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BUDGIE BREEDING

Budgerigar Breeding Guide: Step-by-Step Instructions and Expert Tips 

(the page is still being made and updated so watch this space)

Breeding budgerigars can be an incredibly rewarding experience, allowing you to witness the growth and development of these intelligent creatures. In this comprehensive guide, I will take you through the step-by-step process of breeding budgerigars, providing invaluable tips and suggestions from experienced breeders.

Step 1: Preparing for Breeding

 

  1. Select Healthy Parent Birds: Choose birds that are at least one year old, as younger budgies may not be physically ready for breeding. Ensure that both the male and female birds are healthy, with no signs of illness or deformities.

Using budgies that are either too young or too old for breeding can have various implications and challenges. Here's what can happen in each scenario:

 

  1. Breeding Too Young:

    • Breeding budgies that are too young can pose risks to their health and overall well-being.

    • Young budgies may not have fully developed reproductive systems, which can lead to complications during the breeding process.

    • Female budgies that are bred too young may experience difficulty in laying eggs or caring for their young, increasing the risk of egg binding, prolapse, or inadequate parental care.

    • Male budgies that are bred too young may have immature sperm and reduced fertility, leading to lower breeding success rates.

    • Breeding too early can also stunt the growth and development of young budgies, impacting their long-term health.

  2. Breeding Too Old:

    • Breeding budgies that are too old can also present challenges and potential complications.

    • As budgies age, their reproductive capabilities decline, including reduced fertility and decreased egg viability.

    • Older female budgies may have a higher risk of developing egg-related issues, such as egg binding or egg yolk peritonitis.

    • Older male budgies may have reduced sperm quality and quantity, leading to decreased breeding success rates.

    • Breeding too old budgies can also increase the risk of age-related health issues, such as arthritis or other ailments, which may impact their ability to care for their offspring. It is generally recommended to breed budgerigars when they have reached an optimal breeding age range, which is typically between 1 and 4 years old. Breeding within this age range ensures that the budgies have reached sexual maturity and are physically capable of successful reproduction.

Proper Housing: Provide a spacious cage or aviary with separate nesting boxes for each breeding pair. The cage should be well-ventilated and equipped with perches. The ideal, recommended size for a breeding cage is: 76cm long, 46 cm high, 38cm wide. Sometimes you can get a breeding cage that is 60x40x40 cm which is also fine. Some breeders suggest to use straight, thick perches in breeding cages, so that they help budgies keep balance during mating. Also best perches are made of natural wood, since budgies like to bite and chew them when in breeding season. Temperature and Lighting: Maintain a stable and appropriate temperature for your budgerigars, ideally between 70-75°F (21-24°C). Provide them with natural light or a full-spectrum avian light source to simulate daylight hours, which is essential for their reproductive health. Budgies need 12 hours of daylight to get into a breeding mode. If you breed in an aviary, ensure the nesting area is positioned in a quiet and secluded part of the cage to provide privacy for the breeding pair. However:  it's strongly advisable to use separate breeding cages rather than aviary  to prevent colony breeding. 

 

One of the most popular breeding cages is the one below. What I did was, I cut a hole on the side of the cage as I wanted a bird nest on the side of the cage. Doing easy DIY saves you money, as the cages that are sold as "breeding cages" are usually more expensive (However I'd recommend different placement for perches - from the front to the back of the cage) The cage is available to buy on Amazon - HERE 

breeding cage for budgies

Reasons why colony breeding is generally considered unfavourable for budgies

 

Increased Stress and Aggression:

Budgies are naturally territorial birds, and when kept in close proximity with other breeding pairs, they may exhibit increased stress and aggression. Competition for nesting sites, food, and resources can lead to conflicts and fighting among colony members, potentially causing injuries or even death.

Difficulty in Monitoring Individual Budgies:

In a colony breeding setup, it becomes challenging to monitor individual budgies' behaviour, health, and breeding activities. Identifying specific pairs, tracking mating success, egg-laying, incubation, and chick development becomes complex, which can impact proper care and breeding management.

Increased Risk of Disease Transmission:

Keeping budgies in close quarters increases the risk of disease transmission among colony members.

Diseases, parasites, and infections can spread quickly, leading to widespread health issues and decreased breeding success.

Lack of Individual Bonding and Parental Care:

In colony breeding, the individual bonding and parental care between pairs may be compromised. Budgies may not form strong pair bonds, leading to reduced mating success, insufficient egg incubation, or inadequate parental care for the chicks. Lack of individual attention and care can result in a higher risk of neglect or abandonment of eggs or chicks.

Limited Control over Breeding Outcomes:

In a colony breeding setup, it becomes challenging to control the specific pairings and breeding outcomes. Desired genetic traits and characteristics may not be reliably passed down from generation to generation. Maintaining breeding records and tracking lineage becomes more difficult, hindering selective breeding efforts.

Increased Risk of Inbreeding:

In colony breeding, there is a higher risk of unintentional inbreeding, which can lead to genetic health issues and reduced vitality in offspring. Without proper monitoring and controlled pairings, closely related budgies may breed, exacerbating genetic problems over time.

Breeding box for budgies

In general - if you don't want your budgies to breed - don't provide them with a breeding box. More about breeding box, its importance and consequences of a lack of it, you can read HERE

Balanced Diet:

While there isn't a specific diet that guarantees breeding success in budgies, providing a well-balanced and nutritious diet can support their overall health and reproductive capabilities. Here are some dietary considerations that may encourage budgies to breed:

  1. High-Quality Seeds:

    • Offer a diverse selection of high-quality seeds as the primary component of their diet.

    • Use a quality budgie seed mix that includes a variety of seeds such as millet, canary grass seed (recommended ratio: 60/40 (60% canary seed 40% millet)

    • Avoid seed mixes with excessive filler ingredients or low-quality seeds.

