Breeding Your Tipplers
- Davey Warrener

First and foremost in your choice of breeding stock should be quality rather than quantity. Research is the key... you need birds which are suitable for the area in which you intend to fly them. So, if possible get birds from a local flyer who is doing well. This gives you the advantage of being able to watch the birds perform before getting them. You will also have someone on hand to advise you if things are not going to plan. Getting the best birds you can and getting them from a flyer who is willing to help with advice, can and will save you a lot of hard work. Once you have your breeders in the loft you must have them used to having you near them. Cleanliness is essential, so you will be in there several times a day cleaning the loft, nestbowls, drinkers, feeders, perches, etc... as well as feeding and replacing minerals and grit. The last thing that you want are birds flying wild in the section while you are tending them. Each breeding cage needs to be large enough to comfortably accomodate two nestbowls because the 2nd round of eggs are often laid while the 1st round of young birds are still in the nest. Cages around 2 feet deep, 2 feet long and 18 inches high should be large enough. The fronts can be set back 4 inches to leave a shelf for extra perching or for feeders and drinkers if the birds are locked in. My method is to lock in the pairs until the 1st eggs are laid to ensure the parentage of the young birds. I let each pair out twice a day to get used to locating their own cages once the first eggs are laid. I let them out 2 pairs at a time, then 3 pairs and so on. It does not take long for them to get to know their own cages. Acccess to a flight or aviary is a good idea, as it will give the birds a chance to bathe and so help with the hatching of the eggs. Overcrowding causes more trouble than it's worth, with birds fighting, eggs getting broken or deserted and an invitation to disease. So no more than 6 to 8 pairs in a 6X6 foot section with plenty of perches should give enough room.