I use to show chickens years ago in 4-H, but I can't remember what I need to do to get them ready. My son and I are planning on taking several of our chickens to a show in a few weeks. I would love any advise on what to do. Thanks
I would start with feeding them a good quality diet NOW. Good nutrition is key to good show condition.
If you have them on the ground, I would also take them out and put them in wire bottom cages if possible. Being in separate wire bottom cages helps keep their feathers in good conditions (prevents mud, dirt, and damage from other birds.)
Take each bird and examine things like nails and beaks. Excessively long nails and beaks are points off. Trim them with nail clippers and file the sharp edges with an emory board.
Also look up the Standard for your bird and learn what the disqualifications are. Make sure your bird(s) dont have any, and if they do, leave them home.
While examining your birds make sure that they dont have any extrenal parasites (mites, lice, etc...) If they do, dust them with Carbaryl Powder (available under many names...) and if necessary bath them with a flea and tick shampoo. External parasites are a BIG NO NO at shows.
And of course if you haven't done it yet, you need to have your birds tested for Pollorum Typhoid and make sure they are negative.
Make sure and read up on the show rules, regulations, and deadlines for entry. Keep copies of everything you submit, and records of payments for entry fees.
PouletsdeCajun, you mention feeding show birds a good quality diet. Is there a special feed or supplement you should use? I use to show horses, and I used wheat germ oil as a feed supplement for their coats. What can you do for chickens to improve the sheen/health of their feathers? I know what I'm asking is probably a "showman's secret", but what should every showperson know about feeding their birds?
Oh man, thats a loaded question..... There are so many things, and so many ways to provide the necessary nutrition.
Personally I am feeding Purina Game Bird Chow Breeder Formula. Its formulated for superior plumage growth. Its a 20% protein formula, and the extra protein promotes feather growth.
Some people choose to do the organic thing, which you'll have to ask someone else about, because I know ABSOLUTELY nothing about certified organic stuff.
Others choose to take a commercially prepared feed like Game Bird Chow or others, and "custom mix their own feed. Below is a feed recipe that a friend of mine mixes herself. She raisies Silkies but I'm sure you could apply it elsewhere.
"Our feed blend starts with a 20% protein commercial poultry feed. Since Purina is available in our area, we use Purina Gamebird Layena, which does not contain the marigold oil supplement that can affect white feathers.
In a 5 gallon bucket, fill approximately 3/4 full with base feed and add:
1 cup crimped oats
1 cup crimped barley
1 cup wheat
1/2 cup safflower seeds
3/4 cup sunflower chips
1/2 cup flax seeds
1 scoop Manna Pro Sho-Glo
1 heaping tablespoon Brewer's Yeast & Garlic Powder
Mix together well, and add:
1/2 cup wheat germ oil blend or vegetable oil
1/4 cup Red Cell
Mix together very well to distribute oil and red cell evenly.
The birds also get chopped eggs and grated carrots once a week, greens like kale, collard greens, romaine lettuce as they are available, leftover tomatoes, or any fruit that is starting to go bad. In the summer, they absolutely love watermelon! I cut most of the red part off the rinds and put it in containers for the family, and feed the rinds to the silkies.
Twice a month, we feed a yogurt grain mixture that the birds love and that contains the good gut bacteria necessary for good digestion and health."
Anyone can come up with a diet of their own. It just takes a little research and finding the nutritional values of the ingredients. Most poultry books have a section on feeding, and a lot of exhibition breeders will be happy to share their diets with you.
Wow...thanks soooo much Poulets. That gives me a very good base to learn from. Now, a couple of other questions. At what age can you begin a "show diet" like this? And also, I know there's got to be a big difference in gamebird feed and regular feed, but what is it? Are the ingredients more of a whole grain type or something? Please forgive my ignorance to this topic.
If you can afford the ingredients on a regular basis, you can feed them this after you take them off of chick starter/grower. If you only put them on a show diet for show season, I would start feeding 45 to 60 days prior to the show.
Actually the game bird crumbles look exactly like the layer crumbles. The main difference that I have found in the Game Bird feed is the percentage of protein. Its higher for game birds.