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Month by Month Guide to Canary Care 


 

What To Do, And When To Do It

 

January February
March April
May June
July August
September October
November December

 

For me the year starts the first week in December.
I return home with my show team from the National Exhibition Centre and place them in the flight cages along with the other Fifes I am to retain.

 

December

All surplus birds should now have gone. Always retain two yellow and two buff hens as spares in case one dies over the winter or during breeding. This is particularly important if, like me, you retain one or two old hens because of their history and pedigree.

General Management

This is the month for winding down after a hectic breeding and show season. Christmas is a good time to wash the breeding cages and partitions thoroughly with a mild disinfectant such as Vandoline. Also empty and wash all show cages and perches and put them away for another year.

Place the hens in the largest flights possible. If certain cages get early morning sun then the priority should be to allow the old hens access to this. In a small stud it might be possible to house the cocks singly but I keep my 16 cocks together.

In order to avoid territorial squabbles, do not keep just two or three cocks together.

Offer baths at least once a week and clean out the flights weekly. When replacing the sawdust sprinkle granulated charcoal and oystershell grit on to the floor.

This month the days continue to get shorter so the length of daylight should not be changed by artificial light. Set the thermostat at 7 – 10C. Allow the birds plenty of fresh air but close the windows on very cold or damp nights.

Diet

We now need to start the slow process of preparing for next year’s breeding season. Some of the show team might be a little overweight but once in the flights much of this will be lost. Keep birds on a plain diet of 50% Plain Canary and 50% Haith’s deluxe or Super Canary.

Greenfood as described earlier is very important and I provide it daily throughout the year but broccoli and similar should be given at least every other day with apple once a week

Give them the softfood mixture once a week but there is no need for condition seed this month.

If greenfood is not available, one of the proprietary iron and vitamin tonics should be added to the drinking water twice a week.

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January

General Maintenance

This is worst month of the year for the aviculturists as the activity is one of feeding and cleaning out and the breeding season seems so far away. This is when wooden nest pans can be made and linings can be sewn into the pans in preparation.

Continue to offer baths weekly, even in the coldest weather. Finish off washing and painting breeding cages. Increase the daylight hours in the morning by 10 – 15 minutes a week only.

Diet

Continue with the December diet but now add a little of my condition mixture and no more than 10% niger to the mixture. Niger, being a member of the thistle family, is a mild conditioner. Watch any Fife that chases other birds off the mixture and frantically eats the niger as it may be out of condition. Niger should be fed sparingly; it does not reduce the risk of egg-binding.

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February

General Management

Towards the end of the month I like to paint my breeding cages and partitions white and also spray the cage fronts black. This also gives an air of anticipation for the forthcoming breeding season.

Finalise the selection of your breeding pairs if not already done so. Towards the end of the month catch every Fife and spray its rump with Johnson’s Anti-Mite and then sprinkle Johnson’s Ridmite powder all over its back and wings. When every bird has had this treatment hang a Vapona block in the centre of the birdroom. This is the first step in a process that will ensure you never have mite in your birdroom. Prevention is better than cure and I have had no trace of mite even in the hottest of summers for 20 years.

Increase the morning daylight by 15 minutes a week.

Diet

As January but feed a little more condition seed mixture in addition to basic seed diet.

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March (1st half)

General Management

Two weeks after the Fifes have been given their anti-mite treatment repeat the process so that any mites that were incubating 2 weeks ago will be killed. Check for excess fat on any bird and put those birds on a plain diet with plenty of greenfood.

Continue with regular baths.

Place the cocks in single cages. Trim the back toe nail and middle front toe nail.

Extend the morning daylight for 15 minutes each week this month.

Diet

As February but increase the condition seed mixture slightly. Add a little wheatgerm oil to the mixture and allow it to soak in overnight. Offer the hens additional cuttlefish bone or liquid calcium in the water. Collect early seeding coltsfoot and chickweed but feed sparingly. Dandelion leaves and roots cut down the middle also can be offered.

