Raising African Lovebirds
- Hobby Now a Business!
By Mabelle Roa-Ilan
Birds are now popular as pets.
Although for centuries dogs held the record as man's favorite
animal, birds are now taking the lead as pets. It has also become
a business. Pet shops
flourished because they are now selling specially designed cages,
toys, feeds accessories and even books all about birds.
Imagine a bird being part of your family, chirping morning until
night. Giving fun and joy to every member of the family and often
making kids and parents alike responsible for their existence.
One retired government employee is now enjoying and earning at
the same time rearing African lovebirds. At first it was only
a hobby until she turned it into a business. Mrs. Myrna Sulit
of San Felipe Naga City, is now raising these birds in a 3 by
6 meters rearing house converted from the old house of their
parents She started with 8 pairs of African lovebirds in 2001
sourced from one of the famous breeder in Meycauayan, Bulacan.
The initial pair ranges from Ps 2,000-5,000 per pair.
Choosing the Bird -
African lovebirds are small parrots that make delightful pet
. According to Myrna, collecting and growing orchids was her
first hobby and getting into rearing of birds was accidental.
Her son was the first to take care of the birds until he left
for Manila to work and care was left to her. Choosing a bird
is easy. One should take into consideration the sex, color, age
and health. If one has to set up a breeder business, it is better
to start with a pair (one male one female). She emphasized not
to let the price of the bird as a consideration. A healthy well-bred
bird is a good investment. Colors of the birds' feathers attract
costumers. Birds with mutations are beautiful and command higher
price. Its up for the breeder to mate African lovebirds with
different colors so as to produce mutations. Price of African
lovebirds with mutations ranges from 4,000 to 4,500 a pair. Choose
a lively bird who sits alertly and proud and reacts to movements.
She also advised interested raisers to buy birds from a well
established dealer or from a known breeder. Today, Myrna has
four kinds of African lovebirds, these are peach faced, white
faced, eye ring and orange faced.
Care and Housing
African lovebirds do not require fancy or ornamental cages. They
require bigger cages for comfort and easy cleaning. Cage should
be large enough not to cramp the birds' tail and feather. Individual
cages range from 24 inches long by 30 inches high 24 inches wide.
Cages are usually made of wire mess or metal. Before placing
the birds inside the cage check if there are no jagged end of
wire protruding. Clip it off or bend to ensure that birds will
not be injured. The cage should be equipped with a tray to hold
feces and other dirt and for easy cleaning. It should also be
provided with perches. Mrs. Sulit's housing is quite big that
it can accommodate some 60 cages. The walls are secured from
rats and other enemies. She installed tarpauline along the sides
for protection from typhoon or strong winds.
Fluctuations in temperature is also bad for the birds. Birds
cannot tolerate direct heat from the sun and from draft. It is
important to provide them with detachable curtain or similar
cover to protect them. Myrna sees to it that the cages are cleaned
weekly. She also placed old newspapers in the tray for easy cleaning.
She also disclosed that she always put a piece of cuttlebone
attached to the side of the cage. This is the dried shell of
the squid or cuttlefish. The purpose of which is to keep the
pet's beak in condition and it will serve as a health supplement.
It contains calcium and other needed mineral salts.
Arican lovebirds also love to bathe especially during hot weather.
They should be provided with bathtubs which can be bought from
pet shops. Meanwhile, Myrna has regular deworming schedule. She
give the birds dewormer every three months and she gives antibiotics
when transferring the birds to other place or cage or during
change of weather. This is done for 3-5 days.
It pays to have a regular feeding schedule for your birds "
says Myrna. She usually gives food to her pets at 8:00 in the
morning. The feeds comprise of 2 small cups millet seed and 1
teaspoon of salad per pair. Surprising to know that she regularly
prepares salad for the birds which is a mixture of hard boiled
egg mashed, chopped carrots or it can be substituted with camote
tops, wheat germ, bird seeds, jockey oats, canary, sunflower
and safflower. She has two seedcups - one for bird seed and one
for the salad. The amount of salad mixed is just enough for the
day's consumption. She recommends grit composed of sand/oyster
to facilitate digestion of food. Clean water should be given
to the birds. As much as possible change the water twice a day..
She regularly gives the birds vitamins NEKTON S and NEKTON E.
Many bird lovers say it is difficult to breed African lovebirds.
But on the contrary Myrna says they are prolific and almost all
her birds are laying eggs.. She enjoys watching them grow day
by day until the nestlings are separated from the parents. She
has specialized nestbox for her birds with woodshavings. The
nesting box are either inside the large cage or attached outside
for easy monitoring. The cage should be placed in a secluded
place so they will not be disturbed. Lovebirds mate anytime of
the year. Based on her experience some birds mate soon after
they are placed together in a cage while others will take a long
time. Myrna enjoys watching her birds mate, lay eggs then hatch
into birdie. Eggs are hatched 23-25 days and after 1 1/2 months
the young can now shift for themselves and can be transferred
to other cages for handraising. According to her birds averages
four birdies per birth. She added that parents should be one
year or matured enough before they should be breed. . They should
be strong and active. She sees to it that everything is recorded
from laying eggs to hatching and 15 to 18 days after hatching
she puts leg band on the young bird.
Just like any undertaking raising African lovebirds also have
problems which according to her is a great challenge for breeders.
At one time she observed that a pair did not produce eggs or
at another time very few eggs. She also noted a pair that does
not want to take care of its young. She also noted that some
birds had colds. But all these has challenged her to look for
possible remedies . She tries to research and ask other raisers
how they counter such kind of problems. She discovered that African
lovebirds could be foster parents to parakeets.
Ms. Sulit is a member of the Avian Society of Camarines Sur.
It pays to be a member of a society because according to her
she could learn new techniques from her co-members, share new
ideas, and marketing of their birds is easy. They have held bird
exhibit through the initiative of their president Mr. Jun Benavidez
during the KAOGMA Festival, Penafrancia Fiesta and the like.
Today, Mrs. Sulit has 70 pairs of African lovebirds (breeders);
5 pairs cockatiel, 250 heads African lovebirds ready for sale.
Raising birds is not only a hobby, it is also therapeutic, and
now a business!