As the original breeders of the “New Lime Mutation” we would like to comment on the early development of this extremely rare and interesting bird. This is only the fourth Gouldian Mutation, that has been fully established and developed in Australia. The first to be developed was the Australian Dilute Backed, credited to the late Mr Ray Murray, of Victoria, then came the very popular White Fronted Normal. We have developed the final two mutations: The Australian Yellow, and the Lime; all being pure recessive. All four are naturally occurring colour morphs.
We started the Lime project with one single Hen, no other Lime- related birds existed, so the most correct mating for her was to be put to a Normal Cock bird. This we considered as a good option, as we had extremely good Normals that would strengthen the genetic base and increase our chances of success.
At this early stage we had no idea of the genetic-code, but we did think it was possibly sex-linked and maybe a Cinnamon Mutation. The first season we only bred five young, two cocks and three hens, and of course they all looked Normal. The original Hen did not ever achieve top condition or health and was lost in the following moult. From this result, we then decided to run all five young together to try for some colour, as all five were nice quality birds and compatible.
The results from the two pair we bred with were pleasing, as we produced fifteen young which included three Coloured Limes, again all Hens! This meant that the first four coloured birds that we ever had to work with were all Lime Hens. Of course, this left us still thinking that yes, we were working with a sex-linked genotype, but at this early stage we could not be sure of any positive genetic line to follow, and through frustration we started to second guess ourselves. Firstly, if they were sex-linked, all the green hens that we bred would be Normals, plus if we kept using the green Cocks only 50% of the cocks bred would be splits.
We knew that the genetic line would eventually show itself, especially if we kept breeding the related birds together – luckily we still had the three Coloured Hens to work with and the two split cocks from the year before. We could also consider including the possible splits, as they were all of good quality, so breeding them together was a must. Knowing that at this early stage, the most important thing is to produce colour, for this mutation future.
Well, our “Over Thinking” was proven to be correct, as what we thought were only possible splits, produced a Coloured Lime Cock, as well as a Lime Hen. This Coloured Cock bird proved to us we were working with a Recessive blood line, not Sex-Linked and from their colour, we could confidently say they were Recessive Limes. We then bred half of the new coloured birds with Normals, knowing that every bird that we breed would be 100% split to Lime. By doing so, would improve their strength and also the genetic inheritance of these closely related birds.
The other guaranteed splits that we knew of, were bred with the remaining Limes. These matings would produce 50% coloured Limes, to breed with our new guaranteed splits. We did not breed split x split again, as it had a very poor Colour percentage of 1 in 4. Additionally, all the green birds from the mating would only be possible splits, also showing 1 in 4 as being a normal, so every possible split would have to be test mated to find the true splits – in my opinion, this is a very unproductive mating and can become very confusing.
Our aviaries are purposely built to simplify the breeding of Mutations, every aviary is identical in size also the placement of fittings are all in the same position. This makes it easier for the birds when changing cages for breeding, or moving the young around. There are eight of these breeding cages 1m x 3m, with two breeding pair per aviary. This may also be of some interest to breeders – we are now using on the floors approximate 50mm of chopped Lucerne in favour of sand, with great success! The birds spend more time on the floor playing and foraging and using the Lucerne to finish the nest off. This also eliminates the dust problem associated with sand, keeps things warmer and the aviaries smell great!
All young Limes have lighter skin than a Normal, and the skin never darkens like a young Normal. Additionally, when hatched the Young Limes have Plum Eyes, but they change around eight days old. As I am not a genetic expert, we are not sure of the significance of the Plum Eyes, maybe a connection to Lutinoism – as we believe that in Parrots there are Recessive Lutino also Limes. Before the moult the young have a tint of greenish fawn on their back, all other parts are clear fawn, the young Hens and Cocks are identical in colour, once moulted the Cocks are darker in feather than the Hens. The Blue areas of the Cock are particularly bright, very noticeable against the lighter feather colour.
The Correct Ratio
We also use a Vitamin, Mineral, Protein program, which we are very aware that you can easily overdose with, if not used correctly. When using these additives you have to get the ratio right, so they can be of benefit to your bird’s health as well as keeping the breeding pairs primed for breeding success. These extras are of great help to new mutations, or just adding zing to the breeding of your older birds.
The main objective with the Lime was to breed coloured birds as quickly as possible, so we could run colour back through Normals to create a genetic base that would support the mutation’s natural weaker system and help with their overall health – remembering that mutation’s differ greatly from Normals, you have to help with the development of these weaker birds.
Stay aware when you think there may be a problem developing, as it pays to be a day ahead, not a day behind – by then it will be to late!!