Advice for Beginners

Assuming the beginner has been in the hobby for a couple of years and now wishes to progress, how does one go about acquiring the knowledge to breed the winners on the show bench? A Beginner probably has a small shed say an 8ft6ft, which is rather small for breeding.

Let us assume the small shed is not suitable for altering; I would not discard it, you will find, if re-erected in a corner, that it will be ideal for storing nest boxes, show cages and possibly seed etc.

Bigger Shed Required

I think the minimum size possible would be a 12ft8ft. The door would be better in one end, off-centre, so as cages could be constructed on the back wall. The window should be in the centre of the 12ft length opposite to the cages and should at least one opening light and this will act as a bob-hole to an outside flight, if and when one is erected. If not, ensure the full extent of the window is covered with some form of wire netting. At the time of erecting the new shed, some thought should be given on the provision of a roof light; it can easily be done in the early stage of erection. However ensure whilst doing so that you do not let it encroach onto the space allocated for your cages.

Building Your Cages

As said previously, erect your cages on the back wall. you should get 4 cages roughly 3ft long ,and if you have 3 rows that would give you 12 breeding cages. which should be enough for most beginners. The cages should be approx 18″ depth and the same in height.

On the front wall you can erect a flight say 3ft in width and I would suggest, instead of going from floor to ceiling, you should consider building cupboards in the bottom say about 30″ high. This space is so handy for storing seed etc, and you will find that the birds do as well as if it were right to the floor. When you build the flight do not forget to have access doors, to enable the birds to be caught and making feeding easier. I would consider at least two doors, not too high, or you will find the birds will fly over your head.

The combined width of flight and cages is around 4′ 6″ leaving a corridor of approx 3′ 6″. This you may think is too wide, but I assure you, you will find that it is just right, especially if you have your nestboxes hanging on the outside of the cages. Remember, the day will come when you will have visitors, and you will then appreciate the additional width. Nest-boxes come in all sizes and designs, choose a type to suit yourself, birds seldom have preferences. Feed the best quality seed available, it is false economy to feed cheap seed. Where possible have some type of floor covering, it not only looks good but it is also so much easier to clean. Now comes the crunch. The initial stock you started with we can assume was not good enough for exhibition purposes so where do we get new stock from?

Don’t Rush into Buying

Take your time. Do not rush into buying the first birds offered to you. Study the show results and see who is winning in breeders’ classes. In the first year I would ignore the champions, not only would their prices be much dearer than say a good novice, but the quality of stock offered may be too good for the raw beginner. It takes time and experience to manage a stud properly and the expensive bird from a champion needs expert management to achieve the best results. I honestly consider it is best to find a good novice with good breeder birds. Try where possible to get two or three pairs with some related birds if possible. Pair them together the the first year, and if the youngsters are good or better than the parents, you have done well. The second year, you can start crossing the youngsters, but one word of warning, ensure that only the best are used.

Re-invest Your Money

If your breeding was reasonable, you should have a few birds you could sell. Anything you feel is not up to standard, sell if possible. But the true facts of life are that you will have extreme difficulty in selling at a fraction of the price you paid. You will likely have to sell anything up to eight birds for the price you will have to pay to get better stock in. Unfortunately, that is how it works. Do not be too downhearted, we all have had to go through the same process. Even now I have to sell a few before I have the cost of a replacement. I hope I have not put you off, remember it is a great hobby and | you can get a lot of enjoyment from it. The exhibition side is wonderful. The thrill you will experience when the first rosette is pinned on the cage is great. However you will also be a loser. Be a good loser, because your turn will come.

Original text Copyright 1994, Jim Hutton.

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