If you are a novice bird breeder, this article is a chance for you to avoid some of the mistakes that many make. While it is good to learn from your mistakes, it is much better and wiser to learn from the mistakes of others. Now let me share with you ten common mistakes aviculturists make.
1. Falling into the numbers trap
The vast majority of bird breeders fall into the trap of numbers. Individual breeders always strive to increase the quantity of their flock, believing that as the quantity increases, production increases, and thus profit increases as well, and this is not true.
In my personal experience, there is an inverse relationship between the quantity of birds and production. As quantity increases, the breeder needs to dedicate more effort and time to look after the increase in the quantity of birds. Therefore, he starts taking shortcuts and neglecting hygiene and feeding, and as a result, problems such as diseases emerge, and this inversely affects production.
It is no wonder that well managed and controlled small aviaries are more productive and successful than poorly managed and crowded aviaries. Each breeder should determine the ideal quantity of birds that he can handle. If the breeder exceeds the optimal quantity, he should sell the excess surplus. So, the wise breeder doesn’t keep a large quantity of birds outside what he is capable of handling, and doesn’t get into the endless maze of numbers.
2. Neglecting hygiene and nutrition
Some bird breeders and keepers neglect hygiene and feeding even though they own or look after a few birds. Most diseases occur in aviaries due to poor hygiene. Hence, cages and their accessories, such as perches and feeders, should be cleaned periodically.
It is also essential to provide a balanced diet – a diet that is not limited to seeds only. Seeds don’t contain all the minerals, vitamins, and amino acids that the bird needs, especially during the breeding season and molting, and many diseases and breeding problems are associated with a lack of nutrition. For example, vitamin A deficiency leads to impaired vision, and calcium deficiency can lead to egg binding, and a lack of vitamin E leads to low fertility.
3. Jumping the gun
If you are new to raising a specific species of bird, start with a couple or two, and as you gain knowledge and experience, you can add more to the flock if you wish. So, don’t be a greedy and impulsive breeder so that later on, you don’t become a regretful bird-hating breeder.
4. Skipping quarantine
The bird breeder, especially the novice, is impulsive and has no self-control, so whenever he sees a bird he likes, he rushes to buy it and immediately introduces it to his flock. This impulsive behavior can lead to disastrous consequences, such as the outbreak of viral diseases in the aviary.
To reduce this risk, the breeder must quarantine new birds for at least 30 days. This rule also applies to any bird that participates in annual exhibitions as the bird can pick up pathogens from these exhibitions. If you think the bird you bought looks healthy to be quarantined, think again as some birds can carry diseases and show no symptoms until several weeks later.
I strongly advise against buying a new bird early in or during the breeding season. When you buy a new bird at the beginning of the season, you rush to introduce it to your flock, ignoring the most important practice for disease prevention, which is quarantine. Therefore, you should purchase new birds at least a month before the start of the breeding season or earlier. If you urgently need a particular bird during the breeding season, pair it outside your aviary in a separate room.
5. Allowing other breeders to enter your aviary
Unknown to many breeders, mites and viruses can spread in aviaries through the clothing they wear. When you visit a farm or pet shop, your clothes can get viruses and mites, and when you enter your farm, the virus and mites can be transmitted. Therefore, clothes should be changed and washed after visiting farms or pet shops. It is better to limit your visits to other aviaries, and when you want to sell a particular bird, put it in a separate room for display so you can limit the number of people who enter your aviary.
6. Buying used cages and supplies
Used cages can carry red mites inside them, and this is how red mites normally infiltrate the aviary. Therefore, you should never introduce used cages or any other used equipment to your aviary before soaking them with boiling water. Red mites hide in holes and cracks during the day and appear at night to suck the blood of birds. So, the hot water must reach every hole, crevice, and corner of the cage during the cleaning process.
7. Neglecting close and regular check-up
There are various health problems that breeders discover late, such as eye infection and bumblefoot. When the problem is detected at an early stage, the chance of treatment increases. Therefore, the breeder should regularly examine the bird closely for health problems. The examination includes the eyes, chest, stomach, bottom of the feet, beak, feathers, and claws.
8. Attaching feelings and emotions
There is nothing wrong with financially benefiting from breeding birds, but if you think that you will make a quick buck out of them, think again. Unless you are a professional breeder and passionate about raising and caring for birds, you will never be able to generate income from them, and I would argue that birds can be a source of loss for you.
If you raise birds for financial benefits, don’t get attached to them. So, if someone wants to buy a bird from you that they like and pay full price for it, you shouldn’t hesitate to sell unless there is a strategic purpose to reject the offer. Don’t take it personally; this is business for you. So, learn to separate your feelings from your birds if this is a source of income for you. Otherwise, you will incur unnecessary losses down the line.
9. Mixing wild birds with domestic birds
Wild birds can carry a wide array of diseases and many cases without showing any signs of illness. By introducing wild birds to your domestic birds, you increase the exposure of diseases in your aviary. Don’t take chances.
10. Turning to the wrong people for advice
Some breeders are unable to afford a vet while others have no access to one. And as a result, they usually turn to the wrong for advice. Your first choice should always be to consult a veterinarian, but if this option is not feasible, consult a bird keeper who has at least ten years of experience in a particular species of birds.