Andy Barmby Breeder of Violet Ears


First some of the products Andy uses:

When one year old ,the male generally comes into condition before the hen bird .I feed them on an austerity diet when there not breeding and a bit of red millet spray now and again ,and stay on this for a 2 months then gradually I will increase there breeding mixture and chitted seed once a week .
I use pro bird plus herbmix
Pro boost .
egg food ,perle morbide
Grated cuttle bone
And all of planet aviary vitamins and supplements
Which I mix together and add a spoon full sprinkled into the chitted seed and egg food mix
Frozen pinkies and buffs are added
and chopped up small and mixed into the chitted seed and eggfood mix .
When I can I use fresh bought pinkies from a local fishing tackle shop who orders them just for me when there a week or so old and I buy them by the gallon .
I feed these pinkie maggots for a week with maize flour and the vitamin and egg food mix to gut feed them and clean them out until the black spot in them has gone
Once they are clean I then sieve and flash boil them for 5 mins then sieve and dry on newspaper .
Then they are frozen in tubs. These pinkies are softer and easier for the birds to eat than shop bought ones which are frozen and can be hard and leathery. However if you cannot locate the live food the boxed frozen pinkies are still good .

Once the birds are both in good breeding condition the hens beak will change colour from pink to a brighter red indicating she is ready to breed .
I keep the sexes separate – males in one flight cage hens in another but so they can not see each other and only put them together when in condition to breed them

Pairs are put into a large cage or I prefer flights about 4ft x3ft x8ft high or a cage 3ft x3ft with a nest box on the outside and lots of cover in that area ,I use old plastic Xmas tree branches or fresh fir tree branches around the wire near the nest box .
But in the flight I use lots of branches and different nest boxes and round baskets for them to nest in. They normally make there own nest but they also like the large wicker type basket with an entrance hole
If they have been paired before they settle quite quickly but if it is a new pairing you will find the hen keeps her distance for a few days .
I’ve never had any problems with them fighting though .
Once in condition, normally after 3 or 4 weeks if they are a new pair they start building a nest but older birds which have bred together before are a lot faster at nesting.
Once they are in the breeding cage or flights I increase the chitted & egg food mix to fresh each day. Each day I also start using live very small cultured waxworms and I also set up a tub of fruit and veg and leave in a corner for fruit flies and just adding more fruit as needed
Violet ears love foraging in the mix for the small fruitfly maggots and of course the fruit fly.
You know when the hen starts sitting when there’s a bird missing each day!! Both birds take turns sitting and end up with bent tail feathers, a sure sign they are nesting!
At this time I start adding more mini waxworms. Once the chicks hatch I may give them waxworms 3 times a day along with the chitted mix once a day. I use separate small plastic saucers for this purpose.
After the chicks are around a week old the parents will eat more of the eggfood,chitted seed mix and less waxworms & pinkies etc so i go back to giving waxworms only once a day.
The chicks are quite nervous for the first couple of days but soon settle down and after a week I find them coming down and taking the waxworms and pecking at the pinkies & the hitted egg mix.

I leave the chicks with their parents for a month before I take them awY from their parents. However by the time the babies first leave the nest ,the parents have already started a new nest or laid again in the old nest. Therefore I find the chicks can remain in the cage or flight whilst the parents are preparing for the next round.
After 3 rounds of chicks I rest the parents in separate cages and provide them with the same food. After they moult I feed the austerity mix to them. I use ‘pre moult’ in the water whilst they are moulting.
I use 4 pairs of violet ears so have 2 pairs breeding and normally 2 pairs resting.
But I find if you do not separate the pairs after their third round then hen can start coming out of condition and start laying infertile eggs .So it is a must to remove the nests and split the pairs if you have the room!! It is easy to exhaust the hen bird if she is not separated from the breeding cage and to shorten its lifespan and increase infertility