Thanks to this wonderful site, I became interested in showing my birds, and decided to start small and enter two LF Dominiques in the State Fair poultry show. I know, I know.. Fairs aren't real shows, but it would be better to look like the novice that I am at the fair, instead of at a real show. Whats the worst that could happen, right? Well Ive had so many questions about the whole process of showing a chicken and found a lot of good information on here, but I thought Id share my story here - I really wanted to find a "day in the life of a poultry show" diary with all of the details, but I couldn't find one... I love details. Note: everything that I knew about showing came from books or the internet. Here are two of my favorite sites for showing information: http://www.fowlvisions.com/ and http://www.pathfindersfarm.com/Articles.html Thanks to to owners of these sites for the stories and info! First thing first: you hear so often about starting with quality stock. We did get our birds (as hatching eggs) from a breeder, but still, even though I think they adhere to the standard, you never know until a judge sees them. Sidebar oops, I recently came across a post that said that good breeders dont sell hatching eggs. Too late to do anything about that now Preliminary Info: The deadline to register was Aug 15. My entry form was postmarked Aug 15th. I waited until the last minute to send it in. The Fair starts Sept. 23rd, a little over a month later. I separated the chosen pullet and cockerel from the flock 3 weeks before the show. Just three weeks. I didnt know what to do, I mean, I think that most show folks always keep their birds separated. Oh, well They looked to be in pretty good feather/health condition. They stayed in small enclosures that I made, in our shed. The enclosures were about 3 times the size of the show cages. I knew that I needed to cage train them. They were kind of skittish at first, but every day I made sure to pick them up and handle them, as is recommended. Needed to get Pullorum testing, didnt know who to contact about that, so I sent an email to the State Agriculture Dept. and they were prompt in providing names of folks near me. Well I call two people on the list and both called me back, one of which I scheduled a time for the testing, (has to be done within 90 days of the show). This was done the 1st week of Sept. The tester arrived right on time. She used a stick pin to get blood to flow from the blood vessel under the wing, with no luck. She must have poked the poor guy 20 times. She asked me to try it and I couldnt stick the vein, either. Finally she said that we should try clipping one of the nails down to the quick to get blood. I brought out my dog nail clippers and she clipped his nail and sure enough, the blood flowed. I must add that my sweet boy was so good for this entire episode. She let the droplets of blood fall on a compound that she place on this plastic tray and checked for a reaction. It was negative (whew) but this is to be expected, as she said shed never seen a positive result. Then for the pullet, she went straight for the nail and got blood and she was also negative. Then she filled out a form, and included the number of the metal band which she put on their legs. I always wondered what the deal was with those metal bands on show birds. Well, thats what it is. Well I didnt hear anything back from the show secretary, so I figured they got the entry form. Around that time, I got a message from the secretary about who I needed to contact for the AI testing the state vet. I called and they were super friendly and accommodating. The vet drove like 2 ½ hours to get to my house. He was actually waiting there for me when I got home from work. All he did was swab the throats of the two birds, put the swab in a tube, and gave me a form. He decided to use the numbers of the bands from the Pullorum test, so theyd only have one band. So I had all of the testing done! During the 3 weeks they lived in the shed, I fed them regular Layena, and put Broiler Booster in their water. Its just vitamins and good bacteria. Well it really made them look healthy, their combs got redder and they looked overall healthier than the rest of the flock . I worried and Ive heard what people say about showing at fairs: its bad, birds there might be sick, youll bring something home. I was worried and almost backed out several times. But we go to chicken swaps, and follow good biosecurity measures, so we should be OK I guess just as with life, youd never do anything if you dont take a chance. So we have to take them on Wed. evening to the fair. I didnt get a chance to bathe them the previous weekend, so on Monday after work we did it you hear so many different times that you are supposed to bathe them. I used the bucket method with ivory dish soap and a little cider vinegar in the rinse water worked great!!! I did it by myself, they were just that calm. They did well. We blew them dry w/ a hairdryer, they shivered, then put heat lamps over their cages to keep them warm for a few hours (not too hot, mind you). Well they made it through the night and their feathers looked good. Wednesday evening, we placed them in dog carriers and loaded them in the backseat of the car. It is amazing to me how well chickens do riding in the car. Definitely better than cats, and better than some dogs. They just sit there and hang