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Any ideas for discouraging breeding behavior?

lovebirds

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I've tried everything.
We've had our female lovebird on Pregnyl shots for over a year. Every three months she would begin showing signs of breeding behavior and after a week or so she'd form an egg. She's been egg-bound once. And had cirurgy for egg removal twice (the first vet we had wasn't a certified AV and removed her egg even though it wasn't stuck).
The last time she seemed like she was forming an egg, she was swollen for over two weeks (she ended up not laying nor forming an egg) we decided to try a deslorelin implant (last month).
In the beginning she was completely back to her old self, which meant she wasn't hormonal. It looked like it was working.
After almost a month she's extremely territorial more aggressive that she's ever been, mating with the male all the time and her vent is starting to get swollen.

I don't understand. I don't know what more I can do. Please any advice would be greatly appreciated.
What worries me the most is that she's constantly taking x-rays and meds for how swollen she gets, I'm also terrified she might be unable to pass the egg again

They've been getting 14/15 hours of total darkness per night
They eat Harrisons pellets, seeds and nutriberries as treats, millet and fruit or veggies everyday - I also give them walnuts about 3 times a week
No nest, no nesting material (except when she gets under sheets when outside or gets to the paper towels which I remove from her as soon as I can)
 

lovebirds

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I'm sorry in case there's something wrong with my grammar, English is my second language
 

Anne & Gang

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well in extreme cases, you could try letting her raise a fertile egg..ie. baby..this has worked for some..that is an extreme case and may not work.
 

lovebirds

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She's had two babies before and that wouldn't solve the problem permanently. She usually doesn't end her clutch, after laying the second egg she stops because the shots are given on the first day, then third, 7th and 15th, then every month. When she lays one egg it's supposed to start all over again.
I'm not sure what is supposed to be done now, with the implant. We're taking her to the vet on Wednesday.
She's so swollen already :(
 

Laurul Feather Cat

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The only thing that ever worked for me was keeping my birds on a strict 12 hr light schedule all year round. I have to admit my hardest bird to discourage breeding behavior is my lovebird.
 

Monica

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Can you share a recent picture of the cage? And if she has a chosen, designated spot for eggs?


This is generally what I recommend for egg-laying hens.

  1. Remove Eggs
    • Rearrange the cage
    • Move the cage to a new location
    • Use a cage grate
    • Get a new cage/Use a different cage
    • 12-14 hours of complete darkness
    • Full Spectrum Lighting/Better Lighting
    • Lower the indoor temperature
    • Decreace calcium and protein within the diet (if she is on a high calcium & protein diet prior to laying eggs)
    • Remove anything that could be taken as a nest
    • Remove anything that could be used as nesting material
    • Don't allow her in any dark place or enclosed area
    • IMPORTANT: save the eggs in the fridge
    • If she lays more than 3-4 eggs, put them back in the cage
  2. Leave the Eggs
    • Leave the eggs alone in the cage
    • [Optional] Replace with fake eggs (prevent eggs from breaking)
    • Increase calcium
    • Let hen sit on eggs for 3-4 weeks or until she gets bored of them
    • Once done sitting, toss

They've been getting 14/15 hours of total darkness per night
They eat Harrisons pellets, seeds and nutriberries as treats, millet and fruit or veggies everyday - I also give them walnuts about 3 times a week
No nest, no nesting material (except when she gets under sheets when outside or gets to the paper towels which I remove from her as soon as I can)

Which Harrison's diet? Does she get any warm foods? What is the lighting like? (can you get a picture of that as well?)
 

lovebirds

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Thank you for your answers

The only thing that ever worked for me was keeping my birds on a strict 12 hr light schedule all year round. I have to admit my hardest bird to discourage breeding behavior is my lovebird.
They are currently having 15/16 hours of total darkness, as the vet recommended, doesn't seem to be working..
I do find it odd that lovebirds should have light hours reduced when you want them to stop breeding, when in the wild they breed in the winter, but I'm sure the vet knows better than me

Can you share a recent picture of the cage? And if she has a chosen, designated spot for eggs?


This is generally what I recommend for egg-laying hens.

