My Method of Bringing Up Chicks

The right time to remove chicks from their parents is always a tricky decision to make. They are watched carefully when they first leave the comforts of the nest box, and only when I see that they are feeding themselves properly do I take them away. More importance is put on their ability to look after themselves than their actual age.

When removed from the breeding cage, they are placed into a large stock cage, usually twenty birds at a time. This is a critical time in their life, as a good rate of growth must be maintained if a chick is ever going to fulfil its potential as an exhibition bird.

During this period it is essential that a varied and nutritious diet is provided. My chicks are fed on a good seed mixture which includes Trill and H &#amp; S Clarke’s seed – the final mix consists of 75% canary, 25% millet and a small amount of groats. I find this mixture is ideal for use all year round. The rearing-food I prefer to use is EMP, slightly dampened with water. It is made available in finger-drawers for the breeding cages, and small dishes on the floor in the stock cages and flight. Dry brown bread is also fed daily to the young chicks and to the stock housed in the flight. They probably play with just as much as they actually eat. Corn-on-the-cob and carrots are fed weekly but not on the same day. Fresh tap water is always available, with no vitamins added.

Once the chicks have been housed on their own for two to three weeks, they are transferred to my large inside flight. I would not be happy to see unmoulted birds in an outside flight at the time of year most of us do our pairing and breeding, I feel it would be far too stressful for them. It is my opinion that they develop much better if housed in a large inside flight rather than if kept in stock cages for long periods.

Once these young birds go into the inside flight they need to be checked regularly. Any that are looking off-colour and fluffed-up should be returned to stock cages to strengthen themselves. Never leave your youngsters with minimal attention during this period as they may become ill and weak very rapidly – and normally it will be a good chick this happens to!

People who can devote more time to their birds at this and at other times of the year have a much better chance of success on the show bench – this is a seven day a week hobby!

Original text Copyright 1994 Steve Robertson.

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