How To Breed Budgies Successfully
Breeding budgies can be enjoyable and a good learning experience. It can teach us the cycle of life of a budgie, and how easy they reproduce. It is only natural for budgies to have the desire to reproduce, by following this guide you will learn how to breed budgies and thus make it easier for you and your budgie to have a successful clutch of baby budgies.
The first thing we recommend is to gather your supplies and have them ready. You should always be prepared for anything when breeding budgies including stepping in to help when certain situations arise. Below you will find a list of essential supplies you must have handy before you pair your budgies, these are;
1. Breeding Cage
A breeding cage that measures at least 24″ x 16″ x 16″ is recommended when breeding a single pair of budgies. The cage should be made preferably out of wire, it is advisable to purchase a cage that has a designated nest box door or large door for access. In case the cage does not have a designated door, you can always cut some of the wire and create one to your liking. Examples of good breeding cages below, click image to learn more.
2. Sturdy Wooden Perches
Your breeding cage might include dowel perches, toss those out and replace them with real textured wood perches. Manzanita, Fir, and Natural Hardwood have worked the best and are readily available at pet stores worldwide. You can definitely use branches from trees you might have in your home or yard, but make sure that they come from trees that are not toxic to budgies. Avoid branches from Avocado, Birch, Fern, Wisteria, Pear, to name a few. Purchasing natural wood perches that are guaranteed safe for your birds is highly recommended instead of making your own.
Note: Make sure that you thoroughly wash any branches gathered from your garden as they may contain pesticides or harmful bacteria.
3. Water And Food Dishes
Having several water dishes or water dispensers in a single breeding setup is a must. Not only do budgies need water to survive but they need a place were they can bathe. It is especially important for the female budgie to bathe as she will introduce humidity to her nest box and eggs via her wet feathers. Humidity is very important for egg development and proper hatching.
Several food dishes will be required if you plan to introduce fresh foods such as; fresh fruit, vegetables, fresh egg food or any other perishable food. Having separate food dishes will prevent the growth of bacteria and cross contamination from spoiled food. We usually recommend having a main food dish for their seed or staple diet, a secondary food dish for fresh food that needs to be removed after a few hours, and a third dish for supplements such as oyster shell, charcoal, and petamine breeding supplements.
4. Balanced Seed Diet
A balanced seed diet is a must! Although a large amount of budgie parents swear by pelleted diets, we would not recommend a pelleted diet to be used for breeding budgies as they lack some of the essential nutrients contained within seed. Budgies in their native state eat from a variety of grass seeds and fresh greens, and not processed foods. We like to make the breeding and nesting experience as close to natural as possible. Not all commercially available seed mixes are made the same either. Pay close attention to the nutritional value of the seed mixes, a seed mix free from artificial flavors and or vitamins is best suited as you will be adding supplements to balance your budgies diet.
Here at allaboutbudgies.com we highly recommend, if possible, to visit your local feed store and mix your own seed mix. By doing so, you are guaranteeing seed freshness and reducing artificial additives. A good seed mix will contain a combination of canary grass seed, white proso millet, red proso millet, hemp seed, oat groats, flax seed, and niger seeds.
Note: For more information on what to feed your budgie check out this article here: https://allaboutbudgies.com/what-do-budgies-eat/
5. Calcium Supplements
The most commonly used calcium supplement for budgies is a cuttlebone also known as a cuttlefish bone. That’s right, it comes from a cuttlefish, a creature that lives in the sea. Budgies love cuttlebone because not only does it act as a calcium rich supplement, but it helps keep their beaks nice and trimmed.
Calcium can also be provided from commercially available powder, or in liquid form. Crushed oyster shell can also provide calcium and other essential minerals. You will find links to our favorite brands below.
6. Iodine Supplements
Liquid iodine for caged birds is highly recommended as it promotes healthy functioning thyroid gland. Most commercially available seed mixes lack iodine, a liquid iodine can easily be added to their water dish or dispenser. You will visually notice that the iodine is working after a few weeks as it also promotes healthy and vibrant feather growth.
7. Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal for birds is a great way to reduce toxins especially if your budgie has heavy metal poisoning, an overdose of medication, or if they simply ingested a toxic plant or substance. It is also a great digestive aid. We have been mixing activated charcoal with oyster shell for years and we highly recommend it.
8. Liquid Multi-Vitamins
There are several liquid and powdered multi-vitamins for birds in the market, we recommend a multi-vitamin high in vitamin D3 if your budgies lack natural light. D3 vitamin allows for calcium absorption and immunity. Stay away from the cheap multi-vitamins. Our recommendations are linked bellow.
