serve you.

    Last year, a male regularly messed up the materials of his nest or the abductees. In order to certainly start another brood.
    The bottom of these nests being flat, the eggs were scattered and therefore a risk of not being brooded was very possible.

    So I looked for a solution to avoid this inconvenience. By trying several type of concave nest bottom, among others those in rope and coir, incorporating them into the plastic nest. This male continued despite all to want to remove these funds !

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  • Weaning of young zebra finch

    Le sevrage des jeunes diamants mandarins 1

    The young zebra finch are now about three weeks old; seeking to escape the lack of space, the oppressive warmth of the brood or just want to discover the world, they will start to come out of the nest.
    This exit is not final, because they return there again for 2 to 3 days, but less and less often. Sometimes, when the young start to grow, one of them starts to fly out of the nest a few days before the planned release date, you can leave it out of the nest if conditions permit, the parents will continue to to occupy it. If you need to put it back in the nest, place it softly preferably in the evening and keep your hand in front of the flight hole, until all the young people have found their calm.
    One morning when all the young people are out, the nest will be removed for cleaning before a new laying or in preparation for the next breeding season. The nest will be given when young people are weaned and therefore separated from their parents.

    It is common for parents to start again before the end of weaning. There are no established rules on the issue: Sometimes parents start brooding while caring for young people out of the nest, sometimes they will pluck young people and stop taking care of them. To the breeder to be attentive in his observations. At home, I prefer to remove the eggs laid on the floor to give them to another couple or to give them back to the couple after weaning when the timing allows.

    The weaning period corresponds to the period when the young bird will learn to feed itself and thus acquire its autonomy. It is therefore a delicate period where it will be important to observe the birds so as not to make the mistake of separating a youngster too early from his parents. Generally a young mandarin diamond will be weaned around 35 days of life. Once again, observation is required; and no need to take risks, it's a matter of a few days.

    The young chicks were fed by their parents who regurgitated the seeds and / or the mash that is distributed daily at this time. Now they have to learn how to shell the seeds and eat them alone. The faster the chicks will be autonomous, the sooner they will be weaned.
    The parents reduce the regurgitation of the mash by themselves.
    But if young people feel the need they will go for it alone is easy access food that will serve as a transition. In addition, some breeders offer germinated seeds to young birds: These "soft" seeds are easy to dissect and to ingest. For my part, right out of the nest, the birds have permanent provision of millet cluster (red and yellow that I alternate each day).

    For the very first days you can facilitate the access of young people to the food by using small cups not too high, lids jars, small plate, ramekin placed in the bottom of the cage. Some breeders (of which I am a part) do not change anything and keep the traditional feeders in place without observing any particular problems.

    During the period of weaning, parents will continue to feed the young, but less and less often. Be careful before separating young people from parents, to ensure that they eat well alone because a young kidnapped prematurely may be unwelcome if you put it with his parents, especially if they have started a spawn.
    When you remove your young, it may be wise to place them in an aviary with other young people already weaned, or an old male, an old female so that they finish learning to feed themselves. Finally, some young people are later than others, so be careful.
    At home for lack of room for the construction of aviaries, I use large cages 1m20 for weaning young is just as effective provided to put about fifteen young cages. For food, always millet for a couple of days at least, and the "millet" (the millet that falls clusters that I recover from a local producer). For years I gave the young weaned pate but it was a mistake because some young people prefer this food easy to eat and the stop of the pie worried some).

    During this same period, the bill of the young is colored and its adult plumage is put in place. The beak clears from the base to the tip to become pink, then will be colored coral red for males and pinkish red for females.
    The characteristic plumage of the males appears (blanks, cheeks, throat, breastplate and chest bar). Some very intensive birds in color already have the drawings right out of the nest :

    Le sevrage des jeunes diamants mandarins 2

    By the third month of their lives young people have their final plumage.

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  • Banding his zebra finch

    1. Interests in ringing your zebra finch

    This will allow you to know their year of birth and identify them, which will be essential to establish a genealogy and monitoring of your breeding. Each ring will be the identity card of each of your zebra finch.

    In addition, if you want to compete with one of your zebra finch, only those who are banded can participate. Ringed zebra finch of the current and previous year may qualify for a rally.

    Then, a breeder will always prefer to buy a ringed zebra finch on which he can be assured of the year of birth of this one and be informed of its origin.

    2. How and when to pack chicks

    Video that illustrates how to manipulate the chick to ring him:

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  • How to create a strain according to its objectives

    1. Set your goals

    First of all, I think it is necessary to target and define its objectives : Choice of mutations to select, study of the characteristics of or mutation(s) chosen, knowledge of the type of genetic transmission, create a network of breeder succeptible to work on similar goals to have topics of departures. Breeders will have to trust your project and your insight. They will also be concerned about the future of their ceded birds.
    Conditions sinequanone to then begin the construction of a strain and begin a selection to tend towards your objects defined as any project.

    Finally, define your idea of the bird you want to get. Not to mention the characteristics of the mutation or combination in which you project yourself.

    2. Tips for getting started

    Choose the starting zebra finch with as few defects as possible. Make sure you do not start with birds with an uncertain genotype.
    Example: If you have a project to build a strain of gray, check if they would not carry a mutation to hereditary recessive (as black breast, black cheeks).

    Question the breeder giving you your first specimens, asked to see the parents to be better fixed. Observe the different qualities and points of improvement of each one with the zebra finch that you want to achieve.
    Observe the harmony and all the birds of the breeder, a homogeneity will make you appear a good job of the breeder.

    3. What is a stump

    It is necessary to represent the stump of a tree, its trunk and its branches. Composed of ancestors, descendants, sisters, brothers, etc. Different methods exist depending on the type of genetic transfer of the mutation or combination raised to advance a strain.

    4. Importance of zebra finch known as "Work"

    In a strain there will be zebra finch called "work": Intensive, most typed, short, long .. These working birds will have more often and in particular one or more strengths.
    It is they who will allow you to reach your goals, do not neglect them.

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  • Regulate hydrometry to promote hatching

    The problem of eggs that do not hatch, despite their fertilization, met by breeders gave me the idea of ​​this subject.
    The importance of the moisture content during the development of the egg and hatching in our breeding rooms pushes us to find solutions to regulate it, especially during dry periods.

    Previously I used an ultrasonic humidifier :

    Adjustable and ideal, humidifier and ionizer at a time. However, after a year and a half of use, he is now making his own by having untimely stops. So I opted for a much cheaper solution: Saturation ceramic (about 5 euros per unit in DIY stores) :

    Saturateur ceramic

    For my part I monitor daily hydrometry and set myself a minimum of 55% moisture in the air.

    Indicateur hydrometre et temperatue

    Below this moisture content, I put the saturators on the oil-filled radiator (which dries less air than the electric radiators type radiant or commonly called "Toaster").
    The principle of evaporation caused by the heat of the radiator works well, but it takes about a day to see the effects.

    Saturateur sur radiateur copyright

    If I see that the humidity does not rise enough, I cut the air extractor or regulates it. The air extractor is connected to an extractor speed controller socket.

    Variateur d intensite

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