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Old 06-26-2015, 03:34 PM
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Before I start to breed...

Here are just a few questions to ask yourself before breeding birds, whether you plan to do it professionally or just wonder if you should let your parakeet have babies. This list just scratches the surface.

>What is my motivation for breeding? Am I selfishly just trying to make money off of them, or do I think I can just “have a cool experience” by breeding without giving a lot of thought to what kinds of lives the babies live? Am I in this for the long haul, long enough that I feel the knowledge I gain in the long run will be worth it, even when baby birds die, which they WILL? Do I think it would be fun to breed my pet? Do I understand that some pet birds completely reject their human families when they are given a mate, or reject the mate that is purchased for them?

>How will I make sure I am not inbreeding? Am I 100% sure that the birds I am buying are not related, even though most pet stores work with only a few breeders, so if the pair was purchased from a pet store originally, there is a large possibility they are siblings? Do I understand the life long consequences, sick babies, organ failure, mental issues, etc, that come from this kind of breeding, even if it doesn’t happen in the first generation?

>Do I have the patience to wait for a young pair to mature? Do I understand that 95% of the time, “proven pairs” are only for sale if there is something wrong with them?

>Do I know how to tell male from female in my species, and am I 100% sure that my pair is opposite gender?

>Do I now the age of sexual maturity for my species? Do I know when they are ABLE to breed, when they can SAFELY breed, and when they are TOO OLD to breed? Do I know their breeding season and understand the breeding habits of my specific species well enough to be sure that I am not endangering my birds by pairing them up during the wrong season which risks violence and other issues? Do I know if my species is monogamous or not, and the potential complications of trying to “switch up” life-bond pairs, or leaving two non-monogamous birds together for too long?

>Am I familiar with common bird illnesses, how they are transmitted, their symptoms, treatments, and what birds are most likely to carry them?

>Do I have the right connections to get healthy stock? Do I understand what things to avoid or look for in a breeder to be sure I am getting birds that are healthy enough to breed? Do I know and understand that nesting and raising chicks can kill even a bird in “decent health”?

>Do I understand mate aggression and aggression toward chicks, and do I have a plan to prevent these and react to them, including having a large enough breeding cage to begin with as well as alternate placement?

>Do I understand the intricate nutritional needs of a pair raising babies, specifically in my species? For example, do I know if my species requires large amounts of complete protein during breeding, or if that will damage their organs? Do I even know what foods are considered complete proteins? Do I know what nutrients the babies need to get from the parents and how to provide those? Do I know the amount of food to feed, and do I understand that both feeding TOO MUCH and feeding TOO LITTLE to the parents can threaten the lives of my babies?

>Do I have an undisturbed place in my house where my birds can nest in peace? Do I understand that parent birds will often abandon or destroy their eggs or chicks if they feel stressed or disturbed, and that this can occur if even one stranger enters the room even once, depending on the birds?

>How will I insure that the pair I buy does not have any genetic defects that it will pass on, even behavioral issues that can have genetic roots or health related origins such as plucking, screaming, chronic egg laying, or just bad personality?

>Am I prepared for the sanitation needs of a breeding facility and am I aware that dried bird poop enters the air as dust and can cause major health complications for humans and other birds?

>Do I have a firm grasp on what kind of birds should and shouldn’t be bred together? Do I know what color combinations can produce things like baldness, even if both parents are fully feathered? Do I know the color mutations well enough to know what physical challenges or issues I might face by breeding them, such as small body mass, short body cavity, etc?

>Do I have an avian vet close by to handle emergencies, and am I willing to put out the money for regular visits for my birds, and rush to the vet at the first sign of illness in my flock? What about medication for the whole flock if they are exposed by one bird? What about a health guarantee, will I offer one and will I honor it if the time comes? That means, am I willing to potentially spend more on a bird than I can get back out of it, even if the bird no longer belongs to me?

>Do I have thousands of dollars in savings for a potential trip to an avian veterinarian EVEN ONCE with a problem in the nest?

>Can I afford even the most basic breeding and feeding equipment which can cost many times the price of the original birds? Do I know what equipment I need to take care of babies, especially if something goes wrong?

>Do I know the developmental ramifications of hand feeding, co-parenting, or allowing the babies to be raised by the parents, and do I understand the pros, cons, costs and time commitments involved in each? Am I prepared to take responsibility if my raising techniques lead to insecure, emotionally unstable, mentally challenged birds who may bite first and ask questions later because of how I handled their first few weeks of life? Am I aware that sometimes these consequences are not apparent until the bird reaches sexual maturity which in some species can be a decade after hatching? What is my plan to make sure my babies don’t end up bouncing around from home to home just because I didn’t feed often enough, clipped too early, had them in too bright of a place, etc?

>Does my living situation allow for not just the mess of multiple birds, but the noise? Are my neighbors far enough away that they will not be able to hear my flock as it grows?

>Do I spend the majority of each day at home so that I can quickly react to problems in the nest, and so that I can hand feed babies in need even if hand feeding is not my first choice?

>Do I know the signs of distress, illness, dehydration, etc, which could make it necessary to pull a chick for hand feeding?

>Do I know how to hand feed a chick formula, including the importance of exact temperature in order to avoid burning a hole in the crop, or slowing digestion and causing crop stasis, both of which can be fatal, and how to be sure I do not aspirate my chick and kill them?

>Do I have someone on hand to show me how to save the life of a baby by flushing the crop, emptying an inflated crop, treating yeast or bacterial infections, treating mites in the nest, etc?

>Do I fully understand the life-long consequences of clipping the wings of a young bird before it is a strong and confident flier able to expertly navigate? Hint: This does NOT mean they get “their first few flights” but that they are truly allowed to become experts.

>Am I prepared for a clutch of baby birds to learn to fly in my house, even though they will likely crash into things, poop all over, not come when I want them to, fly around during feedings, cover my walls, tv, pictures, etc in formula, and in general act like young birds who just want to fly? Is my house a safe place for this, and do I have hours a day to supervise fledging babies? If not, do I have a safe aviary which they can do this in, and am I willing to spend hours outside with them so they remain tame and friendly?

>Do I understand the vital concept of abundance weaning and the devastating effects of force-weaning? Am I therefore prepared to allow baby birds to wean on their own schedule, even if the new owner is waiting impatiently and pressuring me to “hurry the baby along”? Do I know that this means I must trudge through a phase with many babies where they PRETEND they are ready to wean, but they are actually not?

>Do I have a deep enough understanding of parrot behavior and specifically the behavioral traits of the species I am breeding that I can walk a new family through problem solving common behavioral issues in an effective way? Can I prove this understanding with the pet birds I already have?

>Knowing that parrot sanctuaries, craigslist, and other venues are overflowing with unwanted parrots, how do I justify producing more?
I don't like to think about where I would be if that little budgie had never fluttered into my life.
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