Now that your chicks have grown, you must decide what you'll do with them!  Will you keep them as pets?  Will you breed them?  Will you sell them?  Read below to find some ideas about keeping and/or selling your new flock.

You have a couple of options regarding what to do with the chicks now that they've grown.  You can keep them as pets, you can sell them, or you can breed them.  Whatever you decide, you must remember the basic rules: 

  • Make sure to give them enough room - Juveniles require adequate space to exercise their legs and flight muscles.  They should be moved to a large flight cage to practice their skills.


  • Make sure to supply the proper nutrients - Juveniles require extra protein, calcium & iodine in order to produce their first "adult" feathers and continue to build strong bones.  Be sure to continue the breeding foods until they've fully completed their juvenile molt.


  • Do NOT sell your chicks before they have at least had a good start on their juvenile molt - This is actually a bit controversial.  The molt is a very stressful time for both adults and juveniles.  It zaps their strength, especially if they aren't getting the right nutrients.  Selling them before they've completed their molt can add stress that can potentially weaken the bird.  However, some folks like to purchase young birds for future breeding. They want them not quite out of their molt, and will even buy them before they molt.  They want to know that the birds they purchase are going to be able to breed for a long time (breeding age averages from 1 to 6 yrs of age, though 6 is pushing it a bit.  I usually retire my pairs at age 5). I DO NOT recommend selling them before they molt.


  • You also want to know what color they will be.  Unless you know for certain you will have black heads or read heads, for example, you won't know for certain if they are hens or cocks until they molt or until the cocks start singing.  Once you get a feel for Gouldian Genetics, you'll be able to sell your birds a little sooner, but I still do not recommend it.


  • Do NOT breed siblings unless you have a very good idea of what may happen. Genetics are a tricky thing. Unless you are line breeding (breeding specifically for size or color), you should never breed siblings in captivity.


  • If you choose to breed your chicks, you want to make sure you wait until they are AT LEAST a year old, but preferably two years old.  You do NOT want to breed siblings if you can help it.  Breeding siblings can lead to smaller, less robust birds, genetic problems, health issues, etc.  You don't want to pass along any inherited genetic issues if you are able to avoid it.Your best bet is to obtain "fresh blood", meaning to purchase or trade unrelated birds from another breeder in order to breed them with your chicks.  
  • Again, age is important.


Once They've Completed Their Molt


If you have a good relationship with your local bird store, you can ask if they'd like to purchase your birds from you.  Many stores will only give you a store credit, and some will give you nothing in return.  If this is the case, go elsewhere!  There are many "Mom & Pop" stores out there who'd love to purchase your birds from you.  Keep in mind that many stores sell their Gouldian pairs for $200 or more per pair.  This means they will want to buy the bird for a price on which they can make a profit.  You'll want to keep this in mind when negotiating a purchase price with the store owners.  And don't sell yourself short!  If you've followed my advice all along here, you'll have spent many hours caring for your birds.  You'll have spent much money properly feeding and caging them.  You may have even spent time hand feeding!  YOUR TIME IS VALUABLE! Remember to take all of your costs into consideration, then negotiate!  

These stores are also a good place to barter for "fresh blood".  Many stores will trade - bird for bird - if they have them, so that you can add new blood to your breeding stock.  Just make sure you get a good trade.  The birds should be healthy and alert.  You'll want to follow the
Purchase Tips, and New Bird Quarantine Procedures, even if you totally trust the store!

Big chain stores probably won't purchase your birds.  They claim they have breeder requirements and have a tall pile of paperwork to be filled out to even apply.  You'll have to have semi-annual inspections of your aviary or bird room, and they will give you a pittance for your birds if they even accept you as a breeder.  Beware!  It's difficult to compete with bird mills!


Join A Bird Club

Another way to sell your birds is to join a bird club.  Bird club members will often swap or purchase birds from one another. Experienced breeders often like to help novice breeders by "giving" them good stock to work with. Of course this isn't always the case, so you cannot expect and certainly never demand someone give you birds, but in a good club, the members help one another - and often purchase each others' birds.


Sell Them At A Fair or Show


Many clubs hold fairs and shows, several times per year.  They will usually have vendor tables, purchased for a nominal fee, at which you can sell your birds.  My local bird club charges $40 per 8' table.  A normal Gouldian sells at these shows for anywhere from $60 to $150, depending on quality, mutation and conformation. You could easily make your money back simply by selling one bird!  Most Goulds sell very quickly, especially if they are really good looking!  If I'm looking for a specific mutation from one of my breeder friends, I always call them ahead of time to reserve a bird, otherwise, I might not come home with what I am looking for!  If you're really good, you can join several clubs and hit all of the shows and fairs!  Remember to make as many connections with reputable breeders as you can while you are at the fairs & shows!


Keep Them


OR, you can keep them.  If you've been lucky enough to obtain more than one unrelated pair, you can breed their offspring to each other.  You will then build your stock.  Just remember to keep adding unrelated birds to increase the bloodline!

Special Note...one many of you won't like.


If you choose to keep them all, know your limits. If you have too many to care for properly, it is time to use one of the methods above to relieve yourself of some or even all of them! Remember, when you chose to keep captive birds, you also chose stewardship over them. They cannot care for themselves. There's no excuse for improper care. Sure, we've all been through hard times, but if you can't afford Veterinary care, proper nutrition, proper cages, etc., you'll get no sympathy here. You should seriously reconsider keeping them at all! It is selfish and cruel to keep them if you can't give them what they need.  Been there, done that - I've had to sell them ALL at some points because I couldn't care for them properly. A fact is a fact and I won't mince words to save someone's feelings. Sorry kids. Sometimes the truth hurts.  Do what's right and don't make excuses. If you can't care for them properly, don't keep them at all.

THE CHICKS HAVE GROWN - NOW WHAT?

KRISTEN REEVES, MEADOWLARK FARMS AVIAN SUPPLY, INC.