By Linda Greeson


For the uninitiated a breeding contract is essentially an agreement between the owner of a bird, and a breeder having one of the opposite sex, to exchange his bird for a stated number of chicks produced by the pair. It sounds simple enough and there are times when it all works out beautifully and smoothly. There are far more occasions when complicating factors and misunderstandings cause a great deal of grief.

For the owner of a pet whose happy place in the family has suffered since reaching sexual maturity, as is often the case with our larger birds, a breeding contract can be a good solution to the dilemma. The beloved bird will assuredly be well cared for and contented with a mate, and in return the owner will receive babies to compensate him for his loss. At the amazing speed at which the sale price of exotic birds is rising, the value of the babies he has agreed to accept may well be much greater than the present sale price of his bird.

For the breeder looking for a mate for the lone hen or cock in his aviary, finding a satisfactory bird with no outlay of money is equally gratifying. When the terms of the contract have been completed he will own a producing pair.

The reasons many breeders throw up their hands in despair and refuse to enter into this type of agreement are numerous. My experience is that if every possible problem that can result from this seemingly simple transaction can be discussed, the agreed upon solutions put in writing, and a signed copy kept by both parties, the likelihood of all going smoothly is much greater. Even if the other party is your only brother, or your best friend, work everything possible out in detail in advance.

Before taking in a bird on a breeding contract it is wise to have the bird surgically sexed by an avian veterinarian. Even if there is no doubt as to its sex the vet can determine if the bird is sexually mature and capable of reproduction. A complete set of cultures done at the same time will assure that the bird is as healthy as it looks and whether possible feather problems are indeed just the behavior of a frustrated bird or a chronic condition.

The number of chicks to be given back to the owner must of course be specified. Not only the number is important - are they to be chicks just out of the nest or weaned babies? If the breeder is to take on the responsibility of feeding out the chicks the number he agrees upon will be less. In what manner are the chicks to be divided? I often agree to split the clutches until the owner's obligation is met, but then the birds seem invariably to produce an uneven number. If there are three in the clutch decide in advance who owns the third baby. Even Solomon had a difficult time in making a similar decision. When the owner of the bird takes possession of chicks do not hesitate to insist on a dated, signed receipt. Over a long period of time anyone can lose count.

The most frequent problem that I encounter is the owner having a change of heart. Birds are not like dogs and cats in their mating habits. A satisfactory union between them often takes many months or years to accomplish. Your agreement should include specifics on a time frame. How long is the owner to be expected to wait for the first chick? If after months pass he finds the perfect mate for his bird, or wants his pet back in spite of a few bites, or is just impatient with the whole situation the breeder is left with either having cared for the bird for a length of time to no advantage or finds himself in the unpleasant situation of refusing to return the bird.

Another important decision to make is who is to be responsible for possible medical bills. It can be argued convincingly both ways. My solution is usually to agree to split the bills with the owner.

The possibility of loss of the bird, disagreeable as the subject may be, must be discussed. Birds get sick and die with the best of care. They are stolen or escape their cages and fly off into the wild blue yonder. When a valuable bird is involved unless the breeder's specific responsibilities are spelled out in the contract, not only are budding friendships cooled but legal actions may have to be faced.

Written contract or not, the arrangement for the buyer means his placing a great deal of trust in the breeder. Most parent birds do not tolerate strangers peering into their nests for a head count of their chicks! In fact, in breeding season we do not allow any visitors in our aviary on general principles. It is wise therefor for the owner contemplating a breeding contract to deal with an established and reputable breeder.

In the world of birds there is no possibility of foreseeing everything that can possibly happen. In the following sample agreement I have tried to cover the essentials. This is a completely informal contract, not drawn up by an attorney. It's provisions are based on my own experiences and not phrased in legal terminology.

With each experience of your own you may find yet another clause to add. Hopefully you may never have to take your copy out of the file drawer. In any event having it all spelled out in advance is good insurance.



Description of bird: __________________________________________

Species __________________________________ Sex _____________


Band number:_______________________________________________


Owner name:______________________________________________



I, ________________________________, leave my bird with

______________________ under the following conditions:

The birds are to be fed an appropriate diet and kept in sanitary conditions. Every effort will be made to promote their breeding. The birds will be cultured, and any signs of illness will be treated by a licensed veterinarian. Costs incurred will be the responsibility of the above described owner. Any later medical bills will be the responsibility of the breeder.

When the birds produce chicks, _______ (Number of Chicks) chicks will  be given to above named owner at the age of _____________________(weaned or from nest), in payment for the above described bird. If the clutches are to be divided, any odd chicks are to be kept by the breeder.

No liability is accepted by the breeder for the bird if it dies, is lost or is stolen. Bird will remain in the possession of the breeder. If, after a period of ________ years the bird does not produce chicks, it may be returned to the owner at his request, with no fees for board.

Owner:_____________________ Breeder:_____________________

Address____________________ Address _____________________

City_______________________ City _________________________

State _____ Zip _____________ State _____ Zip _______________

phone _____________________ Phone ________________________


date______________                       date______________



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