  1. Remove Eggs
    • Rearrange the cage
    • Move the cage to a new location
    • Use a cage grate
    • Get a new cage/Use a different cage
    • 12-14 hours of complete darkness
    • Full Spectrum Lighting/Better Lighting
    • Lower the indoor temperature
    • Decreace calcium and protein within the diet (if she is on a high calcium & protein diet prior to laying eggs)
    • Remove anything that could be taken as a nest
    • Remove anything that could be used as nesting material
    • Don't allow her in any dark place or enclosed area
    • IMPORTANT: save the eggs in the fridge
    • If she lays more than 3-4 eggs, put them back in the cage
  2. Leave the Eggs
    • Leave the eggs alone in the cage
    • [Optional] Replace with fake eggs (prevent eggs from breaking)
    • Increase calcium
    • Let hen sit on eggs for 3-4 weeks or until she gets bored of them
    • Once done sitting, toss




Which Harrison's diet? Does she get any warm foods? What is the lighting like? (can you get a picture of that as well?)
Maybe I can switch cages with the other two lovies?
I will look for a full spectrum light bulb
I've been giving them a calcium supplement because the last time she couldn't pass her egg was due to lack of calcium on bones (pelvic bones) which she used to form the eggs so I think it might be dangerous to not give them the calcium because she would form the egg anyway

I've been rearranging the cage every now and then and they don't really seem to care, I'll keep doing it though. They have no nesting material. The temperature is at 17/18ºc (which would be 62/63/64 Fahrenheit according to a online calculator)

They get Harrison's maintenance formula for small birds and they do have boiled broccoli, brussels sprouts, quinoa, corn etc. But they also get raw fruits and some veggies alternately
They have direct sunlight in the room in the morning (with the window closed because it's cold and drafty).

I have my camera recharging and will post the pictures tonight
 

lovebirds

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Here are the photos:

Cage:

100_4834.JPG

Where they usually sleep:
(Not sure if this is the "nesting place", she doesn't really nest because she doesn't have a place to. When she lays the eggs just fall down and break :(

100_4835.JPG

The "baby" brothers cage:

100_4836.JPG

The cages are covered because I took these just before putting them to bed, they usually have more toys but I took a few out to wash them
I'm not sure what you meant by taking a picture of the lighting.. like when the sun shines on the room? Or in case I had special lighting/light bulbs
I also slightly hate these cages because they take forever to clean and I'm sure they're not the most suitable for lovebirds. I'm planning to get them new cages and the rest of the things they need (air purifier, etc) as soon as I get a part-time job - I'm a student.

Please let me know if these pictures aren't good enough, I can take new ones..

What kind of full spectrum lighting should I get?
 

lovebirds

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Today she seemed a little less swollen but her behavior was still very hormonal.
The vet's seeing her tomorrow. Hopefully she'll be back to herself soon.
 

Laurul Feather Cat

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When you say the "lovebirds breed in the winter", I assume you live in the Northern Hemisphere and forget that the Southern Hemisphere is exactly opposite when it comes to seasons. So, with Winter and the shortest day of the year starting on December 21 or 22 in the Northern Hemisphere, our Australian fellow humans will be celebrating the longest day of the year and the Summer Season on the same day. Lovebirds, African lovebirds, usually live below the Equator or within twenty or thirty degrees of the Equator, so that means their seasons usually do not have wide shifts in temperature but probably have more differences in rain fall levels vs dry seasons. My lovebirds are breeding now, since June, actually, and she is still laying eggs; no big problem, it just makes her aggressive and I make sure she was good food and lots of calcium. The location of birds who nest near the Equator also limits the degree of change to the birds' photoperiodism because the area of the Equator and 30 degrees above and 30 degrees below the Equator do not produce huge angle differences in light levels; so these birds' light sensitivity is very tailored to a short sun shift change. In other words, changing their darkness quotient to more than 12 hours daily (the so called neutral amount of sunlight) discourages the surge of mating hormones (does NOT completely stop it, but discourages it). I found and my vet concurred, increasing darkness to 14 or 16 hours would be ineffective as they are not programmed to DECREASE hormones during lack of light, only to INCREASE hormones with the movement and increased intensity of light to trigger mating.

Therefore, I never allow my light levels to exceed or decrease that needed for a true 12 hour day. This generally keeps my birds in a holding pattern until their individual bodies catch on and then I will have one or two hens produce eggs, which I remove for sterilization or substitution with dud eggs. It is a lot better than keeping track of six pairs of cockatiels and one pair of lovebirds producing eggs all at the same time on a normal sun-ruled schedule of light. I find with curtains or blinds I can keep out the normal sun schedule and keep my birds on the artificial light 12 hr neutral schedule with 3 full sun florescent lights. I also rearrange the interiors of the cages every three or four months to discourage nesting, yet I also give them appropriate sized cardboard and wooden nesting boxes so if they do decide to nest and produce eggs, I can sterilize them without having to hunt all over the birdroom to find the eggs!

