Diary of a Poultry Show Novice: The State Fair Chronicles *Update*

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Gallusfarm, Sep 24, 2010.

  1. Gallusfarm

    Gallusfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 14, 2009
    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. What’s the worst that could happen, right? We’ll I’ve had so many questions about the whole process of showing a chicken and found a lot of good information on here, but I thought I’d 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 don’t 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 didn’t 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, didn’t 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 couldn’t 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 she’d 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, that’s what it is.

    Well I didn’t 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 they’d 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. It’s 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 I’ve heard what people say about showing at fairs: it’s bad, birds there might be sick, you’ll 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, you’d never do anything if you don’t take a chance.

    So we have to take them on Wed. evening to the fair. I didn’t 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 there’d be a table with the secretary waiting for us, well there wasn’t – guess that’s 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 isn’t 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 pullet’s 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 didn’t 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 aren’t 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 – it’s still hot as blazes here!!! Temps in the upper 90’s every day. If they don’t get proper water, they will surely dehydrate!!! I didn’t 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, it’s not like there were rows and rows of birds to keep up with watering.

    We don’t 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 I’d 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 I’d 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, ma’am, you don’t 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 didn’t know anything about what to do… That all I knew I’d 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. I’m going to go back after work again today. But it is going to be even hotter today! We’ll see what happens…

    By the way, there are no other Dominique entries in the fair. I didn’t 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.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2010
  2. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Sounds like your overall experience was great so far. I'm very glad! I couldn't leave my birds anywhere overnight because I don't trust anyone to care for them like I do.
  3. HorseFeatherz NV

    HorseFeatherz NV Eggink Chickens

    [​IMG] Fantastic post - Thank you - really makes me want to try with my birds.

    [​IMG] I do not know if I could leave them [​IMG]

    Cannot wait to hear how the rest goes - pictures? [​IMG]
  4. wegotchickens

    wegotchickens DownSouth D'Uccles & Silkies

    Jul 5, 2007
    Sevier County, TN
    Glad you've had a good time!! Congrats on trying something new.
    I love going to poultry shows.
  5. linben

    linben Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 5, 2010
    Austin, TX
    I enjoyed reading your post. I have wondereed how this works and would not know where to start. Thanks for sharing. I think once one has made up their mind to show them, one could leave them. It seems like a lot of steps but not overwhelming. Good luck.
  6. spook

    spook Chillin' With My Peeps

    Love it! Thanks for sharing and I too will be waiting for installment #2! [​IMG]
  7. Funky Feathers

    Funky Feathers former Fattie

    Jan 15, 2009
    My Coop
    Last time I left my birds at a show (I couldn't stay with them 24/7), someone stole my best Silkie hen. [​IMG] People are rotten. I was told I'd have to practically live right next to my bird's cage to prevent that. Needless to say I don't like to show anymore. [​IMG]
  8. windtryst

    windtryst Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 4, 2008
    Thanks for taking the time to write this...I am thinking of showing in Harrisburg, Pa. in January and have no idea where to start...thanks again. Good Luck!
  9. Gallusfarm

    Gallusfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 14, 2009
    Thanks for reading the post, guys. Fattie, I'm so sorry about your Silkie. That is the kind of thing that ruins it for everybody. Did you ever find out who did it? Certainly someone was around to notice...

    I forgot to mention that after we cooped them in, we actually locked their cages becasue of the horror stories that I've read. Then my husband noticed that all you have to do is lift the cage off of the table so locking is useless. But we kept the locks on there, b/c hopefully no one else wold realize that. Then when I went on the 2nd day, the old guy that I talked to asked why we locked them - we were the only ones and I had to explain myself. I was kind of embarassed, and ended up removing the locks.

    Day 2 recap: I leave work early and go back to the fair. This time the same guy and another guy were there tending the birds. They are members of the poultry club that sponsors the show. It was really nice to talk to them about their birds and the show and showing in general. They told me about the big show that they are having in November, wondering if I was going to enter. They also asked if I had any more Dominiques, because a couple of folks were interested in buying some. So I sat down and chatted with them and then I volunteered to make the rounds the the watering pitcher and food. Again, everyone had food and water when I got there. Man, was it hot. 100 degrees on the 1st day of fall. When you think of the fair, you think of light jackets and crisp evenings. Not this time. At least there was a nice breeze. The breeze unfortunately kept blowing the shavings out of the coops... The good news about the way this fair is set up is that the midway and stuff is a good walk from the Ag section. So the people who walk through actually want to be there. Mostly there were families and older folks. Still, I was worried about all of the bad things that could happen.

    So I hung around for a couple of hours and now I'm home. Tomorrow we're going get there a little early to make sure they are clean and fluff them up a bit. I'm pretty excited. It's fun, really, even though at the end of the day it doesn't really mean a lot. Most people don't think it's a big deal.

    Another thing I found out about showing chickens is that non chicken people don't get it. Oh, well. Too bad for them.

    I'll post updates tommorrow.

    Good night!!

    Here they are, btw:



  10. Funky Feathers

    Funky Feathers former Fattie

    Jan 15, 2009
    My Coop
    Beautiful bird ya got there! [​IMG]

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