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March (2nd half)

General Management

Treat unflighted hens for mite, trim their nails and place them in single cages if they appear fit. The older hens and those still overweight should be left in the flight cages until the middle of April and given an iron tonic for 10 days.

Plant perpetual spinach and African marigold seed for the summer.

Collect moss for nesting material but be careful to wash it thoroughly. At the end of the month artificial light can be discontinued.

Diet

As the first half of March but chickweed or early dandelions can be provided quite regularly. Condition seed can be given more often at the expense of condition food but not in excess – a daily sprinkling is sufficient.

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April

Breeding is now well under way.

General Management

After the final clean out of the hen’s cages where eggs are set, cover the cage floor with cat litter, which is very absorbent. The cages can then be left until the young have been weaned before the next full clean out.

Spray nest pan linings with anti-mite spray before placing them in breeding cages.

If outdoor aviaries are being used, the soil should be given a sprinkling of lime. Check the mesh for holes and paint it black before any birds are allowed access.

Offer the hens a weekly bath until they have laid a full clutch.

Diet

Feed chickweed and early seeding dandelions particularly to backward hens. Provide plenty of cuttle for the hens. Do not neglect the cocks; continue to feed them a little softfood and greenfood regularly, although the hens will now be sitting on eggs and only need a very plain seed diet.

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May

General Management

Remove Vapona block a couple of days before the first young hatch.

At the third day after hatching run the cock back in the cage for half an hour if you are using pairs. After 5 – 6 days he can be left in to help the hen rear the youngsters without any trouble. When the young are 14 – 15 days old put a second pan in the cage and offer new nesting materials. Clean out the hen’s cage when the young are weaned and have been moved to training cages at 22 – 24 days. Offer her new cuttle and an iron tonic for a few days.

Diet

As April. Dandelion seeding heads will be plentiful and can be fed to cocks and hens alike, particularly the ones who are not in condition.

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June

General Management

Try to keep the birdroom as cool as possible in hot weather. Keep a close eye out for stale softfood.

Diet

Green seeding dock should be available in plenty for collection and feeding to the weaned youngsters.

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July

General Management

This is the month to end breeding operations and concentrate on a quick, clean moult. Decide which adults you wish to keep so that you can determine what youngsters to select for breeding.

Diet

Continue to feed the chicks green seeding dock and seeding grasses regularly in addition to the softfood and greenfood. Adults about to moult should be fed these in additions regularly.

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August

General Management

Hang training cages on to the flights so that youngsters can run freely into them. Place the condition mixture in the water pots to encourage this.

Offer baths as often as possible.

Diet

Feed plenty of wildfood and greenfood this month with a few yellow African marigold flower heads.

Feed the hens that have stopped rearing an iron and vitamin tonic in the water for few days.

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September

General Management

Start to train the first round youngsters. Place show birds in single cages and spray several times a week.

Continue to offer baths as often as possible to the reminder. Spray every bird with Johnson’s Anti-Mite and Ridmite powder and hang a Vapona block in the birdroom until after the last show.

Sow black rapeseed in grow bags for spring feeding.

Diet

Add sunflower oil to the seed mixture this month at the ratio of one litre bottle per 25kg of seed.

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October

General Management

Spray show birds every other day. Do not exhibit any Fife that appears off colour as it could be ill and spread disease to other birds at the show. In my opinion any exhibitor who shows a sick bird should have all his birds withdrawn by the show manager to stop any possible cross infection.

Diet

Continue with basic diet. Some fanciers feed pinhead oatmeal to the Fifes to slow them down for showing but some birds are liable to put on weight if fed too liberally.

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November

General Management

This month sees the main show season activity, particularly the Fife specialist shows. Wash the show cages and perches after every show and wipe the cage fronts with turpentine to nice a nice finish.

Diet

As wildfoods are no longer available feed the softfood mixture at least once a week with regular greenfood from the supermarket.

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Email:- terry@fifecanaries.com
(c) Terry Kelly & Simon Lealman