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is it normal for birds to mate while still raising young?

Pegggggg

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My mated pair, Buddy and Bella seem to REALLY enjoy mating... so much so that my younger bird has learned to imitate the sound quite often... so it took me awhile to realize that the sound I was hearing was not Ducky's imitation, or the sound of them feeding their chicks (which is actually a pretty similar sound)

I thought this was probably unusual... why would they be mating while they still have chicks that are NOT EVEN WEENED YET??? but its not like I could separate them... since they both took turns sitting on the young... and they take turns feeding them also... So I just tried to discourage them by making sure they had longer hours of darkness... this was the only thing i could think of to try to stop their desire to breed... since i know the triggers for breeding are usually longer periods of daylight....an abundance of food (necessary since they are also feeding young right now)... and warm temperatures (also necessary for the eggs/young)

but then we had another issue... Bella began to lay eggs... This is her THIRD clutch THIS YEAR... and I got immediately worried about egg binding... but since they were still using the nesting box, it was not really possible to remove it.. removing the eggs may have encouraged her to lay even more to replace them.... and didnt make any sense to boil/replace the eggs... since letting the babies live is not the danger (they have become great parents)... so I just increased the amount of Kale and broccoli in their chop... so she had enough calcium...

she laid a total of 5 before stopping (same # as previous clutches... that seems to be her number lol) ...and LUCKILY she didnt seem to have any problems with egg binding or anything... YAYYYY.... and she is now brooding them full-time...I candled them today... and the eggs ARE fertile... and growing well... and should hatch by the end of the month.... (the 2 young they have now are 8 weeks old and will be re-homed once fully weened (eating well now...but still taking occasional meal from parents) so they should be rehomed by the time this clutch hatches... but they timed it pretty closely

has anyone else seen this? mating while they still have young? and actually laying ANOTHER clutch before the others are even weened?

As much as I truly hope this was a one-time occurrence.. since it never happened any other time... I want to be responsible so she will not lay again until at least spring... how can i prevent this from happening again?????? the thought of keeping them in separate cages sounds horrible... it would break their little hearts...they sleep cuddled together.... they are very attached to each other (obviously) and will again be co-parenting for the next few months anyway.... I have decided that as soon as the young are feathered... and dont REQUIRE brooding.... I will remove the nesting box quickly... HOPEFULLY before Bella gets any ideas about laying eggs!!! Any suggestions on other things I can try? The idea of her getting egg bound scares me enough to keep me up at night. (note: she does not otherwise lay random eggs year-round)
 

Veritgo01

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Its usually triggered by their environment. When thing become complacent they will try to breed. So try rearranging their cage and remove anything that can be used as nesting material.

How long are they getting time to sleep?
 

Zara

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and didnt make any sense to boil/replace the eggs... since letting the babies live is not the danger (they have become great parents)...
The problem with this is that they will get tired. Raising chicks is a full time job and with no rest/break, it is a recipe for bad things to happen - either to the parents, the elder chicks or the young chicks. Back to back clutches are bad news and the eggs should be boiled so that once the current clutch has fledged, the parents can rest.
Once the baby birds fledge, the box can be removed the cage rearranged and new toys and foraging opportunities added.

As you have left the eggs and they now appear to be fertile... If those chicks in your profile picture are the ones in the nest box, then remove them and put them in the brooder and you take over raising and weaning them from now on. It will give just a short break for the parent while they incubate the current eggs.
Once the eggs hatch, if the parents don't give up on them during the incubation period, you will have to monitor them closely and be sure they are getting fed properly and brooded by the parents to be kept warm. If you spot anything wrong, take then and put them in your brooder and take over, rearranging the parents cage after doing so.
 

tka

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In addition to @Zara's excellent advice, I would also recommend a supplement

I don't know what country you're in, but this is what I would use were I in your position

 

Tara81

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I just want to mention, you should not add supplements if the birds already eat pellets. If they don’t eat pellets, then a supplement would be great. Pellets have vitamin d which is needed for calcium absorption. Other sources of vitamin d include boiled egg, sunflower sprouts, cooked fish, natural sunlight not filtered by windows. Zara gave really good advice, if you can learn how to raise the chicks the parents need all the help they can get.
 
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Pegggggg

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Its usually triggered by their environment. When thing become complacent they will try to breed. So try rearranging their cage and remove anything that can be used as nesting material.