9. Nest Box
When choosing a nest box make sure that it will have enough space to accommodate at least a clutch of 2-6 chicks. There are several types of nest boxes that are appropriate for budgies. Traditional wooden nest boxes are more natural but are usually only used 1 to 2 times, they are heavy, and not as easy to clean and disinfect. Here at allaboutbudgies.com we recommend and use plastic nest boxes as they are light weight, easy to clean and disinfect, and easy to store.
10. Wood shavings or Recycled Bedding
Wood shaving or some sort of recycled bedding such as CareFresh should be added to the nest box. In the wild, budgies find holes in trees and line their nest with wood dust or any other soft material within their hollowed nest. Even though budgies will throw out most of the nesting material before the hen starts laying her eggs, more bedding should be added once the eggs have hatched. This will help the chicks with support and will help reduce splayed legs.
11. Petamine Breeding Formula
Petamine Breeding formula is an amazing supplement for any breeding setup. This formula has been used by many breeders of exotic birds for over 60 years. It contains a balance of vitamins, minerals, and proteins that help encourage breeding behavior and promotes healthy egg development in budgies. If you are unable to find Petamine near you, We will provide links to other products that are similar down below.
12. Millet Spray
Not only is millet spray good as a treat for your budgies. Millet spray is also used to wean baby budgies and promote independence. When baby budgies have almost feathered, we like to provide them with a piece of millet spray inside the nest box. We have noticed that baby budgies will nibble on the spray millet and wean faster into food independence.
13. Full Spectrum Light
Natural light is essential for optimum breeding results. However, many people might live in an area where they do not get more than 10 hours of sunlight. For those people, there is a really simple solution, artificial full spectrum light. Zoo Med makes a floor lamp that is design specifically for birds. You can find it below as well as some alternative products.
14. Handfeeding Formula
It is good practice to have a good handfeeding formula just in case you might have to step in and take over feedings. Handfeeding is very time consuming and can be difficult if you do not know what you are doing. For that reason, we recommend to only step in if chicks are being abandoned or ignored by their parent. A good handfeeding formula for budgies is the Kaytee Exact High In Fat Hand Feeding Formula.
Note: You will also need a couple of hand feeding syringes for birds. You can find them on Amazon by clicking here.
Setting up your breeding cage
After you have acquired all the necessary supplies it is time to set-up your breeding cage. We recommend to set-up the nesting box on the outside of the cage. This allows your budgies to have more room within the breeding cage and will allow you to monitor the nest with little disruption.
Now, you need to make sure that you have a proven male and female budgie. A way you can sex a budgie is through the cere (flesh area above the beak). Males will have a bright blue cere unless it is an albino, lutino, recessive pied mutation, those will retain their ceres a pink or flesh color. Females will have a light to medium brown cere. If the female has a dark brown cere she is past her fertile period. If the female has a dark brown cere it will still breed and lay fertile eggs but she is not in optimum condition therefor we would advice not to breed. Instead separate the female and condition her by providing protein rich foods.
It is of high importance that you do not breed budgies that are younger than 12 months old. It is best not to breed budgies that are less than a year old because it will help avoid any problems such as egg binding (when a hen cannot pass the egg through the vent), or nest abandonment. Immature females will sometimes attack their chicks and possibly kill them.
Conditioning For Optimal Breeding
Before you even think of placing your budgies in the breeding cage you must condition them. This is very Important and should not be skipped if you want to avoid fertility problems. I condition my birds for about 2 to 4 weeks. Feed your birds a good balanced diet, and provide them with the liquid vitamins, include the Petamine breeding supplement, provide fresh fruit and vegetables, and do not forget the crushed oyster shell and activated charcoal.
For more information on what to feed your budgie check out this article here: https://allaboutbudgies.com/what-do-budgies-eat/
Do not forget the cuttlebone. The cuttlebone is a good source of calcium which helps the budgies and chicks develop stronger bones and helps females with egg production. You can also use a liquid calcium supplement instead of the cuttlebone. If you are providing them with cuttlebone, make sure you purchase several extra pieces of cuttlebone as the budgies will chew through them quickly. Buy in bulk if you can.
