Whether it's for a Local Fair, a 4-H Show or even a National Competition when exhibiting your birds you want them to look their best! Below are 3 simple steps to transform your backyard layer into a beauty queen!
Dazzle the Partridge Wyandotte Bantam.
STEP 1: Bathtime!
*For this step you will need: a large tub/ sink /baby bath, warm water, baby/ pet shampoo, towel and a blow dryer (optional)*
Preferably you want to wash your girls 5-7 days before the show to allow the feathers to settle and the natural oils to return. This is with the exception of Silkies, who should be washed 1-2 days beforehand to keep them as fluffy as possible.
1. Fill a large tub, sink or baby bath with warm water and gradually lower the bird into the water. If at any point your bird becomes distressed stop for a couple of minutes and allow her adjust to the feeling of water. Make sure that you keep her head above the water.
2. Once she has been fully soaked, apply a SMALL amount of shampoo to her feathers (either mild baby shampoo or pet shampoo). Massage the shampoo into her feathers, creating a lather and gently removing any clumps of mud.
3. Next, rinse her off thoroughly using warm water until you feel satisfied that you have rinsed off all the soap. You can either pour the water gently over her (making sure that none goes in her eyes) or dunk her in fresh tub of water.
4. By this point, your chicken will be complaining and feeling sorry for herself. Wrap her in a large old towel and gently towel dry her. Depending on how cold it is, you can also gently blow dry her, setting the hair dryer to a low- moderate heat, but making sure that you hold the blow dryer 20cm away from the chickens body to prevent burning her.
Dazzle getting a blow- dry due to the wet British weather.
STEP 2: Chicken Pedicures
*For this step you will need: a toothbrush, cornflour, nail clippers, nail file, towel, coconut oil and some soapy water*
Believe it or not, cleaning a chickens feet is actually an important part of show chicken presentation!
1. Using the toothbrush, gently scrub the birds legs in a downwards or horizontal direction to remove the mud from under the scales. Dip the toothbrush in soapy water to make it easier to clean, but be careful not to get the feathers wet!
2. Wrap the chicken in a towel and hold her in a comfortable position. Once she has relaxed carefully clip her nails, making sure that you don't cut too close to the quick (pinky colour vain). If her nail starts bleeding, don't panic- instead dap a pinch of cornflour onto the nail to stop the bleeding. Next, use the nail file to file down the sharp nails.
3. Although optional, I would recommend rubbing a little coconut oil onto your birds legs to prevent the dirt sticking to their newly pedicured feet!
Lilac the Silkie after a much needed bath!
STEP 3: The Finishing touches
*For this step you will need: tweezers, Vaseline, a clean carry box and a few treats....*
Sometimes it's the few subtle finishing touches that make the bird stand out as a winner...
1. Read up on the birds breed standard (this can be found in the "American Poultry Standard of Perfection" book or sometimes online). Removing, clipping or colouring the birds wing and tail feathers results in disqualification, although plucking out the odd discoloured down feather is allowed. If you, for example, have a Black Orpington with a couple of white feathers on her chest, gently pluck out the white feathers using the tweezers so that she follows the SOP as close as possible.
2. Before the show, apply a small amount of Vaseline to the chickens comb and wattles, to 'spruce the bird up'.
3. Make sure that the carry box that you are using to transport the chicken to the show is well ventilated, clean and has enough space for your fowl.
4. Award your very patient and beautiful chicken with some treats!
Dazzle ready for the show.
After the Show:
Since poultry from flocks all around the country are gathered in one place, it is important that you take the necessary precautions not to introduce a disease to the rest of your flock. After the show, quarantine your show birds for 30 days, just as you would if you were introducing a new flock member. Also check for any parasites such as mite, lice and worms.
Although it was a lot of work it is definitely worth it!
~If you have any questions please feel free to send me a PM or ask in the comments~