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Thread: The real first step of breeding

  1. #1
    Adams Ryukin

    The real first step of breeding

    I was interested in breeding my teil. I have had her for three or four years and she's laid her first set of eggs last spring. I think I'd make a good bird breeder since I am very responsible, and have bred other animals in the past. I am not breeding yet. I don't even have a male yet. So I haven't even decided if I am going to. I choose to read about it, weigh the ups and downs, and then decide if I can handle it all on my own. So if anyone has anything they think is accurate and good for beginner breeders, I'd much appreciate a link, or title of a book!
    Thank you all very much!

  2. #2

    Re: The real first step of breeding

    Hi Adam,

    I think it's wonderful that you're taking your time and doing lots of research before getting into breeding cockatiels. I'll post some links I've found helpful at the end of this.

    We have five sweet and adorable little birdies ready to go to their new homes at the end of the month. I've truly loved raising them, but we will not let our birds hatch any more eggs for a number of reasons.

    If I wanted to get into breeding cockatiels, I think that in addition to doing more study on breeding and raising tiels, I'd also visit cockatiel shows in my area, maybe join some bird clubs, get to know the best breeders, and think about how I could go about contributing to the good of the species through breeding. I'd also speak to some avian vets about what they would like to see breeders breed in or breed out of the species -- are there certain chronic conditions or diseases which seem to be inherited? I'd most certainly talk to the folks at the veterinary college about such. I've found the professors at my home town vet school to be extremely helpful.

    To me, the only really good reason to get into breeding cockatiels is to benfit the species in some meaningful way, to improve the gene pool. And on top of that, to raise happy, healthy, sweet-tempered, well-socialised little birds who eat a healthy diet and make wonderful pets.

    For my breeding pair(s), I'd carefully choose birds which had excellent personalities in addition to whatever traits I thought desirable for breeding. And I'd get them from reputable breeders who could give me pedigrees going back at least three generations. The last thing one wants to do is to breed an inbred bird!

    Then there are other practical considerations. I would never get into breeding birds unless I had a reliable partner or a trusted someone who could help out or take over if I were to become ill or injured or have a family emergency. Those babies HAVE to be fed and tended, no matter my broken arm or my husband in the hospital or my grandmother's funeral.

    I'd also want to try to determine what sort of market there is in my area for cockatiels. I'd hope the bird shows, clubs and avian vets could help me out with that one.

    Not to discourage you, but here are some more things to think about:

    (1) If you work full time outside your home, forget breeding birds! If you work part-time, then you still might need to forget it. A very few people, like mrshud, another poster on this board, can work full time and do an excellent job of raising birds. But, like mrshud, such people would need to own their own businesses and be able to take the babies to work with them and care for them there.

    (2) Baby birds really tie you down. You have to whip out to the store between feedings and make sure you're back in time for the next one. Social life? Forget it, while you've got chicks who need to be hand fed! We managed to make an appearance at one important Christmas party (turned down invitations to all the rest), but had to leave after 45 minutes to make sure we'd be back in time to feed the babies. And we had to give up going home for the big family Thanksgiving, even though it may have been my mother's last Thanksgiving (she's in bad health). No way could we leave the babies or try to travel three hours in the car with them at that stage.

    (3) Raising chicks takes far more time and effort than one would think by just reading about it. It's not just a matter of squirting food in their mouths every so many hours for so many weeks. When the chicks are on the every-three-hours feeding schedule, for example, you're going to be spending about one hour out of every three (or one-third of your time from 6am until midnight!) doing the following: preparing formula, warming to the exact temp, re-warming as needed between chicks, meticulously cleaning each chick after each feeding, cleaning and changing the bedding in the brooder after each feeding, cleaning and disinfecting the feeding equipment after each feeding, weighing chicks, keeping records, scrubbing out and disinfecting the brooder once per day, etc.

    (4) Even when the chicks are in the weaning stage, they still require lots of time and attention. You'll keep busy preparing a variety of foods for them, socialising them, giving them play time (and flying time in a safe room), cleaning up after them, etc. You'll need to clip their wings when the time comes, too, and also trim their sharp little claws. If you don't feel confident doing this yourself, you'll need to get your avian vet's tech to do it.

    (5) You'll probably lose money raising cockatiels, unless you consistently breed champion show birds. Even then, I don't know. Here's the economics: Equipment: Professional brooder (several hundred $) or homemade brooder (about $40-$50); weaning cage ($120+); gram scale (about $120); feeding equipment (about $15); nest box ($1. Supplies: hand-feeding formula (about $50 for five chicks); weaning foods (gosh, I don't know, probably about $75 or more for five chicks -- more, I think!); a huge case of paper towels ($24), plus toilet paper and Q-tips for cleaning chicks; also possibly pedialyte and/or a few jars of infant apple sauce if a chick get dehydrated and/or develops slow crop.

    Add in extra costs for additional and special foods for the parent birds while they're feeding the chicks during the first two weeks, plus conditioning foods for them prior to breeding and hatching... not to mention avian vet care! ... and you get the idea. In winter, you may have higher heating bills for your home as well. If you don't clip the wings and trim the claws yourself, add about $25 per baby bird. I haven't included the original cost of the breeding pair, their upkeep and care between clutches, their cage, etc.

    You'll count yourself lucky if you break even over several broods, even if all goes well with every brood. And if, miracle of miracles, you come out a bit ahead, um, by the hour, you could have made a lot more money flipping burgers!

    (6) The thing NOBODY ever writes or talks about. I've read lots and lots of articles and still haven't seen it anywhere. It is not a pleasant thing to "pull" the babies. Maybe that's why they call it "pulling." We humans tend to use euphemisms for unpleasant things, don't we? The parent birds will be upset that their dear babies have been taken from them. Of course they will! It's their instinct!

