There are many good diets that are very successful in breeding healthy chicks. But don’t forget, the diet plan you offer your bird will only be effective if your bird eats it. Don’t be hesitant about mixing one food with another to get your bird to eat; for example, you know he should be eating the broccoli, but only eats the birdie bread — chop the broccoli very fine in a food processor and add it to the birdie bread.
As breeding season approaches, gradually increase the amount of protein, calcium and vitamin E in your birds’ diet. We start increasing approximately six to eight weeks before actual breeding. We increase the greens our birds receive from once or twice a week to every other day and then every day. During this critical time, remember not to give spinach or swiss chard, because they each contain oxalic acid which inhibits the absorption of calcium. Eggfood which includes a breeding formula, usually Petamine, is given twice a week and then three times a week. Birdie bread is also given twice a week now. All food, except for their regular seed, is served on small paper plates.
When the chicks hatch, we discontinue the eggfood for the first two or three days. The parents get everything else – all the goodies they were being fed and as much as they want – but nothing containing egg. The nestling food is given in a separate bowl and the birdie bread is made without the hardboiled eggs for this period of time. Once that critical first three days pass, the eggfood is returned to the parents three times a day. If you are planning to color feed your babies, this would be the time you would want to start the additives for color by including them in either the eggfood, birdie bread or if you are feeding nestling food separately, you might want to add the colorant to the nestling food. Remember to always keep plenty of fresh, clean water available for your birds at all times.
As the chicks grow and are old enough to leave the nest, continue to supply all the food you have been giving them. Don’t be surprised if they walk all over it or stand in the middle of the plate to eat. Once they are weaned and are no longer with their parents, we cut back on the eggfood, nestling food and birdie breads to two to three times a week. It will be several months before they go into their first juvenile molt and you must nourish their still growing bodies in order for them to come through that first molt properly and maintain their health. Molting is a very stressful time in a bird’s life and you must make sure he is well prepared for the ordeal.
This is also true for the parents, who will begin their molt once the breeding season ends and the daylight hours begin to shorten. So it is very important to continue with a diet similar to the breeding diet to make sure they get the proper nutrients their body will need.
About the author:
Christine hails from East Tennessee and and has many years experience breeding both Finches as well as Canaries.