Nestboxes and Bedding

It’s been pointed out to me in a past life that I was/am, very susceptible to a change of mind. I was almost put on the witness stand to justify my decision to NOT run for a BSGC position after I had put my neck on the line for election. I was, at one point, told that I didn’t have a clue and another “expert” continued to accuse me that “ I was good at changing my mind” – very unfair I thought, especially as these people didn’t know me that well and only through the “media forums”.

Anyway, I digress slightly ………. as always !

Back to the subject.

As many of you know I’ve been breeding these lovely budgies since a kid and there was only one type of material to use, OK, two. One was solid wood and the other was plywood, and I have used both during my years of breeding. Back in the 60’s solid wood was quite popular in my district of Basildon, Essex. I packed up the budgies during my teenage years because playing football and females took priority ….. I wonder why. Back in those days there wasn’t the support of the internet so the only advice was gained by visiting breeders and belonging to a club – I belonged to Basildon and District Budgerigar Society, we met at the local wooden hut that was used predominantly for the use of the local cubs and boy scouts which was very popular in those days –  did I belong to either of those troupes?   …….. Nah, football etc was my priority.

Note to writer; I must dig out that ghastly school photo of me showing off that badge on my school jacket lapel.

Oooops, I’ve digressed again! …. you’ll get used to this, if you can stand reading this drivel in the future I’ll take my hat off to you – but I dont wear one.

Nestboxes etc, here we go …. at last.

Since coming back into the hobby about 7 years ago I’ve tried various combinations of box + bedding material. Back in my earliest days I used just regular sawdust from the local wood yard and furniture factories in the area, or newspaper cut into very thin strips , crunched up and put into the bottom of the nestbox – things have changed of course, everything is more clinical nowadays. I have used a box-in-box style nestbox for many years now and I wouldn’t change that style, I find that it is much more budgie friendly when inspecting nests … but of course , we all differ in our preferences, which is why I decided to write about my method and the alternatives that I’ve tried.

I understand also that there are many concave alternatives, however, I have never tried these different materials for concaves, therefore I cannot comment on them, I have only ever used solid wooden ones with cupped out piece at one end – the standard type 

 

Combination 1;

I used soft wood shavings or Gold chip – http://www.goldchipsbedding.com/ – and put it directly onto the removable wooden concave, the nestbox itself was made from plywood, so was the inner box. It’s the method I’ve used for many years but sometimes we get a very messy hen, and chicks come to that, and the wood shavings would become soiled very quickly. As we all know, not all hens like to have any sort of bedding in their nests and once they make their nestboxes their own they throw the bedding out. I leave the hens to settle then once the 1st and 2nd eggs have been laid I introduce a small amount of shavings each day until there is enough to keep the eggs from rolling around – most hen accept the introduction and we’re away. As I said, some nest become soiled very easily, so once the 1st egg and 2nd have hatched, I replace the bedding with a fresh layer. When I get a full nest of chicks, I then remove all of the chicks, put them safely into a container while I scrape out the mucky, acrid smelling bedding off the concave also ensuring that I leave a very small amount of dirty bedding so that the scent of the hen and chicks is maintained. I will change the bedding after that whenever it’s necessary, thus keeping the chicks as clean as is possible.

Combination 2;

This is the same as Combi 1 except for the introduction of a different bedding material – Tropibed.

You might not be familiar with this product, so here is a link to their website;  http://www.tropibed.co.uk/

I found this material very messy, but I like it.

Again, as before, many hens throw the bedding out of the boxes and because this stuff is dark brown in colour, it’s extremely visible on the birdroom floor! But stick with it. I used it in the same method as described, and I found that it had 2 major advantages over wood shavings in my opinion.

The first is that the eggs sit firmly into the bedding where the residual heat transfers from the eggs into the bed so helping to maintain the egg temperature. Of course, the eggs don’t sit not that firm into the bedding as to not prevent the hen from turning them.

Secondly, when the hen and chicks do their droppings in this material, it turns it into white ball-like pebbles and also removes all the acrid smells that arise from the other method. The chicks are quite happy with this material and keep clean.

The photo opposite has absolutely nothing to do with the aviary, it’s a photo of my beautiful acoustic guitar !

 

 

Combination 3;

Plastic Nestboxes.

I got hold of some plastic Nestboxes, these were box in box type. I have to say that I didn’t fancy these boxes but I considered that they might be easily maintained etc.

There are a few types of plastics used for boxes, some better than others. Plastic sheets can be manufactured in differing methods where some are made from an open cell type of material and some from a more solid type of structure. In my opinion the more softer, open cell type are not acceptable, Once the hard, shiny surface has been broken the hens will quickly devastate the material. My fear when the hens break into this material is that I do not know what, if any, harmful CFC gases are released, perhaps you might have a view on this and let me know. The harder, solid material is far superior and is better in my opinion.

I used both wood shaving product and Tropibed in these plastic boxes,

I found that the Tropibed was not a good combination for me – it was extremely messy and stuck to the walls of the outer box and inner boxes and never seemed to be as clean as I would like. On the other hand the boxes where I used the wood shavings, all was good, so I replaced the Tropibed with shavings and away we went …………. however, the boxes were being destroyed by the hens and became a pain to work with.

 

I think that there is a superior material currently being used for Nestboxes now, and that is Trespa. This is a Dutch manufactured laminated material. It is quite an expensive material and is reflected in the price of the boxes. If I had deep pockets I would buy some of these boxes and replace all of my current ones. I have not heard a bad report on them at all.

 

There are a number of other options in Nestboxes and materials and I can only comment on what I have experienced, so this write-up is restricted to those products, in no way should other products be dismissed, if it works for you then who can argue the point.

 

So, in conclusion, I will be using a combination of plywood boxes with Tropibed bedding this coming breeding season of Spring 2020, the plastic boxes will be put to one side for now. I might even take out the concave bases because the Tropibed is brilliant for keeping the eggs in place and not rolling from under the hen whilst she is sitting. In cooler spells when the hen gets off the nest the fibre based material will help to maintain the egg’s temperature, also the RH is maintained in the box as well … so possibly helps the number of DIS.

 

This is now way the definitive answer to Nestboxes and bedding materials …. as I have already stated, if something works for you, then you are right