Question About Plucking Feathers in Preparation for Show

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by 4HChick, Jun 14, 2011.

  1. 4HChick

    4HChick New Egg

    Jun 14, 2011
    My son is in 4H and is planning to show Buff Orpingtons (currently 12 weeks old) at the county fair. We are just 5 weeks from show time and, as it has been busy, have just inspected the pullets. We found that most have some feather issues. Some have a dark coloring in the otherwise golden main tail feathers--should we pluck them? Also some have damaged primary flight feathers--should we pluck them? Is plucking and having possibly immature feathers better than having damaged older feathers for show?
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2011
  2. lauralou

    lauralou Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 10, 2007
    Central Virginia
    I don't think you should pluck. I think it is considered cheating. These birds are still babies at 12 weeks, so just give them the five extra weeks to mature and pick the best one to take to the show.

    Two cents from someone who has never shown a bird before... [​IMG]
  3. destiny_56085

    destiny_56085 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2009
    Sleepy Eye, MN
    When you pluck a feather it normally takes right about 6 weeks to grow back in. It seems like primaries and foot feathers take a bit longer though. You will get docked more for leaving a broken feather on the bird though. The judges would rather see that you took the effort to rectify the problem and take a few points off. Its all a part of conditioning and when prepping a show bird, it starts at day 1. Gotta be watching for stuff like that all along.... Its why you also raise 20+ usually so you can pick through the birds and find the best for condition and quality at the time of the show.
  4. 4HChick

    4HChick New Egg

    Jun 14, 2011
    destiny--thanks for the info! This is his first year for chickens. I told him not to plan on winning any awards this year as it has been a learning experience for both of us. Hopefully next year we can be better prepared.

    NYREDS Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 14, 2008
    You will get docked more for leaving a broken feather on the bird though. The judges would rather see that you took the effort to rectify the problem and take a few points off.

    You might want to check your Standard on this.​
  6. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    Quote:You might want to check your Standard on this.

    If one would pull out a broken feather wouldn't that be a act of faking just like oiling legs and combs or pulling out solid Black feathers in a Barred breed?
    If so then that would be a DQ right?

  7. onthespot

    onthespot Deluxe Dozens

    Mar 29, 2008
    Riverside/Norco, CA
    I would interpret pulling any feather to improve the looks of your bird to fall under the "faking" rule. I agree with Chris. If your bird damages its feathers, you live and learn. I also agree with growing out many prospects, and choosing the best. Sometimes the "best" bird at a given time is not the one that grows out to be the best breeding prospect later on, when they are all mature. Some of my ugliest ducklings (chicks) have turned out to be my very best roosters... Some of the showiest young cockerels... well, they got passed up later on by slower growing but better birds in the long haul. That's okay, you get to make a showing with your prettiest birds later on, and keep your very very best ones home away from biohazards or theft hazards from showing.
  8. WallTenters

    WallTenters Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 16, 2010
    Sweet Home, OR
    You should pull out bad feathers. This is not considered faking according to the standard. For one, it's much better to have an intact feather rather than a broken one, just to present the bird at it's best, and for two, pulling a badly colored feather won't get you anywhere if the bird just grows in another poorly colored feather. Many times though they will grow in a better colored feather. I have been told specifically by judges to pull these bad feathers (I took one pullet as a replacement for another, we pulled her out of the breeding pen just a couple of days before show and she had a few broken feathers, and some black feathers, but was in overall good condition... good from afar but far from good kind of deal).

    I'm looking at the 2001 standard, you'd get knocked 1 point for each missing tail feather if a foreign color disqualifies, and 1-2 points per each missing wing feather if a foreign color disqualifies there.... I -think- a broken feather is 1/2 a point, if I'm remembering correctly, too lazy to search for it right now [​IMG]

    I'm not sure that a foreign color disqualifies on the buffs (sorry, I don't know much about buff orps). That is something you'll want to read for. If no foreign color disqualifies, or if black/shaded is allowed, that will give you more information to play with.

    Can I ask why you're showing such young birds? An Orp is really not going to be very well developed at that age... ? Is that all he has to show, or is that just what he wants to show?

