Buying Birds By Robert Manvell
Some comments made to me by struggling
fanciers has prompted me to put pen to paper. On many occasions, fanciers have
lament "nobody will sell them good Birds" or "they can't afford
to buy or wont pay the prices asked for good stock birds" along with
"after all the money I have spent, my birds are going nowhere!".
Apart from the above statements being a bit of
a whinge, the basic problem would appear to be, that very little thought has
been given to the many factors which influence whether a purchase is going to be
useful or not. These factors could include :-
In addition to the above, we must not forget
the most important factors, the fanciers own ability and experience. Many
birds procured by fanciers are of little or no use to them. In fact many birds
should not have been purchased in the first place.
Hopefully the information contained herein
will address some of these points and give you something to think about before
you next make a purchase.
There are many reasons why breeders buy
budgerigars. Some breeders may have aspirations of being one of the next Legends
of the hobby. While others are quite happy to just plod along enjoying their
birds without ever wanting to improve their stock exhibition wise. There is
absolutely nothing wrong with either of these goals as they are a very personal
choice. The vast majority of fanciers are lodged somewhere in between these two
In the beginning.
Birds acquired in the early stages of the
hobby should be regarded as disposable or for want of a better explanation a
stepping stone to the future. I say this because in the early days the new
fancier does not have the skill or knowledge to get the best out of their birds.
Most probably the initial exhibition stock birds will have died and thus will
have been wasted before they could be properly utilised. Spending big at this
point would be foolhardy. Even if you can afford visually superior stock, you
simply will not have the eye necessary to make full use of these birds. The
fancy is littered with breeders in this position, successful today and
floundering tomorrow, then exit stage right.
In the beginning buy a few pairs of reasonably
priced stock from a recommended (word of mouth), breeder and have some fun.
That's right, have some fun, while you learn the ropes, getting on. top of
things like breeding, feeding and keeping these finicky exhibition birds alive
and well. Then when your ready, trade-in your birds and move up to the next step
on the ladder. Take time to enjoy your days as a beginner. Use this important
time to educate your eye for the finer points of exhibition Budgerigars.
From this point on the breeders will have been
breeding for a while and should be starting to appreciate a quality bird. Thus
they would be ready to improve their birds to be more competitive in whatever
status they exhibit. It is from here that you should be starting to consider
building the foundations for your future in the hobby.
The more experienced and established breeders
will be trying to buy features to implant in their own birds, making them more
complete and therefore more likely to win the highest accolades on the show
bench. All the above categories of breeders have very different requirements,
and are therefore sourcing a very different style and or quality of birds.
Be honest with yourself.
If you are not an accomplished breeder,
you will more than likely have some major inadequacies in your present stock.
You must be objective and absolutely honest with yourself, acknowledging your
bird's failings, if you wish to make real progress.
The fundamental problem is, the features so
necessary on a winning Exhibition Budgerigar are not all that heritable.
Meaning, for instance, if your birds have poor head features you will find that
in almost every case, a single purchase is not capable of fixing this well
established problem in your birds. This happens because the poor features will
be dominant, thus suppressing the new improved features you are trying to
establish. The results are disappointing when purchased birds are paired to
birds that do not have comparable or compatible backgrounds. This is why so many
outcrosses fail to pass on their superior features.
Unfortunately, in many instances breeders are
just wasting their time trying to fix endemic problems within their stock by
buying in the odd out-cross. I'm sure you've all heard the "flogging a dead
horse" or "banging your head against a brick wall" analogies.
These two sayings are especially true regarding breeding exhibition budgies!!!!!
Need for Upgrading.
If you are honest with yourself and you can
recognise you are in the above position, you would be far better off to cut your
losses and completely upgrade your bloodline and start an entirely new line
within your aviary. Rather than wasting time and money on the existing line that
is resisting your efforts to improve and therefore holding you back. I have done
exactly as outlined on three occasions over the past sixteen years.
