1. Your birds speak for themselves Daniel, but what type of parings have produced your best birds? Do you pair relations together or do you go on visual pairings?
Daniel Lütolf: Visual pairings have priority for me. The closest I pair related birds inside a family is uncle to niece for example or cousin to cousin. Whenever possible I always go for "love couples". These pairings will be the less complicated and produced the most youngsters for me. As long as no other factors speak against a love pairing, i will let them go on. So I make a combination of it. Avoid pairing two birds with the same faults together!
2. If you had your choice of a pair of birds from any aviary in the world, where would you go?
DL: Its not easy to find some suitable outcrosses and bring them into my stud. In the past years I worked successfully with birds from South Africa, Germany and last year also a few from England. From time to time I get some good birds back from breeders who work successfully with my bloodline. The best results I usually get from birds that were already bred out of my own bloodline. I have a few breeders I can trust 100 percent, that I will let have my best birds and I can be sure to be able to get something back, If I need so.
3. Hi Daniel, I have seen pictures of your Lutinos on your web site and they have great feather. Can I ask how you have achieved this, do you pair them into your normals or do you pair lutino to lutino?
DL: The success of my Lutinos is based on constant breeding over the years. I always brought my very best birds into the Special colours as well as the redeyes. Specially I love to pair them with Spangles and Normals. If there a two outstanding Lutinos I also pair them together. I always went for the unorthodox way in breeding Lutinos. For me size and shape comes before the colour which of course can be best achieved by pairing them with Dark factor normals. To get the right colour is easy, you can do it in one generation, but for the other features, you will need years to get them.
It’s always the selection at the end of the breeding year, that makes the difference. Like this you can give the direction where your stud will go in the future.
4. Which birds have you bought in that have had the greatest impact on your stud?
DL: There is no such bird I could mention in the past years. In my first years as a budgie breeder I always tried to buy the very best bird I could get, with very little success. Later I realized that its far better to get the smaller youngsters from the very best couples. Their younger brothers and sisters usually are much cheaper and breed easier.
And I was lucky enough to get the opportunity by older breeders who let me have these key birds. Later there were many very important birds out of my own line who had great impact on the future of my stud by bringing me excellent offspring, also in high numbers. By mentioning two Names: The best birds I got from Heinrich Ott and from Pat De Beer, I guess.
5. Have you ever had problems with feathers? In the sense we know your birds have plenty of feathers fly there is a risk that little or if they have problems in coupling?
DL: Yes, I have some birds with feather problems in my stud, but no cysts. I am happy for that but its also a result of not breeding birds together who are too close in relationship. And from time to time bringing in the right outcrosses. By that system, I kept my birds healthy and fertile. If I realized that a birds has severe feather problems, I wont use him for breeding anymore. If I have 12 youngsters from a couple and the very best one is not complete, I will use it with no doubt. If I have a father with a tail problem and some of the youngsters have it too, I stop the whole line completely, because then its obviously genetically.
I also use sometimes a few cock birds with french moult, if I have to, because they have a special background or they are outstanding in quality. If they are able to produce fertile eggs, there is 100 percent no problem with the feather of the youngsters.
French Moult is a virus, not a genetic fault!!!
6. How have you managed to maintain good fertility in your birds Daniel and what advice would you have for breeders who find it very difficult to get babies from their best birds ?
DL: Just let them choose their partners themselves and the results will improve. Also: Make sure you get the right moment, when both are in perfect condition, before putting them together. Look carefully after the behaviour of your birds. When they are getting active, start flying outside, singing all the time and trying to feed eachother, then its the moment, even if the birds still look like being completely in the moult.
But if it comforts you, I have to tell you, that I also know that problem from time to time and I am of course not always able to get youngsters from the birds I would like to. So I guess, we are all struggling with that problem.
7. What do you feed your birds? do you give them anything extra when breeding?
DL: I prefer as many natural components as possible. Basic food is my "Daniel Lütolf-Seed Mix" from Melior of Switzerland. You can find my feeding system described on my website under "articles".
8. Are you happy with your birds? What are the features you are working on at the moment? Please refer to features and not colors or varieties.
