The wintering of Gloster canaries usually begins at the end of the moult or the end of the show season, depending upon the needs you place on your stock.
Glosters which are to be retained fall into a variety of classes (this will be discussed in paper no.6) and for this reason the housing and feeding of such stock will be modified to suit the situation.
The end of the moult to the beginning of the new calendar year is a time when the birdroom and stock are in a fluid situation. The stock will be moved around the birdroom as and when space and needs arise. Flighted birds which are to be retained and not shown can be caged in groups with regards hens and the cocks can be separated. Young stock which is to be retained and not shown can similarly be housed. On the other hand surplus stock needs similar housing, but attention must be paid to the quality and needs of this stock if customers are to be satisfied.
Quality in this respect means as always “fit for the purpose”. So, attention must be given to the cleanliness and health aspects of all surplus stock. Birds which have no resale value should be removed from the birdroom as soon as possible to make space available for the other stock on hand. Local park aviaries are always willing to accept your surplus stock and some schools and/or hospitals also have aviaries.
The Glosters designated to grace the show bench should always be caged singularly where personalised attention can be given. So there we have a mixed stock with different needs and wants during the months October-January.
For wintering purposes the Gloster Canary requires an institutionalised existence. They require undisturbed accommodation, comfortable accommodation and a balanced diet which is not too rich.
A: UNDISTURBED ACCOMMODATION: The wintering months are November through to March give or take a week or so.
Housing at this time should give thought to the amount of stock retained and its mix. Cocks should be singled off in double breeders, if possible and hens housed in the largest flight available. This arrangement leads to easier management of the stock during those dark cold months and allows the stock maximum exercise in the limited daylight hours.
Overcrowding large flights has just as a detrimental effect on the Gloster Canary as placing five or six hens in a double breeder, it stresses the birds due to the hierarchical pecking order. Hens can be housed singularly or two to a double breeder with no adverse effect on breeding performance, but do not overcrowd.
Although undisturbed accommodation is the priority some movement will take place bearing in mind the refurbishment that is on going at this time of cages and equipment. However be thoughtful of the needs of the Gloster with regards undue stress, its need of rest at this time and the unbalanced use of light.
B: COMFORTABLE ACCOMMODATION: Comfortable accommodation takes into account overcrowding, cleanliness, light and heat.
Comfortable means the well being of things but overcrowded, dirty conditions will not mean your Gloster Canaries are comfortable. On the contrary poor conditions will lead to a poor breeding season which is difficult enough without adding to the difficulties.
Light should only be used to feed the stock or attend to birdroom needs during this time and it must be a balanced use rather than an ad hoc arrangement.
Comfort also means temperature and here the sensible use of a thermostat to control the temperature at no more than ten degrees centigrade is advocated. This temperature will allow the Gloster Canaries and the fancier to feel and work comfortable in a clean environment
C: BALANCED DIET: A balanced diet this time of the year means the controlled use of softfoods and conditioners. A good canary mixture with fine grit charcoal plus a water soluble additive will suffice. This can be topped with household greens and eggfood, being offered weekly. This diet is only altered as the days lengthen in late February when eggfood will be increased until it is offered everyday just prior to pairing up. Fresh drinking water is given everyday and baths will be welcomed by the birds as and when offered.
There is no magic formulae for keeping healthy stock, it is all about cleanliness, uncrowded accommodation, a balanced diet and calmness around the stock. Who could ask for more.