If a bird produces eggs one year, they almost never produce eggs the next year on my 12 hr schedule and with the rearranging of the cages every four months. What can I say, this schedule works for me and I find it easy to follow. I have the three full sun lights on timers so the lights go out one at a time like a sunset, rather than all at one time like it would on the Equator.
 

lovebirds

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When you say the "lovebirds breed in the winter", I assume you live in the Northern Hemisphere and forget that the Southern Hemisphere is exactly opposite when it comes to seasons. So, with Winter and the shortest day of the year starting on December 21 or 22 in the Northern Hemisphere, our Australian fellow humans will be celebrating the longest day of the year and the Summer Season on the same day. Lovebirds, African lovebirds, usually live below the Equator or within twenty or thirty degrees of the Equator, so that means their seasons usually do not have wide shifts in temperature but probably have more differences in rain fall levels vs dry seasons. My lovebirds are breeding now, since June, actually, and she is still laying eggs; no big problem, it just makes her aggressive and I make sure she was good food and lots of calcium. The location of birds who nest near the Equator also limits the degree of change to the birds' photoperiodism because the area of the Equator and 30 degrees above and 30 degrees below the Equator do not produce huge angle differences in light levels; so these birds' light sensitivity is very tailored to a short sun shift change. In other words, changing their darkness quotient to more than 12 hours daily (the so called neutral amount of sunlight) discourages the surge of mating hormones (does NOT completely stop it, but discourages it). I found and my vet concurred, increasing darkness to 14 or 16 hours would be ineffective as they are not programmed to DECREASE hormones during lack of light, only to INCREASE hormones with the movement and increased intensity of light to trigger mating.

Therefore, I never allow my light levels to exceed or decrease that needed for a true 12 hour day. This generally keeps my birds in a holding pattern until their individual bodies catch on and then I will have one or two hens produce eggs, which I remove for sterilization or substitution with dud eggs. It is a lot better than keeping track of six pairs of cockatiels and one pair of lovebirds producing eggs all at the same time on a normal sun-ruled schedule of light. I find with curtains or blinds I can keep out the normal sun schedule and keep my birds on the artificial light 12 hr neutral schedule with 3 full sun florescent lights. I also rearrange the interiors of the cages every three or four months to discourage nesting, yet I also give them appropriate sized cardboard and wooden nesting boxes so if they do decide to nest and produce eggs, I can sterilize them without having to hunt all over the birdroom to find the eggs!

If a bird produces eggs one year, they almost never produce eggs the next year on my 12 hr schedule and with the rearranging of the cages every four months. What can I say, this schedule works for me and I find it easy to follow. I have the three full sun lights on timers so the lights go out one at a time like a sunset, rather than all at one time like it would on the Equator.
That makes sense, I'm not sure how I didn't think of that before.

Our vet suggested she should have 16 hours of total darkness (now, to see if the implant starts working again), not just because of the hormones but also because it decreases activity.. But honestly I'm not sure if it's working..

Can anyone explain how the full spectrum lights might help discourage nesting behavior? I asked the vet and he said it could actually encourage egg laying, unless I only use it for a few hours a day. The main reason why I'm looking for the lights is because it helps keeping good calcium levels and vitamin D

You keep nest boxes inside their cages and they don't lay eggs all the time? Do they sleep inside the boxes?

So I should let her lay and sit on the eggs and see if she quits on her own? I wouldn't mind trying this, what worries me it that I know she might get in trouble and become eggbound again. Even with the calcium supplement.
Right now she's still swollen but I can't yet feel an egg. The problem is that the swollen vent puts some pressure on the respiratory system and she has a little bit of a tail bob. This happened several times, I just have to keep a really close eye and make sure she doesn't get worse. She was once rushed to the vet because of this.

I never read you should sterelize the eggs, I didn't do it when she had her babies. I assume it kills bacteria and prevents it from spreading inside the nest?
 

Monica

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Sorry, must have missed the updates in my alerts!

You can try switching cages.

