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Home > Cage & Aviary Bird-Keepers Blog > Budgie breeding: Making that start with budgies

Budgie breeding: Making that start with budgies

Monday, 11th April 2016

"Budgies can be great fun to keep and breed," says Fred Wright who has been breeding budgerigars for more than 45 years. "They can give so much pleasure – ideal for all, adults and kids alike. Generally they are easy to breed, they don’t have to be expensive to buy and the cages and equipment can all be purchased for sensible money."
Here's Fred's advice to bird-keepers looking to make a start with budgies:
Budgies starting to show their colours

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The bright and attractive colours is what brings most people into keeping budgies but they can be great characters, and once you see babies start to show their colours in the nest boxes – you are hooked.

The advice should always be to read and find out exactly what budgies are all about – keeping them and breeding them before you buy anything but in the real world – we know that most people will buy on impulse and then think about how you are going to keep them – and probably breed with them a bit further down the line. Most people seem to start with a single bird in a cage as a pet and then they decide to buy a partner – and think about breeding. Just the one pair don’t usually want to breed and we are told they are colony birds and they need to be a group of pairs before they start to breed well. It’s at this point we start to think about a small set-up with a few pairs.

If you get the chance to select varieties and colours, pick the bright ones – Lutinos, Albinos, Clearwings, Spangles and Pieds. There is a bit of genetics to be understood at some point but don’t be put off by the complications of genetics and the rules of how the various colours and varieties are reproduced. For now – start with the colours you like and find attractive. Just enjoy keeping them!
Bredding Nest Boxes
Breeding budgies is the next step to just keeping them. Some folk will be very happy just to keep them and enjoy them, but most will very quickly decide to breed ‘em. Breeding budgies is not difficult but there are a few simple rules to follow. Budgies breed in a nest box with the entry hole at the top or the side. Those boxes can be attached to the outside of a cage or even placed inside the cage – if the door is big enough.

We either breed budgies with a pair to a cage and one nest box, or we breed them in a small aviary or flight. The first rule to learn is that all the nest boxes need to be placed at the same height or the hens will fight to get the top box – all the boxes at the same level overcomes that problem.
Colony System

Cage breeding is somewhat more conventional with breeders but many fanciers, as we call them, start in an aviary with several pairs. The aviary system with several pairs with the boxes all at the same height is called the “colony system” or colony breeding.

There is a problem with colony breeding that can be quite upsetting at times and may be stressful for the owner. It’s that the cocks and the hens start to get competitive and they can become aggressive towards each other. Once the colony is up and running, it’s wonderful to watch the hens getting the attention of their partners and jumping in and out of the boxes. The way to overcome some of this competitiveness is to pair-bond the pairs in separate cages for a week and then release 4 or even 6 pairs into the aviary at one time and usually, the pairs will stay together and the aggression seems to subside.
Hen lays 6 - 7 eggs

Once a pair go together it’s about 10/14 days before the first egg will appear. The hen lays about 6 or 7 eggs in total and she lays on alternate days. The incubation period is 18 days – and if all goes to plan, they hatch on alternate days.
chicks develop at around 2 weeks

The chicks develop and at around two weeks, it is possible to see the colour in the feathers of the bird starting to appear. The chicks jump out of the box at about 30/32 days old, fully feathered. As the chicks leave, the hen starts to lay again – and it all starts to happen yet again.

It’s never quite as easy as it sounds, because there are frequently problems getting the hen to start feeding her chicks, but all of these challenges are part of breeding budgies, so it’s all part of the game.

Many people seem to make the feeding of our birds complicated – it’s not. Haiths offer a range of excellent seed mixes for budgerigars and it’s about selecting the right mix. The more expensive mixes contain more canary seed and this seed contains more protein than the other seeds, usually millets. The larger exhibition birds carry much more feather than the smaller active birds but feather is all about protein. The more feathery birds need more protein – so they need more canary seed.

