Breeding protocols and schedules


Building my protocols seemed important and useful to me when each year I had to remember how I proceeded during breeding or preparation for breeding. So everything is registered and I can improve them from year to year.
I want to clarify that I am not going to give you infallible recipes and am not a specialist in animal nutrition. On the other hand, I share with you what I have been able to build over time, from the breeding of my zebra finches. These protocols were built by experience and observations. They can evolve, be improved and adapted.

Why Establish Protocols

Birds seek everything they need in nature and are subject to the rhythm of the seasons. Out, for our domestic birds, it is up to us to think about it, to develop a diet plan, maintenance, possibly put a program of light time.
These protocols must take into account all the needs adapted to each period.
It is also necessary to be aware that the seed mixture is not sufficient to approach the stages such as preparation for mating, breeding, moulting, etc. We know that the seed mix does not provide 100% of the necessary nutrients. It is therefore necessary to think about a complete diet (protein, vitamin, minerals, trace elements, etc.) best suited to their needs.

Purpose of protocols

The purpose of the presented protocols is to make tasks cooperate in order to ensure continuity and consistency. For example, for the good health of zebra finches, to do everything possible to optimize fertility, to guarantee all the stages of raising young, etc.
A protocol can be established by period or grouping of periods with similar needs. Here are the periods that will be taken into account: Rest, moult, breeding preparation, breeding. The protocol can be partly assimilated to a food plan.


Example of protocol: changing the water, distributing mash, checking the nest, turning the eggs, distributing a seed mixture with vitamin supplements, lighting on and off, etc. We incorporate the notion of distribution days, see hours adapted to your schedule.

Benefits of protocols

Well-constructed protocols will allow you to anticipate and ensure the smooth running, to have a follow-up and continuity of your breeding. Therefore, to build a robustness of your breeding according to your objectives.
In addition, the protocols can serve as a benchmark in time. Indeed, you can easily refer to it so as not to get lost in the tasks to be accomplished each day, week, month and year.

Establish protocols

First, get into the habit of writing down every task (even the seemingly mundane ones) you perform each day while caring for your zebra finches.
If, for example, your birds are in the breeding period (laying, birth, feeding, etc.), start by building your protocol corresponding to this period.
Once you have collected enough data, start creating a file that will contain your previously written notes. Print it, then follow it. Refine it by using it. Do the same at each change of period.You will notice details that you did not touch before, so you will preserve your acquired and now written experience. While being able to improve it following your future observations.

Protocol Examples

Breeding protocol (Click on the image to enlarge)

Breeding protocol Examples

Rest protocol (Click on the image to enlarge)

Rest protocol Examples

Download the 2 protocols

  • File name: Breeding protocol examples
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Food planning incorporated into protocols

In each complete breeding protocol hides a feeding schedule.
Some details and precautions below for this one.

What are the ingredients to include

The basic elements, proteins, vitamins, minerals.
Protein is contained in the seed mix. An additional contribution will be brought by the mash of breeding during the adequate period.
Vitamins and minerals are needed all year round.
To give them all the essential nutritional elements, you will need to know the composition of each element.

How to administer the supplements

I avoid all solutions that consist of incorporating vitamins into the drinking water. They degrade quickly and the zebra finch can restrict itself and not drink from it.
I therefore advise you to prioritize supplements that can be incorporated into food (food, seeds).

Interest of a food plan

The important thing is to consider the needs of comprehensive diet planning for our birds. To be aware that from this comes good health, fertility, the growth of young people, etc.
By planning a suitable and complete diet, you will ensure the good health of your birds, optimum reproduction, and birds that are pleasing to the eye of their caretaker.The feeding of our birds will nevertheless always have to be improved, reviewed...

Conclusion and feedback

You had a tough breeding season ! Did you proceed in the same way as the previous year ? Building your protocol can probably help you !
I am convinced that the success of good breeding depends on well-constructed and complete protocols.
I will take as an example my breeding for which I have created two protocols over the years. Observation, I have never observed any deficiencies, the white eggs are almost non-existent, each year the breeding goes without a hitch. Following protocols is obviously not the only guarantee of the good behavior of its breeding. But it is in my opinion a key tool that contributes to it.

The question arises of the limit of modifications in relation to natural external influences.Let me explain, a protocol can be provided for breeding in winter. We therefore upset all the basic (natural) parameters! However, shouldn't we keep the seasons, etc., as a basis ? … It would be necessary to compare 2 extreme situations in this sense… To be continued !

Tony Lombard, amateur breeder.
Article published in 2022.

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