The idea of reducing protein and calcium is *ONLY* if the bird is getting too much. Breeder diets have higher protein content in them than maintenance/pet diets have. Two years ago, I wanted to have my bourke parakeet go through surgery to try and remove a [cancerous] mass on her right foot. My avian vet didn't want to perform the surgery if she had laid an egg within the past two weeks. What did she do? She laid an egg approximately every two weeks! :mad: At the time, she was eating Harrison's High Potency as part of her diet... so I put her on the Harrison's Adult Lifetime. She stopped laying eggs. Went through surgery in the summer and recovered. Come winter, she was on the High Potency again. Being that it was winter, she didn't lay any more eggs! Winter here we get around 14 hours of darkness, and summer it's around 9 hours of darkness.

If she's having calcium problems, then you need to increase the calcium as well as the vitamin D within her diet - which seems like something you are already aware of.

Do you feed any food warm? Quinoa or any of the veggies? If fed at room temp or warmer, you may want to refrigerate it nice and cold before feeding. You could feed raw broccoli instead of cooked broccoli, for example. Feed more raw, less cooked.


As far as the lighting comment... well, sometimes less light, as mentioned, can stimulate breeding hormones. One of my cockatiels previously lived in a dimly lit house where everyone were chain smokers so the air is murky... blankets and curtains almost always covering the windows. They ended up covering her up 24/7 because she was "too noisy". She became a "chronic egg layer." If they removed her eggs, she laid more. All she did was sit in her dark cage, eat - if she had any food to eat (she was nearly starved to death when I got her!), and lay eggs then sit on them.

My point is, more darkness isn't always the right answer! The quality of light may be just as beneficial to them as the amount they get! Do they get enough bright light? Or is the room dimly lit by the windows and lights? A dimly lit room may encourage hormonal behaviors more than a brightly lit room does.



I used to have a cage like your brown one... only the entire cage was made out of wire except for the top and the stand. (aka flimsier) It was a wider cage that had two plastic bases/trays. It also had smaller doors... I do have a cage like your black/charcoal one - same color in fact! A few differences in design, but otherwise practically identical from the looks of it. Also has a plastic tray, not metal. Personally, I kind of like the cage. Would love it a lot more if I could wheel it outside and house it down easily when food and poo got stuck in cracks and crevices!


My hens don't get nest boxes.



If you had sterilized your hens eggs when she was reproducing, she wouldn't have had babies. Sterilization is essentially freezing/boiling the egg shortly after it's been laid to prevent life from forming so as to prevent any more birds born when there is already an over abundance of birds in the world. If you want to breed, you know how to hand raise and you plan on keeping the chicks or you have homes already lined up for any potential chicks, that's one thing! But to breed with no plans in place is another.
 

CheekyBeaks

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I think you should also re-evaluate their diet, anything high energy should be removed or greatly reduced including nuts, seed, corn, banana etc...
I would be restricting her diet to pellets and healthy low energy fresh foods and perhaps a sprinkle of seeds. I'm not sure what's in nutriberries as we don't get them here in Australia but if they contain high levels of seeds and nuts I would be reducing how much you feed them too.
You may even need to consider separating her from the male, you are in a position where you do not want her to breed so it would be something you may need to look at. The males presence will be encouraging her to want to breed.
I would also suggest giving them more toys and activities in their cage as well as foraging opportunities to keep her busy
If she manages to lay an egg it can help to let her sit on it until she gives up to complete the nesting cycle, but prevention is best given her history.
 

lovebirds

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Sorry, must have missed the updates in my alerts!

You can try switching cages.

The idea of reducing protein and calcium is *ONLY* if the bird is getting too much. Breeder diets have higher protein content in them than maintenance/pet diets have. Two years ago, I wanted to have my bourke parakeet go through surgery to try and remove a [cancerous] mass on her right foot. My avian vet didn't want to perform the surgery if she had laid an egg within the past two weeks. What did she do? She laid an egg approximately every two weeks! :mad: At the time, she was eating Harrison's High Potency as part of her diet... so I put her on the Harrison's Adult Lifetime. She stopped laying eggs. Went through surgery in the summer and recovered. Come winter, she was on the High Potency again. Being that it was winter, she didn't lay any more eggs! Winter here we get around 14 hours of darkness, and summer it's around 9 hours of darkness.

If she's having calcium problems, then you need to increase the calcium as well as the vitamin D within her diet - which seems like something you are already aware of.

Do you feed any food warm? Quinoa or any of the veggies? If fed at room temp or warmer, you may want to refrigerate it nice and cold before feeding. You could feed raw broccoli instead of cooked broccoli, for example. Feed more raw, less cooked.