    (7) You may find yourself having to boil lots of eggs. You shouldn't let your parent birds raise more than two broods per year, but they don't know that. Our parent birds were sitting on a new clutch of (boiled) eggs starting when these chicks were only eight weeks old!

    ( Baby birds are very messy and very loud!

    (9) Your sweet pet bird will not be the same sweet pet once mated. You've probably figured that out already.

    Anyway, here are some of the links I've found useful (I think I've left out the ones others gave, sorry for any duplicates if not):


    Best wishes to you in your research!

  3. #3

    Re: The real first step of breeding

    Hello, I'm Mrshud. Believe everything that Josie has posted before me. Raising baby tiels is not an easy job. It can become very tiresome, meaning your going to losing a lot of precious sleep. When Josie said that it’s expensive she’s not kidding. I have kept a log of what I have spent since I got my first pair of tiels. The list consists of such:
    Apple Juice - $1.50
    Apple Sauce- $0.77
    Baby weaning food - $7.99
    Bedding - $9.27
    Bendable Perch - $11.99
    Bird Cage - $79.99
    Bird Food - $65.63
    Bird Seed - $33.52
    Ceramic Dish - $3.99
    Critter Cages - $25.98
    Cuttle Bone/Mineral Blocks - $11.96
    Dehydrated veggies & Noodles - $6.49
    Electric Scale - $31.52
    Feather Toy - $9.99
    Feeding Syringes - $37.68
    Fencing - $25.29
    Fish tank Heater- $27.99
    Fluorescent Bright Stik - $10.24
    Food Dishes - $10.43
    Grapevine Branches - $2.80
    Hanging Rope Treat - $6.49
    Heating Pad - $14.76
    Hinges - 7.76
    Incubator - $302.37
    Maglite Flashlight -$6.85
    Manzanita Branch Perch -$8.99
    Maxpower Inverter Plug for car - $62.12
    Millet - $35.94
    Misc. - $13.93
    Nesting Box - $9.99
    Peaches/ Male Whiteface - $75.00
    Pedialyte - $5.47
    Pet Supplies - $47.29
    Plexiglas 18 by 24 - $17.35
    Plexiglas 28 by 30 - $15.98
    Plexiglas 28 by 32 - $16.98
    Plexiglas 30 by 32 - $19.98
    Screws - $3.78
    Sex Testing - $73.50
    Snowy - Male gray - $75.00
    Snowy & Peaches Supplies - $75.00
    Thermometer - $13.93
    Toys - $14.98
    Vet - $61.00
    Water Bowls/Bottles - $27.77
    White Sheet - $5.28
    Wood (plywood) - $24.12
    Yogurt Treats - $4.99
    Zazu - Male Cinnamon - $152.21
    Zena - Female Cinnamon Pearl - $168.79
    These totals all add up to $1815.30. This total is less then what I have actually spent. There were lost receipts and I did not start recording what I spent until after I got my female, 3 month after getting male.
    This total is for a year and a half. Most of that total was spent within the past 7 months. I would have to push out a lot of babies to just break even. But I’m not in it for the money.
    I had just got done hand feeding and weaning her first clutch of 4 fertile eggs and before I could get Mom and Dad separated they were back at it again giving me 10 fertile eggs, not all hatched. I got 4 good chicks out of this batch. I was just starting to catch up on my sleep that I had lost with the first batch and it was time to start the process all over again. Two of the 4 chick I had to assist in their hatch and after that my female figured I could take care of them while she took care of the 2 older chicks. These 2 chicks I had to hand feed from right out of the egg and that requires an every hour feeding.
    I could have assisted with 2 additional chicks, but I let Mother Nature take it’s course and they didn’t make it out within the first 24 to 36 hours after piping . If I would have that would have been 4 chicks that I probably would have had to hand feed from day 1. I had to run one of the chick on New Year’s eve to the vet because it’s feeding response was not very good and it did swallow a very small amount of formula down the wrong pipe, not enough to prevent death. Thank goodness for my fast reflexes.
    Being that there was 10 eggs my chick’s ages are all different. One took its first flight 2 days ago and the smallest one has just started getting its feathers within the past few days. For a week or 2 all of my chick required different feeding schedules. At time they were all fed together but the littlest ones required several additional feedings in between.
    I will admit there are many times were I have thought to myself “can’t I just skip this feeding”, while laying on the couch trying to watch TV between the slits of my eyes as I try to stay awake.:sleep
    All of my chicks are now all to 3-4 feeding a day, which helps, but I still wish at times they were already weaned.

    Adam, I would never tell you to breed or not to breed your bird. I just wanted to give you a little in site as to what I have gone though with my 2 clutches of chicks. It can get really expensive. My biggest expense at one time was the incubator. I tried a make shift incubator but just doesn’t work as well as the real thing. Remembering to turn the eggs and maintaining the right temperature and humidity level. The incubator maintains the right temp and turns the eggs every half-hour. The only thing that I have to monitor is the humidity level.
    Like Josie mentioned above I’m self-employed so I can bring my chicks back and forth to work with me. But I do have to schedule feeding with my customer’s appointments. Which can now take anywhere form 15minutes to a half-hour. I bring them back and forth with me. Since I live in WIS. And right now it’s only in the single digits I pre warm the incubator and put that into a big duffel bag. Once I get to the can the incubator is plugged into a converter that gets plugged into the cig. lighter. They are all use to traveling with me from wee babies. When I get them ready to leave they all get comfy and settle into their places and enjoy the ride.
    If I weren’t self-employed they would be no way that I could do this.
    This is a lot to think about and take in, but if you do decide to venture into the world of breeding tiels READ, READ, READ. I have learned more from the Internet and this posting site then you will find in any book.
    Best of LUCK either way you go.

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