Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's Show Time Part 3- Preparing Chickens for the Show

It's Show Time! Part 3~
Preparing Chickens for the Show
 In our first poultry show post, we talked about showmanship, which is about preparing us/the kids for the show.  We're going to continue learning, studying and practicing for the showmanship portion up until the show and in between each show therafter.  The more you learn, the better you'll not only perform but the better chicken keeper/farmer you'll be. 
In our second poultry show post in this series we gave you some ideas about selecting which of your birds to take to the show.

Our competing chickens need to be prepared for the show also.  No, not by studying and asking them questions, of course!  We want to talk about testing your birds and bathing them and giving them their salon treatment!  We didn't paint their nails but we did help them to look amazing!

In order to participate, each registered bird is required to have Pullorum Testing.  My children were concerned because pullorum testing requires blood to be drawn with a needle.  Alyssa was particularly ansy because even learning about anatomy- chicken or otherwise- in our homeschool makes this poor baby nauseous.  Once it was over, however, we realized it was more of a concern for the kids than it was for the chickens! 

For the pullorum testing, it was pretty simple.  The tester gently lifted their wings and pricked them underneath with a needle.  She took a bit of blood and mixed it with an antigen and then awaited the results.  The kids helped out by holding towels under their wings until the bleeding stopped. 

Thankfully as suspected, all of our chicks tested negative.  The chickens then had a silver numbered band placed on their legs.  This seemed to irritate them much more than the blood test at first but they quickly seemed to adjust to the bands and now ignore them.  The kids each recieved their certificate for the negative tests.

Now that the chickens and children were all registered and ceritified, we needed to get them in thier best, tip-top show shape!  That required us to bathe and style them!  You'll want to bathe your chickens about 3-5 days prior to the show.  This gives their body time to work some of the natural oils back into their feathers.  It's much easier than it sounds, trust me.  Having never felt the need to bathe my chickens I was a little intimidated by the thought of angry, flapping chickens wanting nothing to do with water.  I was wrong!  It's so much easier than I pictured it and some seemed to enjoy it!
My Daughter, Bri wrote for this post! <3
My 9 year old daughter, B, wrote out the steps for bathing the chickens.  Here are her instructions.

To make your chick look nice before a chicken show,wash them good.  We filled three tubs. One with warm water and Dawn dish washing liquid, one with only water, and
one with water and vinegar. 

When you wash them you only put the water to their neck do not get their face in the water.  Do not scrub them, you move them back and forth in the water. You may gently rub them if you're careful not to push the feathers in the wrong direction.  You probably at least want to rub around their vent area.  Do the same with all of the tubs, wash them in the same order as when you filled the tubs.

Next, you wrap your chicken in a big towel (ensure you leave their heads out of one end) for a minute or two. Sit down with the big towel in your lap, hold them close to you but let their feet touch your lap so they dont panic as much. 

While you have your chicken wrapped in the towel, take the time to wash their legs, feet, and nails old toothbrush and trim their nails if needed. Rinse the soap off with your rinse bucket or running water. Ours did not need it so I apologize, we don't have photos of that. Please be careful when trimming the nails. You may want to have someone with experience help you or show you how the first time. As you can see from Jordan's photo, the feather leg chickens especially benefit from washing their feet. 

Find a plug outside your house then get an extension cord (if you have one) and plug a blow dryer into it. Blow dry them on the cool setting (make sure that it's not too hot). Wash your next chicken the same way. Our chickens enjoyed their bath and even drying experiences and I'm sure yours will too!
Keep in mind we prepared for this show when it was still warm/hot weather outdoors.  Now that Hurricane Sandy has passed through and brought cold weather here to Virginia, we will wash them in the house for our show in November.  We will follow the same steps but using warm water in the house.

There are some other tips/tricks to preparing your chicken for the show.  We change thier diet just slightly about a month before by adding Ultra Kibble to their food, it just seems to fill them out and help them feather nicely.  Many of our friends who show poultry also rub their feet and beaks with Vet Rx.  It helps them look nice and shiny :) and also helps prevent colds and Scaly Legs.  Both of these products are shown below in our Amazon store. 

Many serious poultry showers also cage their birds separate from the flock a few days before a show to keep them clean and in tip top shape.  We have not done this, our birds are so closely bonded with their flock, we decided not to do this out of fear of stressing them to much with the added stress of the show.  I do understand the reasoning, however, especially with our white silkie girl.  She seems to want to walk through any mud she can find as soon as she's bathed!

Our first show was fairly small, the show they're competing in on Nov. 17th is a big show so we may try separating them into clean caged areas once they are washed, especially those that went to the last show and weren't stressed by it.  I truly believe it helps that all of our chickens- layers, breeders, show chicks, pets are ALL handled often and still hand fed treats by the kids and I.  They trust us in their own chicken way to provide and care for them!

Alyssa will be adding to the next Show post about their experience at the show.  We'll cover some of the questions the judges asked them and what their personal thoughts were about the experience!  We look forward to posting again soon!


Tiff & Bri


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