As far as the lighting comment... well, sometimes less light, as mentioned, can stimulate breeding hormones. One of my cockatiels previously lived in a dimly lit house where everyone were chain smokers so the air is murky... blankets and curtains almost always covering the windows. They ended up covering her up 24/7 because she was "too noisy". She became a "chronic egg layer." If they removed her eggs, she laid more. All she did was sit in her dark cage, eat - if she had any food to eat (she was nearly starved to death when I got her!), and lay eggs then sit on them.

My point is, more darkness isn't always the right answer! The quality of light may be just as beneficial to them as the amount they get! Do they get enough bright light? Or is the room dimly lit by the windows and lights? A dimly lit room may encourage hormonal behaviors more than a brightly lit room does.



I used to have a cage like your brown one... only the entire cage was made out of wire except for the top and the stand. (aka flimsier) It was a wider cage that had two plastic bases/trays. It also had smaller doors... I do have a cage like your black/charcoal one - same color in fact! A few differences in design, but otherwise practically identical from the looks of it. Also has a plastic tray, not metal. Personally, I kind of like the cage. Would love it a lot more if I could wheel it outside and house it down easily when food and poo got stuck in cracks and crevices!


My hens don't get nest boxes.



If you had sterilized your hens eggs when she was reproducing, she wouldn't have had babies. Sterilization is essentially freezing/boiling the egg shortly after it's been laid to prevent life from forming so as to prevent any more birds born when there is already an over abundance of birds in the world. If you want to breed, you know how to hand raise and you plan on keeping the chicks or you have homes already lined up for any potential chicks, that's one thing! But to breed with no plans in place is another.
I'm sorry I took so long to reply.

They're currently on Harrison's adult lifetime, my vet asked me to call them Monday telling them the protein percentage so they can find a pellet with lower protein levels. I'm not so happy, I like Harrison's :/

They get a supplement of powdered calcium fortified with D3 on their pellets, twice a week

I'll try giving them raw and cold foods. I'll also stay off legumes high fat/protein foods, while she's swollen

Poor cockatiel, that sounds like a horror movie. I hope she recovered!

At the moment, since it's winter time, we don't get a lot of light, I know this isn't right and I'm currently looking at flurescent/ full spectrum light, although I must admit, I'm a tad confused as to what to get. I'm also getting them a ceramic light bulb to keep them warm during the night, temperatures have been falling each day and I know they're not comfortable during the night - I hope this isn't more stimuli

I absolutely hate the cage with the roof because it's incredibly hard to clean, no matter what I do. Takes about 2 hours to clean and it gets dirty immediately after cleaning it. The only good thing about it is the size, which is acceptable. I don't like the second one either because I find it a bit small. It's easier to clean but I can't always tell whether it's dirty or not because of the color/material.

I agree with you. I can't really afford to keep more birds at the moment, and I want to give everything I can to the ones I already have. Besides it's incredibly hard to find good homes where I live. People here don't care about birds, most of them are severely abused.
 

lovebirds

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I think you should also re-evaluate their diet, anything high energy should be removed or greatly reduced including nuts, seed, corn, banana etc...
I would be restricting her diet to pellets and healthy low energy fresh foods and perhaps a sprinkle of seeds. I'm not sure what's in nutriberries as we don't get them here in Australia but if they contain high levels of seeds and nuts I would be reducing how much you feed them too.
You may even need to consider separating her from the male, you are in a position where you do not want her to breed so it would be something you may need to look at. The males presence will be encouraging her to want to breed.
I would also suggest giving them more toys and activities in their cage as well as foraging opportunities to keep her busy
If she manages to lay an egg it can help to let her sit on it until she gives up to complete the nesting cycle, but prevention is best given her history.
I agree, I won't be giving them anything with high fat/protein content while she's swollen. Despite the fact that they love those foods :unsure1:

Nutriberries aren't very different from pellets. They claim it to be a type of pellets, except that they don't crunch the seeds. They only get it as a treat - about half a berry a day each but the protein content isn't very different from other pellets - Cockatiel Nutri-Berries | Pet Bird Food by Lafeber Co.

I know the male is another stimuli but I can't separate them because they're so bonded. I don't think the male would survive a separation. Also some vets told me it would probably not work, because she's bonded to us also, and she'd just see us as other potential mates.

If she produces an egg I will discuss with the vet the idea of leaving the egg for her to sit on it. I hope she won't produce one though. She seemed a bit less swollen today
 

ddy13

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I have a cage that can be split in two they are together but cannot start, also not adding a nest box helps. Her last batch of kids is near by so she is not to upset. All good ideas above.
 
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