Written by Marie Miley-Russell
©2007, all rights reserved
Prior to pairing, the birds’ nails should be clipped
to prevent damage to eggs from occurring. Some breeders who use stud males
do not clip the nails of the male. However, any males to be left in the
cage to feed should have their nails trimmed.
Some heavily-feathered birds need to be trimmed
around the vent to increase contact during copulation. Care must be taken
to not clip the “feeler feathers” located at the tip of the vent or birds
will not be able to mate successfully. Feather trimming is generally
unnecessary with American Singers.
Once in a while a hen will be very determined in her
choice of mate- even if she has never before been mated, she may have her
mind made up as to which male in the room she is willing to accept.
Generally such hens can be coaxed into taking the mate of the breeder’s
choice but occasionally one encounters a hen that will have none of it. I
had a hen who decided that she would have no mate but the one caged above
her with another hen. Every male I placed with her came out of the cage
worse for the experience- the first male I caged her with had nearly all
of his flight and tail feathers pulled in less than ten minutes and none
of the other males were any more successful. Finally, I gave in to her and
allowed her to mate with the male of her choice. Then I pulled him after
sitting her with her eggs and placed the mate of my choice with her to see
her through incubation and feeding. She was willing to go a second round
with the male who helped her feed the first nest. Another breeder had a
pair of birds who bonded so tightly that they never accepted another mate-
they even perched close to each other in the walk-in flight during the
molt. The breeder wished to mate the hen to different males but she simply
would not cooperate. Her mate was placed in the breeding cage next to her
so that she could see and hear him while the male the breeder had chosen
was placed in the breeding cage with her just before the lights went out
in the birdroom for the night. In the morning when the lights came on her
mate sang to her and when she squatted to signal her readiness for mating,
the male placed in her cage mated her. This is a rather sneaky way to
accomplish a chosen pairing, but it was effective. The hen’s chosen mate
was placed back with her and helped her raise the babies sired by a male
of the breeder’s choosing.
Truly testy hens can sometimes be bred by allowing
the hen to build her nest in a breeding cage and then transferring her to
the male’s cage for mating. After the birds have mated several times, she
can be returned to her cage.
Often the breeder will never witness the birds mating
but they will produce fertile eggs. Some birds are simply shy and mate
only when the breeder is out of the room. If the pair seems to be getting
along and the male is feeding the hen then they are probably mating and
they should be fine.