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Please remember that this site is provided for breeder interaction and discussion. The processes and methodology suggested for improving a stud are the result of experience or of theory. They are here for discussion purpose ONLY ! Please do not assume that because they are posted they will benefit you without careful selection and historical knowledge of your own birds... this would be an erroneous assumption.  If something appears interesting or different, please do not attempt to incorporate it into your selective breeding program before gathering "small trial" efficacy data.

Please remember that questions and answers are sent from all over the world, and some may not necessarily apply to your situation.

Q1    Thank you for the invitation to look at your web site.  It is a very interesting site and an interesting idea.  I am not sure if you will put up the question that I have, but I would appreciate it if you would.

I don't know much about Lovebirds.  However, I see from some of the descriptions on your pages, that lovebird breeders have discovered the "buff" gene.  I would suggest that the lovebird community look long and hard at the breeding of these birds, their impact and your standard.

In the Budgerigar world, we have focussed on developing the big bird, the large head and the big spots.  There is nothing wrong with size as a target or Standard, if it is accompanied by the vigor, color intensity and feather condition one finds in  smaller budgerigars.  Look at the budgerigar breeder pages on the web and you will see that while the birds are big, much of the conformation and deportment is marred or hidden.

In my honest opinion, breeding these birds does not require the knowledge or breeding skill of the past.  The feathers can hide many of the faults that would have had a budgerigar "off the bench" in the "old days".   The style, vigor and grace is gone...the line of the bird is gone... hidden by feathers... the interest in budgerigars is waning.

Buff birds are plagued by cysts, coarse feathers and big bellies that flop over the perch.  The presence of birds with dropped tails and bad wing carriage are becoming more and more noticeable.  I read through some of my "classic budgerigar breeding books" the other evening, after I looked at your site.  It really brought home what we as a budgerigar breeders have lost by pursuing size.  The difference between the early B.S. and the bird's clean, racy lines, vibrant colors and form and today's B.S. are worlds apart and not, i n my opinion for the better.  Sadly, I wonder what we have done.

In the past everything that was wrong with a bird was on display, whether carriage, deportment, skull, tail, face and many other attributes.  The coarse and abundant feather today can hide or mitigate most of these physical faults.  The "feather duster" is more prevalent in the larger breeding establishments and the colors are not as attractive.  Instead of retaining the purity of color of the past, fixing the process and breeding "pure" color varieties, we have lost them. We need new inheritance charts to determine what has happened to the color splendor of the past.  We are repeating experiments that they undertook years ago, and we are no further ahead.  I don't know if any of the budgerigar breeders of today have the knowledge you think will be helpful (physical inheritance) for the lovebird fancy.. they don't require it.  Large numbers, luck and coarse feathers remove the need for skill.  I think judges are afraid to mark down bug birds any more, despite their "deportment".

My question for you, after my tirade, is whether the lovebird community is really interested in the technical aspects that you are requesting, and what use is it if the buff feathered bird is mixed in with everyone's stock and people still want the big birds ?


please feel free to e-mail me and ask any questions you like.  I will check in occasionally to see if I can help you out...

A1     Thank you for your question.  I found it a bit disconcerting, but that is what this site is about.  I had not expected to answer to many questions, as this is a place for the lovebird, budgerigar and pigeon breeder to discuss the issues associated with selective breeding and its aftermath.  To answer your questions in order:

Q2    How many pairs of birds do you require to carry out an effective breeding plan and should the birds be related or unrelated ?

A2   Hi, I just found your web site and thought it was about time someone started collecting and sharing breeding information in a tabular or pictorial form.  I would like to see more references on your pages, as they develop, and you have certainly stated some "interesting" opinions.

In any event, I am responding to Q2. This is a tricky question and depends on circumstances and space more than anything else.  If you are thinking of setting up a program, ensure that you are willing to put in the time and effort required to document all of the traits and their potential up and down sides and it would also be wise to assess economic value of doing something like this as well as the economic gain (show characteristics) you expect to make in your birds. An effective breeding program may start out with 10 pairs of birds, that over time may be weeded / reduced down to 2 or 3 lines depending on selection ( my opinion anyway).

Some may suggest three pairs, but breeding is a numbers  and luck game.  Three pairs may deliver results with a very experienced breeder, but it still requires a significant amount of expense and outlay to maintain the birds until you feel you have really been able to assess the desired traits.  Furthermore, you will want to develop a vigorous flock of stock birds; related strains with "excessive" or pronounced good traits, so that you can add or subtract to your main line.

Q3 I raise my parent and offspring together until breeding age. I have heard that people remove their young birds from their pens and put them in a separate flight upon fledging or a little later. I see a benefit from the “family” relationship developed when keeping birds together (pecking order well established) and important to my breeding program. Am I doing the right thing? Is breeding success better by removing young birds early ? Is there another approach that would be better ?

A3    I don't separate my lovebirds.  I find that too many fights occur between the hens if they are left to their own devices. They also tend to pair up with each other.