Canary seed

It should never be underestimated that good quality, clean seed is vital for healthy birds that are going to breed well for you. Cheap seed tends to be dusty and can be old seed that might well be lacking in nutritional content.

Fresh water every day is a basic requirement. If the birds are to be brought into a good breeding condition they will need a “conditioner” such as Haiths PTX as it will bring the birds into the very best of breeding condition.


Egg Biscuit

The only other vital food will be a rearing food when the hens are rearing chicks. It is basically an egg and biscuit mix, that is high in protein to make the chicks and the feathers grow well. However, it’s the extras that make all the difference when it comes to getting the birds into a top breeding fitness, and rearing chicks well. For a good rearing food, check out the Haiths list.

Throughout the world there is an active exhibition fancy where birds can be exhibited in classes for each of the colours. It’s unfortunate that lots of people are keen to breed budgies, keep them and enjoy them and the exhibition side of the hobby seems to be in decline. However, for those who are competitive, and want to breed birds to a standard as set by the national societies, it’s a great addition to the hobby of keeping and breeding.
Exhibition Winner

The aspect of the hobby that should never be underestimated is the social side of the hobby. There are lots of clubs and societies. There are local clubs and regional clubs. All will hold meetings from time to time where individuals and families can take part. There is a huge social side to our hobby where wives, husbands, partners and children can get involved.
Winning rosettes

Something that seems to have overtaken the shows are the sales. These have become massively popular both as social events and places where breeders can attend to sell their surplus birds. It actually gives breeders the purpose to breed birds – so they can sell their surplus at sales and recover some of the costs involved with keeping, feeding and breeding.

So far we have avoided talking money! Breeding and keeping budgies does not have to be expensive. Lots of entertainment can be had from a small aviary, breeding with a few pairs and caring for them properly. Top quality exhibition birds can be expensive but showing birds is not for everyone. My advice would always be to make a start – enjoy breeding and become confident you understand them before you even think about entering the exhibition fancy.

Keep reading everything you can get your hands on, talk to breeders, listen to what they have to say, join a club and go to its meetings. Our hobby is not just about keeping the birds themselves – it’s about people too. Some new fanciers will make that start and realise after a couple of years, it’s not for them, but for others it’s a hobby for life.
learn more

Fred Wright

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  • Comments

"Avery'S Size For 40 Budgie" by
11 Sep 2020

im looking to start breeding Budgies so can anyone help on what size Avery's i need to build many thanks Ashley

Haith's customer services:

Hi Ashley,
Experience tells us that when we builds birdroom or flights the next job is to think about expanding it so build it as large as possible.
The golden rule has not been about the size of an aviary for a set number of birds but 200mm of perching-per bird.
If you are thinking about an outside flight you will need sleeping quarters too. Same rules apply to both inside and outside flights.
Read as much as you can about flights - construction, size, roof covering, perching etc etc before you begin to build.
I hope this helps
Best wishes
Fred Wright

"Breeding No-Show" by
10 Sep 2020

We have had a pair for well over a year, and whilst they mate daily (or more) the extended honeymoon is not producing eggs or babies!
We have a nesting box in the cage, and the male has been helping to feed the female (via regurgitation) for some time - assume he needs to do this if she’s laying on the eggs?
Is there something wrong with one of them?

Haith's customer services:

Hi Robert
Budgies are a colony bird so single pairs rarely breed successfully.
If the birds are mating and the cock is feeding the hen then they are certainly fir and like each other.
Without seeing the birds it’s difficult to make suggestions as to why they are not going to nest and making eggs. I think it’s a case of enjoying them and not worrying about breeding. It could be as simple as too much light entering the nest box. Try moving it to a darker position and cover one end of the cage fully. It could easily be as simple as that!
Just enjoy them!.
Best wishes
Fred Wright

"When To Put Together?" by
08 Sep 2020

I have 2 baby Budgies approx 3 months old, they live in separate cages. I bought them for breeding when older. When do I put them together prior to mating so they can bond?

