THE BINKS SYSTEM
At the 1983 All American, the U.S.A. national budgerigar show, Gerald Binks, world-renowned British budgerigar fancier, explained his methods of stock husbandry. Mr. Binks came expecting to participate in a panel discussion. Unfortunately, the rest of the panel failed to arrive. Undeterred, without notes, he lectured for over two hours explaining every aspect of budgerigar culture in down to earth language that enlightened both beginner and expert alike.
Gerald Binks uses a two-tiered system of feeding: breeding and non-breeding. He noted that the grave mistake made by most fanciers is to ease off once breeding activity has been concluded. This should be the time to build up the bird’s stamina. The mistake is compounded by filling the cage with all sort of rich goodies simultaneously with the installation of the nest box. Budgerigars are very suspicious of any new item. Mr. Binks explained that these unsuccessful breeders are “checking” their birds progress exactly at the worst time. The birds go off feed for a few days, losing weight. This gives a bad start to the breeding season.
During the non-breeding season the birds are given a diet of 80% canary, 15% millets, 4% clipped oats and 1% niger. One-half teaspoon of cod liver oil is mixed with twelve pounds of seed. For the breeding season, the same seed mix is used but the oil is increased to two teaspoons to twelve pounds. Since the budgerigars have some cod liver oil in their feed all year round, no extreme change is ever encountered before the breeding season. The seed and oil is mixed daily, but Mr. Binks does not hesitate to use the oil treated seed on the next day. He does advise caution. Oil can become rancid. This would take four or five days in a hot climate.
The bird’s water is supplemented with the human infant vitamin ABIDEC all year round at the rate of one drop of vitamin concentrate to one pint of water. The water is further fortified with a vitamin B12 preparation, daily when breeding, every other day otherwise. Mr. Binks contends that a lack of B-12 is the major cause of dead in shell.
Gerald Binks was questioned concerning the addition of antibiotics to the feed and water on a continuing basis. He explained that even though such practice has given good results in other branches of livestock, it is forbidden to the breeder of exhibition budgerigars. Under the British Budgerigar Society Rules, all “growth promoting substances” are condemned.
Iodized salt is before the birds at all times. Gerald also gives his birds a grit made up of sea sand and shell grit to supply both soluble and insoluble grits.
Mr. Binks suggested that the quality of the bird is dependent upon a good supply of protein. Seed only offers vegetable protein. Animal protein is a must. Cooked chicken carcasses are occasionally placed in the flights. For the breeding season, a mash of whole meal bread, milk, glucose, and Virol, a milk product, is fed. Greenfood is not used, for it is difficult to secure a year round supply. Greens are not needed if the birds are given a vitamin C supplement, according to Gerald Binks. Mr. Binks stressed that poor nutrition, not lack of humidity is the major cause of dead in shell. He stated that lack of moisture is barely 5-10% of the problem.
Gerald Binks also explained his novel construction of nest boxes. These are bolted to the front of the cage, the entrance facing away from the light. This increases privacy and allows the hen to escape when the breeder is checking the eggs. Sawdust is used in the nest.
The talk was concluded with a discussion of unusual breeding strategies.He also explained his use of polygamous pairing schemes. Mr. Binks is experimenting with using one cock with several hens, in a similar manner to the canary breeder.