Monday, July 29, 2013

My friends' shamas

Today I would like to give an update of what my close “shama” friends, Michael Leong and Jeffrey Low, have been doing lately in shamas.

Michael and I have shared an interest in breeding shamas together since 1997.  That is many generations of shamas that we have bred.  Just as with Michael, I share my male and female shamas with Jeffrey.  These 2 friends are the only persons with whom I share my shamas for breeding.

Michael’s interest is primarily the Red-whiskered Bulbul, a species of which I have only a mild interest that is not sufficient for me to keep them for any length of time.  Jeffrey, of course, has both practical and in-depth knowledge of birds and especially shamas.

Last year, Michael bred 2 outstanding males from Alpha and Killer, so named as she had even managed to kill a male whom she did not take a liking to.  This year, Michael has a first clutch of 3 chicks from this pair.  Michael has generously suggested that I rear those chicks from this batch that are male and that I keep for myself the one that is the more outstanding.  I am really looking forward to how these chicks will turn out.

The video below is of Alpha’s chicks (at about 30 days) with their father:

Jeffrey has also resolved the infertility problems that he has had with Funkie and Fatina (both bred by me) and they also have a clutch of 3 chicks that are now a few days old.  The video of their chicks is below:

Jeffrey’s thinking and analysis that produced results are in this recent forum post of his that he had sent to me:

Another experiment that further reinforced my thinking that chicken feed could be good enough for shamas: I was trying to breed from Funkie and Fatina since a few months ago. The pair was fed free-flow full live food consisting of crickets, mealworms, roaches and some fish throughout the day. This has been my practice (as well as that of most other breeders) for breeding pairs and the reason to feed free-flow full live food is to stimulate the bird to come into breeding form and also for them to raise the chicks. However, once they were given free-flow live food, the birds will not eat dry food willingly anymore and this live food diet for them would normally have to continue throughout the breeding season.

After 3 unsuccessful clutches, I had finally concluded that the failure to breed from them successfully this year was due to the birds being not well prepared. They also did not molt well prior to being paired. Funkie had also suffered from fits during this period and that is another indication that he is not fit. 

All 3 clutches were infertile. At this point, I decided to convert both the birds to dry food from the live food diet, in the hope that the failure up to now was also partly due to dietary deficiencies from the full live food diet. It took only 2 days to switch them to feeding only on chicken feed and this continued to be their only food for the next one week. Thereafter, once I was sure that they were feeding very well on chicken feed, I began supplementing them with live food in the evening, offering them free access to live food for about an hour at the end of each day. I had planned to continue this way of feeding the pair until chicks are successfully hatched and then to switch to full live food again for the period it takes for them to raise the chicks.

Fatina laid the fourth clutch a couple of weeks later and 2 out of 3 eggs from this clutch were fertile. However, Fatina killed and ate the 2 chicks as soon as they hatched. 

I continued with the chicken feed supplemented with live food diet and another clutch was laid recently. This fifth clutch had looked promising judging from the size of the eggs and there were also more eggs this time, 4 of them as compared to previous clutches of 2 and 3 eggs. Today is the 11th day since Fatina started sitting on this clutch and I placed a tub of live food inside the aviary just before sunrise, in anticipation. 2 chicks hatched this morning and since then, Fatina was seen feeding them throughout the day. (Funkie is meanwhile paired up with another hen, leaving Fatina to raise these chicks on her own). All is well up to now and I am crossing my fingers that there will be more than 2 chicks.

Whether or not these chicks will survive until they fledge is another matter. The fact that a normal sized clutch of 4 eggs was laid from a pair fed mostly with chicken feed and its successful hatching today may be able to give us some indications of the nutritional quality of chicken feed. 

The video below is of Funkie that Jeff recorded with his handphone just a few days ago:

The last video is of one of Flame’s chicks that I bred in December last year and that is now owned by Jeffrey.  Jeffrey has named him "Dato", so maybe I will name one of my chicks "Tan Sri". Flame’s father is Pretty Boy and the video suggests that this chick that is presently less than 8 moths old, has inherited some of his father’s and grandfather’s character.

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