Canaries are stimulated to breed by the increasing hours of daylight. It is generally recognised that a minimum of fourteen hours of daylight are required in order for canaries to successfully rear their young.
This generally means that April is the time when our birds will be able to commence breeding operations. Milder weather brings this date forward a little, and global warming certainly has an unsettling effect on our natural seasons. Each fancier must decide what will suit him or her – but more importantly, what will suit the birds best.
Should you decide to use an artificial light source, you need to start by installing a time switch and dimmer, and if using fluorescent lights, another light bulb which can be dimmed down, to provide a settling down period.
My personal preference is to increase the lighting period in the morning. This eliminates problems if a power failure were to occur if the light were extended in the evening. You do not want chicks to go through the night with an empty crop!
Choose full spectrum ‘natural’ daylight florescent tubes if possible, because these most closely mimic natural daylight, than standard tubes. Consider whether light sensors are required, to guard against dull days etc.
Consider the available heat in your birdroom. Lights will bring the birds into condition, but if the hens leave their eggs for any reason – such as being disturbed by random security lights or car headlights etc, then they may not find their way back to the nest before their eggs become chilled, leading to ‘dead in shell.’ If breeding early, make sure there is an adequate heat source in the birdroom to avoid such problems, and maybe even a low wattage nightlight.
Whilst canaries can be conditioned to breed ‘out of season’, it is not possible to jump forward by three months, all in one go. The birds need to be sexually mature, particularly unflighted stock, and are best ‘brought forward’ by only a couple of weeks a year, until an early breeding pattern is established. A second moult can be triggered if you get it wrong – and some do!
Having used both heating and lighting in my various birdrooms over the years, my stock are now conditioned to breed naturally, as nature intended. I now understand those wise old fanciers who taught me many years ago – never pair up until the buds are on the hawthorn bushes!