Flight Breeding versus Individual Cage Breeding
by John Pire
Part Two – Individual Cage Breeding
In part one of my article I dealt with the "flight breeding" of more then one pair of Diamond Doves in a cage or flight situation. In this article I will deal with my experiences over the last twenty-five plus years of keeping these small doves in an individual cage breeding situation.
The individual cage system consists on a single pair of Diamond Doves set-up in any size flight or cage the fancier wants to house them in. This can be from a "double Canary breeding" cage to a walk in flight of any size. The thing to remember is, ONLY a single pair of breeding DD are housed in each situation.
When you set-up the individual cages you have all the control. Which birds will be paired, how many clutches they will be allowed to raise, placement of perches, feed & water cups etc.
One thing I try to stress is if more then one of the breeding cages are set up next to one another it is best to put some type of solid partition between the cages. This will keep the birds from being disturbed by the pair in the next cage. This type of distraction can be cause for neglected eggs or young. It can also lead to the male’s aggression to it’s own young or his mate.
I prefer keeping individual pairs of Diamond Doves in the breeder cages or flights. I use cages from 18 inches wide by 18 inches high by 30 inches long to 5 feet by 8 feet by 10 feet. Each of the walk-in flights house other species of birds or doves.
I use the wicker Canary nests for the nesting Diamond Doves. One does not have to use these types of containers, in fact many times the birds will choose the seed cup as their chosen nest site. Most any type of open top container can be used for a DD nest. A word of caution: ensure that any container used is securely affixed to the cage and remains as level as possible.
A sagging or loose nest can be the cause of eggs or young knocked to the floor. I have seen Diamonds build the front of a sagging nest container to over 1 inch above the rim, trying to make the nest as level as possible. The eggs were completely covered with the added nesting material. I know what you are saying – limit the amount of materials & then the birds cannot add any more. This is not always possible in a flight with other nesting birds. In a small breeder cage, yes it is possible to control the amount of nesting materials.
The point is – if this keeps occurring then the eggs become chilled & the embryo will die, as the eggs are not incubated properly. So, begin doing things right – secure all containers as level as possible. This may necessitate adding some type of support under the nests. Pictures of some typical DD nests & nest supports.
Placement of the feed & water containers in any situation should be in the open & not under any perch or ledge where the birds can defecate into them. Perches should be of varying sizes and placement.
At least one perch should be affixed secure enough for the birds to mate on. One explanation for infertility in the birds is the male is not making good contact during breeding. Many times the cage is too small & the sides of the cage interfere with the breeding ritual. Also many times in these situations the pair will try & breed while on the floor of the cage. This also hampers the effectiveness of the male to make contact & fertilize the hen’s eggs. Yes, some fertility will occur but the end result if the situation is not improved will be reduced.
The facet of eye cere thickness & coloration for sexing males & females is not 100% accurate. Diamonds kept indoors with artificial lights or full spectrum lights can have the eye ceres condition affected for color and thickness of both sexes. Body coloration can also be affected to a certain degree.
I need to stress another factor here! A good record keeping system needs to be utilized! If good record keeping is not done, closely related birds can be paired & the result may be something you did not expect. There are now computer programs to aid the fancier in this chore. There is also the old pen, pad and ledger for those not into computers. Which ever suits your taste, please utilize it & keep the records. Visit DiamondDove.com and you can download some very useable forms to keep your records on.
After you have selected the pair you want to breed, introduce them to their new home. Give them a few days to become accustomed to the new surroundings. Sexing of adult Diamonds was discussed in the first article. Sexing young Diamonds takes a bit of close observation by the fancier, but can be done fairly accurately.
One must remember birds do not always fall into any one description. Not all males have larger, thicker & brighter eye ceres then the females. This is the believed standard, but exceptions always exist. Each line of Diamond Doves can vary from each other, even to the point of birds in the same lineage varying.
Sexing juvenile Diamonds can be done if one takes the time & close observation of the birds. One of the easiest sexing tips of the young male DD is after they have fledged and are about three months old. These young males will try & imitate their father. You will see them climb on top of their parents (either sex) & imitate the "quick jump off ritual" preformed by the male before the act of mating. I have never seen young female perform this ritual. Record this information along with your band information for this particular bird.
Another tip for sexing young DD is to look closely at the eye ceres of the youngsters – there is a difference in the actual shape of the cere. If you look at adult male & female you will see a marked difference in the shape of the cere towards the back side. One is rounded & one is pointed. This shape is also present in the youngsters, before it begins to thicken & color up. Many say they do not see this difference, but with more observations and comparisons the difference can be seen. Now, remember – the difference may not be very pronounced, but it does exist.
The genetics of the Diamond Dove is relatively non-existent, when compared to the genetics of the Ringneck Dove. I know of no sex-linked color mutations being bred in the Diamond Dove. The "whiterump gene is dominate – or may be considered co-dominate with the Wild type or Blue color. This means only a single visual whiterump bird is needed to reproduce this visual mutation in offspring. The "whitetail" gene is a selective situation of the "whiterump gene"; no color should be present in any of the tail feathers. The "whiterump" gene is the basic gene, coloration can be found in any of the tail feathers. Both have the typical "whiterump". Jeff Downing’s book on Diamond Doves is a good source for the color mutations being bred in this small dove. It can be obtain from his web site (DiamondDove.com) or the ADA.
Utilizing the single breeding units for Diamonds gives the fancier more control over each pair of birds. Certain birds can be paired together; close observations of eggs, young and adults can be done. Record keeping is easier then if using a flight breeding system. Working to unravel the genetics or develop a possible new color is better controlled. Can control or limit the number of clutches for each pair. If for some reason the bird becomes sick it can be treated easier & no other birds are infected, as would be in a flight breeding situation.
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