Tips on Conditioning & Showing Poultry

by Tyler Greer
(Ohio)

First off I want to say an unhealthy bird never shows well. What I mean by this is make sure your birds are healthy and free from and disease and parasites (mites, lice etc..). Showing a bird, a lot of people don’t understand but it puts a lot of stress on the bird, being put into a new cage with new neighbors etc.. Now there are a few products on the market to prevent lice and mites there is flea and tick sprays for dogs and cats, Frontline and Adams are the brands I use and they work well. I have also heard of some kind of drops that people use, Personally I have never used them. As far as mites I have used Vaseline to cover their feet and WD40 works well also, there are a few other items you can use to prevent mites. I also use the product called “Seven”, this is a Carbonyl based insecticide that will directly kill the existing mites. Seven will kill more than just mites it kills a variety of insects. In addition to the above, scaly leg mites can be treated with petrolatum jelly, vegetable, mineral, linseed oil are effective when directly applied to the legs. Have heard of people also dipping their birds legs in oil or Kerosene. The product VetRX works on scaly legs. I use VetRX on my birds to help colds that product is a must!! Also a lot of shows require test papers for pullorum, some shows require different tests too, so be sure to check what kinds of tests you need.


Now I will get into conditioning birds. If there are any broken or damaged feathers you will want to pull them 6-12 weeks before the show you are attending. Personally, if I see a broken feather I pull it A.S.A.P, because I don’t like broken feathers on my birds it just don’t look nice. It is critical that you get them pulled in that time range because it takes 6-8 weeks to grow back in. (Some breeds vary). You want all the feathers full grown when you take them to a show it is condition points. A few weeks before the show is the time you want to do all your trimming, toe nails, beaks, and spurs for males. I use regular pet clippers. It is good to do the trimming a few weeks before and not the day before because judges won’t take of points but they like to see the “natural look”.

A few days before the show (I try to do it a 3-4) you will
want to wash your birds getting off all of the dirt manure bugs etc.. I do it as simple as possible I have 3 buckets of water the first with water and I use blue or green Dawn dish soap with
water. The second bucket I have full of warm water, also the third is full of warm water, I wash the bird in the first bucket make sure he/she is clean no dirt or anything left on him then I rinse him in the second buck bucket then again in the third bucket making sure I get all the soap off of the bird. Drying tips I just simply let them outside in conditioning cages d let them air dry. Yes I realize you can’t do that for a winter show when the temp is but freezing or a little above freezing I simply blow dry them and then put a heat lamp on them for a couple of hours.

For white birds you can use VERY LITTLE bluing, if you use to much you will now have a blue bird. Some people give their birds 2 baths I don’t but if you do I would give your first won a week before the show and then the second one 3-4 days. You don’t want to wash them the night before or the morning before because when you wash them it takes oils out of their feathers
and it takes a few days for them to put the oils back in. Also I like to “cage train” my chickens simply by putting them in a conditioning pen outside on the grass and treating them with
moist dog food they love it and it makes them show. I want my birds to show when they are being judged. That is what judges are looking for. I have seen it and it is the best feeling when the judge is handling someone else’s bird and yours is showing so well that he eye balls yours while judging the one that he has. Some people may ask well what do you mean by “showing” I mean I want the bird walking around the cage, holding his or her wings nice, and fanning that tail out.

Going to end this with a few words when you show you may not always win that is okay better luck next time just take what the judges gave you for advice. And have good sportsman ship
shake the winners hand and the judge’s hand. I hope this helps good luck to all you poultry fanciers we are here to better the breeds!

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Damaged tail feather ends
by: Anonymous

I have a broody full size Cochin I show at fair. She was marked down due to the damage she does to her tail feather ends. Do you have any advice how I can repair this damage before my next show?

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Good tips
by: Robin first time showing!

I like how you tell us how to condition your chickens to a cage before a show, I will do that. Plus I like that you described how a chicken acts "showy". I bet it is a good feeling to notice the judge's eye on your chicken!

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Great Information!
by: Anonymous

Thanks for sharing, Tyler. This is extremely helpful information.

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