out. Cooping In: We arrived at the fair grounds and found our way to the poultry tent. I have always loved the state fair, especially the animals. It was really neat being able to have a behind the scenes look. Well most of the chickens and ducks were already in place. There were quite a few large fowl cages that were empty. I thought all of the birds looked good, and healthy. You hear horror stories of sick birds at fairs, etc. Even though they could very well be carriers, there were no visible signs of illness. The tent was airy and the cages were clean. I thought thered be a table with the secretary waiting for us, well there wasnt guess thats just for the big shows. There were only a few people mulling about so I asked a random person who should we talk to and she pointed me toward someone who was not the secretary, but was collecting the health forms. We gave her our forms, and she told us what our coop number was. We walked around and looked over the other American Class birds. Wow is all I can say. This isnt even a real show but the birds look pretty good. I cannot get over how HUGE real Rocks, RIRs and Orpingtons are. They were so enormous, compared to our pip-sqeak hatchery birds. We found our cages. The number was 25, and each card had the ID one was for the pullet, one the cockerel. There was a handsome New Hampshire cockerel that would be our pullets neighbor and our cockerel had an end/corner coop, but it was in the walkway, kind of, which was great for display purposes, not so great because it would be easy for someone to knock into it. I was so worried about both of them them freaking out and the cockerel busting up his comb We walked out to the car and carried them in. We placed them in their cages and lo and behold, they just stood there. No ruckus, no racket. They were good just like all of the other birds. We were so proud of them. They really looked like show birds. The food was already in their little Dixie cup, but their water cup was empty. I asked the little water girl to please fill it and she did. Both of the birds ate a little bit, which made us feel good, because they must not be too stressed out. We had to get home it was late. I really didnt want to leave my babies! The list of worries that we had was a mile long. Would someone steal them really? Like anyone wants them lol Would some kid come and open the cage and let them out? Would a kid or hooligan poke and aggravate them? Would someone be there to keep an eye on them at all times? What if, again, some kid puts something in there that they arent supposed to eat like a tack or something? Wow, I seriously almost picked them up and put them back in the car. I had serious doubts at this point. Yet another reason not to show at the fair the public. The birds have to be there all day Thurs., all day Fri, Sat and Sun. To make matters worse, guess what its still hot as blazes here!!! Temps in the upper 90s every day. If they dont get proper water, they will surely dehydrate!!! I didnt even care about the food I could do that tomorrow evening, but water is super critical! I spoke to the secretary and she said that there would be someone there to feed and water and keep an eye on them. That they would close the tent at night and that everything would be fine. Note: the limit of birds in this fair was 200. I guess there were that many there, its not like there were rows and rows of birds to keep up with watering. We dont have kids, and this really felt like we were leaving the kids for the 1st day of school or something. We finally left for home. I did not cry. I could have, though. The Day After: All day at work I worried. About everything. As soon as I could I went back to the fair. Note as an exhibitor, you get to park in the lot near the exhibit, nice I thought I was gonna have to park in general parking and walk all that way I was so afraid of what Id see. I knew the cockerel probably banged his comb on the cage all day trying to get out and it would be a mess. Or worse . As I walked in, I could see from a distance that they were still in their cages, holding up their wings to keep cool. As I got closer, their cups were filled with food and water! All was well (whew)! They looked great- what good birds they are I was so proud of them they were nice and calm. There was even a big ole barn fan on them. I was pleased with the state of affairs at the fair - LOL. So Id read that a lot of times the owners can put in extra shavings, and although they had an OK amount of shavings, I started adding a little more. There was a nice old dude overseeing that day and he came over and said, maam, you dont have to do that, we do that for you. Well I told him that it was my 1st time doing anything like this, and I didnt know anything about what to do That all I knew Id read. We had a nice conversation and needless to say I felt much more at ease about the whole thing. After hanging out for a little while, it was time to drive home. We live an hour from the fair. Im going to go back after work again today. But it is going to be even hotter today! Well see what happens By the way, there are no other Dominique entries in the fair. I didnt expect there would be The point of this whole thing to me is really to exhibit, and to educate. Not so much compete At least folks will be able to see them, and see the difference between them and other breeds, especially Barred Rocks.