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As we state elsewhere, our first budgerigar was our first pet, a Cobalt, and he it was who led us to keeping and breeding these fascinating birds. Since then, the dark factors
have always been among our strong favourites.
Initially, the interest was in Cobalts and Violets, although we never went out of our way to purchase such. In fact, the Cobalt with which we gained our first win in a full class, at South Shields in 1963 ,was one which we had bred the year before from a Grey. The Grey was thus proved to be a dark factor.
Over the years, we have bred a number of Cobalts, but only in the last ten to fifteen years or so have we been pleased enough with any of them to retain them for breeding purposes. The Cobalts are usually the smallest, most meanly-proportioned, birds in any nest so, almost invariably, we sold them at the end of the season; experience has since taught us that if a bird has good parentage, the fact that it is visually disappointing in certain exhibition features should not deter us from trying to use it.
Those poorer birds can be as good genetically as their more attractive siblings and if they are, say, of a colour which we wish to develop --- or indeed have any other unusual feature- it is worth giving them a try in the breeding cage.
In the event the few we retained and re-paired to produce Cobalts failed to breed; it seems to be one of the unwritten laws of this hobby that the birds from which we are most keen to breed will not produce. Nevertheless, over recent years, we have produced Dark factors with which we wished to continue to work,-and now we manage to produce a number of Cobalts each year.
However, it is not just the dark factor Blues which we like; the Dark Greens and Olives are also birds which we find very attractive, and we have bred and used one or two of such in the past few year. Occasionally we have tried to produce Double dark factor birds by breeding Cobalt to Cobalt, Dark Green to Dark Green, or Dark Green to Cobalt.
The theoretical expectation of this mating is :-
25% Double Light Factor (Light Green or Skyblue)
50% Single Dark/Single Light factor ( Dark Green or Cobalt)
25% Double Dark Factor (Olive or Mauve).
It's a good, proved, theory but in practice we have found such deliberate plans have failed, as stated earlier, such pairs have either not bred or have bred all Light factors !! But, patience is a virtue; we managed to produce two Mauves in 1991, a cock and a hen. Both ran quickly to fat and the cock did not breed, but the hen did and we have been able to use its progeny since.
This year, (2004) we have been delighted to breed three Olives (one Normal and two Opalines) so far, and they seem to be of very reasonable quality.
While pursuing our quest for Cobalts and Mauves, however, we have accepted that our primary aim is to develop a decent stud of budgerigars, irrespective of colour, so have always aimed to retain the best, irrespective of colour. We are fortunate that we can appreciate the different attractions of the various colours, so this has not been a problem for use. We therefore also stock Greys, Greygreens, Cinnamons, and keep Normals and Opalines in all varieties. (Click Articles to visit that page for our comments about Opalines)
It is, however, probable that most people asked to describe our stud would say that it largely consists of Albinos. Such fanciers would therefore be surprised to learn that it is only in the last fifteen to twenty years or so that we have been seriously interested in the variety, beyond admiring them at shows, entered by other fanciers. We had considered taking up Lutinos, like our old friend Norman, but decided that we did not wish to actually compete with him with such a specialised variety, so we opted for the Albinos, taking the opportunity to start a line when Charles Teasdale took ill and had to dispose of his stock; he had a few Albinos, which he had inter-bred with lacewings -so they were not an ideal start, but we decided to work with them.
A short while later, Gerry Langley who had been becoming established as a successful breeder and exhibitor of the variety in the Novice or Intermediate section found that he had to leave the fancy - he was a great miss, having also established himself as a distinguished N.B.S Chairman.
We took the opportunity of buying his small Albino stud and met with almost instantaneous success in that we paired one of his smart young cocks to one of our own hens, which we had bred by pairing one of our cocks to a good Normal Cinnamon Hen (not an Ideal choice of outcross, but the best we had!)
The product of this pairing was an outstanding young cock which went on to take many awards over its ensuing show career.
The pity was that it did not carry this high level of achievement into the breeding pen, and so his line had to be continued through his sister, which, fortunately, was almost as good as he.
We had set-backs with the variety since and have over the years virtually re-stocked: there is little, if any, of the original blooding flowing through the stud, but we have now regained much of the style of our first successful birds, By 2004, we started having a slightly better breeding season with them, and this gave the stud that essential continuity to allow it to grow and develop
(Click Articles to visit that page for our comments about Albinos)
We did, in time, take up Lutinos on a small scale when our old friend Norman disposed of his stud, but we have had very intermittent success with this variety. It remained, however, a minor challenge to us to try to improve the Lutinos we have. We had a certain amount of success in this, but that success was spasmodic and by the end of 2010, we decided to disperse this aspect of our stud
Our main interest, has always been in the more mainstream varieties, with a particular interest in the Dark factors, and the Opalines, in all colours. As stated in our "Articles" page, we are striving to improve this variety and regain the typical variety colour features which initially made the Opaline so popular. It is quite a long job, but we have now received (as have other breeder/exhibitors who are serious about the varieties) an impetus with the introduction of the Budgerigar Society's guidelines.
In 2003, the Dilutes became part of our stud thanks to birds obtained from Gren & Pat Norris. We did not set out to start with this variety, but we liked the birds offered for their other excellent points and it is a decision that we have not regretted. Coincidentally, this variety also appeared in a new introduction, a Spangle which we acquired from a very good member/servant of the Northern BS when he disposed of his stock. This bird also produced Dilutes when paired to a 'split Dilute' and thus we had two lines to work from. Unfortunately, after a few years of success, the lines died out as the birds did not continue to breed - probably we should have introduced fresh blood earlier.
In the last six years or so, having put behind us various administrative roles, John and I felt enabled to take another look at our stock, and to move our priorities to this aspect of our hobby. By 2009, we had started to consolidate, by selection within our own stock, what we knew was a make the best use of any new birds brought in well-based stud -- and importantly a stud which would.
Our better birds were well based on Shaw, Ashby, Geary and Woan stock and they were compatible with each other, so in 2009 we acquired a young Spangle Grey green from Gren & Pat Norris, plus four good normal cocks from Chris & Mary Snell. Between them, these birds changed the face of our stud, and gave us the birds with which we could set about resolving our greatest fault -- flecking
That struggle is still on-going - but it is difficult to cull our best birds. Happily, we have always been Albino and Lutino fans, so some of the worst-flecked hens have served us well in providing outcrosses for our 'ino' lines.
In the last few years and, following John's death, Pat and I have improved our Cinnamons and Spangles with birds from Gren and Pat, as well as an Opaline ---- plus our first Yellowface in over twenty years
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