An Interview with David Sefton


Face it, folks, many people have birds not as a hobby but rather with the grand aspirations of making money. While my father was always preaching that you shouldn't invest in it if it "requires feeding or repainting," the attraction of raising animals and birds for pleasure and profit has lured many an unsuspecting soul into
animal-keeping. With this in mind, it was most intriguing to meet and listen to fellow Texan David Sefton at the 1993 AFA Convention held in Salt Lake City, Utah. Sefton has no qualms about it, he got into birds because he liked them and wanted to make some money (as well as initially keep his mother-in-law busy). With a background in economics, taxation and agriculture, he 'Jumped in head first"
and has proven that it can be done. In hopes of learning more, I visited Sefton at his place in Austin, Texas and conducted the following interview.

Eitniear: David, when and why did you start breeding birds?
Sefton: I always had an appreciation for nature and an interest in exotic birds. I simply did not have an opportunity to get involved with bird breeding until I met Leanne Collins, my wife. She had been breeding cockatiels and other birds on and off for a decade. Additionally, in the beginning my mother-in-law was living with us
so I thought that it would be a great home business for her.
Eitniear: Why did you decide to concentrate upon Red Lories?
Sefton: I looked at a number of breeding operations from a financial standpoint. It seemed to make sense to me that you should concentrate upon a single species. The question was what species? We established the following criteria for selection:

1. Somewhat unique

2. Small enough for apartment residents

3. Colorful
4. Good personality (not known to become aggressive)
5. Not noisy
6. Modest price range
7. Not a species known to "feather pick"
After this point in 1987, we got on the telephone. Our bill was frequently around $500 per month! The list was finally narrowed down to rosellas, Indian Ringnecks and Red Lories.
Eitniear: How did you determine the number of pairs to start with?
Sefton: We felt that, given the need to do some mate switching, we would need at least three pairs. Five seemed even a better number. The added benefit to multiple pairs is that you start to become "in tune" with the species as a whole. Statistically, five is the smallest number acceptable in scientific studies to preclude the possibilities that what you observe is not typical of the species. By knowing the species, you improve your husbandry abilities and can also better market your birds.
Eitniear: Certainly you have more than five pairs now. Explain.
Sefton: In the beginning, we wanted to know everything we could about Red Lories so we read everything. It became apparent that the Red Lory was not faring well in the wild and that possibly we could assist if we established a genetically sound breeding program. We did discover that profitability does not increase proportionally with the number of birds you have. The energy...