So I started my 5 yr old in 4H in the chicken group with some young show quality sebrites. There only about 4 months old but have awesome colors and very friendly. Is there anything I should be doing now until the September showing to prep, thnx.
You could start cage training them. Where she calmly puts the birds into a small wire cage head first. Just so the birds know not to freakout when they go into the show cages. You could also bath them, so they know not to freak out when you do a really intense bathe when showtime comes. Good luck!
First off, handle your birds! Judges need to take the birds out of the cages in order to get a good look at their feathers, legs, comb, etc. If your bird is flapping all over the place and trying to get free, not only will it be hard for the judge to observe the bird, but he also may take off points for ill behavior. Some 4H shows do judge on behavior of the birds. And if it isn't being handled, they may take off. My county 4H fair judges based on a variety of factors, and one is behavior. Part of 4H is not only the quality of the animal but the time you spent working with the animal and conditioning it. I know it is hard to handle them daily, but just try to get them used to being handled. As mentioned above, it also wouldn't hurt to get them used to being in cages. At every show you go to, I guarantee you will see someone's bird freaking out in the cage, flapping all over the place, and everybody staring at it. Please don't be that person! It looks bad. Plus, no caring chicken owner wants to see their bird in such a state of panic. And the judges don't want to see that either! So, I would maybe try to get them used to spending time in cages. For most shows, they will be in for around 8 hours. If it is a fair, they will be there for days. Put them in individual cages by themselves but next to each other so they can see each other. Start off with short time periods and then get longer. You will need something like this: http://www.pinnonhatch.com/One-Pint-Hanging-Cage-Cup.php to put in their cages for feed and water.
About 5 days before the actual show, you will need to bathe them. I didn't suggest to get them ready to be bathed as mentioned above, since they will freak out no matter what. Chickens and bathing just don't go well. I use a sink for mine. You can use buckets, but it is just easier in a sink. Warning, the sink will get dirty, because they will poop in it, it will get dirty, and they will shed feathers in it. So it would help if it is a basement sink or some sink you don't care about getting nasty. First, i set the bird down in the sink with about 4-5" of water in it. I lather the bird up with soap. Use a soap that doesn't damage their natural oils. I forget what soap I use, its some all natural stuff I got at trader joes. I soap everything up, back, vent, head, wings, chest, feet. Then I take the hose and wash them off. Then do a final washing of the feet. You can use toothpicks or a wipe to get out the tough stuff. Just make sure you get it all off. Judges hate dirty feet. I know it is hard to get them spotless, but it really shows you care about your animal if they are all clean. Then, take the chicken, and dunk it in a tub of water with a few splashes of apple cider vinegar. This is just to make sure that the soap gets out. Then, dry it all off, set it in a cage in the sun. It helps if it is a sunny day. If it is raining, set them out indoors. If it is cloudy, its fine if it is outside, it will just take more time. This can be a good opportunity to cage train them. Don't put them back in the coop. Keep them in the cages so they will be clean for the show.
The day of the show, you need to do some more prepping. Do a final cleaning of their feathers with baby wipes. Get the last of the dirt out. Clean their feet again, use a toothpick or wipe again. Put VetRx on their combs and vaseline on their legs. VetRx will make the comb redder and more moist. It will make a big difference. Just don't get any in the feathers. Vaseline will make the legs shine and look better. Again, don't let it get into the feathers. Make sure there are no stray feathers. If so, pluck them. Make sure the cage is clean during the judging. The cleaner the cage, the better the impression it will leave on the judge. Remember, 4H is not only about the animal, but how you present the animal. If it is in a clean cage, it will show you care about the chicken. Keep the food and water full, too. Make sure to stay out of the judges way during the show. Judges don't want you standing over their shoulder as they try and judge. Some judges make everyone clear out of the aisles when they judge. It shows respect when you let the judge do their thing and stay out of their way. Try and read the coop tags after the judging is over. After the show is over and you get ready to take your birds home, spray them with mite spray under their wings. Find the spot under their wings where you can see the skin, and spray there. It needs to come in contact with the skin to work. This is just a precaution, as chickens admitted into the show most likely passed a visual health check and do not have mites.