Youve come to the right place for a starter course on all about breeding canaries.
There is more to it than most people realize but...on the other hand...it doesnt have to be difficult or time consuming. As a matter of fact...it can be downright enjoyable.
Please stay tuned for the next installment.....
Why breed canaries?
Breeding canaries is a rewarding and possibly profitable past-time. You can take your canaries to bird shows and compete for song, color, and composition...
You can sell your canaries for profit...Or you can just breed canaries for fun and enjoy their company and beautiful singing voices.
Breed Canaries for Fun and Profit.
Think it would be fun to breed canaries?
Breeding canaries is not only fun and emotionally rewarding but
1. To have their canaries judged in bird shows and thereby improve the species.
2. To make a profit by selling to pet stores and the general public3. For fun!
Most breeders breed canaries for improvement of the species. The birds are taken to shows and judged based on their song, appearance, and/or color.
These professional breeders love the canary. They do not breed canaries for the money. As a matter of fact many of these breeding specialists frown on the exercise of canary breeding strictly for profit.
The problem is that many "money breeders"--not all...a minority in fact--don't take great care of their birds. They have a reputation among canary show breeders of only caring about getting their canaries to the pet shop alive. This, of course, is an unfortunate stereotype.
Many "Money Breeders" take very good care of their canary flock. They want their canaries to be in the best of health and are proud of their canary breeding facilities.
Retail Your Birds
To breed canaries for income can be very rewarding...and profitable.
- Open a backyard aviary
- Take your birds to flea markets
- Take your birds to bird markets
- Take your birds to street festivals
- Take your birds to county and city fairs
Although prices around the US and the world will vary you can generally expect a healthy canary to sell for around $60 for the male and $50 for the female. (The female canary does not sing and so brings a lower price.)
If you can sell the canary buyer...
...you can make a good profit with your canaries.
If you're not interested in opening an aviary at your home or dealing with the general public you can always..."Wholesale"
Pet stores in my area will pay $20-$25 for a female and $25-$30 for a male.
Wholesaling cuts down on the amount of work of selling retail. If you wholesale you won't have to deal with many individual customers...just with your wholesale buyers. Once you find a few wholesale buyers who are interested in your canaries all it takes from that point on is a phone call and delivery of the canaries you breed.
My Uncle and I actually have a buyer who drives over 3 hours once a month to get canaries from us. He knows we breed canaries that are strong and healthy and we sell at a fair price.
No matter the reason you breed canaries, have fun. It is a true delight to see that first batch of babies stick their little heads up out of the nest.
You can give your extra birds away to friends and family or build a large attractive aviary for the backyard.Details
So...you think to breed canaries might just be something youd enjoy!
Wait a minute though...
...first you need to know a little about what goes into breeding canaries.
How are they fed?...What about housing?...How do you take care of the baby canaries?Glad you asked...
Light. Temperature. Food. Nest. Cage. You will succeed at breeding canaries ONLY if you get the lighting, temperature, and feeding details right.
Your canaries will need daily care...good diet, fresh water, a clean canary breeding cage, etc.Here are a few important factors when breeding canaries...
Canary Breeding Cage
A good breeding cage for canaries is the double breeding cage. It consists of a longer than normal size. The removable divider in the middle is helpful for keeping the male and female separate until ready to breed.Warmth and lighting...
Your breeding canary's hormones are regulated by the amount of daylight entering through the eyes. As the days get longer and longer beginning at the end of winter your canaries will begin to think about breeding. Your canaries will need about 12 to 14 hours of light per day.
You can start your canary's breeding cycle early by using artificial light. Use a timer to turn lights on and off at the appropriate time.
I start at the beginning of January and have my lights come on at 5 am and shut off at 4 pm. Each week I set the timer to come on 30 minutes earlier until the lights are on from 4 am to 4 pm.
Then, as the days get longer I adjust the timer to come on later and later in the morning. In other words, in the late spring when the days are longer I let natural sunlight take over.
You don't want more than 14 hours of daylight. At 15 hours your canaries may begin the annual molt bringing your breeding season to a screeching halt.
Begin your breeding season by keeping your canary's living area between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.Nutrition...
The pet canary will eat about 10% of his body weight daily but breeding birds will require 25% of their body weight daily.
Provide plenty of fruits and vegetables during the breeding season. During the weeks leading up to mating provide egg food and millet for protein. A vitamin supplement added to the water is also a good idea during this time.
Use CanaryAdvisor.coms Three Day Breeding Feeding Cycle for breeding canaries.
- On Day one feed ½ boiled egg
- On Day 2 feed a piece of apple
- On Day 3 feed greens
- Then on Day 4 start over again.
Choosing and Using the Right Canary Nest.
Canaries use the open bowl-shaped canary nest rather than the "enclosed-only-one-small-hole-open-on-the-side" nest.Nest Options
Use a bamboo or plastic canary nest for breeding canaries.
The plastic nest is much easier to clean than bamboo and will last a lot longer. It will cost you a little more than the bamboo nest but you will save money in the long run.
Place the nest in the cage, attached to the bars, but make sure it is not directly under a perch or near a feeding or water dish.