How long are they getting time to sleep?
but you would THINK that actively feeding and taking care of chicks that have not yet even fledged... would prevent any triggering instinct to reproduce... lol (im not sure i have ever heard of any animals doing that)

we rearrange the cage and rotate toys (removing most existing ones for full cleaning... and replace with new ones along with some of the old ones removed the month before) We do this once a month when we do the full cleaning of the cage (washing all items not usually cleaned during the weekly paper change/dish washing and quick perch wipes)...

in this one case... removing the nesting box back as soon as i noticed they had began mating again... wasnt really an option... since the current young were still USING it..

They get 12 hrs sleep.. 8pm-8am... same sleep/quiet time as the grandkids

The problem with this is that they will get tired. Raising chicks is a full time job and with no rest/break, it is a recipe for bad things to happen - either to the parents, the elder chicks or the young chicks. Back to back clutches are bad news and the eggs should be boiled so that once the current clutch has fledged, the parents can rest.
Once the baby birds fledge, the box can be removed the cage rearranged and new toys and foraging opportunities added.

As you have left the eggs and they now appear to be fertile... If those chicks in your profile picture are the ones in the nest box, then remove them and put them in the brooder and you take over raising and weaning them from now on. It will give just a short break for the parent while they incubate the current eggs.
Once the eggs hatch, if the parents don't give up on them during the incubation period, you will have to monitor them closely and be sure they are getting fed properly and brooded by the parents to be kept warm. If you spot anything wrong, take then and put them in your brooder and take over, rearranging the parents cage after doing so.
Yes the chicks in profile pics are the current young... they are actually 8 weeks old now... and almost weened... they are eating pretty well.. they both do very well with the food dish.... they are also enjoying exploring the chop (altho not sure how much if any they are actually getting or if they are just mostly playing with it...lol)... they only begged for food once yesterday... and I saw Buddy feeding them... while Bella stayed in the box...and I did not hear either of them begging or being fed today at all... (other than being pushy for the millet spray that we were sharing with Ducky during her whistle video today lol) so moving them to a brooder is probably not necessary at this stage... I think we will be rehoming them prior to any new chicks hatching... altho ideally I would prefer to keep them longer... but I can see how that may cause even more issues...

Yes I will keep close watch on any chicks that hatch.. they did not do well with their very first clutch... and so since then we actually handle the chicks from day one now.. to make sure they are warm, active, growing, crops properly filled, etc...and it also results in very hand tame littles... (and very happy humans) and the parents are used to us stealing them for short periods... and have been great parents since then.. taking turns incubating... and both sharing in the feeding... but if that changes... and they abandon the eggs... or neglect the chicks... I will put them in brooder and hand feed if needed (got the supplies and did research in preparation for the 2nd clutch... but have never actually hand fed since the parents stepped up)

And great advice about them getting tired..... I was so concerned about the threat to Bella's health from egg binding that I didnt think about the lack of downtime without the responsibility that both parents need... I will keep an eye on both parents to see if they seem stressed.... I also feel bad for Bella... Whenever she has a clutch.. she doesnt leave the cage... Buddy will still come out to visit and socialize... but Bella never does... even when she is not the one on the nest.. she stays inside the cage... she had been venturing out with all the other birds recently.... but now... due to this back to back clutch... it means that she is missing out right away again... (she is the least social of all...not a cuddler... altho when she is out of the cage she climbs up on fingers and plays ladders... but usually just sitting on the arm of the recliner with us or hanging out on the playground... is something she seems to enjoy... and i am saddened that she is right back to her self-imposed 'cage-bound' mode)... I will be sure to remove the nesting box as soon as the chicks fledge in the future...

In addition to @Zara's excellent advice, I would also recommend a supplement

I don't know what country you're in, but this is what I would use were I in your position

I am in America.. I googled that Nutrobal for here and it seems its $35USD + $25 shipping for the 250g size... crazy shipping price lol...

They have cuttlebones and eat a variety of calcium-rich fresh foods... should I look for a local calcium supplement also?
 

