Breeding battery and its equipment
When looking to select your zebra finches, the question of the arrangement of a matured piece becomes inevitable. In this room dedicated to your birds, the breeding battery is practically essential. The breeding battery must combine several functions and be designed so that it facilitates the daily maintenance and care of your winged friends.
I will show you what I use. The advantages and disadvantages, as well as what can still be improved.
I have endeavored to set up practical equipment for cleaning and above all which optimizes my time spent in care, maintenance, cleaning, etc., while maintaining a good environment for all the birds.
The breeding battery or breeding cages
I use 2 sets of 8 GEHU brand cages, each have the following dimensions length 50 cm, width 40 cm, height 40 cm. This breeding battery is made of melamine treated wood against humidity, the advantage is that the whole is completely removable (facilitates any moving of your breeding room).
The cages are separated by removable PVC walls. Once removed, this allows for one meter long flight cages. I have them fitted with a stainless steel bottom grid to avoid contact with the droppings that fall into the bottom of the drawer. I put wood shavings at the bottom of the cages as litter (absorbs moisture from droppings and retains bird dust).
Ultimately, these 16 cages can be used for breeding as well as one meter flight space for weaning, rest period, etc.
Breeding battery 16 cages (dimensions of a compartment: L 50 cm, l 40 cm, h 40 cm)
Drawers with beech chips bottom, stainless steel grid to avoid contact with droppings
What could be improved, in my opinion, would be to have the same set in PVC rather than melamine. However, I do not know of a fully removable PVC breeding battery. In addition, after several years of use and several disassembly, these cages have not deteriorated.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of other breeding cage manufacturers out there that can be just as interesting.
Basic accessories of the breeding battery
I set up for each battery compartment a grooved perch and a smooth wooden perch. For zebrafinch, the diameter of 10 mm and 12 mm is to be preferred. Varying the diameters will strengthen the legs. In order, precisely, to strengthen the birds' legs (work on posture), we can also put selected branches with different curvatures.
Advice: Do not put perches on the same vertical line, in order to prevent the droppings from being received on a congener. As well as the placement of perches in relation to feeders and fountains must be considered to prevent seeds or water from being soiled.
In my opinion, preferred wood to plastic. Indeed, although plastic gives a better guarantee for hygiene, zebra finches prefer wood to rub their beaks. The cleaning of the perches should not be neglected, because it is shared and in direct contact with each bird.
Smooth grooved wood perches, diameters 10 and 12 mm
A 50cc capacity fountain per cage is installed. Prefer blue fountains (see photos above), to protect as much as possible from the sun (if you can not help but place them in a place where the sun will reach them).
Place the fountain wisely, making sure that no droppings fall into it. For example, do not place it under a perch. Please also place it at the correct height, not too low to prevent birds from considering it for a bathtub. In this case, it will empty very quickly and moisten the bottom of the cage which may cause mold.
I imagined setting up an automatic water distribution system with a tank, suitable hoses and automatic drinker. I finally gave up on such an installation. This for one main reason, in the diet that I apply, I put in the drinking water every week either comin cholin, onion juice, garlic juice and also apple cider vinegar. Individual fountains in this case are easier to clean than a whole network of pipes.
However, an intermediate solution would be possible: Only set up the fountains on days when there is an addition and close the automatic distribution network on those days. The benefit of this idea would be a saving of time, because I will avoid changing the water on a daily basis.
There are many models of bathtub. Choose baths that are easy to clean and, above all, easy to integrate into your cages.
Baths with a transparent bottom are not always accepted by birds. In your choice, also look at the strength of the hooks that allow you to attach the bathtub to the cage.
Do not provide the bath for more than an hour, the water quickly becoming soiled and therefore unsuitable for drinking. Water in bathtubs must not replace the drinking water in fountains.
When to offer the bath ?
During the rest period, one bath per week seems appropriate.
It can be offered daily during mating preparation.
Avoid the bath during the brooding, this could encourage to undertake a new laying. To be considered only if the humidity level is below 40-50%. See other methods to regulate hydrometry : Regulate hygrometry to promote hatching.
The bath can be offered 1 or 2 days before hatching if the humidity level in your room is too low.
Feeders and buckets
For the distribution of the main seed mixture, I use 2GR brand Eclipse feeders which are easily installed using 2 hooks on a feeder holder (see presentation video: Eclipse feeder). They avoid waste and save you from putting seeds every day. So a saving of time and seeds always available for the birds. Despite everything, I advise you to regularly check that the feeder is not cluttered with seed peels.
However, it will take some time to adapt before they are adopted by birds.
It must therefore be observed that they dare to stick their heads in the feeder, at the risk of losing some of them ! A tip: put the seeds up to the edge of the feeder and an oval ground feeder filled with seeds, then gradually reduce the seeds in the oval feeder. See example in photo below:
Front feeder and bucket
These feeders are practical for distributing breeding mash, specific seeds (such as foniopaddy) or even grit and charcoal.
You will notice that I have opted for transparent feeders (I still have to replace the cups). This gives the advantage of seeing at a glance if there is any content left (seeds, mash, etc.). Be careful though to distinguish whether you see seeds or seed peels ! Since zebra finches shell each seed before tasting it. Small tip, by blowing the peels will go away (be careful not to get any in the eyes) and the seeds (heavier) will remain in the feeder.
Breeding with the right equipment is essential, gives good conditions to the birds and makes life easier for the breeder. If delaying is therefore not negligible. Other equipment for breeding is to be expected, the type of nest or even set up LED lighting. I will expand on this in future articles.
Finally, here is a video of my breeding room where you can observe the equipped breeding battery :