How To Achieve Top Breeding Birds
By early March the cock Fifes should be in their single cages alongside the empty hensí cages. Hens in the meantime should be kept in their flight cages so that they can continue to exercise and come into higher breeding condition.
The cocks should now be singing lustily and appearing very active. Some cocks will even regurgitate soft food on to the wires or perches.
If introduction has been gradual, as advocated, the cock bird will pull himself in when in the presence of the hen, pick up the piece of wood shaving and hop around before her with this potential nest material in his beak. If she does not respond by threatening him, the pair will not be far away from mating and a nest pan with a small amount of outer nesting material such as grass or moss can be introduced into the henís cage.
Many breeders these days introduce the nest pan along with nesting materials well before a cock is introduced. Once a hen appears to be building in earnest and pushing the material into place with her legs then she is ready to mate and the cock can be introduced. Mating usually takes place instantaneously.
As has already been mentioned, a hen squatting is an indication that she is ready to mate. A flighted cock will usually mate right away and the pair should then be separated. An unflighted cock may be wary of a hen in this position calling for a mate, and a little patience might be needed before a successful mating takes place.
Hen Fifes in breeding condition will build a nest wherever they feel they can make a circular cup to hold the eggs. They will nest on the floor if they are not happy with their nest pans, particularly if wood shavings or newspaper are placed on the cage floor.
Most fanciers these days prefer the white plastic nest pan that fits on to the front or side of the cage. Square wooden pans with a zinc gauze base are also popular, as are earthenware pans with older fanciers. I prefer the plastic pans and insert a felt lining, which is sewn or stuck with carbolic soap to stop it moving around. A sprig of moss is dropped inside for good measure to encourage the hen to start building.
Nesting directly onto the lining should not be encouraged. Soft nesting material in the form of moss raked from the lawn or bought from a nursery is ideal, dry soft grass is useful too. Other substances such as cotton wool and jute can then be offered in a wire holder to the hen when the nest is well underway.
It is important not to let the cock become involved with nest building. As the nest develops the hen will know when to call the cock, particularly when she is on the nest. Try to ensure that the cock is running with the hen on these occasions. Remove each egg as it is laid and replace it with a plastic dummy egg. If you do not see mating taking place, then wait and try again later that day.
The golden rules for line breeding Fifes are: