Breeding Rollers

The breeding of Rollers does not represent any particular difficulties. They can be kept either in cages or aviaries without worrying about special needs.
There are however some basic requirements and fundamental standards for those who wish to provide a happy life for their birds thereby giving their owners real satisfaction in keeping perfectly healthy Rollers under optimum conditions.

An all encompassing treatment on the breeding of Rollers is beyond the scope of this article. Some important guidelines are given below.

The breeding cage should be large enough to house both parents and the young and neither too large nor too small with a minimum size of 50cm long x 40cm tall and 40cm deep. It is necessary to clean and disinfect the cage/aviary and perches periodically especially before breeding commences.

Conditioning for breeding:
Environmental factors such as the duration of natural light or artificial (full spectrum) lighting
Feeding regimen.
Ages of the birds (twelve months minimum)
Breeding history.

Both male and female should be thoroughly fit, full of life, vivacity and movement. The hen should be somewhat plump and her interest in gathering nesting material signals that she is getting ready for breeding. Once she starts taking the concoction to her nest the cockbird can be introduced.
If the male is placed with the hen just before nightfall coupling will generally take place at dawn. Any bad feeling between the two indicates that one or the other is not ready for reproduction and should lead to their prompt separation.

The female lays her egg before or soon after sunrise. If the hen is strong and healthy she will lay an egg a day at about the same time each day. The average Roller lays from four to five eggs. Five days after the hen sets the eggs can be checked with a small torchlight for darkening which indicates that the eggs are fertilised.

The young will hatch after thirteen or fourteen days and the nestlings need to be kept warm and fed by the mother. If the father is present he will provide the hen with food which she will pass on to the young. The father therefore plays an important role, which provides an added reason for keeping pairs together.

One factor contributing to the successful raising of young birds is the rearing food. This is a high protein food that should be added to the regular diet of the adult birds at the beginning of the brooding period.
It is available from petshops or can be made up as follows:

"Hard boil an egg for fifteen minutes and grate. Mix the grated egg with six dessertspoons of wheatgerm or breadcrumbs or other suitable meal mix (e.g. wheatgerm, Farex, polenta 4:1:1). Add some grated carrot and maw seed."

Once the young have hatched it is more important than ever that all food be fresh and uncontaminated.

Also keep a watchful eye for any young that may have accidentally fallen out of the nest - many a young chick has been resuscitated by holding in the cuffed palms of both hands and blowing gently on it to raise its body temperature - then gently returning it to its nest.

When the nestlings are a few days old the female will start leaving the nest and the male will now also feed the young directly. For identification purposes it is important to ring the young chick on its seventh day, i.e., when its claws are still flexible, but large enough to stop the closed club band from sliding off.

By the seventeenth or eighteenth day the birds are ready to leave the nest. The parents will still feed them though the young also eat on their own until the young become completely independent.

As soon as the young birds are no longer dependent on the parents they can be removed and housed in a flight or aviary of their own where they can develop into strong healthy birds. A tutor or adult cockbird with good song often accompanies the young and helps guide the young males in the development of their song.

The moult is an indispensable evil in a bird's life and in Australia Rollers take four to five weeks at the end of January, February and March. During this time the Roller's well-being is at a low ebb and it should be well nourished to bolster its defences and provide energy for the moulting process. Peace and quiet are also recommended.