Guide To Show Bird Prep

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by thecochincoop, Oct 16, 2009.

  1. thecochincoop

    thecochincoop Chillin' With My Peeps

    I thought this would be a good how-to for people just getting into showing. I tried to make it as simple and to the point as possible. This is what I have learned showing my own birds. Might be a good post to make sticky for others to find easily, just a thought... and if there are any questions or things that I may have left out please let me know and I will add them [​IMG]

    As far as getting your birds ready for show I will give you the simple steps. I show Bantam Cochins, but a lot of steps apply to all breeds.

    *6-8 weeks before show pluck any broken damages feathers. It will take them that long to grow back in.

    *a few days to a week before show give them a bath. I usually have to wash mine closer to the show date because my birds are kept outside with access to mud. Trim nails and beaks and check feathers for broken or damaged ones and pluck them, do this all BEFORE the bath in case of any blood and keep styptic powder handy. Nails and beaks are cut just like trimming a dog's nails and you can use a nail file to smooth them down and give them a natural look. (I wash my birds the same way I groom dogs) I place the bird in the tub and hose it down real good. I use shampoo in mixing bottles (dawn works good too) and lather the bird up good. It will take a couple times to get the bird fully wet. Be careful not to get the head wet. lather bird untill fully wet and soapy and an old toothbrush can be used to scrub feet and poopy feathers. If the bird is white or partly white you can use whitening shampoo or blueing (about a tsp in a quart of mixed soap) let that sit for about 5-10 minutes and then rinse VERY well. If you don't get all the soap out the feathers will dry stuck together or clumpy looking.
    *wrap them in a towel for about 20 minutes and then blowdry in the direction of the feathers unless silkie or frizzle then dry opposite the direction of the feathers. For the birds that are not fluffy I think air drying would be fine. The blow drying fluffs them up. Make sure to keep them warm and away from drafts.

    When you coop in
    *put vet rx or some kind of vicks smelling stuff on combs and wattles
    *check for poopy butts and feet (baby wipes are good for fresh poo) metal flea combs and slicker brushes work well for combing out for dried poo
    *baby oil can also be used on combs (not too much) and on the legs of clean-legged breeds
    *for breeds with a crest an auto waterer with the pop bottle should be used so that they don't get their crest wet (wet feathers and food is a recipie for a big mess)

    As far as training goes for shows it should end up being natural for them. I handle mine regularly and spread wings, feet, hold beak and examine head, etc. to look for structure, possible injuries, parasites, feather condition, color, etc. When you get in the habit of this from youngsters, they are pretty much already trained and stay that way so there is not much extra to do. If you have a skittish breed they should get accustomed to being in a small cage and being put in and taken out of it. I also like to spray my birds periodically with adams flea spray under each wing, near the vent, and on the back of the neck (one good squirt in each spot) especially after shows or about once a month.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2009
    1 person likes this.
  2. Princess Amri

    Princess Amri Is Mostly Harmless

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    best coast
    Very useful information! Thanks!
     
  3. cgmccary

    cgmccary Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you, very helpful as I get ready for my first show.

    thecochincoopAs far as training goes for shows it should end up being natural for them. I handle mine regularly and spread wings, feet, hold beak and examine head, etc. to look for structure, possible injuries, parasites, feather condition, color, etc. When you get in the habit of this from youngsters, they are pretty much already trained and stay that way so there is not much extra to do. If you have a skittish breed they should get accustomed to being in a small cage and being put in and taken out of it.

    I have some nice birds this year (and it has taken me several years to get here), but I am very worried about the above aspect. I let my hens hatch and rear the young this Spring and subsequently, I handled the chicks & young birds much less than usual (in addition, they were not reared in my home in the den for the first 4-5 weeks). They are much wilder than I ever expected, and I am having a time getting them to be calm. I simply don't want them to act as crazy as they do now when I get them out. I can see them freaking out at the show. I have moved them to small cages, am handling them daily, tried treats . . . I see no improvement. They seem a little worse since I have been handling them daily (as if they are now dreading seeing me). While a Buckeye is not as easy going as a Cochin and none of mine "love" being handled (and the cockerels have always been more flighty than the pullets anyway), they are also not considered a flighty breed. I am showing only cockerels as is more customary with my breed. I will add that they are NOT aggressive and do not peck or anything- they just scream out and try to wiggle and flap. They even throw themselves against the cage. My previous years' birds calm nicely once grabbed. If you or anyone else has an idea on how I can manage the Spring wild-ones, please let me know. This group is just over 6 months old. I know there are a number of APA Judges who frequent this site & I'd like to hear from one of them. I am open to any ideas. Thanks.​
     