We love using Petamine breeding supplement because it gives you a higher fertility rate and we have noticed that female budgies tend to lay larger eggs and thus produce healthier chicks. You can purchase Petamine from Amazon by clicking here: Petamine Breeding Formula
After you have completed the conditioning process, it is now time to add the budgies to the breeding cage. The female budgie should be added first as this gives her time to get familiar with her new home and surroundings. After about 4-5 hours have gone by we recommend adding the male. Some breeders will keep the female in the breeding cage for a couple of days before introducing the male, we have found that some females become territorial and might attack or reject the male.
Pay very close attention to your budgies, observe them from a distance without interruption. In some cases there might be conflict and rejection at first. However, it is not always a match, some budgies will not be compatible and might hurt each other or kill each other. You must be ready to intervene if that is the case. If there is blood drawn from either the female or male, you must separate them immediately. A way to determine if you have a compatible pair is to look at the following signs of compatibility.
Are Your Budgies Compatible?
Compatible budgies will:
- Preen each other
- Will perch close to one another
- Feed each other via regurgitation (Male does more of the feeding)
- Female will allow the male to follow her around
- Female will follow the male to the nest box
- Male will bob his head with excitement
- Female will become excited and will raise her tail
- Female and Male will go inside the nest box several times
When budgies mate, the male will do a dance that consists of jumping from perch to perch, chirping, and bobbing his head. He will then move side to side on the perch the female is in while bobbing his head and tapping his beak against the females beak. Males do this to get the female excited and soon after the female accepts the males’ advances, she will stay still with her pupils very narrow and start arching her back and raising her tail. Her tail will point straight up and while arched, the male will mount her and place his vent against hers. He then moves his vent against hers from side to able to inseminate he. After a successful copulation, the male budgie will fly away. Mating will not last very long but it is repeated several times within a day.
If you notice the female is motionless and arching her tail, she is basically allowing her mate to mount her. Mating should take place soon after the female raises her tail. Most of the time mating takes place in the early morning, if you are present when the mating ritual has begun, you might notice several failed attempts to mount. This is common for new and experienced budgies.-All About Budgies
What To Expect After Mating Takes Place
After mating has taken place, female budgies will start to focus on their nesting site. The hen will spend most of her time inside the nest box. She will then modify the nest box by chewing on it and will throw out some of the wooden shavings that you provided them. Do not be concerned if you hardly see the hen outside the nest box or not eating. Usually, the male will tend to her during this stage and provide feedings via regurgitation.
Physical changes In Female Budgie After Mating
Several days after copulation, usually 4-6 days, you will notice that her abdomen will appear swollen and her droppings will become larger. The hens vent area will be more visible and soon after, she will lay her first egg. Do not worry if she lays her first egg outside the nest box. This type of behavior is common among fist time laying hens. If the egg is still intact, place the egg in the nest box so that she will get the idea that eggs are supposed to be inside the nest box.
Hens will usually start to incubate the eggs after the second or third egg has been laid. Incubation can take from 17 to 23 days to hatch and feeding usually starts after 24 hours. Do not fret if you notice that the baby chick has not been fed after hatching. The baby still has to absorb all nutrients from the yolk sack before it starts to beg for food. If you notice that it has been past a day and the chick has not been fed, try transferring it to another laying hen. If you do not have any other hen sitting on eggs, then this is the time to start hand feeding. Day old chicks are hardly strong enough to survive via handfeeding, do not be disappointed if it does not survive.
Once the chicks have hatched you must monitor the nest at least once a day. This will allow you to see if the female is actually feeding the chicks or if she is attacking them. There are some awful mothers that will reject and attack their young. It can be due to lack of proper nutrition, no conditioning, first time mother, or traumatic event. If a female hen attacks their young once, she is prone to do it again with future clutches.
The development of chicks is a wonderful thing to see and experience. As the chicks are growing you will have to clean the nest box to reduce the amount of bacteria and replace any soiled wooden or recycled paper shavings. Budgies are born totally naked and blind, they will depend on the mother a lot. They will begin to open their eyes at about a week old and feather down will soon follow. Feathers begin to grow and their color mutations begins to emerge.
Fledging and Weaning
At about four weeks old, the flight feathers should have grown, and at that stage they are ready to leave the nest box and begin to fly. Even after the chicks have left the nest, you still have to look out for them because they might not be able to eat on their own yet. Strong chicks will observe the parents crack seed and will begin to imitate their actions. Spray Millet is a good treat for young chicks that are weaning as it is high in fat and easy to digest.
By following this guide you will have an easier time breeding your budgies. This article will teach you how to breed budgies successfully and with little to no issues. Please remember that breeding your budgies is a lot of responsibility and is stressful on your budgies. Keep visiting back soon for future articles about budgies and follow us on our other social media platforms.