DL: Yes, I am very happy with my birds and the results. Dont forget, I am doing my job since more than 30 years now. I think, experience is one of the most important factors. I guess, I got all the special features already into my birds. I just have to put them together in the right way. Breeding budgies is like putting a puzzle together or like creating a piece of art.
9. What is your favourite colour & variety?
DL: I cant answer this question because i dont have any. I like any kind of bird in the right quality. At the moment for example I try to make progress with some Clearwing Couples that I brought in from Wim Wolfs of Netherlands. They are nice to look at with the contrast in colour but seem to be very hard to get the right features on. But thats the challenge!
10. Do you think you have gone as far as you can with the feathering of your birds, also do you get many feather dusters in your breeding season?
DL: For being honest: I breed every year a certain amount of feather dusters. I would say around 3 to 5 percent of the birds and thats a lot, I know. But breeding budgies in super quality is always like walking on a thin line.
In my oppinion, there is a connection between feeding Amino Acids and feather dusters. If they dont get enough they will stay small, if its too much they might becoome feather dusters.
11. What are your thoughts on a worldwide ideal, rather than every territory having its own one seemingly?
DL: I dont really care about the official worldwide ideal. But the new one of the WBO is okay, but generally too big in dimensions, in my oppinion.
I breed my own style of birds and I dont care what the official ideal looks like. They have to be big and beautiful!
Also, do you add a multivitamin to your water or do you prefer untouched fresh water for your birds?
DL: My birds get fresh water every day in the breeding cage, in the aviary during the warm period even more than once a day. Because they love to take a shower in the water and they love to shit in it. Fresh water is extremely important!!!
I do put some stuff in my water such as apple vinegar, fresh orange or lemon juice. That will reduce the bacterias and add them some vitamines as well. The crop acid level will be higher which is healthy, I suppose.
I also add once a week a probiotic product called Protexin and Calcivet.
With vitamines in the water they quality of the water becomes bad very quickly, thats the negative part of it. If you feed too much vitamines, what most people do, you make your birds overly aggressive and sometimes you almost poison them. So it takes a good hand to handle this.
12. Was there a bird or bloodline that you brought into your stud that created the directional feather you now have on your birds ?
DL: Whenever I saw a bird with directional feathering, such I was looking for, I tried to buy it, even when it was a small bird. Constant work over the years have brought me to a good level in directional feathering. This seems to be a recessive feature, not a dominant one. There was no stud where I found that feature constantly, so I tried to build it myself. Many breeders are talking now about it without really understanding what it is.
13. What is your vision for YOUR ideal budgerigar for the future Daniel?
DL. As mentioned before, I like a big beautiful bird, full in harmony. There should be size and harmony together with a charming face on it. The bird should be able to fly and still fertile, without any feather problems at all. In my oppinion, missing feathers is the biggest issue nowadays in our hobby.
14. What percentage fertility do you get and how do you go about getting it ?
DL: Hard to say...Without being sure I would think from 100 eggs about 70 are fertile and from those 70 fertile eggs I am happy to get half of them on the bench, so about only a third will grow the way we want them.
When I read numbers or statistics from other people, I always think they are a little to optimistic. But the only certain number is how many birds you are able to breed with your boxes in one year. I have about 10 youngsters for each box and breed from November til June/July .
15. Which was/is the hardest thing to fix in your birds?
DL: I would say, the combination of smaller charming birds with birds in big size, but also the directional feathering, of course.
16. Do you keep any rare varieties and if you do how have you gone about getting the quality up to a good standard with them ?
DL: I breed rare varieties like Yellows, Pieds, Greywings, Albinos, Lutinos, Texas Clearbodies, Recessive Pieds and my newest challenge are the Clearwings. To make them bigger, you have to „sacrifice“ your very best birds and work with split birds.
17. Who has the best stud of birds you have ever seen?
DL: Hard to say. It always depends, which feature you are looking for. Can you tell me, who his the best musician, painter ort he best artist? You cant answer that question, can you? If I would tell you some names, I would make a few people very happy and many others very disppointed probably. So we better leave it.
I would like to thank Mathew Ackers for collecting those questions and I enjoyed answering them. There were some very good and unexpected questions and not always the common ones. I hope, my answers can help other breeders to reach a higher level.
Würenlos, 23th of August 2011