Contributing author: Alfonso de la Coba Garrido
(Asociación Timbrado Virgen de Consolación,
The use of foster parents for breeding
is a method of reproduction that, although "complicated" in
methodology, is without a doubt the best way at given times
to raise song canaries. With this method, we pursue certain
- Preserve our female breeders from physical waste giving
us healthier chicks.
- Gives us a way to get a goodly number of brothers and
sisters of close to the same age, giving us a difference
of only one month between the first and third round of eggs.
This is a very fundamental move for the proper development
of singers in our flights.
- Realize all our breeding in a very short period of time,
two months to raise three rounds.
- Have a much more secure way of raising young due to the
fact that the foster hens used have already proven to be
For those short on space and birds, this
method does have a substantial drawback, that is, it requires
double the number of foster moms than the breeder hens used
for laying the eggs.
I recommend that you use two or three males
for breeding, the best you have according to both phenotype
and song quality, and that you use a minimum of two hens per
male. It is possible to use up to four females at a time but
the more you use the more difficult it becomes due to the
time left with each female and the moving of the male around.
In my experience, using the following methodology
has been best:
- Seven days after taking the eggs from the hen, she lays
- The male must cross with her at least two days before
an egg is laid; upon the third egg being laid she will no
longer need the male.
- Leave the eggs with the breeder hen for five days, during
which time you will make sure they are fertile and then
you switch them to the foster mom.
- Wait to breed your birds until climate and light are such
that most of the hens are in condition: dilated vent areas,
carrying around nesting material, feathers etc. This occurs
usually around the end of February and the beginning of
- Divide the day (natural sunlight hours) by the number
of female breeders that you have assigned for each male.
Make sure that you alternate which hen the male spends the
night with. In the case that there are chicks in the cage,
move the male back out soon as he crosses a couple of times
with his hen. (I am assuming that you understand that we
are not redoing copies of previous rounds.)
- Do your best to make sure that the foster moms begin laying
before your breeders do.
- It is fundamental (extremely important) that you use products
rich in calcium, such as calciboost, oyster shell grit and
other such calcium products.
- Make sure that for a period of time before breeding your
hens do not get to listen to the males sing. This will keep
the hens from rejecting the male that is placed with them.
- Provide each female foster mom as well as breeder hen
a single young bird flight.
- When you bring the males into the breeding area, you put
the males with the foster moms for two days before the breeder
hens get theirs. This makes each hen have contact with her
first round male. With this we obtain:
- The initiation of the breeder hormones, after which, it
is not necessary for them to have contact with the males.
- The new males will get practice mating with the hens.
The males do not get used to mating with just one hen.
- After the two days that the males are with the foster
moms, you start putting them with the breeder hens. Begin
with the hen that has already made her nest and begs for
him upon hearing the males. If you have two foster moms
for your breeders, you will take the eggs away from the
second one the same time (five days) you remove the eggs
from the first breeder hen and put them under the first
foster mom so that the second foster will lay her second
batch at the same time the hen does. This assures success
of nest two.
To make things much easier for you and to
avoid catastrophic problems, I strongly recommend the following:
- Make a poster type chart in which you place all obtained
results from previous matings. (Breeder cards, dates and
times the eggs were removed, changed from breeder to foster,
how many birds were banded under each, how many young were
lost, how many minutes/hours males remained with females
and so forth).
- Extremely strict control (if using computer, you must
keep both hard and soft copy) over distribution of eggs,
not only in where they are kept, but also in placing them
back in the nest for setting, (avoiding the mix up of whose
are whose eggs both in and out of nest), as well as which
foster mom you put them with on day five.
I hope that all the above will serve to help
you to utilize your next breeding season in a much greater
©Alfonso de la Coba Garrido
Breeder # 0-954 Utrera,