Photo: Sam Wildes. ‘If only I could have a shed full of hens like this!

SAM WILDES has got a lot of juggling to do this year as he looks ahead to breeding possible Club Show winners, judging and exhibiting, as well as managing his expanding business.

DURING 2018 I would like to achieve certain things within the bird hobby. First of all, I aim to have a great breeding season. It can throw a spanner in the works if pairings don’t go to plan, because you rely on breeding a good number of youngsters for the following year, along with quality birds for the show season.

So far things are going well. I was late at putting together the initial pairings, but they soon got into the swing of things. We have a good number of “late-breds” that were born at the end of 2017 – one or two of these are rather special – and those with 2018 rings are off to a great start. There are a few birds that have not performed but out of 48 cages I’d always expect some not to cooperate.

I kept a couple of old budgies because they are good quality and have done well before, but they have not given me the results I’d like, so they have been split up.

Then there are some young birds that haven’t quite got the hang of “mating”. A young cock in particular stands with one leg on the hen’s back and looks proud as punch, but doesn’t quite grasp what else he has to do. This pair, of course, has given me clear eggs – let’s hope they learn soon enough for the next round. The only thing we can do to try and help is trimming/plucking their vent feathers. However, animals are not robots and if they choose not to mate correctly, you cannot force the situation. I would never use artificial insemination, because this defeats the object to me.

I would like to have a good season with a few of the rare varieties we keep, especially the albinos and lutinos. I aim to breed a good selection of these for the 2019 breeding pairs. I also want to relight the flame of my greywing family.
I have lent and given away some quality birds but have not been given anything back, so that has squashed this idea. However, I hope by the way I have made certain pairings I will breed some in the 2019 season by using splits.

With any luck, we will have a good show season, because I am rather competitive and love to win. I really enjoy judging, too. I like to give my opinion on what is in front of me on the day, although some will agree with how I judge and others may disagree. In January I judged the budgerigars and foreign birds at a cage bird society show. This was very enjoyable and it was great to cast my eyes on some stunning foreign birds. I hope I can do a few more of these in the future alongside the budgerigar shows.

I would like to continue helping out beginners and juniors with birds, advice and general help. I was very fortunate to get the advice I needed when I started out, so I am returning this favour to the hobby in my own special way. I get a great feeling when someone I have helped breeds good birds and does well at the shows.

I hope to exhibit some birds this year at the Budgerigar Society (BS) Club Show in Doncaster. We did not show in 2017 because I took a trade stand for my business and I was unsure how the weekend would go. But now I know that we will have time towards the end. This show is a fantastic weekend for any serious budgerigar breeder and exhibitor, and I always enjoy being a chief steward. It will be my turn to judge in 2019 and I am honoured to be part of this pinnacle event.

Of course, I would love to win a major award at the BS Club Show one day, but I can wait for this. I enjoy the hobby and the breeding side too much. Maybe one day I will win best in show and feel like all my hard work has paid off.

Sam Wildes lives in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire. His company website is:
www.sam1birdproducts.co.uk

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