I paired a new hen to one of my cocks and have found the chicks to have French moult. Could the disease have come from the new hen? I’ve bred the cock before and had no trouble. Is French moult contagious, and is it best to stop breeding from the hen?
Roy Stringer, regular contributor to C&AB, replies: Questions about French moult are difficult to answer. Other than been discovered that it is caused by a virus, no-one really knows where it comes from. French moult may have been brought in by the hen or, equally, the cock could be a carrier. The actions I take depend upon the severity of the attack. If as few as one chick in three is afflicted I would carry on breeding from the pair. There are really no hard and fast rules where French moult is concerned.
Might my mule be fertile?
I have a goldfinch mule that does not sing. I’ve tested it and found it to be a hen bird. I thought goldfinch mules were cocks and have been told they are sterile. If it is a hen, would it be sterile?
G.D., Hemel Hempstead.
Bernard Howlett, eminent breeder of British birds, replies: Both male and female goldfinch mules are almost always infertile. On very rare occasions a fertile mule is bred, perhaps once in a lifetime – they can be used as fosters. Paired together they will often build a nest and lay a clutch of eggs. If you exchange these eggs for fertile ones, perhaps canaries’, the mules would incubate them. They would probably also rear any chicks that hatch.
How do you sex canaries?
I have been reading Cage & Aviary Birds magazine for many years and have decided to start breeding canaries. Can you tell me how to sex canaries?
Brian Keenan, 2011 president of the Yorkshire Canary Club, replies: There is only one sure way to sex canaries: hens lay eggs! Seriously, unless you are breeding mosaic canaries, which have a distinctive feather pattern that differs between males and females, there is no visual difference between cock and hen canaries of any variety.
Having said that, male canaries are often slightly more boisterous, slightly more highly coloured and occasionally, slightly larger than female canaries. Although, this can be hard to notice unless you have a degree of experience. Colour-fed varieties, for example Yorkies, Norwich and reds, tend to be easier to sex based on colour, which is more apparent in males than the softer, gentler feather tones of the females.
During the summer months, healthy male canaries will have a prominent vent, while females will have a rounder soft belly and flat vent. These sexual differences disappear at other times of the year.Read more...