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John Courteney-Smith assesses the wide range of cages available, and reveals some of his favorites.

ONCE a year, most birdkeepers start to think about their cages. Do we need to sand down and repaint? Do we have enough cages or do we need to buy new ones?

In 2012 I replaced all of my cages and used a number of brands to do so. Some of these cages I had bought earlier and kept in storage, and some I bought in. In the process of choosing my caging, I carried out searches to see what types offered what features and if any had reported faults. It’s very irritating when you carefully plan a refit, buy cages and then encounter issues with them when it comes to installation. To be honest, though, there was not much information to be found in advance, so I ended up looking at cages at shows.

In my case, the installation went without a hitch and I am convinced that I made the right choices. So what did I find out along the way and how can it
help you? What follows is a fair and frank list of the positives and challenges (if any) offered by each type of cage that I viewed or used.

European plastic box cages (Quiko, etc)

I like the clean look and versatility of these cages. The ability to increase their size by linking them together is fantastic. The cages arrive dismantled but are not quite “flatpacked”. They are very well produced and the plastic is easy to clean. One worry I had was that they would arrive with plastic cage fronts – but, no, metal fronts are supplied. I like the fact that they came with a nest pan and drinkers and few accessories.

 


Never having been a Lego fan, I found the cage hard to put together.


 

Never having been a Lego fan, I found the cage quite tricky to put together and I did manage to break a few of the clips that click into place when I was connecting it. I keep small softbills in mine – the cages are wipe-clean and I don’t find them easy to dismantle. The high price is also fairly off-putting. For me, this is a 6/10 cage.

Arlane cages

I bought one of these cages online a year ago and had kept it in storage. Each one is made to order and comes fully assembled. The build quality is great, with no screws or sharp edges showing.

My cage came with perches and nest-boxes, plus attractive black-metal cage fronts. For me, these cages represent everything that is good in a pre-built design. One downside is that they are very heavy, so the delivery costs are high. If you want a prebuilt cage that will last a few years, you can’t go wrong with these. My verdict? 7/10.

Supapets own-brand cages

These guys are well known to those of us who travel to the shows. They offer a huge selection of plastics and a good range of affordable small cages. They also sell a wide range of wooden breeding cages. These are own-branded and offered at a reasonable price. They come flat-packed and are available from the shows or online. In addition to being no DIY genius, I have mobility issues, which can make assembling cages a real nightmare.

I did buy a few of the doublebreeders, and these were sent overnight at quite a reasonable cost. The cages came with clear instructions. All the screw holes are pre-drilled, with the bottom drawers pre-made. With the aid of an electric screwdriver, I assembled a double cage in about half an hour, which I think is fine. The cages have lasted well over the winter season, with no sign of swelling or distortion. All in all, using them has been a positive experience. Would I buy more? 100 per cent yes. For me, these cages score 8/10.

Metal breeders

I have used this box-type white metal caging in the past, and it looks wonderful to start with. I have found, though, that the paint corrodes and you’re left with rust marks, but that might just been down to the brand that I used. They are easy to clean, but I find them very heavy – and with a price tag to match. I also looked at all-wire double and treble breeders, similar to the European design. For me these just didn’t tick any of the right boxes.

From my experience, birds that are not well-covered feel threatened and will not go down properly.

After having a good look at what was on offer while at a show, I decided that these were not for me. Having said that, there were some wonderful mule cages available, which could be used very well. I’d give these cages 4/10.

Buying locally

I ALSO looked at those cages offered at local shows. I have bought them here in the past, and used them at home without encountering any real issues, but decided not to re-buy for this refit.

Why? First, I prefer myself to buy from a static retailer – someone I can call if any issues arise. This, though, is my personal preference – I’m not advising you to do the same! I have found some products very expensive for what you get and have had to push back many nails and pins on the cages that have poked through when they shouldn’t have done. I certainly don’t like plastic cage fronts – I just feel that they can be chewed through and easily broken. Do have a look at the cages on offer at local sales days, though. If the quality is up to your standard and the price is good, there is certainly no reason not to buy them. For me, though, these cages score 5/10.

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