by Bill Van Patten
During my visit to the Save the Gouldian Fund in 2008, regarding the feeding schedule and foods, Mike Fidler told me to give them a try and let him know how things were coming along in 2 or 3 years (we actually chat quite frequently). But his point was that diet is so important it takes several generations to rebound from a deficient diet.
Finches are pretty much everything they are going to be in the first 90 days of their lives. Gouldians are sexually mature at 6 to 8 months of age and completely developed in every way. The nutrition they have received during this period determines their overall life health to a large extent (and future breeding performance). It is very hard to fix a finch after this time period.
To meet their nutritional needs during this critical first stage of their lives you simply increase the amount of the White/Black/STGF Softfood blend when they are first born. Feeding the parent birds at the rate of 1 well rounded teaspoon per day, double that amount when nestlings are born. Then continue to increase the amount of the blend as they feed their nestlings making sure there is always a little left the next day when you replace it with new. By the time the nestlings fledge you will be feeding a huge amount of the blend, and the parent birds will be feeding much less of their dry seed blend as they instinctively know to feed the nutritionally rich blend instead.
Continue to maintain enough of the White/Black/STGF Softfood blend in the cage after the nestlings fledge that the parents and juveniles never run out, and replace it daily. Once the juveniles are weaned and removed from the breeding cage return the parent birds to their normal ration of 1 well rounded teaspoon per day, but continue to feed as much of the blend as the juveniles can eat daily until they have completed their adult molt. When the parent birds produce their next clutch, repeat the process. Through this schedule you will have provided the most nutritionally rich diet possible to your juvenile finches which will support development of their entire body as they mature from hatchlings to their adult plumage.
Your Gen 0 birds (those that you first introduce the STGF diet to) will do less well overall than the Gen 1 offspring they produce on these foods. Your Gen 1 birds that have been raised on these foods will in turn feed it to their offspring (Gen 2) much more readily and completely than their Gen 0 parents fed them and your Gen 2 birds should be stellar free and easy breeders of exceptional size and condition. You should move to breeding through several generations of birds as quickly as possible, keeping only those birds from the prior year that were superior performers. Gouldians only produce well in their 1st and 2nd years of life and then fertility will decline at 3 years of age. They can still produce at 3 years and beyond, but you will have smaller clutches and more frequent problems with infertility.
You will notice that spray millet is not described as part of the STGF diet. Spray millet is something fun to do and its psychological effect is the benefit. But, one spray per pair per week is the most you should offer. Mount it from the top of the cage in a corner where they have to hang sideways to eat it just as they do when eating half ripe seeds from the stem in the wild. Change it once a week even if they have already devoured the spray long before. Spray millet is foxtail bristlegrass which is already included in the Birds R Us seed blends. Allowing them more than one spray per week per pair will throw their diet out of balance, particularly when breeding. Spray millet is a high carb, lower protein, lower fat seed and during the breeding season the emphasis needs to be on the higher protein, higher fat foods (both animal and plant) included in the Breeding & Moulting Blend, Black and White Sprouting Mixes, and the STGF Complete Softfood Concentrate.
The Save the Gouldian Fund and Mike Fidler are not in the bird food business. But aviculturists can benefit from the STGF dietary research while at the same time providing a $1 per Kg donation to the Fund through the purchase of the STGF Complete Softfood Concentrate. The STGF dietary program is state of the art and absolutely works, but it will take time for all of the above reasons, just as it did for me.
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Copyright 2012, Bill Van Patten