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Interview With Gina And Grant House


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Interview provided by Gina House ( our nubbly :sadsorry: )

 

 

Q1. AT WHICH POINT IN TIME DID YOU FIRST DEVELOP AN INTEREST IN BUDGERIGARS ?

From a young age, I suppose around 9 or 10 years old. My Mum bred pet shop budgies in a colony breeding situation for many years and then started to dabble in exhibition budgies too.

 

 

Q2. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST AVIARY/BREEDING ROOM LIKE ?

My personal very first breeding room was a 3m x 3m tin garden shed with one second hand aviary as a flight. We then added 2 2x3m flights later on.

 

 

Q3. WHERE DID YOUR FIRST BIRDS COME FROM AND OVER WHAT PERIOD OF TIME DID YOU CONTINUE WITH THESE LINES ?

Our first birds came literally from everywhere. Notably I purchased a grey spangle hen from a local pet shop that had been bred by The Dodgey Bros, when combined with a Len Vinci cock bird, produced a beautiful strong hen line. But I had at that time purchased from C&B Gearing, John Payne, Len Vinci, Jeff Lloyd plus some pet shop odds and ends. When Mum was breeding previously, Texas Clearbodies were not in existance so when I saw a Clearbody cock bird in the pet shop I snapped him up. It turns out he was split for Lacewing and (as I found out later) was bred by Sharon House. He appears at the start of just about every single Lacewing I have ever bred.

 

Q4. ARE YOUR PRESENT BIRDS FROM THESE SAME BLOODLINES, IF NOT WHAT BLOODLINES HAVE IMPACTED MOST WITHIN YOUR STUD?

My birds now are not quite as mixed a bunch as when we started and what probably took us forward initially was developing more of an eye, purchasing birds from C&B Gearing and culling hard to retain only the best of everything else. Later on a select few others birds that have made an impact have entered our stud from the likes of Willie Shoemann, Lyn Ray (Lacewings) and Henry George.

 

 

Q5. HOW DO YOU PREPARE YOUR BIRDS FOR THE BREEDING SEASON?

The only additional thing I do prior to our breeding season is a 45day doxycycline treatment to make sure we are not impacted by psittacosis either in hatchability or (it doesn't bear thinking about) a full on disease outbreak during the breeding season.

 

 

Q6. DO YOU SET YOUR BREEDING SEASON BY THE CALENDER OR BY SIGNS OF THE BIRDS BEING READY ?

By calender really but this has been based on the best period that yields the best results from several years of trying different things. I will however only ever pair birds that are in condition and ready to breed.

 

 

Q7. WHEN PAIRING UP DO YOU GO BY PEDIGREE OR VISUAL APPEARANCES OR BOTH?

Visually first, always. Then I will check on the pedigrees just to see what I have done regarding family lines and make a final decision.

 

Q8. HOW CLOSELY DO YOU MATE YOUR BIRDS AND WHAT RELATED MATINGS HAVE BEEN

THE MOST SUCCESSFUL?

I have mated brother and sister, mother and son, father and daughter. So far the best results I have gained have either been from unrelated birds or from a Grandfather/Granddaughter pairing but other more closely related pairings have not been terrible either.

 

Q9. WHAT VARIETY MIXES DO YOU USE FOR IMPROVEMENT IF ANY OR IS IT BEST TO BEST?

Depends on the variety really. For Lacewings I am happy to use any good bird or normal, cinnamon or opaline varieties. I am trying to steer away from opaline a bit due to the smudgy wing markings it produces in the Lacewing but I have found any strong bird to be useful really. As for clearwings I stay well clear of both cinnamon AND opaline and with my BES I really have only used cinnamon hens so as to ensure I am not plagued by opaline later down the track.

 

 

Q10. HOW MANY CHICKS AND ROUNDS DO YOU ALLOW YOUR BIRDS TO HAVE?

I will generally breed 1-3 rounds from my pairs over the breeding season depending on bird condition and importance of the pairing to my breeding program. Most will go for 2, some will go for just 1 and some will stay down for the whole 3 rounds. As far a chicks, I like to have a nest of 4-5 chicks, but sometimes when things are not going too smoothly or we are getting close to the end of the season and chick swapping options are drying up, I have had as many as 6-7 in one nest.