Q4 Much of the reading I have done deals with budgie breeding. The breeders make reference to a (1) prepotent cock covering several hens in a breeding season. Has anyone done this with the peachfaced lovebird and how would you do it, given the peachfaced hen's aggressiveness and dominance in the mate selection activity ?


Q5 I use artificial insemination (A.I.) to spread good genes and assess the “best” resulting combinations in my parakeet flock. Do you lovebird breeders use A.I. in your breeding programs, and if so, how do you do it, given the more aggressive nature of the lovebird

A5     No !

A5i     No, is a bit aggressive.  I think the reality is that we have not had a need for it to-date, although that does not mean that someone has not tried it.  I would be interested in knowing if any lovebird breeders do utilize this breeding mechanism.

Q6 What do you do, or look for when your birds look like the lovebird standard when they are relaxed and the feathers are fluffed, but then the bird thins out to a normal lovebird shape and size when surprised or poised for flight ? I mean, should I be looking at the birds “feathered shape” or the physical shape and size of the bird when the feathers are tight to the body when I am selecting my birds... there is a big difference?

A6    I always look for the solidness of the bird in the hand (weight).  If you have enough birds you can really feel the weight of the "solid" bird and this is true, for the most part, back to the chicks.  I haven't paid much attention to all the feather stuff.  I got involved for the joy and I have no interest in the barbules or hooks / hooklets or whatever. A good breeder knows his birds.  Sometimes you can see it in the form, and sometimes all the feathers cover up a spindly frame.

Q7 Hi, this question is for your Selective Breeding topic, Q&A page.  I have done all of the cross-faulting that I currently need to obtain some pretty decent stock: round head, large bone, smallish head. I am not happy with the head and shoulder formation.

My questions to experienced breeders is: How do I improve the head and shoulder shape on my peachfaced and is it a dominant characteristic or recessive ? Do I go for as many offspring as I can get from the pairs in the hope the genetics will slip into place, if I can’t find a bird with the desired attributes ? As well, should I leave a clutch of 6 or more eggs under a hen when I am looking for quality, or should I “foster” out 3 or 4 eggs so that I can concentrate the hen's time and energy on feeding the remaining two or three ?

A7    Re.; Q6: I have found out that getting a "larger" head means you have to be pretty lucky in the throw from your parent birds.  The :big-headed" bird seems to be something everybody wants, and the only way to get "head" at least in my experience is by identifying in your birds.  If you don't have enough birds you might have to buy it in, but watch out for the cross.

Qlast to date I have a question for experienced breeders, but I'm sort of embarrassed to ask it. I am not an experienced breeder and am trying to find out how difficult it is to do. I mean I don't even know if you should be looking for the best male bird or hen bird. I have bought some breeding stock, but is the male or the female more important for passing on traits in the peachfaced. I have an impression that the hen is, but the male has two yy genes ?

Alast to date
        I don't know if you will paste this response on your web page, but it really “upsets” (editorial deletion) me to see people who know nothing about breeding a living animal, and have obviously done no research on the subject, asking questions like this. It is this irresponsible attitude in young people that has given knowledgeable breeders a bad name through excessive in-breeding of their stock. I don't mean to be rude, but if this person doesn't know the basic genetic differences between the cock and hen, he/ she has no business breeding birds !!

Aii      Hey ! Take it easy on the beginner.  Many of us learned in the school of hard knocks.  I agree with your comments though.  Breeding isn't a hobby.  I know no work that requires the time and effort of breeding and believe me its full of disappointments and frustration.  I never wanted to pass on my hard learned knocks to people who think breeding is simply having a few pretty birds and letting them pair up.  You want good birds, you want success then you work for it.  Put in the time. I had to and so did every other "real" breeder.

Nothing pisses me off more than someone saying they are a breeder and they only have a couple a birds.  There is so much politics in the game today that all of the fun has gone out of it.  I didn't know none of this stuff about genetics, but you give me a few birds and I know what to do with them.  You hear all this stuff today about programs and science and gene mapping or something, so ?  Breeding is a hands on game.  You know your birds and their relationship and you make the right selection, you succeed.

You hear some of the "professionals" saying its the cock that carries the characteristics, others say it's the Hen...  Well let me tell you from someone who has been doing this stuff.  Sometimes it is the cock and sometimes it is the hen.  If you have a good hen, you can have the same success as a with a good cock.  You may not see the results immediately in the chicks if the best bird is the hen, but you will see it in the next generation.  Look for good birds.  Don't favor one over the other unless you have reason. You have to test your birds... you know, mate em up and see what they do with each other.  You can't improve your stock if you don't see how the birds "genes" relate with others.  Sometimes you'll get duds and other times you will get you stormer or champion bird.

Anyway, my advice is to look at all of your birds and mate the best to the best where fault in one can be addressed of balanced by the other or works towards it.

Aiii       I couldn't help but notice the last response to the inexperienced breeder, who was asking about the genetics of the hen and cock bird and the relative value of each, was not answered.  With the advances in molecular biology, genetics and mapping, we have been able to define many interesting trait inheritance patterns in birds other than parrots.  In the bird world, things are inverted in the genetics of male and female.  The cock is ZZ while the female is the ZW.

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