    I think on a bird at that age you'd be much better off to pull the feathers. Split the feathers down the middle with a pair of scissors, let them dry out a few days then pull them out.
  9. destiny_56085

    destiny_56085 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2009
    Sleepy Eye, MN
    I pulled up a judging sheet that I had available on my computer.... Sorry Bill I know its one of your least favorite breeds. [​IMG]

    Bearded White Silkie Judging Sheet
    Bird ID
    Shape Color Shape Color Comments
    Back 7 4
    Beak 2 1
    Beard & Muffs 3 1
    Body & Stern 4 3
    Breast 6 2
    Comb 3
    Condition & Vigor 10
    Crest/Tassle 8 4
    Ear Lobes 1 1
    Eyes 2 2
    Head & Face 2 1
    Shanks & Toes 4 3
    Feather Length
    Neck 3 2
    Station or Type
    Symmetry 4
    Tail 4 2
    Wattles 1
    Weight & Size 4
    Wings 4 2
    72 28 0 0

    Comb: Frozen where portions of spike still visible 0.5
    Enamel white on face 2
    Oversized, Lacking smoothness in Texture 2
    Face BLK where RED is Spec. 2
    Horns or spikes,mishapen, oversized, EACH 2
    Eye color other than specified 2
    Crest Divided or split 2
    Wings shafting in primaries 2
    Wattles: Rough & wrinkled,oversized, out of proportion, EACH 1
    Mealiness in surface color Neck Dewlap 1 each section 2.5
    TAIL: Absense of main tail where foreign color disq. Each 0.5 Mossiness in surface color
    Absence of sickle fthr where for color DOES DQ 1.5 each section 2.5
    Absence of sickle fthr where for color does NOT DQ 1 Bare Middle toe 1
    Pinched Gamey Tail 2
    Split tail in cockerel & pullet 2.5
    Tail not showing more than 3/4 development 1
    Tail not showing more than 1/4 development 2
    Wing feathers broken not removed primary/sec 3
    Missing Primary/secondary foreign color DQ's each 2
    Missing broken foreign color does NOT DQ 1

    Stiffness in tail feathers 2
    Crooked Breast bone 5
    Breast feathers touching ground 2
    Absense of spurs 0.5
    Absense of toenail, each nail 1
    crooked toe each 1
    extra spur 0.5
    Horny well defined spurs on females each 0.5

    Just going by that, you receive a higher deduction of points for broken feathers not removed. If you are looking at the 2010 APA standard of perfection, the general scale of points is on page 39.

    The definition of faking is on page 30. The only place is says anything about plucking feathers is in section i. where it pertains to plucking vulture hocks. Changing the natural color is faking... Shaft and web giving evidence of being cut off is faking.... Broken or crimped feathers in the sickle or saddle to attempt to change the shape is faking.... It doesn't say anything about plucking broken feathers.

    Now when you go over to page 31, it talks about cutting for defects. On the wing section...
    1. less than 3/4 developed = 1 point deduction
    2. less than 1/2 developed = 2 point deduction
    3. less than 1/4 developed = 3 point deduction
    4. primaries or secondaries missing feather or part of a feather, where foreign color disqualifies = each feather 1 to 2 points
    5. primaries or secondaries feather broken but not removed, where foreign color disqualifies = each feather 1/2 to 1 point
    6. primaries or secondaries, missing or broken feathers where foreign color does not disqualify = each feather 1/2 to 1 point

    So now if you go according to that, it could vary a bit based on the the judges opinion on that given day. It gives a little bit of an advantage to the bird with the broken versus plucked feather in that regard. Maybe some breeds just crack down on stuff harder than other. I can't explain that discrepancy either.
  10. WallTenters

    WallTenters Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 16, 2010
    Sweet Home, OR
    Still, on a bird that young I doubt any judge would rather you leave a broken or otherwise poor feather on. You're going to have enough young feathers anyway, it would not be surprising to see feathers missing on birds that age naturally, so better to have a half grown in but nice looking feather than a fully grown ugly broken one.

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