SEASONAL BREED & FEED SCHEDULES
KRISTEN REEVES, MEADOWLARK FARMS AVIAN SUPPLY, INC.
Rinse & Repeat
Reverse schedule for Africans, Societies & Indo Pacific species. Because those species tend to be opportunistic breeders and will breed any time the nutrition is appropriate, we use our breeding cages to house & breed those species while our Australian species are resting. That means we are using our breeding cages year round, but for a different species depending on season and cycle. Any time the Australians are in the flights, the other species are in the breeding cages!
In my aviary, I tend to stick as close as possible to the wild schedules of Gouldians and my other Australian species. This article will describe my average standard start & stop dates for each portion of their cycle, and what happens during that time.
There is always a little "wiggle room" in these schedules as not all birds will start or complete their molts at exactly the same time. And if I have the bulk of the flights full of resting birds with only one or two who still have a few pin feathers, I will move them ALL to the Resting diet and make a note that those who did not complete their molt in a timely manner should be sold.
Africans, Societies and Indo Pacific species are bred on an exact OPPOSITE schedule. They are running through the same schedules backwards, so to speak. This allows me to breed them in the same breeding cages as I bred my Australians once the Australians are moved to their Molt or Rest flights.
Juveniles are never mixed with breeding age adults. Once weaned, they are moved to like-sex flights of their own - just as the adults are. I also try to keep my African and Indo Pacific species SEPARATE from my Australians as they eat VERY different diets and at very different times. If I kept them all together, my Australians would be perpetually fat!
I watch each and every bird closely and move it to the appropriate diet as it is ready. Every year is slightly different, and sometimes circumstances and environmental changes in light, heat or humidity throw the birds entirely off schedule, leaving me to bring them back around through light and nutrition.
**Dates are approximate and depend on the individual bird as well as pairs I intend to breed. My entire aviary follows the Dr. Rob Marshall supplement system, so in addition to the feed schedules below, I also follow the water & dry supplement schedule from his system.
|Austerity Diet||9/1||9/30||This is on a bird-by-bird basis - they must be through their molt. Some birds will not be ready depending on when they were born and when their annual molt or juvenile molt began. It helps to keep track of each bird and when they molt so you know when to expect them to molt again. I base MY molt schedules on their original juvenile molt. They tend to being their annual molt almost to the day here!|
Breeding age adults will remain on this Austerity diet for a full 30 days ensuring they drop out of breeding condition and shrink their reproductive organs so that once the breeding diet is reintroduced, they all come into condition at approximately the same time. It also allows them to drop any extra weight they may have gained while on the breeding, molting or resting diets.
Regardless of weight of a bird, ALL adult breeding age birds are put through Austerity for a MINIMUM of 2 weeks with the bulk remaining on this diet for a full 30 days.
|Breeding Diet||10/1||10/31||Birds who have completed their austerity period are placed on the breeding diet for a full 30 days BEFORE pairing. This gives them the extra nutrients they need to endure the rigors of breeding, jump starts their reproductive organs and gets them "in the mood" for breeding. This is a "head start" program!|
|Pair Birds||11/1||11/30||Birds who have completed a full month of breeding diet and are "in condition" (determined by beak color, changes in shape of vent, and courtship behavior) are paired and placed in the breeding cages to acclimate. They are not given a nest until I am certain they have bonded and are willing to breed with each other. I use the entire month to be certain my pairings are as good as they can get, and allow myself time to move birds around as necessary during this phase of the schedule.|
|Introduce Nest Boxes||12/1||12/15||Nest boxes are given to pairs who have acclimated to each other well and are ACTIVELY courting. Both birds are closely scrutinized for breeding condition to be sure they are completely ready. A hen dropping eggs on the cage bottom is usually a good sign she is ready (along with a black beak and elongated abdomen). A cock who persistently courts the hen and whose beak is bright red is typically ready.|
|Breeding||12/15||5/15||I only allow my bird 3 clutches per pair - maximum. If I see anything out of the ordinary at all - tattered or ratty feathers, droppings not consistent with breeding poop and is normal for MY birds, sick or weak chicks, infertile or clear eggs, addled eggs or dead in shell chicks - I will pull the pair down and test them for health issues. They will NOT be bred again until next season.|
My birds typically breed between mid December and mid to late April, with the last of their chicks fledging and weaning by late April to mid May.
|Austerity Diet||4/30||5/15||Any bird finished breeding (or pulled down from breeding for any reason) are placed BACK on the Austerity diet for 2 weeks after the last chicks wean. This drops them out of condition and allows them to "rest" without feeling the urge to breed. It also gives them a chance to rest until their annual molt begins. Some birds begin molting immediately upon being moved to the flights, but most wait until their annual molt typically sometime between May and July.|
|Resting Diet||5/15||5/30||Birds who have not begun their annual molt immediately following breeding are place on the Resting diet AFTER 2 weeks of Austerity. They remain on the Resting diet until they begin their annual molt.|
|Molting Diet||5/30||7/31||Once birds begin their annual molt, they are placed back on breeding diet until their molt is complete.|
|Resting Diet||8/1||8/31||Once molt is complete, the birds are placed back on the Resting diet until time to begin the austerity diet and start of the entire process all over again!|