Being realistic, I knew the birds in my aviary
at the time did not have what it takes to be competitive. Nor were the birds
backgrounds there to pull the necessary features out. The first upgrade was to
the Scoble birds, the second an imported UK line (F & C McGovern) and
finally I was fortunate enough to buy birds from Mannes in Germany. The last
upgrade was some four seasons ago, and I am reaping the benefits of the Mannes
You must have faith because each time I converted to a new superior line,
visually my birds took a step backwards. On each occasion however the babies
produced in the first season were a vast improvement on the predecessors. All it
took was for me to swallow my pride and admit to myself, that my birds were as
good as they were going to get! My birds did not have any chance of progressing
to the quality of the Mannes birds, so they had to go! No other purchases have
been necessary or should be necessary in the near future, since this last
complete major overhaul.
Obviously I could not afford to buy Mannes top
birds, but the ones I did buy were from his strongest lines. From previous
experience, I learnt, "you are far better off with a visually ordinary bird
from an outstanding stud than you are with an outstanding bird from a mediocre
stud". This is because in an outstanding stud the birds will have
background, pedigree substance and ancestral homogeneity. Regardless of the
birds visual quality if it is from an outstanding bloodline it should be capable
of passing on the family attributes. The mediocre stud will not have the
background to do this.
Justifiably, an ordinary bird from the
outstanding stud may be the same price or in the case of Mannes a lot more than
a good visual bird at an average establishment. Human nature will wrongly push
even the most experienced fancier towards the visual purchase almost every time.
If you wish to progress, the first and most important consideration when
purchasing is background. You can't breed great budgies from a second-rate
bloodline. Select the best bird you are offered or can afford with the chosen
background. This is exactly what I did with the Mannes birds. With this type of
purchase I know that over the long haul these birds will reproduce, and they
have as expected, produced some excellent quality babies over a few generations.
The secret is if you can buy a group of birds
from one dependable bloodline, there are many possibilities (chances) for
producing quality youngsters. This is better than putting all your eggs in the
one basket with that one super bird purchase. From this you should gather I
basically disagree with the general thinking that you are better off buying one
good bird instead of several lesser quality ones. Of course, the proviso is, the
birds purchased must be from an outstanding bloodline and have impeccable
Looking for stock.
From who and what quality of birds you
purchase, will depend on your position within the hobby, your future aspirations
and of course your resources. However, if do you wish to build an outstanding
stud of birds, you must acquire your stock from a breeder who has an outstanding
stud of birds, with all the contemporary features you desire, most especially
top end features. What is the point of selecting rejects from a breeder who is
not capable of mixing it with the best?
Where do we get these marvellous birds?
Whatever are your individual requirements, you must not be hasty, take your time
and be on the lookout for breeders who are exhibiting stock with the features
you desire. Or if you require a new start, look out for breeders who are winning
year in and year out with young and old birds all of course bred in their own
aviary. Make sure the selected persons are winning with different birds, not the
same few they are flogging to death.
The last point is cost! Personally, I buy so
few birds, the cost over many years is almost irrelevant. If the birds are the
ones I want and they are available, within reason I will pay the price asked. To
me the bird is much more important than the price. Each buyer will have their
own circumstances and must work within these constraints. All fanciers should be
aware though there is absolutely no correlation between the price you pay for a
bird and the quality you are getting.
* Check if the
features you need are in your flock before buying.
* Only buy for a
* Take time to find
a source to purchase your requirements for the future.
* If your flock is
well off the pace, be prepared to start from scratch.
* When you do buy,
give your purchases the opportunity to prove their worth.
* Although winning
is nice, it far from being the most important part of the hobby.
I hope the above information is of some
assistance. Good Luck, take your time and enjoy the hobby!
ã Robert Manvell 1997
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Robert Manvell: Phone 02 67622272 Mobile 0427 622272 Tamworth NSW Australia