Quality and quantity

Selection and quality management

When we speak about quality we mostly mean the quality of the birds as in their vigor, beauty, and temperament. Careful selection is needed. Vitality, resistance against sickness, quality of the plumage, breeding qualities are influenced by the selection of the mutation breeder. Good qualities should be preserved, bad qualities have to be abandoned. The amount of chromosomes is restricted. Some colour mutation factors are linked to factors that are influencing the physical make up of the bird. This mean that we have to count with more than the colour of the plumage alone.

I found some facts about chromosomes and mutation factors in the book of Beckmann (pg. 226). The budgerigar has thirteen chromosomes. At the sex-chromosome five mutation factors are found. There are twelve autosome chromosomes. Only one chromosome has no colour mutation factor thusfare.There are nine recessive and four dominant inheriting mutation factors. These thirteen factors are laying at eleven different autosome chromosomes. Two recessive mutation factors are linked together at the same chromosome. One dominant mutation factor is linked with one recessive factor. We can imagine that it is impossible. The other physical factors, other than colour factors, are laying on chromosome that has no colour mutation factor. This means that several fysical factors are linked together with colour mutation factors.

Development of colour varieties needs patience and a sharp vision for the effects of the new mutation factor on the plumage and the physique of the bird. Sometimes seven generations are needed to develop the colour variety until this meets the standards of colour, format and other aspects of the appearence
The problem is that it takes a lot of space to develop a strong strain of birds. This can be solved when breeders work together and help each other. In this way mutation breeding and developing of a strain of a new colour variety can be a very rewarding united action.

The bird-fancier has taken responsibility for the birds in the aviculture by placing them in a aviary or cage. This means that there is no free choice of food and shelter for this birds. Therefore the bird-fancier has to be alert to the needs of his birds. He has to be very critical of food, prevention of sickness, housing and caring. Quality of the birds is facilitated by quality of housing and caring, prevention of diseases, diet and so on. This are contributions to the well-being of our birds.

Sheer quantity or good quality

A real danger for the mutation breeding is the fact that new colour varieties sometimes can bring a lot of money. Once I spoke to a breeder who told me with pride how much money he earned the last year in the first voliere, the second one and so on. Than he showed me a nest of young with three "mutations" and only one "disposable young". In this case the mutation breeder sees his birds as an investment. He is tempted to place quantity above quality.

Development of the colour variety is in danger when mutation breeders sell of the offspring. When the colour is the only criterion and the other qualities, like format, and other important qualities are neglected there can be no approvement of the colour variety. When the price of the new variety is going down people sometimes are loosing interest and bring them to the market. Once I visited a breeder who bred the rubino Bourke. In his collection I saw several birds with a lot of yellow in the wings. The reason he gave was that the price of the rubino was dropping. So I combined the wildtype split cocks with lutino hens because the lutino sells better. In this way it is possible that a promising variety is not developed at all because of the dropping market value.

Combining of mutation factors brings sometimes nice new colour varieties. But when people are too hurried, the new factor is combined with other factors before the new variety is settled. This is a pity, because every mutation has interesting possibilities in its own. Only with careful developing and good selection it is possible to fix a colour variety and develop a good strain.

Sometime hybridising is used to create desired colours. We see this in the developing of blue turquoisine (combination with splendid). This is a pity because of the fact that in principal the turquoisine has the same possibility as the splendid to develop a blue variety by loosing the psittacine colours. The same can be said about the blue Stanly rosella, several colour varieties of lovebird species. Don't spoil the original genetic possibilities is my advice.

We can speak about quality and quality management in another way. We mean the quality housing, diet, prevention of diseases, caring, and so on. Influencing live circumstances of our birds in the aviculture can improve the heath and well-being of our birds..

An example is the housing. Flying is very important for the Bourke's. With every wing beat fresh air is coming in the lung sacs. If the birds can not fly because the cage is to small there is a problem. Sometimes there is no variation of twigs for playing or perching. The bottom of the cage is empty without grit or sand, because the vacuum cleaner is used every day. Of course prevention is needed, but sometimes the measures of prevention of sickness are so rigorous that the bird has not the possibility to build resistance against sickness himself.

Purpose of mutation breeding

Mutation breeders can have very different intentions. Most of the time we do not realise that we deliver a contribution in the evolution of the species. We preserve new colour varieties and facilitate the genetic variety in bird species. This is the real background of our hobby.

Increase of variety can happen in three different ways:
1. Originate of new allele, changing genetic qualities by point mutations
2. Mixing of chromosomes during the fertilisation. Every young bird has an unique packet of genes
3. New combination of genes by crossing over

Accident plays a very important roleIn this processes. Selection in nature is serving the development of an optimal packet of genes. All genetic qualities that are serving the adaptation to the natural habitat are preserved.
Natural selection is replaced with selection by the bird-fancier in the aviculture. And the aviculture can be seen as a new environment. The mutation breeder is busy preserving mutations in different ways, to influence the mixing of chromosomes and facilitating crossing over by choosing partners for our birds. This gives us a lot of possibilities but also responsibility for developing the species.

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Copyright by Bob Fregeres

E-mail: fregeres@bourkes-parakeet.nl