Your canary hen will appreciate a little space of her own. If possible place the nest toward the top of the cage near a corner. She will feel safest here.
Be carefull...don't place the canary nest so high she can't enter and exit easily. Keep the top of the nest at least 4 inches from the top of the cage. This will give her room to go in and out and also enough room to stand up and turn around in the nest.
Obviously, if she looks like she is crowded against the top of the cage move the nest down a bit.
Make sure the canary nest is secure and level. The last thing you want is to have your baby canaries falling to the floor of the cage.
Nesting materials for breeding canaries include...
- gunnysack fibers
- bathroom tissue(unscented)
- thick cotton string (no thread)
- coconut fibers
- small pieces of soft cloth
When using gunny sack, cut it into 2 inch squares and pull out the individual strings. Place in the cage.
You can take a roll of bathroom tissue that is almost used up. Tie a string around it so it can't unroll and place in the cage or tie to the outside of the cage. Your canary will have fun tearing off bits for her nest.
Of course, cutting up nesting materials can be time consuming for you. Thankfully pet stores usually carry nests and prepared nesting materials.
Provide 2 nests per pair of breeding canaries. Before the first chicks leave the nest the female will begin a new 2nd nest.
Make sure there are enough nesting materials available for her to build the 2nd nest...otherwise she may pluck feathers from her babies and use that in her 2nd canary nest! OUCH...
With the Right
Canary Breeding Cage Thinking of breeding canaries? Then this 2 hole canary breeding cage may be just what you need.
If you're looking for a cage for a new canary, it might be a good idea to just get a canary breeding cage.
Whether you intend to breed canaries or not the cage is useful. For a single canary simply remove the divider and you have a nice sized cage for your lone canary.
And if you think you might be interested in breeding a pair of canaries some day, you'll already be set up and ready to go.Two Holed Breeding Cage
This cage has a removable divider to keep the male and female separated until they are ready to mate.
It will also have a spot for a nest or nests.
Once the babies leave the nest, they can be isolated to one side while you leave the breeding pair together in the other side to raise another batch of babies.Check with your local pet store or bird aviary to see if they carry these. My local bird farm sells their dividable cages for around 40 bucks.
Breeding cage with divider.
This dividable breeding cage is also great as one big cage for your lone canary. Just remove the divider.Three Holed Canary Breeding Cage
Breeding cages are also made with two dividers...creating three holes. This will allow the canary breeder to mate one male (in the middle hole) with two females (on the outside holes).
The three hole cage is also good for seperating the babies
from the breeding pair.
Keep Your Baby Canaries
Happy and Healthy. Discover how to care for your baby canaries
from hatching to weaning...
You can expect your canary eggs to hatch around 12-14 days after being laid. The new born canaries are tiny, naked, and helpless but they grow quickly...if theyre fed properly.
And your young canaries will be born HUNGRY.
But before they hatch, on the 12th day of incubation start providing...
Nestling food is what your parent canaries will feed their babies...and once your baby canaries leave the nest they will begin to eat nestling food on their own and eventually will learn to eat the normal dry seed as well.
Nestling food is a protien and nutrient rich food that will not only support the fast growing baby canaries but their overworked parents as well.
Nestling food includes at a bare minimum...
-->Soft seed (either boiled, soaked, or sprouted--see below)
There are other things that can be mixed into nestling food such as grated carrot, rolled oats, and Cream of Wheat. You can even buy some pre-mixed nestling food. But the seed, egg, and greens are a "must-do". The greens are mostly for the Momma canary...she will need the extra nutrition during this stressfull time.
Two Ways to Make Soft Seed
1. Just boil your canarys normal seed for 20 minutes, let cool and place a tablespoon of this soft seed in the cage in the morning and another tablespoon in the afternoon along with the boiled egg. This soft seed will be used by both parents to feed the canary babies for the next 3 to 4 weeks.
I have stored boiled seed in the refrigerator for up to 7 days without having any problems with spoilage. To be on the safe side though, it's best to throw it out around day 5 as it is probably beginning to spoil.
2. Many canary breeders will recommend that you use a specific blend of canary seed specially mixed for soaking and feeding to your baby canaries. This "soak seed" is soaked in water, rinsed, soaked again, rinsed a few more times over a 24 to 72 hour period...then it will begin to sprout. Now you can feed it to your baby canaries.
Soaked seed is high in vitamins and minerals and closely resembles a natural food source that canaries find in the wild during Spring.
All in all, it is the BEST soft seed to use but, my friends, I don't always have that much time to soak, rinse, soak, rinse, rinse, rinse....
The Controversy :
Boiled Seed vs. Soak Seed Soft seed--whether boiled seed or soak seed--is one of the great canary treats.
As a matter of fact, you may never hear anyone other than me suggest boiled seed as an alternative to soaked seed. But here's the thing...
Boiled Seed is SOooo Much Easier.
And when included with a healthy diet of greens, fruit, healthy treats, fresh water, and a clean, stress free environment, boiled seed is sufficient. Notice I said "sufficient" not "superior"...or even "equal"...
