Avoid Common Cockatiel Breeding Problems
Perhaps youíve decided to start breeding cockatiels because theyíre so adorable, because you want to make some cash, or a little of both. Getting started at anything new can be a confusing time, so Iíd like to help you avoid some of the common pitfalls that new cockatiel breeders often face.
Before we get into that though, I wonder if you would look over the article I wrote on cockatiel adoption, which outlines some of the problems faced by cockatiels due to overpopulation. Iím not here tell you whatís right or wrong, I just want you to know whatís going on, before you make the decision to start breeding.
With that out of the way, letís get down to business.
Breeding Too Young
Encouraging your cockatiels to breed as soon as theyíre physically able to is like encouraging a pair of twelve year old children to have a baby, they might be physically capable, but itís unhealthy for the girl, and theyíre hardly going to make great parents.
Unfortunately, this common sense tends to go straight out the window when it comes to breeding animals. You can easily avoid the common mistake of breeding too young, by waiting until both your cockatiels are at least a year old before you let them have chicks.
Bad Diet or Irregular Meals
Before your birds even get to breeding, you need to make sure theyíre in good health. That means a decent diet, for at least a few months before hand. Cockatiels will breed when theyíre in less than great physical condition, but their health will suffer for it. Make sure theyíre a healthy weight before you let them have chicks Ė not fat, not skinny, just plain healthy.
Breeding is a stressful time for the parents, both physically and mentally. To keep their strength up, you need to make sure theyíre getting a healthy diet, with lots of nutrients. That will help them to cope with the pressure, and keep their immune systems in top condition. Also, the female needs increased calcium Ė ideally from dark green vegetables Ė because laying all those eggs depletes her supply.
Food needs to be provided as regular as clockwork, because cockatiels will only breed when food is plentiful. Forgetting to feed your cockatiels now and then isnít an option during breeding, neither is an erratic feeding schedule. Cockatiels will often refuse to breed, or will abandon eggs/chicks, if conditions donít seem good anymore.
Stressed parents make bad parents, as a general rule. Anything in the environment that stresses your birds out can either make them avoid breeding, make them sloppy parents, or even make them abandon their young.
Common sources of stress are loud noises: TVs, stereos, people talking loud or shouting. Along with lots of hustle and bustle near their nest: people constantly passing, anxious owners checking on them frequently. And danger: cats or dogs sniffing around, rats in the aviary etc.
Make sure your cockatiels are left in peace and quite to breed and raise their young. You can check how theyíre getting on sometimes, but donít go peeking into their nest box every few hours, because the birds will just get anxious about it.
Itís exciting for you to get new chicks, but itís tiring, and stressful, work raising six or eight children, so itís a good idea to let your cockatiels have a decent rest sometimes. Keep it to one or two clutches or chicks per year, for each breeding pair, and you should be fine.
If you choose to ignore that guideline, and start over breeding, youíll find that your birds quickly become unhealthy, which is cruel, and can be very expensive to you. Also, their parenting skills may well suffer, because of the constant stress theyíre under.
Refusing to Breed
Sometimes, it seems like a pair just donít want to breed together, even though all the conditions are right. This can be very frustrating for many owners, but luckily there is hope. While itís possible that the two birds are just a bad match, itís much more likely that thereís something in the environment thatís bugging them, even if you have no idea what it is.
Try moving their cage, or aviary, to a different area if you can. You may be surprised to find that a reluctant pair will suddenly start breeding like rabbits, once theyíve settled into a new location. If thatís the case, it also gives you an easy way to make sure they donít breed when you donít want them to Ė just put them back where they were originally.
Homes for Babies
Donít just assume youíll be able to find homes for all the new baby cockatiels. You need to do your research and really be sure. Thereís a huge amount of over population among cockatiels, and there are plenty for sale in pet stores, and with breeders, in most areas.
Start finding good homes before you start breeding, if you can. Or else, make sure your local market isnít flooded. Of course, you can always keep the new birds yourself, but make sure you can afford it, food and vet bills for six or eight new cockatiels can soon add up.
The main theme in all these scenarios is preparation. Think about everything you need to take into consideration before you get going. Iím a great fan of taking decisive action, but youíll save yourself a lot of hassle, and your birds a lot of misery, if you just plan to sidestep these common breeding problems.