Gouldian Life Cycle Calendar

Mike Fidler

 

The life cycle of all Estrildidae is controlled by diet and not by daylight length. The Gouldian as an example breeds in the Australian winter when day length is at its shortest but food, following the wet season, is at its most abundant. Hence you may manipulate your Gouldian life cycle calendar by manipulating diet. The life cycle below follows the Gouldian's natural wild cycle.


January


Put your birds on an Austerity Diet of white and red millet mixed 50/50.
No supplements should be provided other than grit and plain water.
The austerity diet is necessary to stop the production of hormones so that males and females reach the same breeding condition status at the same time and also to ensure they are not fat.
Fat birds either do not breed at all, or are infertile.
Birds not put through an austerity period are more difficult to breed - males and females often reach breeding condition at different times.
Do the final selection of your breeding team; keep a few extra to cover for accidents and for lures. Keep only the best birds, they cost the same to feed as poor quality ones!
Cull any bird that has a history of illness or baldness.

February


Restore the breeding season seed mix and feed supplement at the rate of 2.5gm per bird (1/2 tea spoon) per day.
The Gouldian Research Station breeding seed mix is:

Red Millet
White millet
Siberian Millet
Canary seed
Rye grass
Silk sorghum
Signal grass
Niger seed

This mix was derived from seed choice trials conducted by the scientists and produces reduced waste and enhanced productivity.
The Gouldian Research Station supplement diet is (proportion in brackets behind the seeds):

Frozen green milk seed or sprouted seed (85)
Mike Fidler's soft food (10)
Mashed frozen mixed vegetables (5)

The above diet contains EVERYTHING they require, nothing else needs to be added.
It is a common mistake to overfeed Gouldians. They have evolved over millions of years to exist on a simple diet. Over feeding an unbalanced diet may lead to illness at worst, or poor breeding results.
Green food in the form of clover, chickweed, etc. may be provided and will be enjoyed but because of the mixed veg it is not necessary. [NB this does not apply to all finches]
Other supplement foods may be satisfactory but be aware that Gouldians are prone to hyperavitaminosis so soft foods high in vitamins or vitamin supplements, particularly those added to water, should be avoided.

 

March


Pair up your birds. For best results do not mix head morphs; i.e. pair red-to-red, and black-to-black. [scientifically proven]
Provide a nest box that has a small amount of nesting material inside. Leave enough nesting material on the floor for them to finish the nest themselves. Nest building is an important part of pair bonding and bringing them into peak condition. Many nest boxes on the market are much too big.
Ambient bird room day temperature is best between 18C - 25C and humidity 35% -50%.
Night time temperatures may fall to 10C.
If you have been following instructions there should be eggs in the nest by the end of the month!
Pop a spare male in the cage of any pair which has not laid - keep an eye on the introduced male, he will need taking out quickly once both of the partners turn on him within a few days!
NB. Gouldians are not natural colony breeders. They do not breed in colonies in the wild.

 

April - July


Full blast breeding time! Make a note of when the eggs are laid. They take 16 days to hatch. Increase the soft food on the 16th day and keep increasing the volume so that there is always a little left the following morning.
As a guideline - a full nest of nestlings when approx. 10 days old can consume up to 3-heaped teaspoon fulls a day.
The nestlings will fledge in approximately 21 days and be independent 40 days after hatching. As soon as the nestlings fledge, empty out the dirty nest box and add more nesting material. This time make up the majority [but not all] of the nest as the adults need to concentrate on feeding fledglings not nest building.
The male will continue feeding the fledglings whilst the female often goes back to egg laying. She will take a small part in fledgling feeding but the male does the main work.
Ensure there is plenty of fresh grit. The fledglings will eat more than normal as they approach independence.
Wean the juveniles on the 42nd day. A 600mm x 450mm x 450mm is an ideal weaning cage and will hold 6 juveniles. If you try and crowd Gouldians they just die off until they are back to sustainable numbers. Use anti-stress perches.
Scatter seed and water dishes around the weaning cage. Once you are happy they have found seed and water, over a few days, withdraw the extra receptacles
After 4 weeks they may be placed in holding flights.
Juvenile Gouldians are notoriously slow moulters, however this process can be accelerated if kept in a hot environment [30C-35C] and fed a rich diet.

 

August


August signals the end of the breeding season. By now, all things being equal you should have produced up to 3 rounds of youngsters.
Take out the nest boxes. Segregate the pairs into single sex flights or aviaries, preferably where they cannot see each other through the wire.
Place on an austerity diet for 2 weeks and this should trigger the moult.
Once in the moult feed the breeding diet.

 

September

By the end of September the moult should be just about finished.
This is a good time to begin choosing next year's breeding stock.
Habitually we only keep the very best breeders for another breeding season and get rid of the rest at this time of year.
Any juveniles who can be sexed should be placed into single sex flights.

 

October - December


Once birds are through the moult they should be placed on a maintenance diet of a standard finch seed mix and soft food supplement just twice a week.
Keep moving sexable juveniles into single sex quarters.
Continue the process of choosing next years breeding stock.
Keep only the best and get rid of your surplus in small batches.
Minimise the number of perches you use to make the birds fly from end to end to keep them fit.


Remember, the cycle remains the same but the timing can be manipulated to suit.

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