In this post, we discuss some of the reasons why it’s important to maintain quality breeding records for the birds in your aviary, and look at some of the tools available to make record-keeping much easier.
Why keep records?
Depending on where you live, there may be regulations demanding you maintain accurate breeding records—especially if you’re dealing with imported or protected species. Even if you’re not required to keep records by the state, there are many practical reasons you should do it anyway:
This is arguably the most important reason to keep records. If you’re using birds you’ve bred as future breeding stock, it can become quite difficult to remember which birds are related. If you only started with a small number of breeding pairs (fewer than 10), it only takes a couple of generations until all of your birds are related.
Having good records makes it easier to pair up unrelated birds, or recognize when it’s time to source unrelated birds from a different breeder.
Knowing the age of your birds is immensely important if you want to achieve good breeding results. As birds—especially finches—grow older, their breeding performance can diminish. If you’ve maintained good records, it’s much easier to decide when it’s time to retire older birds to a non-breeding aviary. Similarly, good records allow you to ensure that birds you pair together are similarly old and
Monitor Genetic Issues
A while back, I had an issue with orange-headed Gouldian cock birds dropping dead at the completion of their first moult. One bird dropping dead is a coincidence, but four dying at the exact same age, a year apart, indicates something else at play. Because I had good records, I was able to trace the lineage of all the affected birds to a single breeding pair, who were immediately moved to the non-breeding “retirement” aviary. The following season, all of my orange-headed Gouldian cocks matured successfully into adulthood.
In some jurisdictions, you may be required by state/local government to keep records of the birds coming in and out of your possession. This is especially applicable if you keep rare or protected species that require a permit.
How to maintain records
For a lot of breeders, pen and a paper record-keeping is perfectly fine. For each bird, jot down the ring number or a visual description, the gender, age, and related birds.
If you’ve got a substantial number of birds to keep track of, the only practical way to maintain your records is with software. We created and use AviManage, a Windows program designed specifically for maintaining the records of a large number of birds. AviManage lets you add records for each bird, track breeding performance, map out genealogical relationships, attach images and notes, track the sale of birds, and much more. AviManage is free up to 20 birds.