I’ve been breeding for almost 20 years and have observed something odd with the size and quality cockatiels of today versus when I first started breeding. You would think that during this time the species as a whole should have improved. Not so, it appears to have gone backwards.
For example, 20-30 years ago the average weight of pet quality cockatiels was around 90-100 grams. Many of today’s pet quality cockatiels average 75-85 grams, if that.
What has changed?
Realistically each generation should be an improvement over the previous generation but this is not happening in the pet trade. And no, backyard or large breeders cannot be blamed for this trend, so don’t even go there. I do know from working with color that it is VERY EASY to go backwards in size/quality when pairing 'Like to Like' (L-L) together for several generations.
What are L-L pairings?
They are Visual to Visual (V-V) pairing. Years ago there was not the variety or availability of the color mutations we have today. Back then, if a breeder wanted to work with color, finding 2 visuals to pair together was more difficult, therefore the options were to find and work with splits, or to pair a visual mutation with a normal to produce their own splits to work with. In doing this they also learned that it was very easy to improve the traits of the next generation. Thus the cockatiel as a species went forward, not backward.
As more visual mutations became available and affordable the hobbyist and/or accidental inexperienced breeder would take the safe route and pair two of the same mutation birds together (L-L) because they knew what to expect in the nest.
Before I go on I should explain what I mean by the term Accidental Breeder (AC). In most situations it is a person that may have had a pet bird and later purchased or was given another bird to have as a companion for their bird, many times not knowing the sex of either bird and even less about genetics.
Frankly speaking, I started out as an AC. I was given my first pair by someone that had to downsize on the amount of birds she had at the time. I really didn’t want them, and took them in as pets for the kids, but wound up being the main person to care for them. Their names were Boogs and Sweet Pea. I was told that they were called Normal Greys. I was so clueless that I thought ‘Normal’ meant typical cockatiels, and the color of them was obvious why they were called Greys.
By 'Safe Route' I mean that many times the novice/inexperienced breeder may not know or have an understanding of genetics to properly pair their birds for best results. Most times they also do not know the background of the birds, meaning what the parents mutations when. They learned when they tried to pair just two 'pretty different mutation birds' together; to their dismay they got plain greys in the nest when they were expecting color. In not understanding why this happened they would then select what they would consider a 'safe pairing' of two of the same mutations together because from limited understanding 'like should breed like' In doing this over a period of several generations I can see how the pet trade/quality birds may have become smaller. Not only is size affected, problem in the nest are higher such as babies more prone to yeast and/or crop problems to a higher rate of DIS (dead in shell) eggs or babies dying at 10 days or younger.
This article may help you to understand some of the consequences of L-L parings: Why Pure Normals are Important
The pet breeder produces pretty birds and often from families that have bright outgoing personalities. They do a good job caring for and socializing their babies.
Any thoughts on this? These are only my thoughts and speculations. You can use the Contact Me on the menu for info you would like to include in this article.
I’ve found that education is needed to ALL types of breeders, especially in the pet trade on simple genetics and the pet pairings with the focus to improve the next generation. This article will help those that are new to breeding to learn and understand genetics: http://www.internationalcockatielresource.com/cockatiel-genetics-101.html
This posting has several questions and answers: http://talkcockatiels.com/showthread.php?t=17072
And this… http://talkcockatiels.com/showthread.php?t=27860
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