The primary aim of every bird keeper must always be the wellbeing of his stock. Healthy birds are contented, and will repay their owners many times over by their singing and friendship as pet birds, or in the breeding room or the show bench, if they are canaries of exhibition quality. Good health centres on paying attention to details, and can be subdivided into three areas, housing, feeding and finally the condition of the birds.
Considering feeding, a good quality seed mixture is essential to act as a staple all year round diet. Start with a shop bought mix, then observe which seeds are eaten and which are discarded by your birds. In time, based on your observations, you can make up your own seed mixes to benefit your birds. Compare notes with your friends down at your local CBS club, and bulk-buy to save a little money on the rising price of seed. Remember that fatty seeds such as hemp will help your canaries withstand the long cold winters, and conditioning mixes are also beneficial used sparingly throughout the year.
The dietary needs of canaries cannot be met by feeding seeds only. Supplements and treats are necessary in the form of softfood, greenfoods and fruits such as apples and oranges, which canaries eat with relish. Carrots, peas, sweetcorn, broccoli, sprouts, cress etc are all accepted eagerly, but in season, dandelion and chickweed from a safe, uncontaminated source are very beneficial.
Never forget that canaries need regular access to grits and minerals to maintain maximum health, such as cuttlefish, charcoal, oysershell and mineralised grits, silver sand, etc. these should be regularly available, grits scattered onto the cage floor at regular intervals, with cuttlefish grated into the softfood, especially during the breeding season. Finally, remember to always provide access to fresh clean water – change it at least once a day, and twice during the summer, to avoid bacterial contamination.
The general health and wellbeing of canaries is not rocket science – as long as you follow the rules.