Photo: For beginner fanciers, becoming a member of a club and participating in meetings, activities and club shows can help you to find sources of support and advice, says David
Having established last week that breeding to win isn’t a lottery, David Turner looks at some ways in which you can structure your approach and cut out the ‘dumb luck’ factor
IF YOU are trying to get somewhere, it is always better to know where you want to get to. Otherwise, you will be drifting aimlessly, which, if you are on holiday may be fun for a while, but it won’t get you very far breeding exhibition budgies. If you are honest with yourself, at some time in the past you will have done just that, as have I.
There are quite enough surprises in this game without seeking them out. You should set yourself an objective and, as a start, this means looking at what you have at your disposal. By this, I mean important things like time, constraints of your age, space for your birdroom, money, potential support when you are away or ill and, most importantly, restraints arising from family commitments. In my own case, consideration of these factors led me to concentrate on a small set-up and, as a result, I have only 11 breeding cages. This means that I have to focus my efforts on a small range of colours.
You have to work out how you are going to achieve what you want. This is not a short-term decision. You will need to acquire experience of the practical aspects of birdkeeping, but also, in my opinion, learn about the impact of genetics on your birds. The latter will take time and application. If you do not master the basics of genetics, such as dominant, recessive and sex-linked factors, you are simply wasting your time and my advice would be to enjoy breeding budgies as pets.
You also need to get some understanding of the impact of inbreeding and close breeding. To help you in this task, there are computerised record programmes, which are not expensive and save a lot of time bringing up the ancestry and interrelationship of your birds. There is plenty of written advice on these matters and this is also available in this paper and from other fanciers.
Membership of a local club and participation in its activities should not only open up a new circle of friends, but will help you acquire a mentor, who will give you the sort of support and advice that goes beyond what is written in the books and journals. All this is long-term stuff, looking ahead several years, but what you do each year at the start of the breeding season comes down to tactics.
Before you get involved in these, you need to think seriously about the targets that you set yourself to achieve for that new season. These should be realistic and can be related to the number of birds that you would like to breed and what qualities you would like to establish in your stud.
If you are starting to show, think about what you realistically hope to achieve. Do not set the bar too high or you will fail and be disappointed either with yourself or others who, you may feel, have thwarted your ambitions. At the Bedfordshire Budgerigar Society’s nest-feather show, I handed out a sheet of some items that it might be useful to consider. They covered matters such as:
- Time. Consideration of the season of the year, the condition and the age of the birds available. Look at the need to prioritise their availability and whether the potential offspring of the pairs are needed immediately, so as to be sufficiently mature for the show season or to be stock birds for the future.
- Genetic background. Consideration of the visible strengths and faults of your birds. There are also potential strengths and faults that are not visible and this is where your knowledge of their background is important.
- Bought-in birds. Why did you buy the ones that you are introducing to your stud?
- Colours. What are you trying to achieve? Consider the potential impact of certain colours, such as the grey factor or cinnamon on the type of birds that you wish to breed.
- Dominant or recessive factors.
- Visual or splits. You need to be aware of these and track them for the future.
● David concludes his three-part series on breeding exhibition stock next week.
David Turner is the membership secretary and show manager for South Midlands BS.
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