  4. thecochincoop

    thecochincoop Chillin' With My Peeps

    Not really sure what you need to do in that case. I would just say to keep getting them out and carrying them around. Maybe someone with experience with the less docile breeds can chime in here and help you out. Since I incubate, all of my birds are handled from day one and stay tame. Some that I have bought have not been so tame and take a little more working with, but as I'm sure you are well aware of Cochins are a very docile breed anyways.
     
  5. silkieluver_07

    silkieluver_07 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 31, 2008
    Pennsylvania
    [​IMG] Great guide for people just starting out showing!
     
  6. synoviaus

    synoviaus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks so much. Great info! Where can you find listings for shows? I live in Alabama and I can't find listings for shows. Also, how old are the chicks when you start to show them or are there age classes? Thanks, Amy
     
  7. thecochincoop

    thecochincoop Chillin' With My Peeps

    Subscibe to The Poultry Press. That is about the best publication for show listings and it has a lot of good articles in there too. As far as age goes there are classes for under a year (pullet and cockerel) and over a year (cock and hen). It depends on breed when you start to show them, but they need to look basically grown and have their adult feathers in to actually compete. Cochins usually need to be 6 months old before they are shown.
     
  8. cgmccary

    cgmccary Chillin' With My Peeps

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    yes, as cochincoop says, The Poultry Press: http://www.poultrypress.com/

    In
    Alabama, there are not very many shows. There's an annual one in Tuscaloosa, in Boaz, in Clanton & in Florence/Muscle Shoals/Tuscumbia that are APA shows with various meets. Some of them are Bantam classes only (I think the Clanton show). There are some in Eastern GA and quite a few this side of TN as well.

    You show them as Cockerels or Cocks (i.e. Roosters) depending on their age [under or over 1 year of age] or as Pullets or Hens the same. In addition to their adult feathers, your bird will need to be close to the weight of a cockerel or cock & pullet or hen as possible. With larger fowl over a certain weight, they can be within a pound (lb) of ideal weight; it is 1/2 lb for lighter breeds (& probably less for Bantams).
     
  9. synoviaus

    synoviaus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks so much. Amy
     
  10. destiny_56085

    destiny_56085 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I will add a few tips.

    If you plan on showing them, plan your hatches accordingly. If you have shows in October, you want to be popping them out of the incubator by january usually. Your pullets will just be finishing out and cockerels will be starting to really bloom then. Some breeds like our standard cochins you have to allow even longer.

    Conditioning starts when they are babies. Good nutrition, pest control program, and lot of space to grow. I separate the pullets off from the cockerels as soon as I can tell the difference. If you have featherfooted breeds, lots of clean deep bedding to keep those feathers intact. If you have any light colored birds, keep them out of sunlight to keep that brassy look off their feathers (opposite holds true for waterfowl). Sunlight will also bleach out your colored birds a bit.

    Lots of good tips for bathing prep already. I will add to use a vinegar rinse to cut any soap scum. It leaves a brilliant shine on the bird too. I usually try to bath my darks 3-4 days before a show and whites at 2 days before the show. You need time for them to fully dry and preen the oils back in their feathers. Be super careful with that whitening shampoo or blueing. No matter how little you use or leave it on, you can still see a purple tinge in the feather shaft. There is a cheap dog shampoo made by Hartz esp for whitening too. Its a very light lavendar color and doesn't stain the birds. I will also agree with using the VetRX upon coopin. It leaves a nice sheen on them and won't get sticky like vaseline or baby oil. The slicker brushes work great. Lil flea and tick combs work for taking the pin feathers out of our silkies too.

    On the coop training, some breeds are naturally calm. Others freak out and need some time to adjust. You can always tell who hasn't done it at home by the nervous bird frantically smashing into the cage walls every time someone walks past. They are the first ones with hashed tails and a gash on the head. Get a bank of those show coops or even rabbit cages. Put them in you main barn aisle and put your birds in there while you are doing chores every day for a few weeks. I know it definitely works on our show pigeons too.
     

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