  2. Fresh Vegetables and Leafy Greens:

    • Offer a range of fresh vegetables and leafy greens to their diet, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, and peas.

    • Rotate the vegetables to provide variety and ensure a balanced nutrient intake.

  3. Fruits:

    • Provide small amounts of fresh fruits as occasional treats.

    • Offer options like apples, oranges, berries, and melons.

    • Fruits should be given sparingly due to their higher sugar content.

 

4. Protein Sources:

Incorporate protein-rich foods into their diet, especially during the breeding season. Offer small amounts of boiled egg, or mealworms as protein sources. Protein helps support egg production and overall reproductive health.

 

5. Calcium and Mineral Supplements:

Calcium is vital for eggshell formation and muscle function during breeding.

Provide a calcium supplement such as a cuttlebone or mineral block, allowing the budgies to nibble on it as needed.

Calcium-rich foods like dark leafy greens and calcium-fortified pellets can also be included.

There are specific breeding food supplement that we would particularly recommend. The products that we think are worth recommending in breeding times, are the ones below. You can get them HERE and HERE (or click the images below)

Aviform for breeding budgies
Aviform for breeding budgies
Aviform for breeding budgies
aviform for breeding budgies

6. Sprouted Seeds:

Consider offering sprouted seeds as a nutritious addition to their diet. Soak seeds overnight and rinse them thoroughly before allowing them to sprout. Sprouted seeds are rich in enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, making them beneficial during the breeding season. You can easily make your own sprouts yourself, we tell you how HERE.

 

7. Fresh Water and Hydration:

Ensure a constant supply of fresh, clean water. Hydration is crucial for overall health and reproductive function.

Regularly clean and change the water to maintain cleanliness and freshness.

More about budgie diet you can find HERE

Step 2: Pairing Budgerigars

 

  1. Compatibility: Observe your budgies closely to determine compatible pairs. Look for signs of mutual attraction, such as preening each other or feeding one another.

  2. Bonding: Allow the chosen pair to spend time together in a separate cage or aviary to strengthen their bond. This can take a few days to several weeks. Supervise their interactions to ensure compatibility and prevent aggression.

  3. Introducing the Nesting Box: Place a suitable nesting box in the cage or aviary when the pair shows signs of bonding. The box should have a concave floor and a small entrance hole. More info about breeding box you'll fine HERE.

  4. Both female and male in breeding condition: Budgies have times when they are instinctively interested in breeding or not. You need to make sure the pair you want to breed is in breeding condition. More about how to tell if they are is HERE.

 

More about budgie pairing you can find HERE

Step 3: Breeding Behaviour and Egg Laying

 

  1. Mating Behaviour: Budgerigars engage in various courtship behaviours, including regurgitating food, mutual preening, and head bobbing. These behaviours indicate that breeding is imminent. To read more about mating behaviour - jump to THIS page. 

  2. Nesting Material: Offer a variety of nesting materials such as shredded paper, dry grass, and untreated wood shavings. The female will use these materials to construct her nest.

  3. Egg Laying: The female budgerigar will lay eggs approximately 10 to 14 days after mating. Provide a calcium supplement like cuttlebone to support the female's health and eggshell formation.

Step 4: Incubation and Hatching

 

  1. Incubation: The female budgie will begin incubating the eggs once she has laid the second or third one. Maintain a stable temperature of around 99-100°F (37-38°C) in the nesting box or provide an artificial incubator.

  2. Monitoring: Monitor the eggs closely throughout the incubation period, which lasts about 18 to 21 days. Ensure proper humidity levels and regularly inspect the eggs for any signs of damage or infertility.

  3. Hatching: Budgerigar chicks will begin to hatch after the incubation period. Allow the parents to care for the chicks, providing them with a consistent diet of nutritious foods.

 

Step 5: Chick Rearing and Weaning

 

  1. Feeding Chicks: Initially, the parents will feed the chicks a mixture of regurgitated food and soft seeds. After a few weeks, gradually introduce a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and most of all seed to their diet.

  2. Nest Cleaning: Remove any soiled or contaminated nesting materials regularly to maintain cleanliness and prevent the spread of disease.

  3. Fledging and Independence: Budgerigar chicks will start to fledge and explore their surroundings at around 4weeks of age. Allow them to gain flight and gradually increase their independence. Keep a close eye on their development and ensure they are eating and drinking adequately.

 

Step 6: Socialization and Taming

 

  1. Handling and Socializing: Begin gentle handling of the chicks from an early age to promote trust and bonding. Spend time with them daily, allowing them to perch on your finger or shoulder.

  2. Taming: As the chicks grow, work on taming them further by offering treats, speaking softly to them, and providing positive reinforcement. Gradually introduce them to different environments and experiences to build confidence.

 

Expert Tips from Experienced Breeders

Patience and Observation: Breeding budgerigars requires patience and keen observation. Pay attention to the behaviours and interactions of your birds to ensure a successful breeding experience.

 

Genetic Diversity: Avoid breeding birds that are closely related, as it can lead to genetic issues and health problems in the offspring. Maintain a diverse gene pool to produce healthy budgies.

 

Pair Compatibility: While compatibility is important, avoid breeding aggressive or dominant birds, as they may display territorial behaviour that can harm their mate or the chicks.

 

Cleanliness and Hygiene: Regularly clean the cage or aviary to maintain a hygienic environment for your budgerigars. Proper hygiene helps prevent the spread of diseases and ensures the well-being of your birds.

 

Seek Expert Advice: Connect with experienced budgerigar breeders or join local bird clubs to learn from their expertise. They can offer valuable guidance and support throughout the breeding process.

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