P1010440P1010448 A few weeks ago now my colleague bird keeper Len March and I travelled to Kent to explore the source of green millet. The cars sat nav had us arrive at a harbour entrance with no aviaries to be seen! fortunately the wonder of mobile phone technology finally enabled us to arrive in time to meet Nick a millet farmer also well known for his prominence in breeding species of the waxbill family and other foreign birds. After negotiating the perimeter alarm system we were shown into the first ‘cow shed’ . You would never have guessed what was to be unveiled upon opening the door – a remarkable collection of indoor aviaries which led into a vast array of outdoor aviaries via wire constructed eye level escape routes which funnelled the birds into naturally planted aviaries. The indoor aviaries housed Golden Breasted and Blue Cap Waxbills the latter of which Nick was telling us would nest in the nests abandoned by Jacksons Weavers. His spacious accommodation coupled with his excellent aviculture husbandry has resulted in numerous breeding successes with young White Headed Munia, Weavers, Golden Breasted Waxbills and many more including those foreign finches which other bird keepers could only dream of which included the Madagascan Mannikin which Nick explained was better known as the Bib Finch. Nick enthusiastically explained that it was his desire to focus on a select number of species with a view to obtaining the best possible breeding results especially since many finches are becoming rare. I am sure our members will appreciate his tips on dietary requirements which of course includes GREEN MILLET which Nick harvests himself. He explained “when the rains arrive in their natural African habitat the rains stimulate the growth of grasses the green seeds of which trigger some species to breed especially weavers and sparrows so feeding green millet to aviary birds will no doubt stimulate their desire to breed” Recommended also by Graham Lee (www.parrot-finches.com) well known for breeding waxbills, Mannikins and Parrot Finches, who also pays tribute to this dietary recommendation along with the addition of specially formulated seed which contains 40% Knaul Grass seed and red & yellow panicum millet. Nick also stressed that small live food is essential when young are in the nest and recommended fruit flies, aphids which occur naturally in sycamore trees, mini mealworms, ‘pinkies’ (frozen maggots) and blood worms. Nick was kind enough to allow me to photo the bloodworm package as I hadn’t come across bloodworms before! Returning to the house we passed a pair of Peacocks with their young and an owl (not real!!) standing guard over the outdoor aviaries which reminded us that predators are all around as well as the human kind!! The visit was extremely interesting and we thanked Nick for his knowledge & patience.

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