Vent Trimming

By Barbara Rosario

At the beginning of the breeding season I usually get the question from novice breeders, " What is vent trimming, is it necessary, and if so how do I go about it?" When the question comes by mail, phone or email. I always hope that I get the idea across for this is truly the time when a "pictures is worth a thousand words".

Nature may have designed the feathers of the domesticated canary, but man has changed the length and width of them. Glosters, due to this manipulation, are a rather heavily feathered bird. If you were to look, lets say at a Fife, the feathers are usually shorter and narrower and the need for trimming may not be required. The idea of trimming the vent areas is to expose the "guide" feathers that occupy the area directly encompassing the vent external surface. The "guide" feathers are basically an extension of the birdsí reproductive organs. When mating, it is essential that these "guide feathers" of both sexes make contact with each other. During the act of mating the more these feathers come in contact with each other, the better the chance that the hen will produce fertile eggs. However, just trimming the vents, will not insure fertility if the birds are not in optimal breeding condition. So to respond to the first part of their question, I have to answer. . . Yes, in the case of the Gloster, vent trimming could improve you success.

To respond to the second part of the question this gets a bit trickier when you are doing it with the spoken word. Hopefully my drawings will do in place of pictures. First before I explain the trimming aspect, envision the position that the birds assume during the act of mating. The cock mounts the hen copulates with her using essentially a down and forward motion, from on side of the body or the other. The hen during the act of copulation assumes a position with the rump being up and tilted forward from its normal position. That is why a hen is trimmed differently from a cock. In trimming, take the bird in hand, having it on its back. I find or me that it is easier to trim birds if I have the head pointing towards my body with the tail point out. The first thing I do is blow the feathers away from the vent area. This serves two purposes; 1) gives you a visual inspection of the vent area for readiness to breed and 2) lets you view the "guide" feathers. It is essentially that these feathers are not trimmed or pulled out. If it is a hen that I am preparing, I identify the "guide" feathers, and start trimming the feathers just in front of the vent area (belly side of vent) (see illustration) Do not trim in the direction of the belly. For if the hen is in breeding condition or nearing it, you will notice as you blow the feathers out of the way, the belly area is becoming bearer as she approach optimal breeding condition. This is the brooding area and the feathers are normal lost in this area so that the hen can have the eggs in direct contact with her skin surface. This provides for maximum heat to the eggs and the surround feathers will trap this heat in to incubation the eggs. After trimming just behind the vent I proceed to the side of the vent area. Here you want to take off enough feather bulk so that those feathers do not over lay onto the "guide" feathers. I then trim towards the tail area. During the trimming process I have blown the feathers in the vent area to keep reassuring that the "guide" feathers are out of the way of the scissors. In trimming a cock the bird is handled in the same manner and again I blow the feathers in the vent area to check for readiness and location of the "guide" feathers. However, with the male I start trimming to the side of the vent area first, then proceed to just behind the vent area. (see illustration). I then trim towards the belly. In the cock bird more of the belly feathers are trimmed to clear the way for the "guide" feathers.

Again I think if you look at the illustrations and think of the positions that the birds must assume to mate it will be clear "How To Vent Trim".



Female - Dotted line indicates area to be trimmed around vent


Male - Dotted line indicates area to be
 trimmed around vent