Breeding Your Parakeet
Breeding parakeets requires an infinite amount of time and patience.
There are so many things that can go wrong during the breeding process. The following sections will give you a better understanding of what is needed to breed parakeets from choosing breeding birds to selling your babies. Please read this section carefully before deciding if you want to breed your parakeets.
Breeding parakeets takes a strong commitment. In the beginning you may think it’s easy. The birds lay the eggs, the eggs hatch, and the birds feed the babies. But there are a lot of things to consider. For instance, are you going to let the parents raise the babies and then hand train them or will you hand feed the babies so they will be tame from the beginning? Hand feeding is a full time job.
There are also many problems that can arise that will make it even more time consuming. What happens if the mother doesn’t want to sit on the eggs? What if the baby birds are born deformed or die soon after hatching? You must decide if you want to spend the time it will take to see the parakeets grow up healthy and strong.
Finding a Breeding Pair
Before you begin your venture, you will need to find a suitable breeding pair. Not only must you make sure that your birds are male and female (sometimes it takes DNA analysis before this can be determined) but you must also be aware of genetic mutations and what the babies will look like. If one of your pair has a flaw or two, don’t worry. Just make sure the other bird does not have the same flaws.
Your birds must be healthy and mature. Parakeets can breed as early as a few months old but they really should not until they are ten or twelve months old. Waiting until they are more mature will help ensure that they will sit on the eggs properly and take care of the babies, as they should.
Before breeding your pair, you will need to have the proper breeding setup. The cage should be at least 18 inches in width, 12 inches in height, and 12 inches long. There will also need to be a nesting box of approximately 6 inches by 6 inches by 10 inches. More than likely, you will want to mount the nesting box on the outside of the cage to save space.
When Does Breeding Occur?
Parakeets will breed at any time of year as long as conditions are favorable. They need 10 to 12 hours of daylight, plenty of water, lots of the proper foods, and a good nesting area. Provide some type of material in the nesting box such as shredded paper or large pine shavings so the eggs won’t roll around. Allow the birds to make changes to the nesting area as they see fit.
It might be a good idea to keep the nesting box closed until the pair has mated a couple of times so the female won’t get overly excited and start laying eggs before they have been fertilized.
Laying and Incubation
Approximately 7-10 days after the male and female mate, the female will begin laying eggs. The clutch will normally have three to five eggs. The eggs will be laid one every other day. Don’t hesitate to check the nest box frequently. You will want to mark the eggs as they are laid so you can keep track of which egg came first and which egg will hatch first. A good way to do this is to use a felt tip pen and mark the first egg with one dot, the second egg with two dots, and so on. The eggs will hatch about 18 days later. Provide plenty of food to the parents so they will be able to feed the new babies.
Should You Hand Feed or Allow Parent Feeding?
You can either allow the babies to be fed by the parents or you can hand feed them yourself. Hand feeding allows you to tame the babies from the very beginning. If you choose to let the parents feed the babies, you will need to begin hand training them after they begin to feather.
If you prefer to hand feed the babies yourself, prepare to spend a lot of time with your new babies. Allow the parents to feed the babies for two to three weeks and then begin hand feeding. You will need to feed the babies at least every four hours between the hours of 6 am and 12 pm.
You can feed your baby birds with a syringe or an eyedropper. How much they actually eat and how frequently they eat will change as they grow. Check the crop of your baby bird to see how full he is and when his next feeding should be. Never allow the crop to become completely empty.
Remove your baby parakeet from the nest and place him on a paper towel. Cup your hand carefully around his body to help keep him still and in the right position for feeding. Most baby birds will be eager to eat and have their beaks open and waiting. If your baby is not quite as eager, tap his beak with the syringe and he should open up. Place the feeding device in on the left side of the beak and angle it toward the right side.
The bird’s head will bob up and down when he is swallowing. That is when you should slowly squeeze the syringe. After you feed the baby a few times, you and he shall get the hang of it.
It is very important not to over fill or under fill the crop. Determining how much is enough takes practice. Sometimes the bird will quit eating when he is full but others are gluttons and will continue eating if they can. You might want to give the bird a couple of drops of water to help wash out his mouth when he is finished eating.
You will want to feed your babies food that is made especially for them. It can be found at good pet stores or online. Be sure to use distilled or boiled water to mix the formula and follow directions carefully. Do not reuse formula. Discard leftovers immediately and clean the feeding utensils.
At two to three weeks, you can hand feed every three to four hours. At three to four weeks feed them every four hours. At four weeks you can place them in a cage with low perches and you can place a water bowl inside. At five to six weeks, feeding should only happen twice a day. Pellets or other types of bird food can be placed in the cage to encourage the birds to eat on their own.
Weaning occurs at ten weeks of age. Before weaning the bird from hand feeding, make sure he is interested in other foods and is actually eating them at times.
If you don’t already have down payments placed on your parakeets from potential buyers, you’ll need to advertise or find a pet store that is willing to buy them. Make sure your babies are weaned before offering them for sale.
Banding your birds is also a very good idea. Banding information can be found in a previous section of this book. Get all of your paperwork in order and be ready to say goodbye to your babies.
Incessant Egg Laying
Like a lot of birds, the female parakeet doesn’t need a male to lay eggs. There really isn’t much you can do to stop it. The best you can do is to help your parakeet through this time with as little stress as possible.
While laying eggs, your parakeet is using a lot of calcium. You’ll need to help her replenish it by providing her a diet rich in calcium. That means giving her a cuttlebone and dark greens like kale, spinach or broccoli. She also needs plenty of protein in her diet.
If the eggs are cracked, you can remove them from the cage immediately. However, if she lays the eggs carefully and sits on them, you should leave them for 1-2 weeks after the last egg is laid.
Try pulling the shades and giving her less daylight than normal because parakeets tend to lay eggs when they are exposed to light for 12 hours a day.