On 4 October 2022 a dozen members of the Toowoomba Budgerigar Association met together at 7.30pm in expectation of a rousing presentation on “Feathers and Fertility”. At about 7.35pm Peter Jeffery took centre stage. The show was his.
Now, look; Peter is not known for his eloquence and culture. In accordance with our expectations, Peter roughly pieced together a presentation which even pushed the boundaries of ‘political correctness’; more than once. However, the content was incomparable. Throughout there were one-liner gems, which I will now endeavour to reproduce for your benefit.
Feather: They come is all shapes and sizes. Breeding couples should be paired according to feather structure. Opaline birds have a North-South feather. Cinnamons have an East-West feather. Therefore, the best pairings would be an opaline cock with a cinnamon hen. This will give the prospect of producing a bird with width and length of feather. If you are looking for depth of mask, this is your best opportunity.
Do not use iodine products as they will produce flecking. It’s a fact.
Also look for down on the feather. When you pluck a feather, have a close look at it. The portion of down at its extremity must reach half way up the feather, at least. If it does not; I don’t use that bird for breeding. If you have a young bird with down pocking out through the feathers, it is likely to have ‘double down’. DO NOT sell that bird – for anything.
Fertility: There will be some cocks which will never produce. The first thing to do is check the cock’s bum. Pluck him bare around the anus and see whether his bum points out like a volcano. If it inverted there will never be any production. If he is fat around the bum it will cause him to roll around during mating and he is likely to “miss his moment”. Therefore, he needs to go on a diet of straight millet sprays for 3 weeks to reduce weight, and he should be right.
Before young hens are first put to a cock, put them in a cage with bamboo perches. The slippery nature of the perches will train the hen how to hang on for dear life. This will come in handy for her mating career. Also, use double perches in the breeding cabinets for hens who have perching problems. This way they can get their toes in between, if need be, to get the job done.
Hen birds that lay pooey eggs never produce fertile eggs. The “passage” should be all clear for laying eggs. The presence of poo indicates a blockage; and if you have a blockage, then the sperm are not going to get through to their final destination.
We then watched as Peter “milked” many cock birds, using a simple capillary tube to collect the semen. The process looked simple enough, and certainly didn’t match my imagination of what AI was supposed to be like. However, the process is kept simple with two parties working together. One person on their own will need more equipment, time and patience.
Each insemination will last for 3 eggs and then the cock will need to be milked, and the hen inseminated again for eggs 4, 5 and 6.
The night was also enhanced by John Iseppi’s feather duster (mop). This is a mutation which grows extremely long feathers, never moults, eats like a horse, does not reproduce, and dies early. I know some people like that.