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Canary Tips-The Controversy: Boiled Seed vs. Soaked Seed
February 22, 2004
Your Guide to Canary Care Success...


February 23, 2004

Canary Tips delivers valuable information about the hobby of keeping
a canary as a pet and tips for successful canary breeding.

Filled with timely tips, itís designed to be your up-to-date canary care
that helps you provide the best living conditions for your flying friend.

Presented by


Table of Contents
1) The Controversy: Boiled Seed vs. Soaked Seed.
2) Why Does My Canary Have Scaly Feet?
3) The 3 Breeding Strategies


 Coming SOON to

1) Downloadable Canary Songs.

2) **Work Progressing** An extensive listing of canary types...Gloster, American Singer, Red Factor, etc. This list will come complete with type history, photos, and bird clubs to contact for more info.



The Controversy: Boiled Seed vs. Soaked Seed.

Soft seed is one of the great canary treats. It is high in vitamins and minerals and your canary will devour it like like he hasn't eaten in a will disappear faster than Michael Jackson's money...or his sister's top.  The only choice you have to make is...

Boil or Soak?

This is where the controversy comes in. The overwhelming majority of canary breeders will recommend soaking seed. As a matter of fact you may never hear anyone other than me suggest boiled seed as an alternative to soaked seed but here's the thing...

Boiled Seed is SOooo Much Easier. 

And when included with a healthy diet of greens, fruit, healthy treats (more on healthy homemade treats in the next issue of Canary Tips), fresh water, and a clean stress free environment boiled seed is sufficient.  Notice I said "sufficient" not "superior"...or even "equal"...

There is no argument about which is more nutritious...soaked seed or boiled.  Soaked seed is richer in'll get know backtalk from me there.  But when time is tight and the kids are screaming and the dog is barking and the bills need to get paid and put in the mailbox by noon I say BOIL...

I use soaked seed as much as possible but when necessary I boil.  I've even gone an entire breeding season feeding boiled seed and no soaked seed what-so-ever and all the birds turned out fine. So..

the quick and easy way...but less nutritious for your to

Boil Seed.

 Boiling simply softens the seed quickly and makes it easily digestible.  Plus it is soft enough and nutritious enough to use as nestling food.  Boiling is the fast and easy way to provide a soft seed treat for your canary.  Simply...

  • boil your seed for 20 minutes
  • drain and let cool.
  • serve to your canary.

Simple. Easy. Fast.

But if you have the time and energy to spend making treats for your canary then try...

Soaking Seed.

Soaked seed is soaked and rinsed over a 24 to 72 hour period.  It will then begin to sprout creating a high vitamin and mineral content that was not available in the...

Dry Seed Form. 

Dry seed of course has an acceptable protein, vitamin, and mineral content but sprouting initiates the activation of the vitamin precursors which in turn transforms the dry seed into a nutritious vegetable.  I don't want this to turn into a lesson in botanical science so just remember..."sprouted seeds are rich in vitamins and minerals"...and your canary will love it.

Although some "seed soakers" will weigh themselves down with a taxing cycle of...

  1. soak,
  2. rinse,
  3. soak,
  4. rinse,
  5. soak,
  6. rinse,
  7. r-i-n-s-e,
  8. R--I--N--S--E...

Soaking Seed Does Not Have to be That Burdensome...

  • Put one cup of dry seed in a glass quart jar, fill with water, cover with cheese cloth secured around top with a rubber band  (or another clean straining tool) then let sit at room temperature for 5 or 6 hours.
  • Drain off all jar upside down on a thick stack of paper towels for 30 minutes so the water can thoroughly drain then....
  • Turn the jar sideways so that air can get to as many seeds as possible and let sit at room temperature for 18 to 24 hours.  Then...
  • Fill jar with water and drain again. Rinse thoroughly...

By now...

Your Seeds are Beginning to Germinate. 

You can feed this soaked seed to your canary now or let sit for another 24-48 hours at room temperature to allow more sprouting time.  Just make sure you rinse after each 24 hour period to wash away any bacteria growth. This soaked seed can be stored in the frig for about a week before it begins to go bad. 

The Best Seeds to Use For Soaking are...

  • Rape Seed
  • Buckwheat
  • Safflower
  • Black Sunflower
  • Wheat

You can try your regular canary seed for soaking but generally these basic seed mixtures are no longer viable and will not germinate. 

The seed you use must be free of any chemical treatments or vitamin enrichments.