Zara

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but you would THINK that actively feeding and taking care of chicks that have not yet even fledged... would prevent any triggering instinct to reproduce... lol (im not sure i have ever heard of any animals doing that)
It does happen with the smaller birds, it´s not too uncommon.

we rearrange the cage and rotate toys (removing most existing ones for full cleaning... and replace with new ones along with some of the old ones removed the month before) We do this once a month
This is good :)

weekly paper change
It is recommended to change the paper daily

in this one case... removing the nesting box back as soon as i noticed they had began mating again... wasnt really an option... since the current young were still USING it..
Moving the chicks to a brooder would have been the only option

They get 12 hrs sleep.. 8pm-8am... same sleep/quiet time as the grandkids
This is a good sleep ratio. I noticed you said they don´t lay lots of eggs year round so it clearly works well for your birds.

altho not sure how much if any they are actually getting or if they are just mostly playing with it...lol
At least they are interested and interacting with the food, good signs :) Hopefully they will eat more as they grow.

so moving them to a brooder is probably not necessary at this stage... I think we will be rehoming them prior to any new chicks hatching... altho ideally I would prefer to keep them longer... but I can see how that may cause even more issues...
I would move them out. Feed them formula (prepared as per package instructions) on a metal teaspoon.
Eggs in the box could easily get broken or destroyed by the birds - especially during feeding when the chicks will scramble to be fed.
By moving them to the brooder, you will also be in control of how long they stay in your home and you can rehome them when you feel they are ready to go and are happy they are fully weaned and independant.

since then we actually handle the chicks from day one now.. to make sure they are warm, active, growing, crops properly filled, etc...
Perfect. It really does pay off to oversea the whole process to correct any problems before they turn into disaster.

she stays inside the cage...
I have a hen like this. I try my best to entice her out with nesting material to make her fly to the coffee table to collect it.
Does Bella have a favourite toy or treat?

They have cuttlebones
These don´t offer much nutrition.

eat a variety of calcium-rich fresh foods... should I look for a local calcium supplement also?
Are your birds eating pellets?
 
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Pegggggg

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It is recommended to change the paper daily
They do not step directly on the newspaper... there are bars on the bottom that allow the droppings to fall away from their area (for the most part)... I put a couple fresh paper towels down in the area below their playground daily tho.. because they walk directly on that all the time (moveable one that usually is on top of cage but gets moved to other areas of the house when the birds want to play alongside us somewhere)

I would move them out...Eggs in the box could easily get broken or destroyed by the birds - especially during feeding when the chicks will scramble to be fed.

Are your birds eating pellets?
The chicks dont actually go INSIDE the nesting box anymore... they prefer to sleep on the perches.. and spend their time playing and exploring... and when they were hungry... they would just scream and Buddy would go over and feed them on the perch... but yesterday and so far today... they havent asked to be fed... they just go to the food dish and eat the seed... and they were both definitely consuming the shredded carrots out of the chop this morning... among other things i assume... and they have been eating the pellets from Ducky's pile for a few days now (tho Ducky actually tries to chase them away from the pellet pile... same as she has done with all the previous chicks... lol) So I think they have pretty much weened themselves

--the pellet vs seed adventure--
Buddy and Bella were raised on seed mix and have ZERO interest in pellets (not even the colored ones in the seed mix) but when Ducky was a chick... I started putting a dish of moistened pellets in as extra soft food to feed the baby... she was stunted and I was trying to get her something extra (and secretly hoping they would get to LIKE the pellet taste)... and they DID eat that and feed it to the baby.... but mostly still ate their seed mix... so when Ducky was ready to start weening.. I put a pile of pellet next to the chop on the veggie board.... The parents ignore them but Ducky took right to them... so that is what Ducky eats... pellets and chop.. with millet or sunflower seeds as training treats (she cant climb the walls so the seed mix dish is actually out of her reach).. and so all the chicks that have followed... have had the pellets available as they grow.. As strange as this may sound... it works well... the babies get weened on both seed mix and pellet (+chop) so when they are rehomed... they will eat either one without fuss
 

Zara

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They do not step directly on the newspaper... there are bars on the bottom that allow the droppings to fall away from their area
Yes, I have those bars too. The problems is more, dried poop particles gets into the air, it is not good for you either.
 

Tara81

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Your birds need vitamin d for calcium absorption.
 

jh81

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Some species do this :)

i have birds in our aviary that start building a new nest even before the youngers are out and about. In such cases usually the male takes over the care for the old young, while the female focusses on the new clutch. This is usually because the “procreation” window is short, mostly only a month or 3, so these birds have to be really quick to get two clutches out there into the world.

but not just birds, it happens with other animals too. And ofcourse some humans adhere to the same regime.. one can think something about that :/
 
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