The reproductive behaviour of budgies differs greatly from that of many other species and birds, which makes private and hobby breeding problematic without the necessary knowledge.
This is because these are opportunistic breeders, which means that regardless of the season and other conditions, they only breed when appropriate favorable breeding conditions prevail. This means, on the one hand, the presence of suitable breeding cavities and, on the other hand, a suitable and sufficient food supply.
In view of this, one should never hang a nesting box or any other object suitable as a breeding den in the budgie’s cage. As a rule, one should also refrain from feeding animal proteins (e.g. eggs).
Even professional breeders do not have nesting boxes in the actual aviaries, as they separate the budgie pairs before breeding begins, for example, to prepare them for breeding with suitable, nutrient-rich food and to prevent problems with other conspecifics.
Most problems in breeding are due to incorrect or inadequate nutrition, since budgies, unlike their wild counterparts, depend on the breeder to provide them with a suitable diet containing all the nutrients needed for breeding.
Private and living room breeding by inexperienced laymen (living room breeding) or amateurs with insufficient knowledge (hobby breeding) can usually only be described as irresponsible. The results of this are unfortunately far too often sick or even crippled chicks. In addition, there is always the risk that the hen will be harmed or possibly die if the breeding is not done properly.
Therefore, the breeding of budgies should be left to experienced breeders with the appropriate expertise, who know what to do if problems occur or who will prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Possible problems with the hen
circumstances may arise deformed eggs, the shell of which is different thickness or extremely rough and porous. These can result in severe laying distress or prolapse of the laying intestine or cloacal prolapse, both of which are life-threatening for the hen. Often, the only way to save the hen is immediate intervention by a veterinarian who knows birds. There are various reasons for this.
- Calcium deficiency
- Laying Bowel Inflammation
- Calcium metabolism disorder
When eggs are laid, problems can occur, the so-called laying dead. In this case, the egg is stuck inside the body and can either only be laid with great effort or not at all under its own power, which can be fatal for the hen.
There are various reasons for this.
- unbalanced diet before the breeding period and the resulting nutrient deficiency
- severe obesity
- Diseases that result in general weakening
- Exhaustion due to the previous laying of too many eggs
- Too old (approx. >= 8 years)
Cloacal or laying bowel prolapse
Sometimes an egg (e.g. deformed eggs) sticks or adheres so tightly to the laying gut that it is partially pressed out with it. The mucosa then dies within a few hours and becomes necrotic.
In the event of a cloacal or laying bowel prolapse, there is acute danger to life and many hens die within a very short time in such a case.
Compulsion to lay
In budgerigars it comes relatively often to an exaggerated, abnormal brooding instinct, the so-called Legezwang.
This causes the hen to exhaust herself relatively quickly (needed nutrients for the eggs) and the constant stress on the laying intestine leads to overstimulation of the mucous membrane, which can then lead to inflammation of the laying intestine.
Furthermore, hens with compulsive laying get brittle bones after some time, because at some point there is no longer enough calcium available, and then only“wind eggs” are formed without a hard calcium shell.
In the case of a hen exhausted by the compulsion to lay, the risk of a laying emergency or a cloacal or laying intestine prolapse is quite high.
Paralysis due to a slipped egg
If the egg slips due to an accident, e.g. a fall of the hen, it can press against the spine and squeeze the nerve cords running there. This can result in the hen being unable to move her legs very well or at all.
Beak structure changes
If there is an undersupply of vitamin A, biotin, pantothenic acid, folic acid and calcium during breeding, the beak horn can become brittle and porous. As a result, tearing, a split or a broken beak may occur.
Injuries and diseases of the chicks
Budgerigar Fledgling Disease (BFD)
This is the so-called “budgie nestling disease”, which is caused by polyomaviruses . In this case, the chicks waste away after hatching and usually die within 2 weeks.
The causes for this can be on the one hand aggressive parent animals, which pluck out the chicks feathers and on the other hand illnesses, which can end then often also fatally for the young budgerigars.
- Sudden large area missing feathers due to aggressive parents
- Sparse growing, brittle feathers due to lack of nutrients (insufficient rearing feed).
- Dropping tail and tail feathers and twisted feathers due to the contagious and incurable “French Molt” (polyomaviruses) or the highly contagious and incurable “Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease“ (circoviruses).
Chick without eyes
Fortunately, it is very rare for chicks to be born without eyes. However, certain colourings may give the impression at first, as they have no or only few dark colour pigments and the eyes are therefore not visible under the closed eyelids. So it often happens that these actually healthy chicks are killed by inexperienced breeders.
Hen attacks chick
It happens again and again that a formerly “caring” hen suddenly attacks and injures or even kills her chicks. The causes of this are often difficult to determine.
Suddenly large areas of missing feathers plucked out by parent birds.
The beak horn of the chicks is still very soft and sensitive in the beginning. Consequently, even the smallest accidents are enough to cause it to break or tear. The result in most cases is severe bleeding and later crooked regrowth of the beak. If the injuries are more severe, there is also a risk that the chick may starve to death.
It happens again and again that a fully developed chick cannot free itself from the egg. There are various reasons for this.
- Too small eggs due to improper nutrition of the hen before and during brooding (nutrient and calcium deficiency).
- Insufficient or interrupted heat supply during the incubation phase.
- Insufficient humidity in the nest box.
Some chicks may develop complications and develop unilateral or, in severe cases, bilateral leg deformity.
This can have various causes and without correct treatment can lead to severe disabilities.
- Hip dislocations in nestlings (especially in the absence of a nest cavity).
- Bent leg bones due to a diet too low in nutrients (e.g. vitamin D deficiency)
Twisted or crooked legs
Under certain circumstances, malpositions of the legs and feet can occur during the growth phase. The cause is the so-called“rickets“, a more or less pronounced malposition of the bones. This is caused by a nutrient deficiency , which in most cases occurs due to malnutrition .
Orphaned or rejected chicks
It can happen that the hen suddenly dies or is prevented from caring for the offspring, with disastrous consequences for the nestlings. These can then only be saved by hand rearing , which is a great challenge even for experienced breeders.