 

 

Q11. WHAT FEATURES ARE THE HARDEST TO PUT ON A BIRD AND HOW DOES ONE GO ABOUT ESTABLISHING THAT FEATURE AND RETAINING IT, THE DIRECTIONAL FEATHER, STRAIGHT BACKLINE, SHOULDER & LENGTH?

I have found length and size to be one of the hardest features firstly to even obtain but then also to combine with the feather and facial features that are required. I am really only just working on increasing overall size and in the past had focused on feather and facial features. My theory so far is that you need a combination of birds with different features in your stud and then work hard on combining the features that you want. The best results for me this year have been combining birds with great length and birds of reasonable size but great feather together. The results have been an increase in size with a slight decrease in feather but hopefully I can progress in steps in this manner.

Q12. WHAT IS YOUR FEEDING PROGRAMME DURING THE BREEDING SEASON AND DOES THIS DIFFER DURING THE NON BREEDING SEASON?

We run a very basic program. I work away a lot and my husband is entrusted to care for the birds while I am away so during these times they get seed and nothing else. When I am home they get, seed, fruit and vegies, fresh eucalypt branches and occasionally a soft food mix of egg, budgie starter and soaked mungbeans, quinoa and wheat but it's pretty random. The only difference breeding birds get is the seed is soaked for 24 hrs in Vetafarm Breeding Aid. This is fed to breeding pairs and chicks only.

 

 

Q13a. PLEASE DESCRIBE YOUR CURRENT AVIARY DESIGN, SIZE, FLIGHTS, BREEDING CAGE DESIGN AND NUMBER OF CAGES ETC?

My current aviary was built by my husband and I and basically consists of a 6x12m shed that has been divided into sections. It runs east west and the eastern end section (3m x 6m) is our breeding room with 24 cabinets and 6 purpose built corner holding cages arranged into the southern side with cupboards, seed hopper and sink in the northern side. The remaining portion of the shed is divided into 7 flights 5 full length (6m) and 2 half sized (one for the babies and one for show team housing).

Breeding room being cleaned and prepared for the breeding season.

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Birds in breeding cages

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Aviary http://forums.budgiebreeders.asn.au/index....c=26811&hl=

 

Q13b. WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT YOUR SETUP IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO DO SO ?

Better water proofing!

 

Q14. DO YOU USE PREVENTATIVE MEDICATION DURING AND PRE BREEDING SEASON AND IF SO WHAT AND WHY.

Ivermectin Spot-On for lice, mites and worms. Doxycycline 45 days pre-breeding to prevent psittacosis. Ronivet S a couple of times a year for canker treatment.

 

Q15. WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE GREATEST ASSET OF BEING IN THE HOBBY AND WHERE DO YOU SEE THE HOBBY HEADING WITH SO MANY BREEDERS LEAVING TODAY?

Hard question really! The hobby (as with any other hobby or activity) is filled with some great people and some not so great people. I think the greatest asset of being in the hobby from a personal point of view is being able to fulfill my personal passion for animal production and breeding without actually needing a farm! In a more wholistic sense, the greatest asset of being in the hobby is the social network and group of friends you develop.

As far as where the hobby might be heading?...... Well I think this is a bit dependant on a few different things, firstly the hobby’s inability to attract and hold people to the hobby – I really think clubs (this is a generalization of course) could do much more to attract new members, particularly junior members who might well leave the hobby initially after a few year, but will often return in later life. I also think that egos play an enormous part in driving people away from the hobby and we need to remember that, even as a successful Nationals breeder, judge or whatever, to people outside of or new to the hobby, we can come across as pretentious gits! Maybe remembering that we are “big fish in tiny little pond” is a way to ensure that we don’t become over bloated ego heads.

My mother never really got into exhibition budgies all those years ago because at the very first meeting she went to a huge and antagonistic argument ensued about something completely trival (in her mind) over which the meeting spent almost 2 hours haggling and haranguing, with some really personal and nasty stuff aired for all to hear – power struggles and politics puts people off really quickly and should be avoided where possible (or at least not practiced in public)!

 

Q16.  WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER TO BE THE MOST IMPORTANT VALUE ABOUT FRIENDSHIPS FORMED AND FELLOWSHIP WITHIN THE BUDGIE BREEDING FRATERNITY ?