Haith's customer services:


I would suggest you leave them apart until they are about a year old.

When they look exceptionally fit and active put the two cages side by side and you should see a reaction between the two birds. At that point it’s worth putting them together and offer the nest box.

Just one word of warning. If you bought the two birds together at the same time you need to hope they are not brother and sister. They will still probably breed but breeding with closely related birds is not recommended

I can only wish you great success with your two birds

Fred Wright

"Breeding Age" by
17 Apr 2020

At what age should budgies be used for breeding ?

Haith's customer services:

Thank you for your comment on our blog page. Budgies are physically able to breed after six months but ideally should not until they are at least 10 months old.
All the best,

"Breeding Cages" by
29 Dec 2019

Hi, I have a large aviary that I colony breed in, I've just got some breeding cages with nest box attached my question is how long to leave a pair in the breeding cages before I release them back into the aviary if they are not breeding thank you

Haith's customer services:

Hello Fay,
Thank you for contacting us I have asked one of our experts Fred Wright. He has said that pairing birds that are not absolutely fully fit for breeding isn't ideal. If he hasn't entered the box and doesn't look like breeding then return both birds to flight after 14 days and then try again when the birds are fully fit - probably in the spring maybe around April. Hope this helps.
Kind regards,

"Budgie Colony" by
11 May 2019

I had budgies in pairs in individual cages. Now that the number of birds have increased, I am planning a budgie colony. I need to know if I can install the nests in 2 or 3 rows? And if so, what should be minimum height difference between each row?

Haith's customer services:

Thank you for your comments on our blog piece. Set up your colony with serious reservations!

There is usually a bit of fighting and squabbling especially in the early stages of the colony while pair-selection is taking place. Once the is established, things will settle but once there are youngsters in the boxes, parents are likely to become quite protective towards their babies and a bit of competitiveness is likely to return. My only advice will be to proceed with caution!

You will find that if you “pair-bond” your pairs in cages before you release them into the flight you will have less aggravation.

Nest boxes are important – they MUST all be positioned at the same height. If not, hens will fight for the top box and you are likely to have serious problem. Make no mistake – it's all boxes at the same level!

However, set it up with just a restricted number of pairs, pair-bond the birds before release, nest boxes at the same height – and spend plenty of time watching the birds and enjoy them. Be prepared to remove a bird if he or she is a “troublemaker”

All the best,

"Breeding" by
13 Apr 2019

I have 6 budgies with a pair of Finch (smaller size). Of late one particular pair of the budgies are showing fondness to each other. So, do I separate them from the group or just install a box for the pair? I'm keeping them in a 5x2ft cage

Haith's customer services:

Hello Sonlian,
Thank you for your comments on our blog page, we would recommend separating the pair. We ask one of our experts for some extra advice, here is what they came back with: 'Budgies breed well in the colony system but it’s more successful in a larger flight. Once the colony is established, they seem to become quite happy to live and breed together BUT setting up that colony can be distressing for the birds and the owner. By that I mean pair selection and keeping to that arrangement and not swapping partners from time to time.
Once you put a single nestbox into your cage you would instantly get a competition for the box and fighting will start to occur.
If you really want to breed and that’s a big decision, it comes with responsibilities like – do you really want babies and what will you do with any babies that are produced?
If you do decide to try and breed – you will need a separate cage with a nestbox attached.
Breeding budgies can bring a lot of pleasure but be sure you are ready to make the commitment before you make a start.'
All the best,

"Mr" by
15 Jul 2016

hi can tell me if you need a licence to sell the off spring.
so if you breed five budgies keep one and want to sell the others to pay for food.
many thanks

Haith's customer services:

Hi john

Thank you for your question, unfortunately you will need to contact your local Budgerigar Society as they will have all the up-to date rules and regulations.

However if you need any help or advice with regards to diets please do not hesitate to contact us.

Many thanks


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