Infertility in exotic birds
Infertility is one of the biggest problems that breeders of exotic birds face. Few things are more frustrating than seeing a pair of birds that are not able to fertilized eggs after trying so hard. For
Infertility is one of the biggest problems that breeders of exotic birds face. Few things are more frustrating than seeing a pair of birds that are not able to fertilized eggs after trying so hard. For this reason and because it affects many types of parrots, like macaws or cockatoos, we will analyse this issue in depth in this article.
Causes of infertility
It seems surprising how many reasons can be underneath infertility problems within exotic bird couples. In this regard, the first thing we need to say, although it is not a really a cause of infertility, is that due to the lack of sexual dimorphism is not always easy to tell the sex of each specimen. In the case of this not sexually dimorphic species, the best would be to DNA sex them to be sure they are indeed male and female.
On one hand, some females, about all the most dominants ones, lay eggs even without mating. So those eggs are not fertilized and will not develop an embryo. Also, if living in flocks, couples can be bothered while trying to mate, especially by younger members. This will cause the egg laying to be scarce and infertile.
Another thing you need to take into consideration is the age of the birds; do they have the right age to breed? In fact, if they are too young they will not have enough experience and if they are too old they will not be able to complete the reproduction process. Talking about age, it is worth saying that many parrots will not accept their couples is they are much older or younger than they are.
Also, breeders need to be very careful with consanguinity problems, because it will produce unwanted mutation and hybridisation that will prevent them from laying fertilized eggs. Also, the bad placement of the perches and environmental disorders such us humidity, excessive heat or cold are frequent causes of infertility.
Last but not least, we need to take into account nutritional problems, specially the lack of nutrients like calcium and sodium, and the excessive intake of zinc. Besides, obesity in pink cockatoos, budgies and blue amazons can also lead to infertility problems. Faulty incubation and common illness are also prompt to cause this problem.
What can be done in case of infertility?
First of all, in the case you find out a possible case of infertility within your couples, the first thing you need to do is asking yourself if you know for sure that the specimens were fertile before or if they have never bred before. If you happen to have bought them in a pet shop recently, get back to the shop and find out more about their past. Also, if your birds have little or none sexual diphormism, check that they are not of the same sex by sending feathers or blood samples to an avian laboratory or go to a veterinary for an endoscopy.
Once we went through the main topics, it is time to go deeper into specific matters. For example, make sure that the cage your birds lives in is the right for them, meaning that its size is accurate, the perches are solid and that it is not too crowded (in case you have other birds living together with your couple) so the environment is as relaxing as possible.
After that, we need to evaluate whether the diet that we are providing our birds is appropriate or not. At this respect, remind that every species has its own specific diet, meaning that the diet will not be the same for a macaw, a pink cockatoo or an African grey. In fact, if you do not feed them well, it is likely that they will never be able to breed.
Their health is vital, if birds start not feel well, birds will stop breeding. On the other hand, a regular visit to the veterinary will be very useful to reach your objective. Nevertheless, if you try all the recommendations given along this article and your birds keep being incapable of breeding, the best move would be changing pairs. In many occasions, the problem is that they are just not compatible, that’s all.
In short, we hope this article was useful for you to understand the problem of infertility in exotic birds and gave you the right tools to remedy this situation. It might be hard to keep trying, but we assure you it is worth the try.
Basie Olivier June 16, 2019
I have five pairs of African Grey parrots. Two pairs have bred in the past, but for the past two year do not breed of lay infertile eggs. They have access to sunflower, I gave them carrots, cabbage and spinach. For soft food I gave them laying meal meant for chickens (which consists of protein (150g/kg); moisture (120g/kg); fat (25g/kg); fibre (70g/kg); calcium (35g/kg); phosphorous (5g/kg) and lysine (6g/kg). They also have access to lucerne pellets. Could this feeding contribute to no breeding or infertile eggs? Your comments will be appreciated.
Basie Olivier (South Africa)
Diane Godsell August 14, 2019
My macaws are laying eggs that are infertile. How can I tell I whether the male or female bird is infertile.?