You can find a special mixture of Soak Seed at

Try serving some soft seed today.  Your canary will gobble it up whether...boiled or soaked.


Why Does My Canary Have Scaly Feet and Legs?

Also known as Calcification scaly feet and legs are caused by a build up of calcium salt between the scales of the feet and legs.  Your canary's legs will appear dry and flaky causing irritation to your bird and may even result in difficulty walking. Scaly feet and legs are generally found on...

Older Canaries.

Older canaries commonly have this problem but some canaries are susceptible to having the calcium salt problem their whole life

Scaly feet could also be an indication of a mite infestation If your bird is relatively young and has scaly feet and legs it is safe to assume you have...

...A Mite Problem...

            ...or at least your canary does ;-)

 If you havenít treated for mites lately you should spray the bird and cage once per week for 4 weeks with a mite spray.  Scalex Mite and Lice Spray is a good product available at Petsmart and will work well. The mites that come in contact with the spray will die but...

The Spray Has No Effect On Mite Eggs. 

Therefore, you'll spray once per week so that you can kill the mites that have hatched out since the last spraying.  After 4 weeks you will have effectively eradicated the pest.

You should also treat your canary for internal mites.  Use SCATT .

If the scales are caused by a mite problem it will take some time for the excess scaling to subside but regardless of what is causing them you can...

Remove the Scales.

Try washing your canaryís feet gently in warm water.  Mix together 2 Tbs Vaseline and 1 Tbs Campho Phenique mix well and keep in an air tight container.  An alternative salve is baby oil or you can use Vaseline exclusively but the Campho Phenique will add some healing power to the process.

Very gently apply this mixture...

on your birdís feet and legs every day for 5 or 6 days.  On the 6th day the scales will begin to come off.  If necessary rub the scales off GENTLY.  A wash cloth may help to pull the scales away but...

...if they donít come off easily let them be. If the scales are pulled off before there ready you can cause bleeding.

Within a week your canary will be foot loose and scale free!


The 3 Breeding Strategies.

There are 3 popular ways to put your canaries together for breeding season.  By far the most popular is the...

Polygamous Breeding Strategy

Polygamous breeding entails having one hen per breeding cage and circulating one cock among 3 hens.  This strategy allows you to sell off more of your cocks each year thereby increasing income and decreasing money spent on food, medicines, etc. 

This is a relatively high maintenance strategy.  Moving the male from cage to cage and hen to hen will keep you busy.

Leaving a hen alone the majority of the time to feed and care for the babies is a  major draw back of Polygamous breeding.  Some hens just don't do well as a single parent and may completely give up if left to do all the work herself.

Polygamous breeding does allow you to keep track of ancestry and genetics.  Another strategy that will allow you to keep track of ancestry is the...

Monogamous Breeding Strategy

By keeping one cock to one hen you will have much success in raising a large number of healthy young canaries.  The male will be available to help feed the babies and the mother at all times.

The work load is relatively light because you won't have to be moving male birds around from cage to cage. 

Expenses may be high with Monogamous and Polygamous breeding because you'll have to have a separate breeding cage for each hen.  To keep expenses low you can use...

The Colony System

Like Polygamous breeding you can have one cock to three hens but instead of having a separate cage for each hen you can put all birds, hens and cocks, in one large flight cage.

This will give you a tremendous reduction in expenses by having just one large cage. Time involved will be reduced by having one set of birds to feed, water and clean up after

You won't, however, be able to track ancestry.  Several canary babies in one nest may all have different fathers. 

You'll often have more problems with the Colony system. Two canary hens will often claim one nest as their own...that can get pretty crowded when each hen lays 4 or 5 eggs.  Often eggs will get thrown out of the nest, fights will ensue and you'll end up with less babies.

So it all comes down to...

Your Desires As a Breeder.

How much time due you have to commit to your breeding canaries?  If your short on time use the Colony strategy.

How much money are you willing to invest? The Colony strategy is the cheapest.

Are you breeding with the intention of creating or improving a specific trait? If so you'll want to use the Polygamous or Monogamous Strategies. If you're breeding for fun or for profit the Colony Strategy may be the way to go.


In the Next Issue...
1) Special Home-Made and Store-Bought Canary Treats.
2) Why Is My Canary Favoring One Leg?
3) Breeding: Incubation and Hatching...


Written by Darren Walker
(c) copyright 2004

Written by Darren Walker
(c) copyright 2004

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