It’s every businessman’s dream, isn’t it?  Oh, to have a wildly popular product so superior that flies off the shelves?  That’s literally happening for Gene Garner’s ornamental parakeet breeding operation.  You see Gene, whose feeding program is enhanced with many nutritional inputs from ASP, has been passionately and persistently creating a product line that customers prize since 1985.

You may recall the mid 1980’s, then again, you may still be trying to forget those years…the Federal Reserve had interest rates at eye-popping levels, way over 10%, and many agricultural businesses had seen better times.  With the economy in the tank and uncertainty ruling the day, Gene wanted to diversify and create something more reliable.  He and his dad hatched a plan.  They designed and constructed a state-of-the-art parakeet breeding operation.  Of course “state-of-the-art” was very different then.

Gene’s young family was growing and, like many family businesses, their parakeet farm became a magnet, drawing them together, teaching the value of work, business ethics and funding their future.  At first, Gene’s wife tended the birds while Gene held down work in Houston’s chemical industry.  Later, their two sons pitched in and focused on the family vision too.  Aided by Gene’s sister, they grew their business in steps; first by trying, then trying hard, then trying harder.

Although they briefly experimented with cockatiels too, they quickly focused on the market that became their most productive: the colorfully-feathered parakeet market.  Over the years, the flock has remained genetically selective.  This makes Gene’s operation one of the purest known.  So pure in fact, that Gene has been able to isolate and hone specific strains, putting his own fine edge on the flock’s high-fidelity coloring.  He’s taken an assortment of color mutations and funneled them down, concentrating them so many of the birds he offers have relatively pure and uniform color displays.  You’ll see bright white, lemon yellow, lime green, cobalt blue and everything in between.  Years have gone into tweaking the plumage color for each variety.

Of course, while their adult birds are a beautiful mosaic of colors, babies in their broods are pitifully naked.  Gene makes sure each one is well cared-for with an intense management system.  Walking through Gene’s farm, it is clear to see that no aspect is insulated from change.  Everything is open to re-invention at any time.  Every phase of production bears the fingerprints of Gene’s seemingly incessant tinkering.  From the day a new generation’s females make the grade and are selected for breeder development until they begin laying takes about 4-months.  During this time they are split by sex and housed in enriched colonies.  Meticulously cared for, all birds drink from a centralized and purified water supply distributed to nipple drinkers.  They breathe filtered and centrally-conditioned air.  The rooms are kept very dry and frequent disinfections ensure a disease-free environment.  Once the females reach sexual maturity, they are paired with males that also fit Gene’s specific selection criteria.  Each passionate breeding pair is isolated in a spacious cage with a private nest box, which mimics their wild nesting behavior in tree holes.  Apparently they appreciate the accommodations, judging from the egg production.  Once laid, each clutch of eggs is inspected for fertility.  Infertile couples, Gene has little tolerance here, are culled to maintain the highest selection pressure.  Gene’s business is like all others in that efficiency directly boosts the bottom line.  Maintaining infertile, unproductive breeders wastes profit potential, so Gene’s record system is designed to identify and correct weak links.

If you get the idea that Gene is constantly on the move, you’re right.  The flock is continually pressured to perform in every aspect of health, fertility and color fidelity.  The feeding program is no different.  Gene looks for every edge and there’s no room for marginal nutrition in this demanding environment.  That’s why Gene sought out and works closely with nutritionists at ASP.  He makes sure the birds get only the best, and plenty of it.  From his integrated feed mixing operation, Gene remarks about how dramatically his production has improved since working with ASP, and he lays out records to back it up.  Although many aspects of Gene’s perfectly-balanced seed-based nutrition program are secretive, he works from a solid foundation built on ASP’s Poultry Science Premix, supporting growth, fertility and health with optimum multi-vitamin and trace element fortification.  FermaStar, ASP’s premiere triple-combination of yeast, probiotics and digestive enzymes keeps the flock’s gut function normalized.  There are no signs of digestive upset anywhere, a key marketing feature for Gene, who’s built a reputation among exclusive pet stores for clean, dependably healthy, high-quality parakeets.

When marketing directly to upper-end retail pet shops, producing a cost-effective, consistently healthy bird with impeccably beautiful feathering is paramount.  These stores count on Gene for eye-catching birds that adorn the shop then quickly fly off the shelf with customers who can’t resist their beauty.  Gene’s system produces birds that are all this and more.  According to Gene, he values being known as the “Neiman Marcus” of his trade.  His customers, very loyal privately-owned shops in the metropolitan Houston area, come to him strictly by word-of-mouth advertising.  No fancy promotions, just a reputation built on years of promises made and kept.  Like ASP, Gene Garner and his family passionately live to serve, fueling customers with the products they need to stay out in front, second to none.

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