There is no argument about which is more nutritious...soaked seed or boiled. Soak seed is richer in nutrients...you'll get know back-talk from me there. But when time is tight and the kids are screaming and the dog is barking and the bills need to get paid and put in the mailbox by noon, I say, "BOIL"...
I use soak seed as much as possible but when necessary I boil. As I've stated in the Canary Tips! Ezine, I've even gone an entire breeding season feeding boiled seed and no soak seed what-so-ever and all the birds turned out strong and healthy.
The quick and easy way--but less nutritious for your canary--is to...
The benefit to feeding boiled seed over dry seed is not higher nutrition. Boiling seed is mainly used as a nestling food which parent canaries can feed to their babies. But boiling seed for your adult pet canary is beneficial too. It simply softens the seed quickly and makes it easily digestible and a pleasure to eat. Boiling is the fast and easy way to provide a soft seed treat for your canary. Simply...
1. Boil your seed for 20 minutes
2. Drain and let cool.
3. Serve to your canary.
You MUST keep boiled seed in your refrigerator to prevent spoiling. It will last for 4 or 5 days in the frig.
Simple. Easy. Fast.
But if you have the time and energy to spend making treats for your canary, then try...Soak Seed.
"Soak seed" is soaked and rinsed over a 24 to 72 hour period. It will then begin to sprout creating a high vitamin and mineral content that was not available in the dry seed form.
Dry seed of course has an acceptable protein, vitamin, and mineral content but sprouting initiates the activation of the vitamin precursors. This process transforms the dry seed into a nutritious vegetable. I don't want this to turn into a lesson in botanical science so just remember...
"Sprouted seed is rich in vitamins and minerals"...and your canary will love it.Beware of Spoilage
Be aware that soaked seed is susceptible to bacteria growth and souring.
It's not the best idea to use your regular seed mixture as soak seed. Many mixtures add pellets, dried bits of fruit and vegetable, and other additives that may accelerate the souring action. However, if you use a seed mixture that contains none of these additives you may be OK soaking it.
Although some "seed soakers" will weigh themselves down with a taxing cycle of...
soak, rinse, soak, rinse, soak, rinse, r-i-n-s-e, R--I--N--S--E...
Soaking seed does not have to be burdensome.
While some recommend rinsing your soak seed as many as 5 timers per day, according to birdhealth.com rinsing twice per day is adequate. Adding a little bleach to the mix will help keep bacterial growth to a minimum.
1. Put 1/2 cup dry soak seed in a glass quart jar
2. Cover seed with 1 cup water
3. Add 1/2 Tablespoon bleach
4. Cover jar with cheese cloth (or another clean straining tool) secured around top with a rubber band then let sit at room temperature for 12 hours.
5. Drain off all liquid and rinse with clean water.
6. Turn the jar sideways so that air can get to as many seeds as possible and let sit at room temperature for 18 to 24 hours, rinsing at least twice per day (if you have the time and energy, rinsing 3 or 4 times per day will help keep bacterial growth down and give you more peice of mind).
By now your seeds are beginning to germinate.
You can feed this soaked seed to your canary now or let sit for another 24-48 hours at room temperature to allow more sprouting time. Just make sure you keep rinsing to wash away any bacteria growth. This soaked seed can be stored in the frig for 4 or 5 days before it begins to go bad.Use The Right Seeds
As I stated above, you may not want to use your regular dry canary seed mixture as soak seed. The best seeds to use for soaking are...
The seed you use must be free of any chemical treatments or vitamin enrichments.You can buy these seeds and make your own soak seed mixture or you can find a special commercial mixture of soak seed. One popular mixture is imaginatively called "Soak Seed". It's made by Abba Seed and may be found at your local pet shop.
Along with this soft seed you should provide boiled egg. You can buy dry nestling food or "egg food" which can be mixed with the soft seed but it is not necessary...Boil an egg for 20 minutes, mash it up and serve 1/2 of a boiled egg next to the soft seed twice per day.Greens and Fruit
A tablespoon of greens, and a treat they will appreciate is a small chunk (tablespoon) of apple, will help keep all your birds healthy and happy.
Greens and fruit can be provided just once per day. Serve it along with your baby canaries "breakfast".
All of these tasty treats will be used to feed the baby canaries plus it will help keep up the strength of your busy parents.
You can also add...a small piece of whole wheat bread, boiled brown rice, soaked shredded wheat, and cooked peas to name just a few.
Feed this nestling food once in the morning and once in the early afternoon removing any left over from the previous feeding. This stuff can spoil and grow bactieria in just a few hours so protect your canaries and remove it before it goes bad.
Make sure your pet birds have all the nestling food they want. If they eat all of their "breakfast" by the time you bring the early afternoon feeding than give them some extra until they are getting a little more than they can consume.
They baby canary's appetite will double then double again before he is finally weaned.
They baby canary's appetite will double then double again before he is finally weaned.
You can expect your canary babies to grow rapidly and will leave the nest roughly 2 to 3 weeks after hatching. The parents will continue to feed the baby canaries until they start eating on their own which will occur around the 4th week.
In the meantime you might find your female has started another clutch
of eggs even before the first group of baby canaries have left the
nest. That is why it is a good idea to have a second canary nestavailable
for the next clutch of eggs.