Sandy Hay is the long standing publicity officer of Portnockie CBS, more recently he has become the secretary / treasurer of the newly formed North of Scotland Gloster Club. The club’s inaugural show will be held in the McBoyle Hall Portnockie on October 23rd 2022.
Conditioning begins after the last show of the season when I put my corona and consort hens into long flight cages. Cock birds are housed in the same way, but I keep a watch full eye on them so that the squabbling doesn’t get too serious. A good indicator is when I go into the shed first thing in the morning and there are a few feathers on the shed floor, that is the time to get them housed separately. They then go into double or treble breeders depending on the space available and stay there until the breeding season.
With the conditioning diet, I have been using the same mixture for years and it seems to work. The “secret recipe” for this came from fanciers in Northumberland including the late George Storey, Barry Alexander, Austin Middlemiss, Tony Thompson and Norman Wallace.
If it worked for them that was good enough for me. I start feeding it in mid-January only once a week to the hens first and gradually build up as time goes on. The cocks will be on a basic Canary mix. Depending on the condition of the cocks, I will give them the same recipe as the hens as the breeding season approaches.
A tip on feeding. With the bigger seeds, such as hemp and groats, I put them through the food blender I find the birds eat them better after this.
The South facing roof of my shed is all clear, so that any natural light can get through to the birds. The lights are operated by a dimmer 30 seconds to come on and 30 minutes to dim and go off. There’s a heater set to come on at 4C to stop the drinkers from freezing.
With the onset of winter my birds are on 8 hours of light a day. Usually I aim for breeding to start around the end of March or beginning of April, but this is not an exact science. Increasing the light starts in mid December and I extend the lights by 15 minutes per week so that by April they will have 13 hours of light a day.
Never be in a hurry to pair up because someone else has birds on eggs, wait until the birds are ready.
Last year from 13 hens I bred 86 chicks which I thought was a pretty good return, the only hiccup was the out of those 86 I only bred 2 consort hens. At the start of February I start with S76: a mite treatment that has kept me mite free in the two years I have been using it.
Sandy Hay: Cage & Aviary Birds March 16, 2022 page 16