I love chatting about birds, dogs, horses, any animal production system really (I work in agriculture for a reason). Friendships within the hobby provide an excellent sounding board for ideas and knowledge flow as well as just great friendships. It gives me the chance to yack about birds without boring the brain out of some poor innocent.

 

Q17. DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ON HOW TO PROMOTE THE HOBBY TO GET MORE PEOPLE INTERESTED IN JOINING OUR CLUBS ?

Spending more time in actual promotion activites would be a sensible start. Very few clubs that I know of, post info sheets around districts. I think attendance of certain clubs to agricultural shows is beneficial but maybe we could get some gigs at schools presenting to students all about budgies, the hobby and exhibiting (I was involved in a dog training program where we did the exact same thing to promote the benefits of a well trained dog). Maybe spending some $ on advertising to raise the profile of the National Show beyond just the members of the hobby. I am sure there are some other novel ways that could be implemented if people put their minds and efforts into it.

 

Q18. WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OF HAVING A NATIONAL SHOW?

Well our show is pretty unique in that it is a showcase of varieties, not just an enormous Champ show. This is really what the exhibition budgerigar hobby is all about – trying to excel at the National level. What would our hobby really be without it?

Other benefits if you go are further networking and being able to get a broader perspective on the hobby than from the small insulated state view and the personalities that control it (especially a very small zone like WA). It’s nice to hear different views and opinions from people with different experiences.

 

Q19. HOW WOULD YOU GO ABOUT POINTING A NOVICE BREEDER IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION TO ENABLE THEM TO REACH THE TOP BENCH IN AROUND EIGHT YEARS?

Firstly to be able to get anywhere a Novice breeder needs to develop an eye for a winning budgerigar. From personal experience, stewarding and scribing allowed me to see what judges were choosing as far as birds were concerned, the chance to ask some questions at table shows helped too. If Novice breeders are keen to advance then opportunities to experience judging and to ask questions like why? Will help to develop an eye. Otherwise, trying to keep them motivated through the inevitable challenges is probably important so that they don’t give up on what can sometimes seem to be the unobtainable goal.

Helping them to see improvements in their stud , helping them to purchase the right birds for improving their stud or helping them to cull are things that seem to encourage people along too.

Disrespecting their birds in a way that is not worked to be constructive criticism is never good and unfortunately in my short time in the hobby I’ve seen that way more than once or twice.

 

Q20. WHAT DO YOU DO WITH BIRDS WITH FEATHER DISORDERS?

Depends on how bad! Great birds with no tail I will use but being careful not to double up on the family which is always a bad result. Birds with bad feather cysts I generally cull. French Moulters, I will cull the bad ones (as I can’t stand non flyers) and let the others recover But I shut down all breeding for 6 months after any FM outbreak – so far we have had 2 but none at all in between these outbreaks.

 

Q21. WHO HAS INSPIRED YOU THE MOST IN THE FANCY?

Ian Hanington. My first contact with Ian was by phone, quite a few years ago now. I appreciated his “tell it like it is” attitude (which I can relate to) but most of all, after meeting him several more times at different Nations, I could also recognize his obvious amazing talent with budgerigars. Breeding such a tricky variety as fallows to such a high standard for so many years as well as other National winners (and that Cinnamon!!!), what can I say! I can only dream of having birds of the same quality one day.

 

Q22.   WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR LOWEST AND HIGHEST POINTS IN THE HOBBY ?

The highest points for me have all been around the Nationals events. Being the front (wo)man for the 2008 Nationals in Busselton was amazing – one of the hardest things I’ve done but also one of the most rewarding. The lowest points have come purely over politics and some people’s need for power and control, making working with them a harrowing experience for someone like me, who doesn’t just agree with someone because of who they are. I don’t think a good democracy can operate in this manner.

 

Q23. WHAT IN YOUR MIND WAS THE BEST BIRD YOU EVER BOUGHT THAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE IN YOUR STUD AND WHAT APPROXIMATELY WAS ITS COST ?

That’s a hard one too as there have probably been several that I have bought in at different times for different reasons. Firstly I think maybe it was a Lacewing cock from the sell out auction of Lyn Ray who had to quit her birds due to bird breeders lung disease. He was a nice looking bird with good feather that I got for $250 and he, combined with 2 hens bred from a Sharon House Texas Clearbody is the foundation of my Lacewing line. Then I was lucky enough to buy a Cinnamon Opaline cock bird from C&B Gearing who, when I put him into the Lacewing line, upped the quality of my lacewings to such a degree that they became very competitive.

