Guest Author - Mavis Metcalf
The advice from breeders has just been pouring in. Many of them are giving some of the same thoughts but they all absolutely love what they are doing.
When you buy a pair of bird, you must remember that a pair means two; a bonded pair means that these two birds are bonded to each other; neither term means that they are male & female or that you will ever get babies from them. A breeder is unlikely to sell a proven pair of birds, unless he is forced to sell for health reason or some other reason that he has to downsize his aviary. Otherwise he will just be selling of a pair that has been unproductive. Sometimes a change in location will make this pair productive, but most times it will not.
Breeders who are just in it for the money will tire of the noise, the mess and the lack of babies after only a year or two and will give up on this business. They don’t understand that sometimes you may have to wait anywhere from 3 to 10 years for a pair of birds to figure out what they are doing.
Handfeeding is a skill that you have to learn, but you are risking the life of a tiny baby if you don’t get it exactly right. The temperature of the formula has to be perfect (too hot & you can burn the baby’s crop & too cold and it can’t be digested properly).
A few thoughts one breeder had to consider:
1. Was I interested in it from a money side? If so probably isn't reality.
2. Was it something that I could do a good job at?
3. What species do I really enjoy if I cannot sell the babies? This is an important question as you might not be able to or may have them returned to you because people aren't happy etc.
4. Can I deal with educating the people?
5. Can I deal with the frustration of hearing people not giving the parrot a real chance if they have been bitten through the training process?
6. Can I deal with the emotional side of a sick baby?
7. Do I really have the time to do a good job?
8. Is this something that I can make a long-term commitment too?
9. Who am I doing this for?
10. Could I deal with the fact that they might not become breeders?
11. Could I deal with the fact that they might lose their pet potential with me that I so wanted in the first place?
And finally, one last word (or bunch of words) from another breeder:
“How I decided I wanted to breed. I'm not sure just how I got there. But it's been a wild ride. The highs are quite high, and the lows are quite low. Making money we are not - not even close. It's a tough business to crack into.
We did have a dream though. It's meant a lot of sacrifices for all of us over the past 3 or 4 years. We took out a 2nd mortgage on the house for business start up expenses. The first year nothing produced for us. Paying the 2nd mortgage payment was tough. We suffered losses. They were both painful and financially disastrous. We had to cut back on our way of life we were accustomed to.
I couldn't even begin to tell you the hours of studying I have logged. Breeding, handfeeding and raising babies issues. Time spent with breeders willing to share their experiences with me, either online, in person, or via telephone. Tons of hours trying to figure out the market in my particular area, how to stay out of the way of already established breeders by respecting their territory and all the details that being responsible for all these living beings, both adult and infants has involved. Health issues and environment issues. Particular species breeding likes and dislikes as well as infant care. The ways to stop or prevent illness and how to care for ill babies, which are inevitable. How to emotionally deal with the losses, how to pick and choose good homes for the babies. What stores are good to deal with? How to educate your public. Before you can deal with any of these things, you have more to learn than is humanly imaginable.
Disease is a major concern. Buying pairs can be scary. With each pair I have more to risk. I have been *SO* careful to deal with only reputable aviaries in my transactions, but I worry each time we add a pair. Quarantining is tough and mostly inadequate. I check out references, inspect their places and pairs as well as I can and do necessary testing. Still, some of the biggest, worst diseases can be missed in testing and quarantining. I am so excited that we are pretty much where we want to be. My days of risk should be pretty much over. That will be a relief.
I wouldn't want to discourage anybody from breeding if that's their heart’s desire. We love it and I don't see us giving it up anytime soon if we have the choice. Financially we still are in the hole. Big time, but I don't believe that will continue forever. Things will settle down here, pairs will begin producing and our market is opening.
I have found breeding birds to be anything but relaxing. Exhilarating highs and unbelievable lows have been my experience. There are always things waiting to be done and parting with some of the babies is painful. Balancing out breeding and family and time for the pets is a continual struggle. But a lot of that, I'm sure is the extent of our efforts. We are no longer what I would consider a small facility. And of course with that comes more work.”
I really don’t think I can add much to this. My advice is that if you really want to breed birds and you have learned all you can and have purchased all the supplies that you need, then go ahead. Just don’t think that you’re going to get rich quick.