The following article is a translation from the van Gils Canary website. In it he highlights the importance of matching our breeding aspirations to practical realities – a sanity check!
The Breeding Room – Space allowed is often insufficient (Courtesy Wout van Gils)
Space, layout, lighting and the quantity of light will determine your scope for breeding. These factors will decide the number of breeding pairs you can ideally accommodate in keeping with the number of young you can expect at the end of the breeding season.
Doubling the number of breeding pairs does not necessarily imply doubling the number of young. For each breeding setup there is an optimum number of breeding pairs - limit the available space and/or the number of birds. The results depend on many factors. It is the task of the fancier to determine his optimum and maintain himself at that level. This will help avoid many problems in the future.
Firstly there is the aviary or the breeding area to consider. Do not fill all the available space with breeding pairs as you will need the same again for the young. The breeding boxes must never occupy more than half the available space. It isn’t possible to come up with a optimum number of birds per square metre. This depends on the number of bird types being bred and also the way the birds are housed, eg., breeding boxes or aviaries.
Secondly, there is the amount of time and space you have available for tending to your birds. Indeed this is probably the one factor that most fanciers underestimate. In my opinion you will need one to one and a half hours in the morning for 10-20 breeding pairs and a further two hours in the evening. This number should not be exceeded if extra time is at a premium.
Don’t think that 3½ hours per day for 20 pairs is an exaggeration. I assume that the birds receive the best of care and this care is essential for good results. Here is a brief summary. Thoroughly cleaning the nestling food dishes each day. Checking to see that none of the nestling food has adhered to the perches and closely monitor how the nests are being built and how the breeding is proceeding. Also providing clean water, seeds, and nestling food at least twice a day and now and then a little greenfood and some tonic seeds. In addition you need to observe the birds and make notes about the breeding pairs; chicks need to be rung and others removed from their parents. At the same time breeding boxes need to be tidied and badly fouled nests removed. The health of the birds should be checked daily and also to see that the young that have been separated are doing ok. Check that the hens are properly feeding the young and remove the first three eggs that are laid.
In short, jot down everything you need to do daily for your birds and allocate a time; you will see that a person who works full-time will find it difficult to breed from more than 15-20 pairs.
If you begin by keeping 30 or even 50 pair it will all become too much. You are being restricted by constantly rushing back and forth. Proper observation of the birds is no longer happening and if a chick falls out it is discovered dead days later on a dirty floor at the bottom of the cage. Do not expect that with 50 pair you will have four times more young birds on the perch. I know breeders that have many less young than other breeders and this often occurs through not having sufficient time to provide the proper care and attention.
Check this out for yourself. Are you one of the breeders that no longer derive pleasure from the hobby because you no longer have the time to enjoy it. Be honest - if this is the case, then perhaps you are trying to breed from too many pairs.