Since then a couple of other birds have really made an impact too – a nondescript skyblue that I purchased from one of Henry George’s auctions confirmed my theory that average birds from good background can still be very useful. He has bred some really lovely birds and combined very nicely with my normal lines. I can’t remember what his cost was but he was not expensive at all compared to a couple other birds I picked up at the same time and he has proven to be the best value of all of them.

 

Q24.  IF YOU WERE JUST STARTING OUT ALL OVER AGAIN AS A NOVICE IN TODAYS WORLD, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU DISPENSE BASED ON WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNT ?

Listen to everything and then find what works for you. Look at as many birds as you can so that you can develop a good eye – photo’s, pet shops, shows – just keep looking at those birds critically.

Beware of the ego’s!

 

Q25. WOULD YOU HAVE A PHILOSOPHY TO SHARE THAT HAS HELPED YOU IN DAILY LIFE WITH YOUR BUDGERIGARS ?

Roll with the punches. Breeding exhibition budgerigars is not the easiest thing in the world and things don’t often go exactly to plan so being a little philosophical about it all helps.

 

 

Q26. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE MUTATION OR VARIETY THAT REALLY INSPIRES YOU ? AND WHAT VARIETIES ARE YOU SPECIALISING IN AT THE MOMENT ?

As a child I had always adored albino’s but when I started in exhibition budgies I kind of fell into lacewing due to 2 hens popping out of that Sharon House Texas Clearbody. Also as there were few people concentrating on some of the rarer varieties at the time Cec Gearing convinced me that I should upgrade them and concentrate on them as a variety. The Lyn Ray auction bird was bought on my behalf by Cec and it’s sort of gone from there. Now I have to say that I really love my Lacewings. I love the red eyes of the variety and the deep buttercup yellow with the added interest of wing markings. It makes it enough of a challenge without being completely impossible!

I did start off with fallows but have stalled terribly with this variety at the moment.

In a fit of craziness I also purchased some clearwings and blackeyed selfs to “play” with and that is keeping me well occupied!

 

Q27. GIVEN ALL OF THE ABOVE, DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER TIPS OR HINTS ON HOW TO IMPROVE AND SUSTAIN AN EXHIBITION BUDGERIGAR STUD?

I think to some degree it’s a number game. Don’t cull too hard so that you run out of birds during the breeding season – I’ve seen quite a number of people do that in recent times. The best advise I’ve ever been given is that you should never “sell your tools”. Keep your best birds or the ones that are important to your breeding program and make sure you have enough to cover the next breeding season – particularly hens.

Otherwise it’s step by step. Look critically at your stud and what features you need in it. Is it length, directional feather, deportment? You might need to buy in a feature if it’s not well represented in your stud. Then slowly but surely combine the best birds with the features that you need.

 

Q28. IF THERE WAS ONE MAIN THING YOU HAVE WANTED TO SAY THAT ENCOMPASSES YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT BEING INVOLVED IN BUDGERIGARS AND CLUBS WHAT WOULD IT BE ?

It’s a budgie! Not a sheep station. Let’s just get down to the business of enjoying our birds and our hobby and leave the egos at home.

 

 

***notes****

PLEASE PROVIDE A PROFILE OF YOURSELF THAT BEST DESCRIBES WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU ARE DOING IN THE HOBBY  ( FOR THOSE THAT DON'T KNOW YOU ) AND PROVIDE A PERSONAL PICTURE IF YOU HAVE ONE OR WISH TO DO SO.

I have been involved in budgies for what I consider to be a short time really. My husband Grant is my hero and has been the solid foundation that has allowed me to have budgies in the first place. Although he is not a livestock man, he tends the birds while I am away (often) and builds almost anything I can imagine – our stud is really a strong partnership. I have been the show manager for SWBC for a few years now after being convinced that I should do the job, Grant more often than not stewards as well. I was then convinced that I should join the WABC and from there somehow ended up as the first female president of the ANBC – a big honor and a big responsibility to be the front man for the nationals in 2008. Since then I have resigned from the WABC and am enjoying my birds to a larger degree again!

 

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as with all these interviews................no comments or posts in the interview........read only.

Edited by KAZ
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